Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Sasanian Empire

The Sasanians (third to seventh century A. D.) considered themselves to be the heirs of the Achaemenid (Persian) kings that had been defeated by Alexander the Great.

Copyright 2012 by John Freed
A man who became known as Ardashir I founded the Sasanian Dynasty in about 226 A. D. In his later years, he took his son (Shapur I) as a co-regent. In 240, the Sasanians conquered Hatra (about 100 km southwest if Nineveh).

Shapur I eventually pushed into Syria where he fought against the Roman Emperor Valerian.  A meeting was arranged between Valerian and Shapur, but Valerian was betrayed and remained a prisoner of Shapur’s for the rest of his life.

The fortunes of the Sasanians rose and fell over time, with victories and defeats at the hands of the Romans and, later, the Byzantine Empire. The last Sasanian King (Yazdegerd III) died in 651 after being defeated by the moslems.

The photograph in this article is a smaller than life-size mask of one of the Sasanian kings (Shapur II?) made from a single sheet of silver. The mask is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

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