The Sasanian Empire known as the Sassanian, Sassanid or Neo-Persian Empire, was the last kingdom of the Persian Empire before the rise of Islam. Named after the House of Sasan, it ruled from 224 to 651 AD; the Sasanian Empire succeeded the Parthian Empire and was recognised as one of the leading world powers alongside its neighbouring arch-rival the Roman-Byzantine Empire for a period of more than 400 years. The Sasanian Empire was founded by Ardashir I, after the fall of the Parthian Empire and the defeat of the last Arsacid king, Artabanus V. At its greatest extent, the Sasanian Empire encompassed all of today's Iran, Eastern Arabia, the Levant, the Caucasus, large parts of Turkey, much of Central Asia and Pakistan. According to a legend, the vexilloid of the Sasanian Empire was the Derafsh Kaviani; the Sasanian Empire during Late Antiquity is considered to have been one of Iran's most important, influential historical periods and constituted the last great Iranian empire before the Muslim conquest and the adoption of Islam.
In many ways, the Sasanian period witnessed the peak of ancient Iranian civilisation. The Sasanians' cultural influence extended far beyond the empire's territorial borders, reaching as far as Western Europe, Africa and India, it played a prominent role in the formation of both Asian medieval art. Much of what became known as Islamic culture in art, architecture and other subject matter was transferred from the Sasanians throughout the Muslim world. Conflicting accounts shroud the details of the fall of the Parthian Empire and subsequent rise of the Sassanian Empire in mystery; the Sassanian Empire was established in Estakhr by Ardashir I. Papak was the ruler of a region called Khir. However, by the year 200 he had managed to overthrow Gochihr and appoint himself the new ruler of the Bazrangids, his mother, was the daughter of the provincial governor of Pars. Papak and his eldest son Shapur managed to expand their power over all of Pars; the subsequent events are due to the elusive nature of the sources.
It is certain, that following the death of Papak, who at the time was the governor of Darabgerd, became involved in a power struggle of his own with his elder brother Shapur. Sources reveal that Shapur, leaving for a meeting with his brother, was killed when the roof of a building collapsed on him. By the year 208, over the protests of his other brothers who were put to death, Ardashir declared himself ruler of Pars. Once Ardashir was appointed shah, he moved his capital further to the south of Pars and founded Ardashir-Khwarrah; the city, well protected by high mountains and defensible due to the narrow passes that approached it, became the centre of Ardashir's efforts to gain more power. It was surrounded by a high, circular wall copied from that of Darabgird. Ardashir's palace was on the north side of the city. After establishing his rule over Pars, Ardashir extended his territory, demanding fealty from the local princes of Fars, gaining control over the neighbouring provinces of Kerman, Isfahan and Mesene.
This expansion came to the attention of Artabanus V, the Parthian king, who ordered the governor of Khuzestan to wage war against Ardashir in 224, but Ardashir was victorious in the ensuing battles. In a second attempt to destroy Ardashir, Artabanus himself met Ardashir in battle at Hormozgan, where the former met his death. Following the death of the Parthian ruler, Ardashir went on to invade the western provinces of the now defunct Parthian Empire. At that time the Arsacid dynasty was divided between supporters of Artabanus V and Vologases VI, which allowed Ardashir to consolidate his authority in the south with little or no interference from the Parthians. Ardashir was aided by the geography of the province of Fars, separated from the rest of Iran. Crowned in 224 at Ctesiphon as the sole ruler of Persia, Ardashir took the title shahanshah, or "King of Kings", bringing the 400-year-old Parthian Empire to an end, beginning four centuries of Sassanid rule. In the next few years, local rebellions occurred throughout the empire.
Nonetheless, Ardashir I further expanded his new empire to the east and northwest, conquering the provinces of Sistan, Khorasan, Margiana and Chorasmia. He added Bahrain and Mosul to Sassanid's possessions. Sassanid inscriptions claim the submission of the Kings of Kushan and Mekran to Ardashir, although based on numismatic evidence it is more that these submitted to Ardashir's son, the future Shapur I. In the west, assaults against Hatra and Adiabene met with less success. In 230, Ardashir raided deep into Roman territory, a Roman counter-offensive two years ended inconclusively, although the Roman emperor, Alexander Severus, celebrated a triumph in Rome. Ardashir I's son Shapur I continued the expansion of the empire, conquering Bactria and the western portion of the Kushan Empire, while leading several campaigns against Rome. Invading Roman Mesopotamia, Shapur I captured Carrhae and Nisibis, but in 243 the Roman general Timesitheus defeated the Persians at Rhesaina and regained the lost territories.
The emperor Gordian III's subsequent advance down the Euphrates was defea
Mamikonian or Mamikonean was an aristocratic dynasty which dominated Armenian politics between the 4th and 8th century. They ruled the Armenian regions of Taron, Sasun and others, their patron saint was Saint Hovhannes Karapet whose monastery of the same name they fiercely defended against the Sassanid invaders. The origin of the Mamikonians is shrouded in the mists of antiquity. Moses of Chorene in his History of Armenia claims that three centuries earlier two noblemen of "Chem" origin and Konak, rose against their half-brother, the king of Chenk, they were defeated and fled to the king of Parthia who, braving the Emperor's demands to extradite the culprits, sent them to live in Armenia, where Mamik became the progenitor of the Mamikonians. Another 5th-century Armenian historian, Pavstos Buzand, seconded the story. In his History of Armenia, he twice mentions that the Mamikonians descended from the Han Dynasty of China and as such were not inferior to the Arshakid rulers of Armenia; this genealogical legend may have been part of an agenda by the Bagratid dynasty of Armenia to take away the legitimacy off the Mamikonian dynasty.
Although it echoes the Bagratids' claim of Davidic descent and the Artsruni's claim of the royal Assyrian ancestry, some Armenian historians tended to interpret it as something more than a piece of genealogical mythology. A theory from the 1920s postulated that the Chenk mentioned in the Armenian sources were not Han-Chinese but from a different Iranian-speaking ethnic group from Transoxania, such as the Tocharians in Northwest China. Edward Gibbon in his The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire believed that the founder of Mamikonian clan was not Han-Chinese but from the territory of the Chinese Empire and ascribes a Scythian origin to Mamgon stating that at the time the borders of the Chinese Empire reached as far west as Sogdiana. Another reconstruction, similar to the previous ones but without references whatsoever to distant China, has that the family immigrated from Bactriana under the reign of Tiridates II of Armenia coinciding with the accession of the Sassanids in Iran.
More recent theories, suggests that the "Chank" are to be identified either with the Tzans, a tribe in the southern Caucasus, or with a Central Asian group living near the Syr Darya river. In the words of Nina Garsoïan / Encyclopædia Iranica: The Mamikoneans claimed to be of royal Čenkʿ descent, a people traditionally associated with China. Although this origin is disputed by scholars, who have not yet reached a final conclusion, the Mamikoneans have been thought to have come from Central Asia or from the region of Darband. Adontz and Toumanoff considered that their ancestry should be linked with Georgia; the family first appears in the early 4th century. Under the late Arsacid Kingdom of Armenia, the family occupied an important position: they were hereditary commanders-in-chief and royal tutors and controlled large domains, including most of Taron and Tayk; the Mamikonian increased their property further with the death of the last hereditary Patriarch of Armenia, Isaac in ca. 428, when they inherited many Church lands through the marriage of his only daughter to Hamazasp Mamikonian.
The first known Mamikonid lord, or nakharar, about whom anything certain is known was a certain Vatche Mamikonian. The family reappears in chronicles in 355. At that point the family chief was Vassak Mamikonian, the sparapetof Armenia; the office of sparapet would become hereditary possession of the Mamikonians. Vassak Mamikonian was in charge of the Armenian defense against Persia but was defeated through the treachery of Merujan Artsruni. Following the defeat, Vassak's brother Vahan Mamikonian and multiple other feudal lords defected to the Persian side; the Emperor Valens, interfered in Armenian affairs and had the office of sparapet bestowed on Vassak's son Mushegh I Mamikonian in 370. Four years Varasdates, a new king, confirmed Mushegh in office; the latter was subsequently assassinated on behest of Sembat Saharuni who replaced him as sparapet' of Armenia. On this event, the family leadership passed to Mushegh's brother, Manuel Mamikonian, kept as a hostage in Persia; the Mamikonids routed Varasdates and Saharuni at Karin.
Emmanuel, together with his sons Hemaiak and Artches, took the king prisoner and put him in a fortress, whence Varasdates escaped abroad. Zarmandukht, the widow of Varasdates' predecessor, was proclaimed queen. Emmanuel came to an agreement with the powerful Sassanids, pledging his loyalty in recompense for their respect of the Armenian autonomy and laws. Upon the queen's demise in 384, Manuel Mamikonian was proclaimed Regent of Armenia pending the minority of her son Arsaces III and had the infant king married to his daughter Vardandukht, it was Manuel's death in 385 that precipitated the country's conquest by the Persians in 386-387. Hamazasp Mamikonian was recorded as the family leader in 393, his wife is known to have been daughter of Patriarch Isaac the Great. She was Saint Gregory the Illuminator, they had a son, Vardan Mamikonian, revered as one of the greatest military and spi
Georgian Orthodox Church
The Georgian Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church is an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox Church in full communion with the other churches of Eastern Orthodoxy. It is Georgia's dominant religious institution, a majority of Georgian people are members; the Georgian Orthodox Church is one of the oldest churches in the world. It asserts apostolic foundation, its historical roots must be traced to the early and late Christianization of Iberia and Colchis by Saint Andrew in the 1st century AD and by Saint Nino in the 4th century AD, respectively; as in similar autocephalous Orthodox churches, the Church's highest governing body is the Holy Synod of bishops. The church is headed by the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II, elected in 1977. Orthodox Christianity was the state religion throughout most of Georgia's history until 1921, when it was conquered by the Russian Red Army during the Russian-Georgian War and became part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; the current Constitution of Georgia recognizes the special role of the Georgian Orthodox Church in the country's history, but stipulates the independence of the church from the state.
Government relations are further defined and regulated by the Concordat of 2002. The church is the most trusted institution in Georgia. According to a 2013 survey 95% respondents had a favorable opinion of its work, it is influential in the public sphere and is considered Georgia's most influential institution. According to Georgian Orthodox Church tradition, the first preacher of the Gospel in Colchis and Iberia was the apostle Andrew, the First-called. According to the official church account, Andrew preached across Georgia, carrying with him an acheiropoieta of the Virgin Mary, founded Christian communities believed to be the direct ancestors of the Church. However, modern historiography considers this account mythical, the fruit of a late tradition, derived from 9th-century Byzantine legends about the travels of St. Andrew in eastern Christendom. Similar traditions regarding Saint Andrew exist in Ukraine and Romania. Other apostles claimed by the Church to have preached in Georgia include Simon the Canaanite said to have been buried near Sokhumi, in the village of Anakopia, Saint Matthias, said to have preached in the southwest of Georgia, to have been buried in Gonio, a village not far from Batumi.
The Church claims the presence in Georgia of the Apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus, coming north from Armenia. The propagation of Christianity in present-day Georgia before the 4th century is still poorly known; the first documented event in this process is the preaching of Saint Nino and its consequences, although exact dates are still debated. Saint Nino, honored as Equal to the Apostles, was according to tradition the daughter of a Roman general from Cappadocia, she preached in the Kingdom of Iberia in the first half of the 4th century, her intercession led to the conversion of King Mirian III, his wife Queen Nana and their family. Cyril Toumanoff dates the conversion of Mirian to 334, his official baptism and subsequent adoption of Christianity as the official religion of Iberia to 337. From the first centuries C. E. the cult of Mithras, pagan beliefs, Zoroastrianism were practiced in Georgia. However, they now started to decline despite Zoroastrianism becoming a second established religion of Iberia after the Peace of Acilisene in 378, more by the mid-fifth century.
The royal baptism and organization of the Church were accomplished by priests sent from Constantinople by Constantine the Great. Conversion of the people of Iberia proceeded in the plains, but pagan beliefs long subsisted in mountain regions; the western Kingdom of Lazica was politically and culturally distinct from Iberia at that time, culturally more integrated into the Roman Empire. The conversion of Iberia marked only the beginnings of the formation of the Georgian Orthodox Church. In the next centuries, different processes took place that shaped the Church, gave it, by the beginning of the 11th century, the main characteristics that it has retained until now; those processes concern the institutional status of the Church inside Eastern Christianity, its evolution into a national church with authority over all of Georgia, the dogmatic evolution of the church.. In the 4th and 5th centuries, the Church of Iberia was subordinate to the Apostolic See of Antioch: all bishops were consecrated in Antioch before being sent to Iberia.
Around 480, in a step towards autocephaly, the Patriarch of Antioch Peter the Fuller elevated the Bishop of Mtskheta to the rank of Catholicos of Iberia with the approval, or at the instigation, of the Byzantine emperor Zeno. The Church remained subordinate to the Antioch Church. In 1010, the Catholicos of Iberia was elevated to the honor of Patriarch. From on, the premier hierarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church carried the official title of Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia. At the beginnings of the Church history, what is now Georgia was not unified yet politically, would not be until the beginnings of the 11th century; the western half of the count
Greater Armenia is the name given to the state of Armenia that emerged on the Armenian Highlands under the reign of King Artaxias I at the turn of the second century BC. The term was used to refer to Armenian kingdoms throughout the classical, late antique, medieval periods by contemporary Armenian and non-Armenian authors alike. Though its borders were in a constant state of flux, Greater Armenia encompassed the area stretching from the Euphrates River in the west, the region of Artsakh and parts of Iranian Azerbaijan to the east, parts of the modern state of Georgia to the north, with its southern boundary abutting the northern tip of Mesopotamia. To the Romans it was known as Armenia Maior and to the Greek-speaking peoples as Ἀρμενία Μεγάλη, to differentiate it with Lesser Armenia, it would be used to distinguish it from the medieval kingdom, established in Cilicia, sometimes referred to as Little Armenia. Adontz, Nicholas. Armenia in the Period of Justinian: The Political Conditions Based on the Naxarar System, trans.
Nina Garsoïan. Lisbon: Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. Hewsen, Robert H.. Armenia: A Historical Atlas. Chicago: Chicago University Press. Armenia
Kingdom of Armenia (antiquity)
The Kingdom of Armenia the Kingdom of Greater Armenia, or Greater Armenia, sometimes referred to as the Armenian Empire, was a monarchy in the Ancient Near East which existed from 321 BC to 428 AD. Its history is divided into successive reigns by three royal dynasties: Orontid and Arsacid; the root of the kingdom lies in one of the satrapies of the Achaemenid Empire of Persia called Armenia, formed from the territory of the Kingdom of Ararat after it was conquered by the Median Empire in 590 BC. The satrapy became a kingdom in 321 BC during the reign of the Orontid dynasty after the conquest of Persia by Alexander the Great, incorporated as one of the Hellenistic kingdoms of the Seleucid Empire. Under the Seleucid Empire, the Armenian throne was divided in two – Armenia Maior and Sophene – both of which passed to members of the Artaxiad dynasty in 189 BC. During the Roman Republic's eastern expansion, the Kingdom of Armenia, under Tigranes the Great, reached its peak, from 83 to 69 BC, after it reincorporated Sophene and conquered the remaining territories of the falling Seleucid Empire ending its existence and raising Armenia into an empire for a brief period, until it was itself conquered by Rome in 69 BC.
The remaining Artaxiad kings ruled as clients of Rome until they were overthrown in 12 AD due to their possible allegiance to Rome's main rival in the region, Parthia. During the Roman–Parthian Wars, the Arsacid dynasty of Armenia was founded when Tiridates I, a member of the Parthian Arsacid dynasty, was proclaimed King of Armenia in 52. Throughout most of its history during this period, Armenia was contested between Rome and Parthia, the Armenian nobility was divided among pro-Roman, pro-Parthian or neutrals. From 114 to 118, Armenia became a province of the Roman Empire under Emperor Trajan; the Kingdom of Armenia served as a client state or vassal at the frontier of the two large empires and their successors, the Byzantine and Sassanid empires. In 301, Tiridates III proclaimed Christianity as the state religion of Armenia, making the Armenian kingdom the first state to embrace Christianity officially. During the Byzantine–Sasanian wars, Armenia was partitioned into Byzantine Armenia in 387 and Persian Armenia in 428.
The geographic Armenian Highlands known as the highlands of Ararat, was inhabited by Proto-Armenian tribes which did not yet constitute a unitary state or nation. The highlands were first united by tribes in the vicinity of Lake Van into the Kingdom of Van; the kingdom competed with Assyria over supremacy in the highlands of Ararat and the Fertile Crescent. Both kingdoms fell to Iranian invaders from the neighbouring East in the 6th century BC, its territory was reorganized into a satrapy called Armenia. The Orontid dynasty ruled as satraps of the Achaemenid Empire for three centuries until the empire's defeat against Alexander the Great's Macedonian Empire at the Battle of Gaugamela in 331 BC. After Alexander's death in 323 BC, a Macedonian general named Neoptolemus obtained Armenia until he died in 321 BC and the Orontids returned, not as satraps, but as kings. Orontes III and the ruler of Lesser Armenia, recognized themselves independent, thus elevating the former Armenian satrapy into a kingdom, giving birth to the kingdoms of Armenia and Lesser Armenia.
Orontes III defeated the Thessalian commander Menon, who wanted to capture Sper's gold mines. Weakened by the Seleucid Empire which succeeded the Macedonian Empire, the last Orontid king, Orontes IV, was overthrown in 200/201 BC and the kingdom was taken over by a commander of the Seleucid Empire, Artashes I, presumed to be related to the Orontid dynasty himself; the Seleucid Empire's influence over Armenia had weakened after it was defeated by the Romans in the Battle of Magnesia in 190 BC. A Hellenistic Armenian state was thus founded in the same year by Artaxias I alongside the Armenian kingdom of Sophene led by Zariadres. Artaxias seized Yervandashat, united the Armenian Highlands at the expense of neighboring tribes and founded the new royal capital of Artaxata near the Araxes River. According to Strabo and Plutarch, Hannibal Barca received hospitality at the Armenian court of Artaxias I; the authors add an apocryphal story of how Hannibal supervised the building of Artaxata. The new city was laid on a strategic position at the juncture of trade routes that connected the Ancient Greek world with Bactria and the Black Sea which permitted the Armenians to prosper.
Tigranes the Great saw an opportunity for expansion in the constant civil strife to the south. In 83 BC, at the invitation of one of the factions in the interminable civil wars, he entered Syria, soon established himself as ruler of Syria—putting the Seleucid Empire at an end—and ruled peacefully for 17 years. During the zenith of his rule, Tigranes the Great extended Armenia's territory outside of the Armenian Highland over parts of the Caucasus and the area, now south-eastern Turkey, Iran and Lebanon, becoming one of the most powerful states in the Roman East. Armenia came under the Ancient Roman sphere of influence in 66 BC, after the battle of Tigranocerta and the final defeat of Armenia's ally, Mithridates VI of Pontus. Mark Antony invaded and defeated the kingdom in 34 BC, but the Romans lost hegemony during the Final War of the Roman Republic in 32–30 BC. In 20 BC, Augustus negotiated a truce with the Parthians, making Armenia a buffer zone between the two major powers. Augustus i
Shushanik, born Vardeni Mamikonian was a Christian Armenian woman, tortured to death by her husband Varsken in the town of Tsurtavi, Georgia. Since she died defending her right to profess Christianity, she is regarded as a martyr, her martyrdom is described in her confessor Jacob’s hagiographic work, the oldest extant work of Georgian language literature. The hagiography details extensive resistance to forms of imprisonment, isolation and cruelty by Shushanik. Shushanik was a daughter of the Armenian military commander Vardan Mamikonian and married the Mihranid ruler Varsken, son of Arshusha II. Varsken was a defiant vassal of Vakhtang I Gorgasali, King of Kartli, took a pro-Persian position, renouncing Christianity and adopting Zoroastrianism, he killed his spouse. Varsken himself was put to death by King Vakhtang in 483. Shushanik has been canonized by the Georgian Orthodox Church and is venerated by the Armenian Apostolic Church, her feast day is celebrated on October 17 in Tuesday between September 20-26 in Armenia.
Martyrdom of Shushanik
Ctesiphon was an ancient city, located on the eastern bank of the Tigris, about 35 kilometres southeast of present-day Baghdad. Ctesiphon served as a royal capital of the Persian Empire in the Parthian and Sasanian eras for over eight hundred years. Ctesiphon remained the capital of the Sasanian Empire until the Muslim conquest of Persia 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. Ctesiphon and its environs were therefore sometimes referred to as "The Cities". In the late sixth and early seventh century, it was one of the largest cities in the world. During the Roman–Parthian Wars, Ctesiphon fell three times to the Romans, fell twice during Sasanian rule, it was 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 capital at Baghdad.
The most conspicuous structure remaining today is the Taq Kasra, sometimes called the Archway of Ctesiphon. The Latin name Ctesiphon derives from Ancient Greek Ktēsiphôn; 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 Parthian, in Middle Persian and in Christian Sogdian languages. The New Persian form is Tisfun. Texts from the Assyrian Church of the East's synods referred to the city as Qṭēspōn or some times Māḥôzē when referring to the metropolis of Seleucia-Ctesiphon. In modern Arabic, the name is Ṭaysafūn or Qaṭaysfūn or as al-Mada'in. "According to Yāqūt, quoting Ḥamza, the original form was Ṭūsfūn or Tūsfūn, arabicized as Ṭaysafūn." The Armenian name of the city was Tizbon. Ctesiphon is first mentioned in the Book of Ezra of the Old Testament as Kasfia/Casphia, it is mentioned in the Talmud as Aktisfon.
Ctesiphon is located at Al-Mada'in, 32 km southeast of the modern city of Baghdad, along the river Tigris. Ctesiphon measured 30 square kilometers, more than twice the surface of 13.7-square-kilometer fourth-century imperial Rome. The archway of Chosroes 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. 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. The reign of Gotarzes I saw Ctesiphon reach a peak as a commercial center; the city became the Empire's capital circa 58 BC during the reign of Orodes II. The city merged with the old Hellenistic capital of Seleucia and other nearby settlements to form a cosmopolitan metropolis; the reason for this westward relocation of the capital could have been in part due to the proximity of the previous capitals to the Scythian incursions. Strabo abundantly describes the foundation of Ctesiphon: In ancient times Babylon was the metropolis of Assyria.
Nearby is situated a village called Ctesiphon, a large village. This village the kings of the Parthians were wont to make their winter residence, thus sparing the Seleucians, in order that the Seleucians might not be oppressed by having the Scythian folk or soldiery quartered amongst them; because of the Parthian power, Ctesiphon is a city rather than a village. Because of its importance, Ctesiphon was a major military objective for the leaders of the 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 captured Ctesiphon in 116, but his successor, decided to willingly return Ctesiphon in 117 as part of a peace settlement; the Roman general Avidius Cassius captured Ctesiphon in 164 during another Parthian war, but abandoned it when peace was concluded. In 197, the emperor Septimius Severus sacked Ctesiphon and carried off thousands of its inhabitants, whom he sold into slavery. By 226, Ctesiphon was in the hands of the Sasanian Empire, who made it their capital and had laid an end to the Parthian dynasty of Iran.
Ctesiphon was enlarged and flourished during their rule, thus turning into a metropolis, known by in Arabic as al-Mada'in, in Aramaic as Mahoze. The oldest inhabited places of Ctesiphon were on its eastern side, which in Islamic Arabic sources is called "the Old City", where the residence of the Sasanians, known as the White Palace, was located; the southern side of Ctesiphon was known as Asbānbar or Aspānbar, known by its prominent halls, games and baths. Taq Kasra was l