Old Persian : 𐎱𐎼𐎰𐎺, Parθava, Parthian :
The name "Parthia" is a continuation from Latin _Parthia_, from Old Persian _Parthava_, which was the Parthian language self-designator signifying "of the Parthians" who were an Iranian people. In context to its Hellenistic period , _Parthia_ also appears as _Parthyaea_.
* 1 Geography
* 2 History
* 2.1 Under the Achaemenids * 2.2 Under the Seleucids * 2.3 Under the Arsacids * 2.4 Under the Sasanians
* 3 Language and literature * 4 Society * 5 Parthian cities * 6 See also * 7 References * 8 Bibliography
Parthia roughly corresponds to a region in northeastern Iran. It was
bordered by the Karakum desert in the north, included Kopet Dag
mountain range and the
Dasht-e-Kavir desert in the south. It bordered
Media on the west,
UNDER THE ACHAEMENIDS
As the region inhabited by Parthians,
Parthia first appears as a
political entity in
A year after
Cyrus the Great
The first indigenous Iranian mention of Parthia is in the Behistun inscription of Darius I , where Parthia is listed (in the typical Iranian clockwise order) among the governorates in the vicinity of Drangiana . The inscription dates to c. 520 BC. The center of the administration "may have been at Hecatompylus ". The Parthians also appear in Herodotus' list of peoples subject to the Achaemenids; the historiographer treats the Parthians, Chorasmians, Sogdians and Areioi as peoples of a single satrapy (the 16th), whose annual tribute to the king he states to be only 300 talents of silver. This "has rightly caused disquiet to modern scholars."
Battle of Gaugamela in 331 BC between the forces of Darius III
and those of
Alexander the Great , one such Parthian unit was
commanded by Phrataphernes, who was at the time
UNDER THE SELEUCIDS
Following the death of Alexander, in the
Partition of Babylon in 323
Parthia became a Seleucid governorate under Nicanor .
Phrataphernes, the former governor, became governor of
In 316 BC, Stasander, a vassal of
Seleucus I Nicator and governor of
In 247 BC, following the death of
Antiochus II ,
Ptolemy III seized
control of the Seleucid capital at
Meanwhile, "a man called Arsaces , of
A short while later the
UNDER THE ARSACIDS
Parthian Empire Parthian horseman now on display
Palazzo Madama, Turin . Coin of Mithridates I (R.
171–138 BC). The reverse shows
From their base in Parthia, the Arsacid dynasts eventually extended
their dominion to include most of Greater
From about 105 BC onwards, the power and influence of this handful of Parthian noble families was such that they frequently opposed the monarch, and would eventually be a "contributory factor in the downfall" of the dynasty.
From about 130 BC onwards, Parthia suffered numerous incursions by various nomadic tribes, including the Sakas , the Yueh-chi , and the Massagetae . Each time, the Arsacid dynasts responded personally, doing so even when there were more severe threats from Seleucids or Romans looming on the western borders of their empire (as was the case for Mithridates I ). Defending the empire against the nomads cost Phraates II and Artabanus I their lives.
Around 32 BC, civil war broke out when a certain Tiridates rebelled against Phraates IV , probably with the support of the nobility that Phraates had previously persecuted. The revolt was initially successful, but failed by 25 BC. In 9/8, the Parthian nobility succeeded in putting their preferred king on the throne, but Vonones proved to have too tight a budgetary control, so he was usurped in favor of Artabanus II , who seems to have been a non-Arsacid Parthian nobleman. But when Artabanus attempted to consolidate his position (at which he was successful in most instances), he failed to do so in the regions where the Parthian provincial rulers held sway.
By the 2nd century AD, the frequent wars with neighboring Rome and with the nomads, and the infighting among the Parthian nobility had weakened the Arsacids to a point where they could no longer defend their subjugated territories. The empire fractured as vassalaries increasingly claimed independence or were subjugated by others, and the Arsacids were themselves finally vanquished by the Persian Sassanids , a formerly minor vassal from southwestern Iran, in April 224.
UNDER THE SASANIANS
Under Sasanian (Sassanid) rule, Parthia was folded into a newly formed province, Khorasan , and henceforth ceased to exist as a political entity. Some of the Parthian nobility continued to resist Sasanian dominion for some time, but most switched their allegiance to the Sasanians very early. Several families that claimed descent from the Parthian noble families became a Sasanian institution known as the "Seven houses ", five of which are "in all probability" not Parthian, but contrived genealogies "in order to emphasize the antiquity of their families."
LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE
The Parthians spoke Parthian , a north-western Iranian language. No
Parthian literature survives from before the Sassanid period in its
original form, and they seem to have written down only very little.
The Parthians did, however, have a thriving oral minstrel-poet culture
, to the extent that their word for minstrel – _gosan_ – survives
to this day in many Iranian languages as well as especially in
Armenian ("gusan"), on which it practised heavy (especially lexical
and vocabulary) influence, as well as in most Slavic languages
("guslar/guślarz"), describing a minstrel acompanied by a simple
monochord or an archaic violin, a tradition still cultivated in some
rural and mountainous areas, e.g. compare
Gorals and Gorani . These
professionals were evident in every facet of Parthian daily life, from
cradle to grave, and they were entertainers of kings and commoners
alike, proclaiming the worthiness of their patrons through association
with mythical heroes and rulers. These Parthian heroic poems, "mainly
known through Persian of the lost
Parthia itself, attested use of written Parthian is limited to the
nearly 3,000 ostraca found (in what seems to have been a wine storage
) at Nisa , in present-day Turkmenistan. A handful of other evidence
of written Parthian has also been found outside Parthia; the most
important of these being the part of a land-sale document found at
Avroman (in the
The Parthian Arsacids do not seem to have used Parthian until
relatively late, and the language first appears on Arsacid coinage
during the reign of
Vologases I (51–58 AD). Evidence that use of
Parthian was nonetheless widespread comes from early Sassanid times;
the declarations of the early Persian kings were – in addition to
Parthian waterspout, 1st–2nd century AD.
City-states of "some considerable size" existed in Parthia as early as the 1st millennium BC, "and not just from the time of the Achaemenids or Seleucids." However, for the most part, society was rural, and dominated by large landholders with large numbers of serfs, slaves, and other indentured labor at their disposal. Communities with free peasants also existed.
By Arsacid times, Parthian society was divided into the four classes (limited to freemen). At the top were the kings and near family members of the king. These were followed by the lesser nobility and the general priesthood, followed by the mercantile class and lower-ranking civil servants, and with farmers and herdsmen at the bottom.
Little is known of the Parthian economy, but agriculture must have played the most important role in it. Significant trade first occurs with the establishment of the Silk road in 114 BC, when Hecatompylos became an important junction.
Nisa (Nissa, Nusay) , located on a main trade route, was one of the
earliest capitals of the
Parthian Empire (c. 250 BC). The city is
located in the northern foothills of the Kopetdag mountains, 11 miles
west of present-day Ashgabat city (capital of Turkmenistan). Nisa had
a "soaring two-story hall in the Hellenistic Greek style.." and
temple complexes used by early Arsaces dynasty . During the reign of
Mithridates I of Parthia (c. 171 BC–138 BC) it was renamed
_Mithradatkirt_ ("fortress of Mithradates").
* ^ Diakonoff 1985 , p. 127. * ^ Diakonoff 1985 , p. 104,n.1. * ^ Mallowan 1985 , p. 406. * ^ Cook 1985 , p. 248. * ^ Cook 1985 , p. 252. * ^ Bivar 2003 , para. 6. * ^ _A_ _B_ Curtis 2007 , p. 7. * ^ Lecoq 1987 , p. 151. * ^ _A_ _B_ Bivar 1983 , p. 29. * ^ Bickerman 1983 , p. 19. * ^ Bivar 1983 , p. 31. * ^ _A_ _B_ Schippmann 1987 , p. 527. * ^ Schippmann 1987 , p. 528. * ^ Schippmann 1987 , p. 529. * ^ Lukonin 1983 , p. 704. * ^ Boyce 1983 , p. 1151. * ^ ARMENIA AND IRAN iv. Iranian influences in Armenian Language * ^ Boyce 1983 , p. 1115. * ^ Boyce 1983 , p. 1157. * ^ Boyce 1983 , p. 1153. * ^ _A_ _B_ Schippmann 1987 , p. 532. * ^ http://www.turkmenistan.orexca.com/rus/old_nissa.shtml * ^ S. Frederick Starr. Lost Enlightenment: Central Asia's Golden Age from the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane. Princeton University Press, 2013, p. 5
* Bickerman, Elias J. (1983), "The Seleucid Period", in Yarshater,
Ehsan, _Cambridge History of Iran_, 3.1, Cambridge University Press,
pp. 3–20 .
* Bivar, A.D.H. (1983), "The Political History of
_ Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica_ article _PARTHIA _.
* v * t * e
* Hellespontine Phrygia * Greater Phrygia
See also Districts of the
* v * t * e
Provinces of the
Garamig ud Nodardashiragan
* indicates short living provinces
Links: ------ /wiki/Old_Persian_language /wiki/Parthian_language