Episode B37 – Shahanshah

Synopsis:  Ardeshir defeats Artabanus in battle and claims the Parthian Empire for the Sasanids.  After a failed attempt to conquer Armenia, he sets his sights on the Roman East.

“Then (Ardeshir) came to battle with Artabanus, killed the entire army of the latter, seized their wealth, property, horses, and portable lodges, and settled himself in Istakhr.  He collected soldiers in large numbers from Kerman, Mokristan, Isfahan, and different districts of Fars, and came to fight with Artabanus himself.  So Artabanus sent for soldiers and provisions from different frontiers…But as the Glory of the Kayanians (Achaemenids) was with Ardeshir, the latter gained success. He killed Artabanus, whose entire wealth and property fell into the hands of Ardeshir, who married Artabanus’s daughter, and went back to Fars.” – The Book of Deeds of Ardeshir Son of Pabag, Chapter IV 
“Artaxerxes, a Persian, having conquered the Parthians in three battles and killed their king, Artabanus, made a campaign against Hatra, which he endeavored to take as a base for attacking the Romans.  He did make a breach in the wall but, as he lost a number of soldiers through an ambuscade, he transferred his position to Media.  Of this district, as also of Parthia, he acquired no small portion, partly by force and partly by intimidation, and then marched against Armenia.  Here he suffered a reverse at the hands of the natives, some Medes, and the children of Artabanus, and either fled (as some say) or (as others assert) retired to prepare a larger expedition.  He accordingly became a source of fear for us.” – Cassius Dio, Rome, Book 80 

Map of the Roman-Sasanid Frontier c. 232 AD:


References and Further Reading:


4 thoughts on “Episode B37 – Shahanshah

  1. Hi Scott, my name is Avi and I want to thank you for numerous hours of intellectual pleasures. Although you are not historian by degree you are natural one since you know how to tell a story and you have keen perspective of an era and human behaviours.
    With regard to this episode l wonder if you can explain in the following chapter how Mesopotamia became Arab – something that has a relevance even today.

  2. Thanks for the feedback, I appreciate it! Regarding your question, it's not my area of expertise, but I've always assumed it was a similar process to how the region became (during various periods) largely Akkadian, or Amorite or Aramaic – namely, large-scale tribal migrations (in this case from Arabia) taking place over an extended period.

  3. I also suspect that the growth of Nabataean (Arab) power, and corresponding loss of Seleucid power, during the final few centuries BC might have created commodious conditions for increased Arab migration into Mesopotamia. Nabataean influence apparently reached as far north as Osrhoene (Edessa/Sanliurfa), where the "Abgar/Manu" regime was supposedly founded by Nabataeans.

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