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The Arsacid dynasty, also known as the Ashkanian dynasty built the empire of Parthia in ancient Persia.

Originally, Parthia was a region in ancient Persia corresponding approximately to Northwest Khurasan.

History of the Arsacid Dynasty

In 318 B.C.E. Pithon, satrap of Media, seized Parthia and installed his brother Eudamus. But other satraps became alarmed and united under Peucestas of Persis to drive Pithon back to Media.

After 316 B.C.E Parthia was joined to Bactria under Stasanor. Diodotus of Bactria revolted and declared himself king about 253 B.C.E.

About 247 B.C.E, Arsaces (Arschag) and his brother Tiridates founded the Arsacid dynasty, They occupied the Seleucid satrapy of Parthia (the district of Tejen) defeating and killing its governor Andragoras.

In 190 B.C.E, the Seleucid king Antiochus III the Great was defeated by the  Romans at Magnesia. The Seleucid kin Antiochus IV Epiphanes died in 164 B.C.E, opening the way for the great Parthian Arsacid expansion.

Mithridates I annexed the provinces of Media, Susiana, Persis, Characene, Babylonia and Assyria in the west and of Gedrosia and Sistan in the east, and also took Seleucia on the Tigris, which was the second largest city of Western Asia.  Immediately facing the city, on the left bank of the Tigris, the Parthians founded Ctesiphon in modern Iraq,  the new capital of the empire. Mithridates I created an empire which extended  from the Euphrates to the Indian Caucasus, comprising  a vast array of peoples and traditions.

Mithridates II came to power about 123 B.C.E He exchanged ambassadors with the Chinese  around 110 B.C.E to facilitate commerce. Mithridates II also worked with the Romans to overcome Tigranes of Armenia. This cooperation quickly became a historic rivalry. Orodes I is noteworthy for having defeated Crassus about 87 B.C.E

The last king of the Arsacid  dynasty was Artabanus IV, killed in battle with Ardashir of the Sassanid dynasty about 224 CE.


Map: Parthian Arsacid Empire

Arsacidn Empir Map

The Arsacid kings

The list is a reconstruction, using. on Parthian, Greek and Roman sources. It is based on A.D.H Bivar 1983, "The Political History of Iran Under the Arsacids" in The Cambridge History of Iran pp. 9899,

Arsaces I c. 247 - ?? B.C.EE

Tiridates I  c. 246 - 211 B.C.E

Arsaces II c. 211 - 191 B.C.E (also called Artabanus )

Phriapatius c. 191 - 176 B.C.E

Phraates I c. 176 - 171 B.C.E

Mithridates I c. 171 - 138 B.C.E

Phraates II c. 138 - 127 B.C.E

Artabanus I c. 127 - 124 B.C.E

Mithridates II c. 123 - 88 B.C.E

Gotarzes I c. 95 - 90 B.C.E

Orodes I c. 90 - 80 B.C.E

Unknown kings c. 80 - 77 B.C.E

Sanatruces c. 77 - 70 B.C.E

Phraates III c. 70 - 57 B.C.E

Mithridates III c. 57 - 54 B.C.E

Orodes II c. 57 - 38 B.C.E

Pacorus I c. 39 - 38 B.C.E (co-ruler with his father Orodes II)

Phraates IV c. 38 - 2 B.C.E

Tiridates II c. 30 - 26 B.C.E

Phraates V (Phraataces) c. 2 B.C.E - A.C.E. 4

Musa c. 2 B.C.E - AD 4 (co-ruler with her son Phraates V)

Orodes III c. AD 6

Vonones I c. 8 - 12

Artabanus II c. 10 - 38

Tiridates III c. 35 - 36

Vardanes I c. 40 - 47

Gotarzes II c. 40 - 51

Sanabares c. 50 - 65

Vonones II 51

Vologeses I c. 51 - 78

Vardanes II c. 55 - 58

Vologeses II c. 77 - 80

Pacorus II c. 78 - 105

Artabanus III c. 80 - 90

Vologeses III c. 105 - 147

Osroes I c. 109 - 129

Parthamaspates c. 116

Mithridates IV c. 129 - 140

Unknown king c. 140

Vologeses IV c. 147 - 191

Osroes II c. 190 (rival claimant)

Vologeses V c. 191 - 208

Vologeses VI c. 208 - 228

Artabanus IV c. 216 - 224


Ami Isseroff

October 30, 2010.


Synonyms and alternate spellings: Iran, Persia

Further Information: Persia  

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