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Encyclopedia > Sassanid army
Relief of Ardashir I, in Naqsh-e Rustam
Relief of Ardashir I, in Naqsh-e Rustam

The birth of the Sassanid army (Persian: لشگر ساسانيانLæškar-e Sāsānīyān) dates back to Ardashir I rise to the throne, when he planned a clear military aimed at the revival of the Persian Empire by forming a standing army which was under his personal command and its officers were separate from satraps and local princes and nobility. He restored the Achaemenid military organizations, retained Parthian cavalry, and employed new types of armour and siege warfares. This was a beginning for an army which served he and his successors for over 400 years making Sassanids, along with the Roman Empire and later Byzantine Empire, the superpowers of late antiquity and defending Eranshahr (Iran) from east against central Asiatic nomads like Hephthalites, Turks and from west against the Roman Empire and later on the Byzantine Empire.[1] Image File history File linksMetadata Naghsh-e_Rostam_2. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Naghsh-e_Rostam_2. ... NæqÅ¡-e Rostæm, near Shiraz A rock relief at Naqsh-e Rostam, depicting the triumph of Shapur I over three Roman Emperors Valerian, Gordian III and Philip the Arab. ... Persian (Local names: فارسی Fârsi or پارسی Pârsi)* is an Indo-European language spoken in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan as well as by minorities in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, India, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Southern Russia, neighboring countries, and elsewhere. ... Silver coin of Ardashir I with a fire altar on its verso (British Museum London). ... The Persian Empire was a series of historical empires that ruled over the Iranian plateau, the old Persian homeland, and beyond in Western Asia, Central Asia and the Caucasus. ... Achaemenid Empire The Achaemenid Dynasty was a dynasty in the ancient Persian Empire, including Cyrus II the Great, Darius I and Xerxes I. At the height of their power, the Achaemenid rulers of Persia ruled over territories roughly emcompassing some parts of todays Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon... Parthia[1] (Middle Persian: اشکانیان Ashkâniân) was a civilization situated in the northeast of modern Iran, but at its height covering all of Iran proper, as well as regions of the modern countries of Armenia, Iraq, Georgia, eastern Turkey, eastern Syria, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Kuwait, the Persian Gulf... Motto: Senatus Populusque Romanus (SPQR) The Roman Empire at its greatest extent, c. ... Byzantine Empire at its greatest extent c. ... Late Antiquity is a rough periodization (c. ... It has been suggested that this article be split into multiple articles. ... The Hephthalites, also known as White Huns, were a nomadic people who lived across northern China, Central Asia, and northern India in the fourth through sixth centuries. ...

Contents

Army

A fine cameo showing an equestrian combat of Shapur I and Valerian in which the Roman emperor is seized, according to Shapur’s own statement, “with our own hand”, in year 256.
A fine cameo showing an equestrian combat of Shapur I and Valerian in which the Roman emperor is seized, according to Shapur’s own statement, “with our own hand”, in year 256.

In the character of their warfare, the Persians of the Sassanid period did not greatly differ from the same people under the Achaemenian kings. The principal changes which time had brought about were an almost entire disuse of the war chariot and the advance of the elephant corps into a very prominent and important position. Four main arms of the service were recognized, each standing on a different level: viz. the elephants, the horse, the archers, and the ordinary footmen.[2] Image File history File links Shapur_valerian. ... Image File history File links Shapur_valerian. ... A coin of Shapur I. Shapur I, son of Ardashir I (226–241), was King of Persia from 241 to 272. ... Valerian on a coin celebrating goddess Fortuna, associated with health and wealth. ...


Ranks

  • Eran Spahbod: Commander-in chief
  • Spahbod: Field general
  • Marzban: Commander of the border guards
  • Poshtikban Salar: Head of royal guard
  • Iran anbaraghbad: Senior rank responsible for army supplies
  • Stor-bezashk: Senior vet who looked after cavalry elite's mounts
  • Payygan Salar: Chief of infantry division
  • Savaran Sardar: Head of cavalry division

Spahbod (Persian:سپهبد is consisted of two words: Spah سپه (army) bod بد (master) ) was a rank used in the Parthian empire and more widely in Sassanid dynasty of Persia (Iran). ... Spahbod or Spahbed (Persian: سپهبد, in new Persian Sepahbod, is derived from the words Spah سپه army bod بد master ) also alternatively Spah Salar (سپهسالار) and was a rank used in the Parthian empire and more widely in the Sassanid Empire of Persia (Iran). ... The word Marzban consists of two sections: Marz (border or boundary in Persian) and the suffix -ban (guardian in Persian). ...

Cavalry

A medieval Armenian miniature representing the Sassanid Persians War elephants in the Battle of Vartanantz
A medieval Armenian miniature representing the Sassanid Persians War elephants in the Battle of Vartanantz
Dish Shapur II Hunting Lions 4th century.
Dish Shapur II Hunting Lions 4th century.
Depiction of a Sassanid Clibanarii cavalry in the 2005 PC game Rome Total War: Barbarian Invasion.
Depiction of a Sassanid Clibanarii cavalry in the 2005 PC game Rome Total War: Barbarian Invasion.

The backbone of the Spah سپاه (army) in the Sassanid era was its heavy armoured cavalry. This was made up of noblemen who underwent extensive exercises in warfare and military manoeuvres through military training, gaining discipline and becoming truly elite soldiers.[1] Within the Sassanid military, the cavalry was the most influential element, and Sassanid cavalry tactics were adopted by the Romans, Arabs, and Turks. Their cavalry systems of weaponry, battle tactics, tamgas, Medallions, court customs, and costumes influenced Romano-Byzantine culture. The Romans have long contended against opponents who fielded heavy cavalry, notably the Sarmatians and the Sassanid Persians (and the Parthians before them) and recurrent wars between the Sassanids and Romans was an important factor in the latter's turn to new military organizations and battlefield tactics that centered around the use of heavy cavalry. Here, the Palmyran/Sassanid model was particularly influential. The Romans called these newly formed units clibanarii; It is said the word clibanarii is derived from Persian word griwbanwar or griva-pana-bara meaning neck-guard wearer. Another, more direct and often quoted, etymology is the Greek word ho klibanos, which refers to a covered pot in which bread was baked or a small oven; perhaps a joking reference to the one-piece mask helmets they wore. The Roman term appears for the first time in the vita Alexandri Severi (56.5) in the Historia Augusta, a work from the very end of the 4th century A.D. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (2476x1880, 1492 KB) Summary The Battle of Avarayr, Sharaknots, 1482, Akants Desert, MS 1620, 295b-296a, size 12,8 X 8. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (2476x1880, 1492 KB) Summary The Battle of Avarayr, Sharaknots, 1482, Akants Desert, MS 1620, 295b-296a, size 12,8 X 8. ... Sassanid Empire at its greatest extent The Sassanid dynasty (also Sassanian) was the name given to the kings of Persia during the era of the second Persian Empire, from 224 until 651, when the last Sassanid shah, Yazdegerd III, lost a 14-year struggle to drive out the Umayyad Caliphate... Combatants Sassanid Empire Armenian rebels Commanders Yazdegerd II Vartan Mamikonian Strength 180,000 to 220,000(According to Armenian sources) 60,000 Casualties Unknown Heavy Battle of Vartanantz (May 26, 451) is remembered by Armenians as probably the greatest battle in their history. ... This image is copyrighted. ... This image is copyrighted. ... Shapur II was king of Persia (310 - 379). ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (1107x696, 747 KB) Licensing This is a screenshot of a copyrighted computer game or video game, and the copyright for it is most likely held by the company that developed the game. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (1107x696, 747 KB) Licensing This is a screenshot of a copyrighted computer game or video game, and the copyright for it is most likely held by the company that developed the game. ... The Clibanarii (from the Latin, clibani, meaning campoven) were a late Roman and Byzantine military unit of heavy armored horsemen. ... Rome: Total War is a grand strategy computer game where players fight historical and fictious battles during the era of the Roman Republic, from 270 BCE to 14 CE. The game was developed by Creative Assembly and released on September 22, 2004. ... A tamgha, or tamga (Modern Turkish: damga) is an abstract seal or device used by Eurasian nomadic peoples and by cultures influenced by them. ... The Clibanarii (from the Latin, clibani, meaning campoven) were a late Roman and Byzantine military unit of heavy armored horsemen. ...


Shapur II reformed the army by adopting heavier and more effective cavalry. These mounted units were clad in thick iron plates which covered their entire body. This made them look very much like moving iron statues. Some were armed with a lance and some with a sword and/or mace.[1] There are depictions of aforementioned cavalry, one of the best preserved ones is on a rock relief at Taq-e Bostan where Khosrau II is on his favourite horse Shabdiz. Shapur II was king of Persia (310 - 379). ... Kermanshah or Taq-i-Bustan , is located in western Iran , four miles north-East of Kermanshah. ... Egyptian woven pattern woolen curtain or trousers, which was a copy of a Sassanid silk import, which was in turn based on a fresco of Persian King Khosrau II fighting Ethiopian forces in Yemen, 5-6th century. ... Shabdiz is the name of the legendary and beloved horse of Khosrau Parvez, a Sassanid king. ...


The fighting equipment of the heavily-armed Sassanid horsemen were:

  • Clibanarii cavalry helmet, hauberk (Pahlavi griwban), breastplate, mail, gauntlet (Pahlavi abdast), girdle, thigh-guards (Pahlavi ran-ban) sword, mace, bowcase with two bows and two bowstrings, quiver with 30 arrows, two extra bowstrings, and horse armour (zen-abzar).
  • Cataphract cavalry: helmet, hauberk, breastplate, mail, gauntlet, girdle, thigh-guards, bowcase with two bows and two bowstrings, quiver with 30 arrows, spear, and horse armour (zen-abzar); to these some have added a lasso (kamand), or a sling with pellets.[1]

Along with the heavy cavalry there were lighter-armoured cavalry which were not made up of Sassanids but were recruited from their allies and supplemented by mercenary troops. Gelani (Guilani), Albani, Hephthalites, Kushans and the Khazars were the main suppliers of this light to medium armoured cavalry. They were an essential part of spah because of their endurance and speed on the battlefield. The Clibanarii (from the Latin, clibani, meaning campoven) were a late Roman and Byzantine military unit of heavy armored horsemen. ... A cataphract (from the Greek κατάφρακτος katafraktos, plural katafraktoi) was a form of heavy cavalry used by nomadic eastern Iranian tribes and dynasties and later Greeks and Latin-speaking peoples. ... Albani was the Latin name in the Roman Republic for the inhabitants of Alba Longa. ... Common Era (CE)  Modern (SSR = Soviet Socialist Republic) Afghanistan  Azerbaijan  Bahrain  Iran  Iraq  Tajikistan  Uzbekistan  This box:      The Hephthalites (425 - 557 CE) (Persian: ‎ or هپتالیان) were a people of obscure origin who at certain periods played an important role in the history of Persia and India. ... Boundary of the Kushan empire, c. ... The Khazars were a Turkic semi-nomadic people from Central Asia who adopted Judaism. ...


Both types of cavalry units were supported by war elephants and elite foot archers who showered the enemy with storms of arrows.[1] The elephant corps held the first position. It was recruited from India, but was at no time very numerous. Great store was set by it; and in some of the earlier battles against the Arabs the victory was regarded as gained mainly by this arm of the service. It acted with best effect in an open and level district; but the value put upon it was such that, however rough, mountainous, and woody the country into which the Persian arms penetrated, the elephant always accompanied the march of the Persian troops, and care was taken to make roads by which it could travel. The elephant corps was under a special chief, known as the Zend−hapet, or "Commander of the Indians," either because the beasts came from that country, or because they were managed by natives of Hindustan.[3] These giant beasts acted as walking towers on battlefields and caused panic and disorder in enemy ranks, creating openings in the lines that cavalry could take advantage of. Charging elephants caused terror and panic, and their thick hides made them difficult to injure or kill. ... In Target Archery, the object is to hit targets such as this to score points. ... Hindustan (Hindi: हिन्दुस्तान [Hindustān], Urdu: [Hindostān], from the (Sanskrit) HindÅ« + -stān, archaic Hindoostan) and the adjective Hindustani may relate to various aspects of four geographic areas: Hindustan: Land of the Hindus. ...

  • Persian immortal guard
  • Azadan nobility Savaran (elite cavalry also described as Persian knighty caste)
  • War elephants
  • Light cavalry (archers)
  • Medium cavalry (Medium armoured cavalry armed with lance and shield)
  • Clibanarii cavalry (Heavy cavalry armed with maces and swords)
  • Cataphract cavalry (Heavy cavalry armed with lances)

Infantry

A Sassanid gold sword handle and chapes.
A Sassanid gold sword handle and chapes.

The infantry were mostly lightly-armoured spearman but in some battles heavy infantry was deployed. These well-paid, heavily-armoured infantry (carrying either sword or mace) were the equals of the Roman legions. The Daylam and Sogdiana provinces of the empire were famous for their formidable ability as foot soldiers. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1017x1941, 1270 KB) Sword handle and chapes, gold, from Iran, the Sasanian Dynasty, 600-650. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1017x1941, 1270 KB) Sword handle and chapes, gold, from Iran, the Sasanian Dynasty, 600-650. ... A scabbard is a sheath for holding a sword or other large blade. ... Guilan or Gilan (گیلان in Persian) is one of the 30 provinces of Iran, known during ancient times as part of Hyrcania, with a population of approximately 2 million and an area of 14,700 sq. ... Sogdiana, ca. ...


The archers formed the elite of the Persian infantry. They were trained to deliver their arrows with extreme rapidity, and with an aim that was almost unerring. The huge wattled shields, adopted by the Achaemenian Persians from the Assyrians, still remained in use; and from behind a row of these, rested upon the ground and forming a sort of loop−holed wall, the Sassanid bowmen shot their weapons with great effect; nor was it until their store of arrows was exhausted that the Romans, ordinarily, felt themselves upon even terms with their enemy. Sometimes the archers, instead of thus fighting in line, were intermixed with the heavy horse, with which it was not difficult for them to keep pace. They galled the foe with their constant discharges from between the ranks of the horsemen, remaining themselves in comparative security, as the legions rarely ventured to charge the Persian mailed cavalry. If they were forced to retreat, they still shot backwards as they fled; and it was a proverbial saying with the Romans that they were then especially formidable.[4]

  • Daylami (heavy infantry)
  • Paygan (medium infantry armed with spears and large shields)
  • Levy Spearman (light spearman)
  • Kamandaran (elite foot archers)
  • Kurdish javeliner

Guilan or Gilan (گیلان in Persian) is one of the 30 provinces of Iran, known during ancient times as part of Hyrcania, with a population of approximately 2 million and an area of 14,700 sq. ... Kurds are one of the Iranian peoples and speak Kurdish, a north-Western Iranian language related to Persian. ...

Siege weapons

The Sassanids (unlike the Parthians) had organized and efficient methods of siege warfare for conquering walled towns. Many methods were learned from the Romans, but soon the Sassanids came to match them not only in the use of offensive siege engines such as scorpions, ballistae, battering rams, but they also adopted excellent defensive tactics for their fortifications, such as methods for using and countering catapults, for throwing stones or pouring boiling liquid on the attackers or by hurling fire brands and blazing missiles.[1] Superfamilies Pseudochactoidea Buthoidea Chaeriloidea Chactoidea Iuroidea Scorpionoidea See classification for families. ... The ballista (Latin, from Greek ballistÄ“s, from ballein to throw, plural ballistae) was a powerful ancient crossbow, although employing a several loops of twisted skeins to power it using torsion rather than a prod. ... Replica battering ram at Ch teau des Baux, France A battering ram is a weapon used from ancient times. ...

The ballista (Latin, from Greek ballistēs, from ballein to throw, plural ballistae) was a powerful ancient crossbow, although employing a several loops of twisted skeins to power it using torsion rather than a prod. ... The ballista (Latin, from Greek ballistēs, from ballein to throw, plural ballistae) was a powerful ancient crossbow, although employing a several loops of twisted skeins to power it using torsion rather than a prod. ... Sketch of an Onager, from Antique technology by Diels. ...

Azadan nobility

Depiction (bottom) of the ideal Sassanid Clibanarii cavalry equipment in the monumental reliefs at Taq-e Bostan.
Depiction (bottom) of the ideal Sassanid Clibanarii cavalry equipment in the monumental reliefs at Taq-e Bostan.

This class of nobility was first formed in Parthian times, and continuing to the time of the Sassanids they were a force to be reckoned with. They accompanied the king in the wars and stood against the enemy with great courage and discipline. They are clearly the forerunners and founders of the "Knights" of later Arab history.[5] Aztan (Azadan) آزادان (freemen) jealously guarded their status as descendants of ancient Aryan conquerors and rulers of the mass of originally non-Aryan peasantry. These Azatan formed a numerous minor aristocracy of lower ranking administrators, mostly living on their small estates and providing cavalry backbone of Sassanid army. Of most prestigious were the armoured "Aswaran" اسوران who normally decided the outcome of a battle.[6] Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (522x768, 309 KB) Summary Subject: One of the oldest depictions of a Knight from the Sassanide relief. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (522x768, 309 KB) Summary Subject: One of the oldest depictions of a Knight from the Sassanide relief. ... The Clibanarii (from the Latin, clibani, meaning campoven) were a late Roman and Byzantine military unit of heavy armored horsemen. ... Kermanshah or Taq-i-Bustan , is located in western Iran , four miles north-East of Kermanshah. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ...


Despite their downfall in the 7th century AD, the legacy of the Savaran endures in the Caucasus, India and the Muslim world. It was the elite cavalry of Sassanid Persia who were the forerunners of the later Arabian Faris, the Caucasian horsemen, the Indian Suwar (derived from Persian Savar), and the Turkish Tarkhans.[7]


In point of fact, certain of the later Muslim heavy cavalry, such as the Mamluks, were possibly the descendants of the clibanarii cavalry, as they used similar weapons and tactics.[1]


The amount of money involved in maintaining a warrior of the Asawaran (Azatan) knightly caste required a small estate, and the Asawaran (Azatan) knightly caste received that from the throne, and in return, were the throne's most notable defenders in time of war.


See also

Spahbod or Spahbed (Persian: سپهبد, in new Persian Sepahbod, is derived from the words Spah سپه army bod بد master ) also alternatively Spah Salar (سپهسالار) and was a rank used in the Parthian empire and more widely in the Sassanid Empire of Persia (Iran). ... The Byzantine Army was the primary military body of the Byzantine armed forces, serving alongside the Byzantine Navy. ...

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Sassanian Army, By Professor A.Sh.Shahbazi. Retrieved on January 30, 2007.
  2. ^ George Rawlinson "The Seven Great Monarchies of the Ancient Eastern World: The Seventh Monarchy: History of the Sassanian or New Persian Empire" Page 189
  3. ^ George Rawlinson "The Seven Great Monarchies of the Ancient Eastern World: The Seventh Monarchy: History of the Sassanian or New Persian Empire" Page 189
  4. ^ George Rawlinson "The Seven Great Monarchies of the Ancient Eastern World: The Seventh Monarchy: History of the Sassanian or New Persian Empire" Page 184
  5. ^ David Nicolle "Sassanian Armies : the Iranian empire early 3rd to mid-7th centuries AD" pp. 11
  6. ^ David Nicolle "Sassanian Armies : the Iranian empire early 3rd to mid-7th centuries AD" pp. 11
  7. ^ "Sassanian Elite Cavalry" Book review by Dr. David Khoupenia. Retrieved on January 30, 2007.

January 30 is the 30th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... 2007 (MMVII) is the current year, a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and the Anno Domini (common) era. ... January 30 is the 30th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... 2007 (MMVII) is the current year, a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and the Anno Domini (common) era. ...

Bibliography

  • A.D.H. Bivar, , ‘Cavalry Equipment and Tactics on the Euphrates Frontier’,Dumbarton Oaks Papers 26 (1972), pp. 271-291.
  • Kaveh Farrokh, Sassanian Elite Cavalry, AD224-642 (Osprey Publishing 2005)
  • Dr. David Nicolle, Sassanian Armies : the Iranian empire early 3rd to mid-7th centuries AD (Montvert Publishing 1996). ISBN 1-874101-08-6
  • Philip Rance, ‘Elephants in Warfare in Late Antiquity’, Acta Antiqua Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 43 (2003), pp. 355-8
  • Peter Wilcox, Rome's Enemies 3: Parthians and Sassanid Persians (Osprey Publishing 2001). ISBN 0-85045-688-6

One of the Men-at-Arms Series. ... One of the Men-at-Arms Series. ...

External links

  • Sassanian Army, By Professor A.Sh.Shahbazi
  • An Overview of the Sasanian Military by C. Cornuelle

  Results from FactBites:
 
Sassanid Empire - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (10288 words)
The Sassanid era, encompassing the length of the Late Antiquity, is considered to be one of the most important and influential historical periods in Iran.
The Sassanid Dynasty was established by Ardashir I (226–241), a descendant of a line of the priests of Anahita in Staxr, Persis (or Fars) who at the beginning of the third century had acquired the governorship of Persis.
The first encounter between Sassanids and Muslim Arabs was in the Battle of the Bridge in 634 which resulted in a Sassanid victory, however the Arab threat did not stop there and reappeared shortly from the disciplined armies of Khalid ibn Walid, once one of Muhammad's chosen companion-in-arms and leader of the Arab army.
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