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The Sassanid dynasty and empire replaced the Arsacid or Parthian empire and dynasty of  Persia from about 224 A.C.E. until the Arab conquest in 651. Its state religion was Zoroastrianism. The Sassanids were Zoroastrian priests, who established Zoroastrianism as a state religion. Tere were great many Nestorian Monophysite Christians in the empire. Nestorianism was considered heretical by he Byzantine orthodox church, encouraging revolt against th Byzantine empire, Sassanid Persia had a well developed bureaucracy.

Map of the Sassanid Empire

Map of Sassanid Empire

Timeline of the Sassanid Empire and Dynasty

224:Artabanus IV is killed in battle with Ardashir I at Hormizdagan,  ending the Arsacid dynasty.

283: The Sassanid empire is invaded by Rome, The army under Carus reaches Ctesiphon. The Romans retreat after the death or assassination of Carus

363: A long war culminates in a Sassanid victory over Rome and the death or assassination of the emperor Julian.

484: The Huns capture the northeastern cities of the empire, emptied the royal treasury and forced King Balash to pay them tribute. This together with drought and famine resulted in political unrest.

528: Followers of the Mazdak religion are massacred.

560's: King Khosrau 1 defeats the Hus in an alliance with the Turkish ruler Sinjibu. He also expands northward to theBlack Sea.

602-619: King Khosrau l occupies Syria, Jerusalem  and Egypt.

622-627: The Byzantine emperor Heraclius leads a devastating revenge attack on Persia,

628: King Khosrau II is deposed by the occupying Byzantine forces. A peace treaty is signed, and the Sassanids retreat to their pre-602 borders.

636: At the battle of Qadisiyya, the Arabs defeat the Sassanids and take control over much of the western provinces, including Ctesiphon.

642 or 644: At the battle of Nahavand, the Arabs under Umar defeat the Sassanids decisively, occupying central Persia.

651: King Yazdegerd III is captured by the Arabs  and killed near Merv.


Sassanid Shahs

Ardashir I 224 - 241
Shapur I 241 - 272
Hormizd I 272 - 273
Bahram I 273 - 276
Bahram II 276 - 293
Bahram III 293
Narseh 293 - 302
Hormizd II 302 - 309
Adhur Narseh 309
Shapur II 309 - 379
Ardashir II 379 - 383
Shapur III 383 - 388
Bahram IV 388 - 399
Yazdegerd I 399 - 420
Bahram V 420 - 438
Yazdegerd II 438 - 457
Hormizd III 457 - 459
Peroz I 457 - 484
Balash 484 - 488
Kavadh I 488 - 531
Djamasp 496 - 498
Khosrau I 531 - 579
Hormizd IV 579 - 590
Bahram VI 590
Chobin 590 - 591
Bistam 591 - 595
Hormizd V 593
Khosrau II 591 - 628
Kavadh II 628
Ardashir III 628 - 630
Shahrbaraz 630
Purandokht (Empress)
630 - 631
Peroz II 631
Azarmidokht (Empress) 631
Khosrau 631
Hormizd VI 631 - 632
Yazdegerd III 632 - 651

Ami Isseroff

October 29, 2010


Synonyms and alternate spellings: Sasanid, Sassanian

Further Information:: Persia  

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Encyclopedia of the Middle East

Note - This encyclopedia is a work in progress. It is far from complete and is being constructed and improved all the time. If you would like to contribute articles or expansions of existing articles, please contact news (at) mideastweb.org.  Suggestions and corrections are welcome. The concise version of this dictionary is at our Middle East Glossary.

Spelling - Spelling of words in Middle-Eastern languages is often arbitrary. There may be many variants of the same name or word such as Hezbollah, Hizbolla, Hisbolla or Husayn and Hussein. There are some conventions for converting words from Semitic languages such as Arabic and Hebrew There are numerous variant renderings of the same Arabic or Hebrew words, such as "Hizbollah," "Hisbulla" etc. It is not possible to find exact equivalents for several letters. 

Pronunciation - Arabic and Hebrew vowels are pronounced differently than in English. "o" is very short. The "a" is usually pronounced like the "a" in market, sometimes as the "a" in "Arafat."  The " 'A " is guttural.  " 'H "- the 'het ('Hirbeh, 'Hebron, 'Hisbollah') designates a sound somewhat similar to the ch in "loch" in Scots pronunciation, but made by touching the back of your tongue to the roof of your mouth. The CH should be pronounced like Loch, a more assertive consonant than 'het.

The "Gh" combination, and sometimes the "G," designate a deep guttural sound that Westerners may hear approximately as "r." The "r" sound is always formed with the back of the tongue, and is not like the English "r."

More information: Hebrew, Arabic

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