Alexander to Parthian Dynasty

334 BC — Alexander Invaded Persia. After his victory over the Persian army, he ordered the execution of many Persians, allowed his troops to indulge themselves in plunder and rape and, in a drunken rage, set torch to Persepolis. However, he also considered himself a successor to Achaemenian Kings and paid tribute to Cyrus the Great at his tomb. He emulated Persian court customs and attempted to create a new culture, a mixture of both Persian and Hellenistic. He married a Persian woman (Roxana) and ordered all his generals and 10,000 of his soldiers to follow suit in a mass wedding.

parthian_dynasty323 BC — Alexander died. Although a masterful general, he lacked administrative skills. Shortly after his death, his empire was divided among his contesting generals. An important legacy of his conquest of Persia was the introduction of the Persian imperial practices into the West. Many of these practices particularly those relating to state administration and the rule of law were later adopted by the Roman Empire.

323-141 BC — The Seleucid Dynasty was established by one of Alexander’s generals.

247 BC-224 AD — The Parthians, a tribal kingdom from northeastern Iran, gradually defeated the Greek Seleucids and consolidated their control over all of Persia. The name of the founder of the dynasty, Arsaces, became the title of all Parthian kings in much the same way that the name of Caesar was later to become the title of all Roman emperors. They fought numerous times with the Romans. Their victory over the Romans in 53 BC elevated the Parthians into a superpower of their era. The Romans were especially in awe of the expert mobile Parthian archers (hence the term: the Parthian Shot) who inflicted enormous casualties upon successive Roman armies. Although the Parthians ruled for almost five centuries, very little of their civilization has survived, except for some small art objects.

Hellenism & Jews

With Alexander’s conquests also came significant cultural change. In West Asia and North Africa, well-to-do tradesmen, intellectuals and aristocrats who were neither Greek nor Macedonian, including those who were Jews, had begun developing an interest in things Greek — to the annoyance of those who believed that the old ways were best. From Marseille to India, Greek became the language of intellectuals. The Greek gymnasium became popular. It was a place for bathing and physical exercise Continue reading Hellenism & Jews

The Zoroastrian Priesthood Elevated by Sassanid State

The Zoroastrian priesthood had endured rule by Parthians, and they had suffered from a prevalence of religions that were not Persian in origin. The founder of the Sassanid dynasty, Ardashir, took power in 224 CE, and his rule pleased the Zoroastrian priesthood. Ardashir allied himself with Zorastrianism. He announced that religion and kingship were brothers and said his rule was the will of God. The Zoroastrian priesthood felt empowered, and they looked forward to converting non-Zoroastrians who lived within Ardashir’s empire. Continue reading The Zoroastrian Priesthood Elevated by Sassanid State

Selected Bibliography

Abraham, Richard, Rosa Luxemburg.

Abboushi, W.F., The Unmaking of Palestine. Continue reading Selected Bibliography

What and Where is Persepolis?

Persepolis is the name of an archaeological ruin, part of the Achaemenid Dynasty of the Persian Empire, established by King Darius about 515 BC. The site is one of the best known archaeological ruins in the world, and probably the most important Achaemenid capital. Persepolis is located about 50 kilometers northeast of Shiraz and is open to visitors. Continue reading What and Where is Persepolis?

Ctesiphon (Iraq)

Ctesiphon is the name of a very old city at the confluence of the Tigris and Diyala rivers near Baghdad in what is now Iraq. The earliest urban occupations at the site probably represent the Akkadian town of Opis, the capital city of the Babylonia by the 14th century BC. Opis was the site of a battle between the Babylonian King Nabonidus and the Persians (539 BC), and the site of the European revolt against Alexander the Great (324 BC).