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Ctesiphon ( ;
Middle Persian Middle Persian or Pahlavi, also known by its endonym Pārsīk or Pārsīg (𐭯𐭠𐭫𐭮𐭩𐭪) in its later form, is a Western Middle Iranian language which became the literary language of the Sasanian Empire. For some time after the Sasan ...
: 𐭲𐭩𐭮𐭯𐭥𐭭 ''tyspwn'' or ''tysfwn''; fa, تیسفون; grc-gre, Κτησιφῶν, ; syr, ܩܛܝܣܦܘܢThomas A. Carlson et al., “Ctesiphon — ܩܛܝܣܦܘܢ ” in The Syriac Gazetteer last modified July 28, 2014, http://syriaca.org/place/58.) was an ancient city, located on the eastern bank of the
Tigris The Tigris () is the easternmost of the two great river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at ...

Tigris
, and about southeast of present-day
Baghdad Baghdad (; ar, بَغْدَاد ) is the capital of and one of the in the , and compared to its large population it has a small area at just 673 square kilometers (260 sq mi). Located along the , near the ruins of the city of and the anc ...

Baghdad
. Ctesiphon served as a royal capital of the
Iranian Iranian may refer to: * Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran ( fa, جمهوری اسلامی ایران ), is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered to the northwest by Armenia ...
empire in the
Parthian
Parthian
and
Sasanian The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, officially known as the Empire of Iranians ( Middle Persian: 𐭠𐭩𐭥𐭠𐭭𐭱𐭲𐭥𐭩 '' Ērānshahr''), and called the Neo-Persian Empire by historians, was the last Persian imperial dynasty bef ...
eras for over eight hundred years. Ctesiphon was the winter capital of the Sasanian Empire until the
Muslim conquest of Persia The Muslim conquest of Persia, also known as the Arab conquest of Iran, was carried out by the Rashidun Caliphate The Rashidun Caliphate ( ar, اَلْخِلَافَةُ ٱلرَّاشِدَةُ, ') was the first of the four major caliphat ...
in 651 AD. Ctesiphon developed into a rich commercial metropolis, merging with the surrounding cities along both shores of the river, including the Hellenistic city of
Seleucia Seleucia (), also known as or , was a major Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن '; grc, Μεσοποταμία; Syriac language, Classical Syriac: ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ Ārām''-Nahrīn'' or ܒܝܬ ܢܗܪ̈ ...
. Ctesiphon and its environs were therefore sometimes referred to as "The Cities" (
Aramaic Aramaic (: ''Arāmāyā''; : ; : ; ) is a language that originated among the in the ancient , at the end of the , and later became one of the most prominent languages of the . During its three thousand years long history, Aramaic went thr ...
: ''Mahuza'', ar, المدائن, ''
al-Mada'in Al-Mada'in ("The Cities"; ar, المدائن, al-Madāʾin; Aramaic language, Aramaic: ''Māḥozē'' or ''Medinātā'') was an ancient metropolis on the Tigris River which lay between the ancient royal centers of Ctesiphon and Seleucia. It was fo ...
''). In the late sixth and early seventh century, it was listed as the largest city in the world by some accounts. During the Roman–Parthian Wars, Ctesiphon fell three times to the Romans, and later fell twice during Sasanian rule. It was also the site of the Battle of Ctesiphon in 363 AD. After the Muslim invasion the city fell into decay and was depopulated by the end of the eighth century, its place as a political and economic center taken by the
Abbasid The Abbasid Caliphate ( or ar, اَلْخِلَافَةُ ٱلْعَبَّاسِيَّةُ, ') was the third caliphate A caliphate ( ar, خِلَافَة, ) is an Islamic state under the leadership of an Islam Islam (;There ar ...
capital at
Baghdad Baghdad (; ar, بَغْدَاد ) is the capital of and one of the in the , and compared to its large population it has a small area at just 673 square kilometers (260 sq mi). Located along the , near the ruins of the city of and the anc ...

Baghdad
. The most conspicuous structure remaining today is the
Taq Kasra Tāq Kasrā ( ar, طاق كسرى, translit=ṭāq kisrā), also transcribed as ''Taq-i Kisra'' or ''Taq-e Kesra'' ( fa, طاق کسری) or Ayvān-e Kesrā ( fa, ایوان خسرو, translit=ʼiwan-i-husraw, links=, meaning Iwan of Khosrow I, C ...

Taq Kasra
, sometimes called the Archway of Ctesiphon.


Names

The Latin name ' derives from
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the diale ...
' (). This is ostensibly a Greek toponym based on a personal name, although it may be a Hellenized form of a local name, reconstructed as ''Tisfōn'' or ''Tisbōn''. In Iranian-language texts of the Sasanian era, it is spelled as ''tyspwn'', which can be read as ''Tīsfōn'', ''Tēsifōn'', etc. in
Manichaean Manichaeism (; in New Persian New Persian ( fa, فارسی نو), also known as Modern Persian () and Dari (), is the final stage of the Persian language Persian (), also known by its endonym An endonym (from Greek: , 'inner' + , 'name' ...
Parthian 𐫤𐫏𐫘𐫛𐫇𐫗, in
Middle Persian Middle Persian or Pahlavi, also known by its endonym Pārsīk or Pārsīg (𐭯𐭠𐭫𐭮𐭩𐭪) in its later form, is a Western Middle Iranian language which became the literary language of the Sasanian Empire. For some time after the Sasan ...
𐭲𐭩𐭮𐭯𐭥𐭭 and in Christian Sogdian (in
Syriac alphabet The Syriac alphabet ( ) is a writing system A writing system is a method of visually representing verbal communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an apparent answer to ...
) languages. The
New Persian New Persian ( fa, فارسی نو), also known as Modern Persian () and Dari (), is the final stage of the Persian language Persian (), also known by its endonym An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or re ...
form is ''Tisfun'' (). Texts from the
Church of the East The Church of the East ( syc, , ''ʿĒḏtā d-Maḏenḥā''), also called the Persian Church, East Syrian Church, Babylonian Church, Seleucian Church, Edessan Church, Chaldean Church, or the Nestorian Church, was an church of the , based ...
's synods referred to the city as ' ( syr, ܩܛܝܣܦܘܢ) or some times ' ( syr, ܡܚܘܙ̈ܐ) when referring to the metropolis of Seleucia-Ctesiphon. In modern Arabic, the name is usually ''Ṭaysafūn'' () or ''Qaṭaysfūn'' () or as ''al-Mada'in'' ( "The Cities", referring to Greater Ctesiphon). "According to Yāqūt .. quoting Ḥamza, the original form was Ṭūsfūn or Tūsfūn, which was arabicized as Ṭaysafūn." The Armenian name of the city was ''Tizbon'' (). Ctesiphon is first mentioned in the
Book of Ezra The Book of Ezra is a book of the Hebrew Bible; which formerly included the Book of Nehemiah in a single book, commonly distinguished in scholarship as Ezra–Nehemiah. The two became separated with the first printed Mikraot Gedolot, rabbinic bi ...
of the
Old Testament The Old Testament (often abbreviated OT) is the first division of the Christian biblical canon, which is based primarily upon the 24 books of the Hebrew Bible or Tanakh, a collection of ancient religious Hebrew writings by the Israelites. The ...
as Kasfia/Casphia (a derivative of the ethnic name Cas, and a cognate of and
Qazvin Qazvin (; fa, قزوین, , also Romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken ...

Qazvin
). It is also mentioned in the
Talmud The Talmud (; he, תַּלְמוּד ''Tálmūḏ'') is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law (''halakha'') and Jewish theology. Until the advent of modernity, in nearly all Jewish communities, the ...

Talmud
as Aktisfon. In another Talmudic reference it is written as Akistfon, located across the Tigris River from the city of Ardashir.


Location

Ctesiphon is located approximately at
Al-Mada'in Al-Mada'in ("The Cities"; ar, المدائن, al-Madāʾin; Aramaic language, Aramaic: ''Māḥozē'' or ''Medinātā'') was an ancient metropolis on the Tigris River which lay between the ancient royal centers of Ctesiphon and Seleucia. It was fo ...
, southeast of the modern city of
Baghdad Baghdad (; ar, بَغْدَاد ) is the capital of and one of the in the , and compared to its large population it has a small area at just 673 square kilometers (260 sq mi). Located along the , near the ruins of the city of and the anc ...

Baghdad
,
Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq), is a country i ...

Iraq
, along the river Tigris. Ctesiphon measured 30 square kilometers, more than twice the surface of 13.7-square-kilometer fourth-century imperial
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg , map_caption = The te ...

Rome
. The (''Taq Kasra'') was once a part of the royal palace in Ctesiphon and is estimated to date between the 3rd and 6th centuries AD. It is located in what is now the Iraqi town of
Salman Pak fa, سلمان پاک , settlement_type = city , image_skyline = Multi-National Corps-Iraq commander tours famous arch DVIDS195434.jpg , caption = US troops tour Salman Pak's famous Taq ...
.


History


Parthian period

Ctesiphon was founded in the late 120s BC. It was built on the site of a military camp established across from Seleucia by
Mithridates I of Parthia Mithridates I (also spelled Mithradates I or Mihrdad I; xpr, 𐭌𐭄𐭓𐭃𐭕 ''Mihrdāt''), also known as Mithridates I the Great, was king of the Parthian Empire The Parthian Empire (), also known as the Arsacid Empire (), was a major Ir ...
. The reign of
Gotarzes I Gotarzes I ( xpr, 𐭂𐭅𐭕𐭓𐭆 ''Gōdarz'') was king of the Parthian Empire The Parthian Empire (), also known as the Arsacid Empire (), was a major political and cultural power in from 247 BC to 224 AD. Its latter name comes ...
saw Ctesiphon reach a peak as a political and commercial center. The city became the Empire's capital circa 58 BC during the reign of
Orodes II Orodes II (also spelled Urud II; xpr, 𐭅𐭓𐭅𐭃 ''Wērōd''), was King of Kings King of Kings ( Akkadian: ''šar šarrāni''; Old Persian: ''Xšâyathiya Xšâyathiyânâm'';' Middle Persian: ''šāhān šāh'';' Modern Persian: ش ...
. Gradually, the city merged with the old
Hellenistic The Hellenistic period spans the period of History of the Mediterranean region, Mediterranean history between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the emergence of the Roman Empire, as signified by the Battle of Actium in 31  ...

Hellenistic
capital of Seleucia and other nearby settlements to form a cosmopolitan metropolis.Farrokh, K. (2007). "The rise of Ctesiphon and the Silk Route". In ''Shadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia at War'', p. 125. The reason for this westward relocation of the capital could have been in part due to the proximity of the previous capitals ( Mithradatkirt, and
Hecatompylos Qumis ( fa, قومس; Middle Persian ''𐭪𐭥𐭬𐭩𐭮 Kōmis''), also known as Hecatompylos ( grc, Ἑκατόμπυλος, in fa, صددروازه, ''Saddarvazeh'') was an ancient city which was the capital of the Arsacid dynasty by 200 B ...
at
Hyrcania Hyrcania () ( el, ''Hyrkania'', Old Persian: 𐎺𐎼𐎣𐎠𐎴 ''Varkâna'',Lendering (1996) Middle Persian: 𐭢𐭥𐭫𐭢𐭠𐭭 ''Gurgān'', Akkadian (language), Akkadian: ''Urqananu'') is a historical region composed of the land sout ...
) to the
Scythian The Scythians (from grc, Σκύθης , ) or Scyths, also known as Saka and Sakae ( ; egy, 𓋴𓎝𓎡𓈉 The ancient Egyptian Hill-country or "Foreign land" hieroglyph (𓈉) is a member of the sky, earth, and water hieroglyphs. A ...
incursions.
Strabo Strabo''Strabo'' (meaning "squinty", as in strabismus Strabismus is a condition in which the eyes do not properly align with each other when looking at an object. The eye that is focused on an object can alternate. The condition may be pre ...

Strabo
abundantly describes the foundation of Ctesiphon: Because of its importance, Ctesiphon was a major military objective for the leaders of the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
in their eastern wars. The city was captured by Rome five times in its history – three times in the 2nd century alone. The emperor
Trajan Trajan ( ; la, Caesar Nerva Trajanus; 18 September 539/11 August 117) was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors use ...

Trajan
captured Ctesiphon in 116, but his successor,
Hadrian Hadrian (; la, Caesar Traianus Hadrianus ; 24 January 76 – 10 July 138) was Roman emperor from 117 to 138. He was born into a Roman Italo-Hispanic family, which settled in Spain from the Italian city of Atri, Abruzzo, Atri in Picenum. Hi ...

Hadrian
, decided to willingly return Ctesiphon in 117 as part of a peace settlement. The Roman general
Avidius Cassius Gaius Avidius Cassius ( 130 – July 175 AD) was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened to ''Romans'', ...
captured Ctesiphon in 164 during another Parthian war, but abandoned it when peace was concluded. In 197, the emperor
Septimius Severus Lucius Septimius Severus (; 11 April 145 – 4 February 211) was Roman emperor from 193 to 211. He was born in Leptis Magna (present day Al-Khums, Libya) in the Roman province of Africa (Roman province), Africa. As a young man he advanced thro ...
sacked Ctesiphon and carried off thousands of its inhabitants, whom he sold into slavery.


Sasanian period

By 226, Ctesiphon was in the hands of the
Sasanian Empire The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, officially known as the Empire of Iranians (, ''Ērānshahr The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, officially known as the Empire of Iranians (Middle Persian Middle Persian or Pahlavi, also known by its ...

Sasanian Empire
, who also made it their capital and had laid an end to the Parthian dynasty of Iran. Ctesiphon was greatly enlarged and flourished during their rule, thus turning into a metropolis, which was known by in Arabic as
al-Mada'in Al-Mada'in ("The Cities"; ar, المدائن, al-Madāʾin; Aramaic language, Aramaic: ''Māḥozē'' or ''Medinātā'') was an ancient metropolis on the Tigris River which lay between the ancient royal centers of Ctesiphon and Seleucia. It was fo ...
, and in
Aramaic Aramaic (: ''Arāmāyā''; : ; : ; ) is a language that originated among the in the ancient , at the end of the , and later became one of the most prominent languages of the . During its three thousand years long history, Aramaic went thr ...
as Mahoze. The oldest inhabited places of Ctesiphon were on its eastern side, which in Islamic
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...

Arabic
sources is called "the Old City" ( ''Madīnah al-'Atīqah''), where the residence of the Sasanians, known as the White Palace (), was located. The southern side of Ctesiphon was known as Asbānbar or Aspānbar, which was known by its prominent halls, riches, games, stables, and baths.
Taq Kasra Tāq Kasrā ( ar, طاق كسرى, translit=ṭāq kisrā), also transcribed as ''Taq-i Kisra'' or ''Taq-e Kesra'' ( fa, طاق کسری) or Ayvān-e Kesrā ( fa, ایوان خسرو, translit=ʼiwan-i-husraw, links=, meaning Iwan of Khosrow I, C ...

Taq Kasra
was located in the latter. The western side was known as
Veh-Ardashir Veh-Ardashir (also spelled as Beh-Ardashir and Weh-Ardashir), was an ancient Sasanian city in present-day Iraq, and formed a suburb of their capital, Ctesiphon. History Originally known as Seleucia (Sittacene), Seleucia, the city was rebuilt an ...
(meaning "the good city of Ardashir" in
Middle Persian Middle Persian or Pahlavi, also known by its endonym Pārsīk or Pārsīg (𐭯𐭠𐭫𐭮𐭩𐭪) in its later form, is a Western Middle Iranian language which became the literary language of the Sasanian Empire. For some time after the Sasan ...
), known as Mahoza by the
Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 ISO The International Organization for Standardization (ISO ) is an international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), ...

Jews
, Kokhe by the Christians, and Behrasir by the Arabs. Veh-Ardashir was populated by many wealthy Jews, and was the seat of the church of the Nestorian patriarch. To the south of Veh-Ardashir was
Valashabad Valashabad (also spelled as Valakhshkert, Valakhshgerd and Valakhshkard), known in Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country locate ...
. Ctesiphon had several other districts which were named Hanbu Shapur, Darzanidan, Veh Jondiu-Khosrow, Nawinabad and Kardakadh.
Severus Alexander Marcus Aurelius Severus Alexander (1 October 208 – 19/22 March 235) was a Roman emperor, who reigned from 222 until 235. He was the last emperor from the Severan dynasty. He succeeded his slain cousin Elagabalus in 222. Alexander himself was ev ...

Severus Alexander
advanced towards Ctesiphon in 233, but as corroborated by
Herodian Herodian or Herodianus ( el, Ἡρωδιανός) of Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ...

Herodian
, his armies suffered a humiliating defeat against
Ardashir I Ardashir I or Ardeshir I (Middle Persian Middle Persian or Pahlavi, also known by its endonym Pārsīk or Pārsīg (𐭯𐭠𐭫𐭮𐭩𐭪) in its later form, is a Western Middle Iranian language which became the literary language of the Sa ...

Ardashir I
. In 283, emperor
Carus Marcus Aurelius Carus (c. 222 – July or August 283) was Roman emperor from 282 to 283, and was 60 at ascension. During his short reign, Carus fought the Germanic tribes and Sarmatians along the Danube The Danube ( ; ) is Europe's List o ...

Carus
sacked the city uncontested during a period of civil upheaval. In 295, emperor
Galerius Gaius Galerius Valerius Maximianus (; c. 258 – May 311) was from 305 to 311. During his reign he campaigned, aided by , against the , sacking their capital in 299. He also campaigned across the against the , defeating them in 297 and 300. ...

Galerius
was defeated outside the city. However, he returned a year later with a vengeance and won a victory which ended in the fifth and final capture of the city by the Romans in 299. He returned it to the Persian king
Narses , image=Narses.jpg , image_size=250 , caption=Man traditionally identified as Narses, from the mosaic depicting Justinian and his entourage in the Basilica of San Vitale In Ancient Roman architecture, a basilica is a large public building w ...
in exchange for
Armenia Armenia (; hy, Հայաստան, translit=Hayastan, ), officially the Republic of Armenia,, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is ...

Armenia
and western Mesopotamia. In c. 325 and again in 410, the city, or the Greek colony directly across the river, was the site of church councils for the
Church of the East The Church of the East ( syc, , ''ʿĒḏtā d-Maḏenḥā''), also called the Persian Church, East Syrian Church, Babylonian Church, Seleucian Church, Edessan Church, Chaldean Church, or the Nestorian Church, was an church of the , based ...
. After the conquest of Antioch in 541,
Khosrau I Khosrow I (also spelled Khosrau, Xusro or Cosroe; pal, 𐭧𐭥𐭮𐭫𐭥𐭣𐭩; New Persian: []), traditionally known by his epithet of Anushirvan ( [] "the Immortal Soul"), was the Sasanian Empire, Sasanian King of Kings of Iran from 531 t ...
built a new city near Ctesiphon for the inhabitants he captured. He called this new city '' Weh Antiok Khusrau'', or literally, "better than Antioch Khosrau built this". Local inhabitants of the area called the new city ''Rumagan'', meaning "town of the Romans" and Arabs called the city ''al-Rumiyya''. Along with Weh Antiok, Khosrau built a number of fortified cities.Frye 1993, 259 Khosrau I deported 292,000 citizens, slaves, and conquered people to this new city in 542. In 590, a member of the
House of Mihran The House of Mihrān or House of Mehrān (Middle Persian: 𐭬𐭨𐭥𐭠𐭭)(new Persian: مهران), was a leading Iranian noble family (''šahrdārān''), one of the Seven Parthian clans, Seven Great Houses of the Sassanid Empire, Sassanid P ...
,
Bahram Chobin Bahrām Chōbīn ( fa, بهرام چوبین) or Wahrām Chōbēn (Middle Persian: ), also known by his epithet Mehrbandak ("servant of Mithra"), was a nobleman, general, and political leader of the late Sasanian Empire and briefly its ruler as Bahr ...
repelled the newly ascended Sasanian ruler
Khosrau II Khosrow II (aka. Chosroes II in classical sources; pal, 𐭧𐭥𐭮𐭫𐭥𐭣𐭩; Modern Persian: ''Khosrow (word), Husrō''), also known as Khosrow Parviz (Persian language, New Persian: , "Khosrow the Victorious"), is considered to be th ...

Khosrau II
from Iraq, and conquered the region. One year later, Khosrau II, with aid from the
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn ...

Byzantine Empire
, reconquered his domains. During his reign, some of the great fame of al-Mada'in decreased, due to the popularity of Khosrau's new winter residence, Dastagerd. In 627, the Byzantine Emperor
Heraclius Heraclius ( el, Ἡράκλειος, ''Hērakleios''; c. 575 – 11 February 641), sometimes called Heraclius I, was the Byzantine emperor This is a list of the Byzantine emperors from the foundation of Constantinople la, Constantinop ...
surrounded the city, the capital of the Sassanid Empire, leaving it after the Persians accepted his peace terms. In 628, a deadly plague hit Ctesiphon, al-Mada'in and the rest of the western part of the Sasanian Empire, which even killed Khosrau's son and successor,
Kavadh II Shērōē (also spelled Shīrūya, New Persian New Persian ( fa, فارسی نو), also known as Modern Persian () and Dari (), is the final stage of the Persian language Persian (), also known by its endonym An endonym (from Greek Gr ...
. In 629, Ctesiphon was briefly under the control of Mihranid usurper
Shahrbaraz Shahrbaraz (also spelled Shahrvaraz or Shahrwaraz; New Persian: ), was shah (king) of the Sasanian Empire from 27 April 630 to 9 June 630. He usurped the throne from Ardashir III, and was killed by Iranian nobles after forty days. Before usurping ...
, but the latter was shortly assassinated by the supporters of Khosrau II's daughter
Borandukht Boran (also spelled Buran, Middle Persian Middle Persian or Pahlavi, also known by its endonym Pārsīk or Pārsīg (𐭯𐭠𐭫𐭮𐭩𐭪) in its later form, is a Western Middle Iranian language which became the literary language of the Sa ...
. Ctesiphon then continued to be involved in constant fighting between two factions of the Sasanian Empire, the Pahlav (Parthian) faction under the
House of IspahbudhanThe House of Ispahbudhan or the House of Aspahbadh was one of the seven Parthian clans of the Sasanian Empire The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, officially known as the Empire of Iranians ( Middle Persian: 𐭠𐭩𐭥𐭠𐭭𐭱𐭲𐭥𐭩 ...
and the Parsig (Persian) faction under
Piruz KhosrowPiruz Khosrow (Middle Persian: ''Pērōz Khusraw''), also known as Piruzan or Firuzan, was a powerful Persian people, Persian aristocrat who was the leader of the ''Parsig'' (Persian) faction that controlled much of the affairs of the Sasanian Empire ...
.


Downfall of the Sasanians and the Islamic conquests

In the mid-630s, the
Muslim Arabs Arab Muslims ( ar, مسلمون عرب) are adherents of Islam Islam (;There are ten pronunciations of ''Islam'' in English, differing in whether the first or second syllable has the stress, whether the ''s'' is or , and whether the ''a'' ...
, who had invaded the territories of the Sasanian Empire, defeated them during a great battle known as the
Battle of al-Qādisiyyah The Battle of al-Qadisiyyah ( ar, مَعْرَكَة ٱلْقَادِسِيَّة; ', fa, نبرد قادسیه ') also spelled Qadisiyah, Qadisiyya, Ghadesiyeh or Kadisiya, fought in 636, was a decisive battle between the History of Islam, Arab ...
. The Arabs then attacked Ctesiphon, and occupied it in early 637. The Muslim military officer
Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas Saʿd ibn Abī Waqqās ( ar, سعد بن أبي وقاص), also known as Saʿd ibn Malik, was one of the companions of the Islamic prophet. Saʿd was reportedly the seventh person to embrace Islam, which he did at the age of seventeen. He is ...
quickly seized
Valashabad Valashabad (also spelled as Valakhshkert, Valakhshgerd and Valakhshkard), known in Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country locate ...
and made a peace treaty with the inhabitants of Weh Antiok Khusrau and
Veh-Ardashir Veh-Ardashir (also spelled as Beh-Ardashir and Weh-Ardashir), was an ancient Sasanian city in present-day Iraq, and formed a suburb of their capital, Ctesiphon. History Originally known as Seleucia (Sittacene), Seleucia, the city was rebuilt an ...
. The terms of the treaty were that the inhabitants of Weh Antiok Khusrau were allowed to leave if they wanted to, but if they did not, they were forced to acknowledge Muslim authority, and also pay tribute (''
jizya Jizya or jizyah ( ar, جِزْيَة; ) is a per capita ''Per capita'' is a Latin phrase literally meaning "by heads" or "for each head", and idiomatically used to mean "per person". The term is used in a wide variety of social sciences and sta ...
''). Later on, when the Muslims arrived at Ctesiphon, it was completely desolated, due to flight of the Sasanian royal family,
nobles Nobility is a normally ranked immediately below and found in some societies that have a formal . Nobility has often been an that possessed more acknowledged and higher than most other classes in society. The privileges associated wi ...
, and troops. However, the Muslims had managed to take some of troops captive, and many riches were seized from the Sasanian treasury and were given to the Muslim troops. Furthermore, the throne hall in
Taq Kasra Tāq Kasrā ( ar, طاق كسرى, translit=ṭāq kisrā), also transcribed as ''Taq-i Kisra'' or ''Taq-e Kesra'' ( fa, طاق کسری) or Ayvān-e Kesrā ( fa, ایوان خسرو, translit=ʼiwan-i-husraw, links=, meaning Iwan of Khosrow I, C ...

Taq Kasra
was briefly used as a mosque. The Ctesiphon library was also destroyed by the Arabs of the Rashidun Caliphate. Still, as political and economic fortune had passed elsewhere, the city went into a rapid decline, especially after the founding of the
Abbasid The Abbasid Caliphate ( or ar, اَلْخِلَافَةُ ٱلْعَبَّاسِيَّةُ, ') was the third caliphate A caliphate ( ar, خِلَافَة, ) is an Islamic state under the leadership of an Islam Islam (;There ar ...
capital at
Baghdad Baghdad (; ar, بَغْدَاد ) is the capital of and one of the in the , and compared to its large population it has a small area at just 673 square kilometers (260 sq mi). Located along the , near the ruins of the city of and the anc ...

Baghdad
in the 760s, and soon became a
ghost town A ghost town or alternatively deserted city or abandoned city is an abandoned village, town, or city, usually one that contains substantial visible remaining buildings and infrastructure such as roads. A town often becomes a ghost town because ...
.
Caliph Al-Mansur Al-Mansur or Abu Ja'far Abdallah ibn Muhammad al-Mansur (; ar, أبو جعفر عبدالله بن محمد المنصور‎; 95Anno hegirae, AH – 158 AH (714 AD – 6 October 775 AD) was the second Abbasid Caliph reigning from 136 AH to 15 ...

Caliph Al-Mansur
took much of the required material for the construction of Baghdad from the ruins of Ctesiphon. He also attempted to demolish the palace and reuse its bricks for his own palace, but he desisted only when the undertaking proved too vast. Al-Mansur also used the al-Rumiya town as the Abbasid capital city for a few months. It is believed to be the basis for the city of Isbanir in ''
One Thousand and One Nights ''One Thousand and One Nights'' ( ar, أَلْفُ لَيْلَةٍ وَلَيْلَةٌ, ') is a collection of Middle Eastern folk tales compiled in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age. It is often known in English as the ''Arabian Nights'', f ...
''.


Modern era

The ruins of Ctesiphon were the site of a major battle of World War I in November 1915. The
Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire (; ', ; or '; )info page on bookat Martin Luther University) // CITED: p. 36 (PDF p. 38/338). was an empire that controlled much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, Northern Africa between the 14th ...
defeated troops of
Britain Britain usually refers to: * United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United ...

Britain
attempting to capture Baghdad, and drove them back some before trapping the British force and compelling it to surrender.


Population and religion

Under Sasanian rule, the population of Ctesiphon was heavily mixed: it included
Arameans The Arameans (Old Aramaic Old Aramaic refers to the earliest stage of the Aramaic language Aramaic ( Classical Syriac: ''Arāmāyā''; Old Aramaic: ; Aramaic alphabet, Imperial Aramaic: ; Hebrew alphabet, square script ) is a language t ...
,
Persians The Persians are an Iranian ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish them from other groups such as a common set of traditions, ancestr ...

Persians
,
Greeks The Greeks or Hellenes (; el, Έλληνες, ''Éllines'' ) are an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has cer ...

Greeks
and
Assyrians Assyrian may refer to: * Assyria, a major Mesopotamian kingdom and empire * Assyrian people, an ethnic group indigenous to the Middle East * Assyrian Church (disambiguation) * Assyrian language (disambiguation) * SS Assyrian, SS ''Assyrian'', seve ...
. Several religions were also practiced in the metropolis, which included
Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of Semitic-originated religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of ...

Christianity
,
Judaism Judaism is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, monotheism, monotheistic, and ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural, and legal tradition and civilization of the Jewish people. It has its roots as an organized religion ...
and
Zoroastrianism Zoroastrianism or Mazdayasna is an Iranian religions, Iranian religion and one of the world's oldest continuously-practiced organized faiths, based on the teachings of the Iranian peoples, Iranian-speaking prophet Zoroaster (also known as ''Za ...
. In 497, the first Nestorian patriarch
Mar Babai I Babai, also Babaeus, was Catholicos of Seleucia-Ctesiphon and Patriarch of the Church of the East from 497 to 503. Under his leadership, the Church in Sasanian Empire (Persia) became increasingly aligned with the Nestorianism, Nestorian movement, ...
, fixed his see at Seleucia-Ctesiphon, supervising their mission east, with the
Merv Merv ( tk, Merw, ''Мерв'', مرو; fa, مرو, ''Marv''), also known as the Merve Oasis, formerly known as Alexandria ( el, Ἀλεξάνδρεια), Antiochia in Margiana ( el, Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐν τῇ Μαργιανῇ) and ...

Merv
metropolis as pivot. The population also included
Manicheans Manichaeism (; in New Persian ; ) was a major religion founded in the 3rd century AD by the Parthian Empire, Parthian prophet Mani (prophet), Mani (), in the Sasanian Empire. Manichaeism taught an elaborate dualistic cosmology describing the ...

Manicheans
, a dualist church, who continued to be mentioned in Ctesiphon during
Umayyad The Umayyad Caliphate (661–750 CE; , ; ar, ٱلْخِلَافَة ٱلْأُمَوِيَّة, al-Khilāfah al-ʾUmawīyah) was the second of the four major caliphates established after the death of Muhammad. The caliphate was ruled by the ...
rule fixing their "patriarchate of Babylon" there. Much of the population fled from Ctesiphon after the Arab capture of the metropolis. However, a portion of Persians remained there, and some important figures of these people are known to have provided
Ali Ali ibn Abi Talib ( ar, عَلِيّ ٱبْن أَبِي طَالِب, ; 13 September 601 – 29 January 661) was a cousin, son-in-law and companion of the Prophets and messengers in Islam, Islamic prophet Muhammad in Islam, Muhammad, who ru ...

Ali
with presents, which he, however, refused to take. In the ninth century, the surviving Manicheans fled and displaced their patriarchate up the Silk Road, in
Samarkand fa, سمرقند , native_name_lang = , settlement_type = City , image_skyline = , image_alt = , image_caption = Clockwise from the top: The Reg ...

Samarkand
.


Archaeology

A German Oriental Society led by Oscar Reuther excavated at Ctesiphon in 1928–29 mainly at Qasr bint al-Qadi on the western part of the site. In winter of 1931–1932 a joint expedition of the German State Museums (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin) and The Metropolitan Museum of Art continued excavations at the site, focusing on the areas of Ma'aridh, Tell Dheheb, the Taq-i Kisra, Selman Pak and Umm ez-Za'tir under the direction of Ernst Kühnel. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, an Italian team from the
University of Turin The University of Turin (Italian language, Italian: ''Università degli Studi di Torino'', or often abbreviated to UNITO) is a university in the city of Turin in the Piedmont (Italy), Piedmont region of north-western Italy. It is one of the oldes ...
directed by Antonio Invernizzi and worked at the site, which they identified not as Ctesiphon but as Veh Ardashir. Work mainly concentrated on restoration at the palace of
Khosrau II Khosrow II (aka. Chosroes II in classical sources; pal, 𐭧𐭥𐭮𐭫𐭥𐭣𐭩; Modern Persian: ''Khosrow (word), Husrō''), also known as Khosrow Parviz (Persian language, New Persian: , "Khosrow the Victorious"), is considered to be th ...

Khosrau II
. In 2013, the Iraqi government contracted to restore the Taq Kasra, as a tourist attraction.


Gallery

File:Tagkasra.jpg, 1824 drawing by Captain Hart. File:ArchOfCtesiphon.jpg, Remains of
Taq Kasra Tāq Kasrā ( ar, طاق كسرى, translit=ṭāq kisrā), also transcribed as ''Taq-i Kisra'' or ''Taq-e Kesra'' ( fa, طاق کسری) or Ayvān-e Kesrā ( fa, ایوان خسرو, translit=ʼiwan-i-husraw, links=, meaning Iwan of Khosrow I, C ...

Taq Kasra
in 2008. File:Stamp Iraq 1923 3a.jpg, 1923 Iraqi postage stamp, featuring the arch. File:Ctesiphon, Iraq, 1932.jpg, Remains of the Kasra arch in Ctesiphon in 1932. File:Ctesiphon Exhibition - Pergamonmuseum Berlin 2017.jpg, Ctesiphon Exhibition at the Museum of Islamic Art, Berlin, Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin.


See also

* Opis * Persian Empire * Cities of the ancient Near East * Rachae * School of Seleucia-Ctesiphon


References


Bibliography

* M. Streck, ''Die alte Landschaft Babylonien nach den arabischen Geographen'', 2 vols. (Leiden, 1900–1901). * M. Streck, "Seleucia und Ktesiphon," ''Der Alte Orient'', 16 (1917), 1–64. * A. Invernizzi, "Ten Years Research in the al-Madain Area, Seleucia and Ctesiphon," ''Sumer'', 32, (1976), 167–175. * Luise Abramowski, "Der Bischof von Seleukia-Ktesiphon als Katholikos und Patriarch der Kirche des Ostens," in Dmitrij Bumazhnov u. Hans R. Seeliger (hg), ''Syrien im 1.-7. Jahrhundert nach Christus. Akten der 1. Tübinger Tagung zum Christlichen Orient (15.-16. Juni 2007).'' (Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 2011) (Studien und Texte zu Antike und Christentum / Studies and Texts in Antiquity and Christianity, 62), * * * * * * * * *


External links


Ctesiphon and Taq Kasra photo gallery

Ctesiphon Exhibition by the Islamic Art Museum at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin in 2016
(Video)



(profile at the Metropolitan Museum of Art) {{Authority control Ctesiphon, Baghdad Governorate Archaeological sites in Iraq Twin cities Parthian cities Sasanian cities Ancient history of Iraq Former populated places in Iraq Populated places along the Silk Road 120s BC establishments Places in Shahnameh