IrPart2

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Phase I Variables (polity-based)

General variables

♠ RA ♣ Will Farrell; Alice Williams; Edward A L Turner ♥

♠ Original name ♣ Parthian Empire II ♥ "The Parthians were originally a nomadic tribe, the Parni, settled in Parthia, and gradually they came to be called by the name of the territory."[1]

♠ Alternative names ♣ Arsacid Empire; Parthia; Parthians; Arsacid Kingdom ♥ [2] Arsacid kingdom.[3] Arsacid empire.[4]

♠ Peak Date ♣ 50-100 CE ♥

Probably the early period of this chronology which coincides with urban expansion in Elymais?


Temporal bounds

♠ Duration ♣ 41-226 CE ♥

In the absence of surviving written documents, chronology of Parthian rulers is based on coinage.[5]

Start: 247 BCE

"Arsaces, of Scythian or Bactrian origin, was elected leader of the Parni tribes in 247 BCE. This date marks the beginning of the Arsacid era."[6]
"Less than ten years after the rebellion of Andragoras against the Seleucids, in 238 BCE, Arsaces and his brother Tiridates invaded the satrapy of Parthia, killed Andragoras and established control over this province."[7]
It is believed to be the start of the Parthian's revolt against the Seleucids, as well as the coronation of the second Parthina king, Tiridates I. As such it can been seen as the end of Selucid authority in the province.[8]

End 226 CE

Parthians fought three battles against the Sassanians and lost each one. Reign of the last Parthian king Artabanus IV ends; Sasanian rule begins. [9]
Although Ardashir took the Parthian capital, Ctesiphon, and probably with it the title 'King of Kings', in 226 CE the Parthian king Vologases VI minted coins in his hame at least to 228 CE.[10]


Periodization c240-172 BCE; 171 BCE - 40 CE; 40 - 226 CE.

240-172 BCE (pre-Imperial, Seleucid Empire period)

"The first Parthian ruler, Arsaces, established the dynasty approximately 240 b.c.e. ..."[11]


171 BCE - 40 CE (Empire period)

"... The real founder of the Parthian empire was Mithridates I, who ascended the throne in 171. He conquered western Iran, reaching Media in 155 and Seleucia in 141. ... the Parthians definitely established their hold on Babylonia by the time of Mithridates II, ca. 120 b.c.e. and held it until ca. 226 c.e., with brief intervals of Roman occupation."[12]
"Mithradates I ... one of the first powerful Parthian monarchs, attacked Demetrius, the Seleucid ruler ... Mithradates conquered Susa and its hinterlands shortly before 140 B.C. and installed a Parthian administration that probably survived for most of the next century. We know that by A.D. 21 Susa was under Parthian control, for in a letter of this date, written in Greek, Artabanus III, the Parthian sovereign, validated a contested election at Susa."[13]
1st century BCE: "from then the first open conflicts occurred between Parthian rulers and aristocrats."[14] 53 BCE was the Parthian victory at the Battle of Carrhae - this would have increased Roman interest in supporting rivals to Parthian throne, and in fact the battle of Carrhae may have been initiated by the Romans to take advantage of Parthian disorder in Babylonia.
c92 BCE Mithradates II was challenged by a usurper "who had probably gained control over the empire's eastern satrapies, supported by local rich and influential aristocratic families, and over a large part of Mesopotamia. However, civil war was prevented by the king's natural death."[15]
Babylonia "was not touched by the Romans in their invasion of 54-3, or by Antony in 39-31 during his unsuccessful Armenian adventure."[16]
Between c-100 BCE to 100 CE the Babylonians at Babylon ceased to exist while the Greeks at Seleucia ceased to have the importance they once did.


40 - 226 CE (less centralized, fuedal period)

"the Parthian state was highly unstable, and Artabanus' death at about A.D. 40, in combination with financial and military reverses over the preceding decades, apparently weakened the Parthian state to the extent that it no longer issued an imperial coinage and successful revolts were staged at Seleucia-on-the-Tigris and other cities. At about this same time, it appears that Susa and its environs were incorporated into the 'satrapy' of Elymais (Fig. 6)."[17]
"Written documents (mainly in Greek, Latin, or Hebrew) from the first two centuries A.D. in Southwest Asia suggest that the Parthian 'Empire' was at most times an unstable coalition of vassal states brought periodically under imperial Parthian control."[18]
"Elymais coined its own money, conducted its own public works programs, and in other was was apparently independent until about A.D. 215, when, documentary evidence suggests, the Parthian imperial government was once again in control at Susa."[19] Elymais/Susiana region experienced an upturn in economy, agriculture, population
"The last hundred years in the life of Parthia was a period appropriately described as the 'downfall of the Parthian Empire'. The period began with the reign of Vologases II, who ruled until A.D. 146/7." [20]
"By the beginning of the third century A.D., the states of southern Mesopotamia and the provinces of eastern Iran - Margiana, Segistan (Sistan) and Kerman - were virtually independent states, governed by local dynasties which only formally recognized their dependence on the Arsacids."[21] nominal centralization


♠ Degree of centralization ♣ confederated state ♥ The Parthian Empire was divided into three areas: self governing kingdoms in Mesopotamia; semi-independent kingdoms on the borders of Iran); and Parthian 'heartlands' in the centre under rule of the King.[22]

"Written documents (mainly in Greek, Latin, or Hebrew) from the first two centuries A.D. in Southwest Asia suggest that the Parthian 'Empire' was at most times an unstable coalition of vassal states brought periodically under imperial Parthian control."[23]

♠ Supra-polity relations ♣ alliance ♥

"There was, indeed, a separate Parthian kingdom beyond the Indus, independent of the Arsacid kingdom, but in friendly alliance with it." [24]

Alliance with China against the Kushans during the reign of Vologases.[25]

Supra-cultural relations

♠ preceding (quasi)polity ♣ Parthian Empire I ♥
♠ relationship to preceding (quasi)polity ♣ continuity ♥
♠ succeeding (quasi)polity ♣ Sassanid Empire I ♥
♠ Supracultural entity ♣ Greco-Bactrian ♥ "The Chinese records revealed that the Parthians shared many cultural characteristics with the petty kingdoms in the Sogdiana, Bactria, and Ferghana regions."[26] The records "suggests that the oases between the Pamirs and the Amu-darya were occupied by people who were culturally related to each other, probably all of Iranian stock." "For example, the Tochari kingdom in the Amu-darya was closely associated with the Parthians in terms of products, customs, trade and currency; the Samarkand was similar to the Tochari, the Bactria to the Sogdiana, the Ferghana to both the Tochari and the Parthians."[27]
♠ scale of supra-cultural interaction ♣ [3,500,000-4,000,000] ♥ km squared.

♠ Capital ♣ Nisa; Hekatompylos; Rhagae; Ectatana; Ctesiphon ♥ Asaak (Astauene) established by Arsaces I. New Nisa up to first century BCE. "At later stages, the functions of a capital city were also served by Hecatompylos, Ecbatana, Rhagae, Babylon, and Ctesiphon."[28]

near Ashkhabad. [29]

Parthian capital referred to as Hekatompylos in Chinese records. "The first capital of the Parthians was Nisa in the province of Parthia. In about 217 BCE, the Parthian capital was moved to Hekatompylos, which remained as the main capital of the Parthian empire till c. 50 BCE ... During that period, Rhagae (Rayy), Ecbatana, and Ctesiphon near the river Tigris were also selected as capitals."[30]

♠ Language ♣ Greek; Pahlavi ♥ "After the introduction of Old Persian cuneiform under the Achaemenians, a related form of the same language (a Middle Persian language written in a simplified form of the Aramaic consonantal alphabet) continued as the vehicle of administration under the Parthians."[31] Parthian. Aramaic and Greek also in use. [32] Pahlavi was the official lan­guage of the Parthians, which is "Persian written in Aramaic characters."[33] "Greek served as their official language."[34] "Although we know little of Parthian administrative practice we may assume it provided the basis for the Sasanian administration that followed it in a closely related form of Middle Persian, and in a related script, in the 3rd century AD."[35]

General Description

Originally the Parthian were a nomadic tribe, called the Parni, from northeastern Iran. The date of their invasion of ‘Parthia’ is usually given as 247 BCE. The campaigns of Mithridates I (171-138 BCE) spread the authority of the Parthian kings. In 113 BCE Mithridates II took the title of ‘King of Kings’. For 300 years from 92 BC, the Parthian Empire was seen as the main foe of the Roman Empire. Parthian power derived from their military successes and control of commerce. Trade flourished as Parthia was an intermediary between Rome and Far East and became part of the network of Silk Roads. "There was an extensive and developed bureaucracy, as attested by ostraca from Nisa and by the Parthian parchments and ostraca from Dura-Europos."[36] The provinces and cities outside the Parthia heartlands paid tribute or allegiance to the ‘king of kings’, but regional lords retained their own power. Although the Parthians themselves were Zoroastrian, the empire was multi-ethnic and multi-religious and revolts against the Parthian King were common. There were also challenges form within the Parthian elites. Parthian Kings were chosen from the Arascid clan, but they were 'appointed' by nobles rather than automatically succeeding to rule. After 40 BCE Parthian military power was weakening and they could not mount offensive operations into Roman territory. They suffered a series of military defeats to the Romans and a smallpox epidemic between 161 CE and 217 CE. However it was invasion by the Sassanians from Iran that ended their rule.

Bureaucracy characteristics. “It was status as an agnate [kin group or clan] in one of the noble groups that alone gave access to appointment to any state or court official of importance. Certain offices even became, with the passing of time, hereditary in a particular group”. The groups had "preferential right" to hold the office. [37]

Law. There were law courts in the main town of the districts and in every rural district [38]

Military Technologies. Our information on Parthian armies comes mainly from their enemies, especially Roman sources. Like many central Asian armies, horses were central to their war fighting, foot solders less so. Parthian cavalry was divided into heavy and light forces. The 'Parthian shot' became infamous to the Romans: Plutarch describes their tactic at the battle of Carrhae in 53 BC. Parthian cavalry pretended to flee, then turned in the saddle and fired their bow and arrows. [39] Cassius Dio [c. CE 155 - 235] in Roman History: “The Parthians make no use of a shield, but their forces consist of mounted archers and pikemen, mostly in full armour. Their infantry is small, made up of the weaker men; but even these are all archers. They practise from boyhood, and the climate and the land combine to aid both horsemanship and archery... They are really formidable in warfare, but nevertheless they have a reputation greater than their achievements, because in spite of their not having gained anything from the Romans, and having besides, given up certain portions of their own domain, they have not yet been enslaved, but even to this day hold their own in the wars they wage against us.” [40]

"The standard turn-out would have included helmets of bronze or iron, sometimes with a neck guard and/or an aventail of lamellar, scale or mail, sometimes sporting a small plume of horsehair, either dyed or left natural; and a corselet of lamellar, mail or scale for the torso. Arm guards were also worn, and some wore guantlets too. The feet were often protected by armour over mail 'socks', and mail was often used to bridge defences at limb joints. A small fabric tabard and/or cloak might be worn, and this was very likely to be made of a rich material such as silk brocade." [41]

Social Complexity variables

♠ RA ♣ Will Farrell; Alice Williams; Edward A L Turner ♥

Social Scale

♠ Polity territory ♣ 1,900,000: 100 CE; 1,800,000: 200 CE ♥ squared kilometers.

280,000: 200 BCE; 2,000,000: 100 BCE; 3,000,000: 1 CE; 1,900,000: 100 CE; 1,800,000: 200 CE

Maximum extent should include Oman region?

"the Gulf region shared to a great extent in a common cultural kione with Babylonia, Mesene, Susiana, Elymais and Karmania between the second century BC and the third century AD. The Periplus leaves little doubt that some measure of Parthian authority extended to the Oman peninsular during the first century AD ... other late sources certainly suggests that Ardashir encountered a Parthian ruler in eastern Arabia when he campaigned there near the end of his reign. The Parthian presence in the Gulf, less widely acknowledged perhaps than either the earlier Seleucid or the later Sasanian one, was nevertheless a reality."[42]
Coinage of Vologases IV (r.147-191 CE) found in Eastern Arabia (e.g. Jebel Kenzan).[43]


♠ Polity Population ♣ 4,750,000: 100 CE; 5,000,000: 200 CE ♥ Priesler-Keller writes that due to a lack of empire-wide census, a population estimate of 5-7.5million is plausible for the Parthian Empire. [44]

[50,000-100,000]: 200 BCE; 5,450,000: 100 BCE; {7,500,000; 15,000,000; 25,000,000}: 1 CE; 4,750,000: 100 CE; 5,000,000: 200 CE

Estimates derived from McEvedy and Jones[45]

200 BCE - occupied the very south-west corner of Central Asia. McEvedy and Jones have 1,000,000 for the whole region at this time. Considering lack of major population center in this region, at most 10% of this total.
100 BCE - 200,000 in Central Asia, 1,250,000 in Iraq, 4,000,000 in Iran
1 CE - 500,000 in Central Asia, 2,000,000 in Afghanistan, 4,000,000 in Iran, 1,000,000 in Iraq, ? in Pakistan (mountains region).
100 CE - 3,750,000 in Iran, 1,000,000 in Iraq
200 CE - 4,000,000 in Iran, 1,000,000 in Iraq

Maximum extent estimates

10-20 million - Durand (1977)[46]
25 million - Truxillo (2008)[47]

♠ Population of the largest settlement ♣ 400,000: 100 CE; [20,000-40,000]: 200 CE ♥ Seleucia-Ctesiphon [600,000]

300,000: 100 BCE; 400,000: 1 CE; 400,000: 100 CE; [20,000-40,000]: 200 CE

200 BCE - Nisa. Before expansion of the Parthian territories.
100 BCE - 300,000 in Seleucia
1 CE - 400,000 in Seleucia; 100,000 in Merv.[48]
100 CE - 400,000 in Seleucia; 100,000 in Merv.[49]
200 CE - Selucia destroyed by Romans in 167 CE. Ctesiphon was weakened by Roman invasions. Could be Ecbatana/Hamadan, Rayy or Susa? The population of Susa has been estimated as 20,000 to 40,000.[50] - for which years does this estimate apply? However, 20,000-40,000 might be a reasonable estimate for the size of second tier Parthian cities which were presumably still standing at this time.

600,000: Seleucia on the Tigris

"The largest population center and the greatest Greek city was Seleucia on the Tigris, the third largest city of the ancient world, numbering 600,000 inhabitants at its peak."[51]

1,000,000: Ctesiphon

"Ctesiphon city complex with approximately one million inhabitants."[52]

200,000: Hecatompylos, 200,000: Nisa; 200,000+: Rhagae

"Hecatompylos, with an area of 28 km2 renders enough space for a population of 200,000 while Nisa was probably home to the same number of people and Rhagae at a slightly higher number."[53]


Hierarchical Complexity

♠ Settlement hierarchy ♣ [4-5] ♥

1. Capital (Nisa; Hekatompylos; Rhagae; Ectatana; Ctesiphon)

2. Regional capitals
3. Towns
4. Villages
(5. Hamlets?)

♠ Administrative levels ♣ [5-6] ♥


The Parthians were "a military aristocracy, which found it most convenient to rule not directly but through various kinds of authorities, each appropriate to the area governed, to whom they maintained a feudal relationship and to whose subjects they desired little direct relationship at all."[54]

[55]


1. King

Parthian King of Kings[56]
2. Council of Nobles
2. Council of Magi
These were two different councils, one for kinsmen and one for magi.[57]

_Court_

"Parthian kings presided over a considerable body of specialized officials and functionaries of various levels dealing with the collection of duties and taxes and supervising local communities and administrative units. It should be noted that while provincial administration was extensive, central government was scant."[58]

"The Parthian government consisted of the king and the royal court, in addition to the Council of the Nobles (the Mahistan). The king was traditionally elected by the nobles from the members of the Arsacid family, although the succession of the eldest son was not guaranteed. Below the king were the members of the six noble families, probably modeled after the six noble families of the Achaemenid court and continuing this tradition into the Sasanian period. These families all seem to have had a control of a section of the country where the majority of their land possessions were located. They also held particular positions in the royal court, members of each family having the privilege of crowning the king, serving in his bed-chamber, or serving as the first minister."[59]

"We know that varied schools of philosophy flourished in Hellenistic Babylonia, and Greek metaphysicians, astronomers, naturalists, historians, geographers, and physicians worked there. The Parthian court made considerable use of such trained and able men for building its bureaucracy."[60]

2. First Minister
"The court system of the Arsacids was copied from the Achaemenid model, being staffed by many offices called Diwans, responsible for record-keeping, communication, budgeting, and taxation. These were headed by their respective Dibirs who were all responsible to a first-minister, a member of the nobility as mentioned before."[61]
"Unlike the Seleucid and Sasanian periods, the Arsacid empire is very poorly documented in terms of its administration." So discussion of the relationship between center and periphery in the Empire and how its main institutions were run is speculative to some extent. [62]
3. Dibir of a Diwan
"The court system of the Arsacids was copied from the Achaemenid model, being staffed by many offices called Diwāns, responsible for record-keeping, communication, budgeting, and taxation. These were headed by their respective Dibirs who were all responsible to a first-minister, a member of the nobility as mentioned before."[63]
3. Official dealing with revenue
"there was a general state cadastre for the lands of the royal domain. The state fixed and strictly controlled tax revenue."[64]
4.
"Records found in excavations at Nisa provide evidence of different types of tax collection, depending on the category of the land. Two categories are known - patbaz and uzbari. Patbaz was collection in kind for the use of the king. It is less clear what the other category was. There are also indications of the existence of special levies for the support of religious activities, somewhat similar to tithes."[65]


_Provincial government_

"as the Parthians conquered Seleucid territory, they found in addition to the various municipal governments a decayed satrapal system, built upon the eparchs and hyparchs. The Parthian nobility had, in places, to be superimposed upon this structure. Various relatives and followers were granted 'fuedal' fiefs."[66]

"Part of the kingdom was divided into satrapies ruled by satraps appointed by the king. The rest consisted of vassal kingdoms."[67]

2. Satrap of Satraps
Mithradates II rock reliefs at Behistun 87 BCE show "his principal officials ... The chief of these is called satrap of satraps, the other three simply satraps. Probably these men belonged to the great families of Iran such as the Surens and Karens."[68]
3. Satrap
"Apart from the territories forming part of the royal domain and governed through satraps, much of Parthia consisted of vassal kingdoms."City officials (e.g. prefect)[69]
"There was an extensive and developed bureaucracy, as attested by ostraca from Nisa and by the Parthian parchments and ostraca from Dura-Europos."[70] This quote might be referring to the provincial administration:
check parthiansources.com e.g. text SKZ
4. Parthian town
"While sources also speak of 'Parthian towns', in contrast to Greek ones, there is no specific information about their internal life. It can only be conjectured that they did not enjoy autonomy and were under the full control of the local Parthian administration."[71]
City officials (e.g. prefect)[72] -- does this reference refer to towns directly controlled or to the Greek city-states?
5. dïz (group of villages) headed by a dïzpat
The lowest administrative unit was the stathmos (in Greek) or dïz (in Parthian), which represented a group of a few villages. The stathmos also had a small military post. This administrative unit was headed by a dïzpat."[73]
2. Governor of the Western Frontier
"Despite the doubt over the actual readings of some of the titles, it is clear that the governor of the western frontier of Parthia was a man of very high rank (possibly a Suren ...) and one whose duties included at least nominal authority over Arabian tribes within or along the Parthian frontier."[74]
"In some cases power over a number of satrapies (usually along the frontiers) was concentrated in the hands of the same person."[75] is this the office of Satrap of Satrapies?
3. Head of administration? (Eunuch?)
"The eunuch, Phraates, and his lord, Manesus, the Parthian governor of the western frontier, both bear Iranian titles".[76]
4. Scribe inferred level
4. Tax collector? Revenue inferred level
5. Scribe/Assistant inferred level
3. Tribal leader (Arabs)


3. Old Babylonian towns (e.g. Uruk Warka)
"The fully privileged aristocracy formed a religious and municipal commune enjoying a measure of self-rule. These towns owned a land district."[77]


_Vassals_

"Seleucid and Parthian cities were self-governing and controlled considerable territories independent of the central government."[78]

2. Greek city-states
Documents from Susa and Dura Europus show "the governments of these places preserved the pattern of the Hellenistic city state. Such places rarely held Parthian garrisons."[79]
"The Greek city-states in Parthia were a survival from the Seleucid period. Under the Parthians they formally retained their autonomy"[80]
"power was concentrated into the hands of a council made up of representatives of a few of the richest families."[81]
2. Local Kingdoms [82]
"From the reign of Mithradates I onwards, when the Parthians controlled Mesopotamia and Iran, local kingdoms were granted a certain amount of freedom, as long as they recognised the Parthian sovereign as their overlord."[83]
In Macedonian times "Alexander and Peucestas apparently did touch neither the Achaemenid system of local dependencies and local administration, nor the basic ideas of the Persian ideology of kingship. There is no other way to explain the fact that nothing is known about unrest in Persis after Peucestas' appointment, that the new satrap could levy troops there without difficulty, and that a great number of nobles collaborated with Alexander. This kind support from the nobles for their new persophile Macedonian masters continued until the second century BCE".[84]


♠ Religious levels ♣ 3 ♥

"many religions flourished within the Parthian empire; in addition to Judaism, various Hellenistic, Babylonian, and other cults were observed in the cities of Dura, Palmyra, and elsewhere. There can be no doubt, moreover, that the Good Religion of the Mazdayasnians continued to be cultivated. Though Zoroastrianism as we know it from Sasanid times may have taken shape in the Arsacid period, we have no way to trade its developent. In general, the Parthians were as flexible and tolerant in religious matters as they were in politics and, at best, in Frye's judgment, we may speak of a 'general Mazdayasnian religious predominace,' within which were many subdivisions and even aberrations. Nonetheless, the dominant influence in Parthian religion was that of the Magi, who were, as in later periods, in charge of formal rites and cultic acitivities, though their influence on the religions of the Babylonian area was limited by the existence of powerful competing traditions."[85]

_Mazdayasnianism_


_Zoroastrianism_

"... the part played by Zoroastrianism in the Parthian state has not been entirely clarified." [86]

1. Chief priest

2. Priest
3. ?


_Christianity_

Religions and full-time religious professionals were present within the Parthian realm including Christian bishops.[87] Can we code for Christian church?

1. ?

2. Bishop
3. ?


_Mithraism_

Cult of Mithra spread from the Parthian Empire to Rome (originated in India? bronze age?). "Contrary to other religions of the same type, such as the cults of Isis and Osiris, Serapis, Dionysus (all well-known examples), Mithraicism eschewed any external manifestations and depended only on its initiatory nature to recruit its followers. ... it gradually became a common faith for soldiers, civil servants, merchants ... The members joined a spirituality of an initiatory type ... shared with a large group of solar faiths ... that promised both a life near to the deity and a personal redemption."[88]

"From the end of the first century B.C.E. we have evidence of a cult coming from the East and gradually and discretely conquering the Roman army and administration (Daniels). This god, previously unknown to the Romans, was called Mithra. Some historians believe (see Plutarch, Pomp. 24.7) that the notorius Cilician pirates defeated by Pompeius propagated this cult when deported in Calabria. We now believe that it was a late transformation of the god Mithra, the friendly protector of contracts .... and defender of true and just causes."[89]

"We must also stress that this god retained, in his manifestation in the Roman Empire, his essential characteristics of friend and guardian of contracts."[90]

In Rome "Mithra probably won over even the imperial house. We are wary about the well-known initiation of the emperor Nero to the mysteries of the Magi through Tiridates (see Turcan 1989:237). However, it seems that the emperor Commodus (192) was an unworthy adept of the mysteries, because he was suspected of having killed a fellow-adept during a ceremony simulating a ritual sacrifice. The imperial house had a much worthier adept in Diocletian and his colleagues of the Tetrarchy: Galerius and Licinius. The god is then called the fautor imperii sui, the "protector of the imperial power" (Inscription of Carnuntum in 307)."[91] Mithracism was very successful in the Parthian Empire.

Mithracism: "on the social level people learned, in the 'Persic Cavern', to respect the contract linking the human being to the cosmos and to the gods, and then, at least in an implicit way, to respect the emperors, who were divine beings, as intermediaries between the sky and the earth. The faithfulness to a vivifying cosmic order was thus accompanied by faithfulness to the one representing this order on earth. It is not surprising, then, that Mithra was invoked as Jupiter Dolichenus for the salvation of the emperor. In time, a cult ascribed to the enemies gets mixed up with the worship of the protecting gods of Rome!"[92]


♠ Military levels ♣ 6 ♥

"Parthia was the only state that rivaled Rome at the same level of sophisticated political and military organization". [93]


1. King

2. Commanders (aristocracy)
"The aristocracy provided the cataphracts and trained their retainers - not their slaves - as mounted bowmen. Parthian army was small, as in most feudal states, never more than 6,000 cataphracts and 34,000 bowmen..."[94]
3. Cataphract level senior officer inferred - leader of 1000?
4. Cataphract level junior officer inferred - leader of 100?
5. Leader of 10 horsemen inferred
At Carrhae, a Parthian general named Surenas brought with him "a train of camels, one for every ten horsemen, loaded with spare arrows."[95] This reference to the supplying of groups of 10 horsemen is interesting because the Sassanids, the Parthian successors, inherited their military structure (division between heavy and light cavalry). It is noted of the Sassanids that they "Like the Achaemenids ... likely used the decimal system to organize the Spah (army). The title Hazarmard/Hazarbad means "chief of a thousand"." [96]
6. Individual soldier

Professions

♠ Professional military officers ♣ inferred absent ♥ The commanders would have been formed out of a warrior aristocracy who had inherited the position of leading forces and land which they used to support themselves and their troops. AD: coded inferred present as officers in the lower hierarchical ranks might have been more specialised (eg. leader of 10 horsemen).

"The Parthians were a warrior people. Though possessing armoured knights mounted on weight-carrying chargers."[97] no regular army they were superb horsemen and and archers, and in time of war the nobility provided heavily a

"The division between grand and petty nobility was reflected in the structure of the Parthian army. Both provided the cavalry - indeed, during the first century BC the Persian infantry almost completely disappeared - but this was made up of two distinct types of horsemen. On the one hand, there were the mounted archers, lightly armed on nimble mounts, who were supplied by the lesser estate holders. Most of these were from Eastern Iran where they lived in small castles and block-houses, and evolved a typical feudal culture centered round jousting, hunting, war, and a chivalric code that emphasized the virtues of personal honour and the protection of women. The grandees, on the other hand, supplied a new type of horseman, a development of the Sarmatian and the Saka knight, who encased both himself and his horse in mail armour and armed himself with a great bow, lance and sword."[98]

"We may suppose that the Arsacids thus preserved the original nomadic nobility, rewarded them for their services by gifts of land which would provide a base for future political and military power."[99]

♠ Professional soldiers ♣ {absent; present} ♥

Professional cavalry

'Knights' given allowances of land for equipping troops at expense of a magnate. They may have been "specially trained professional warrior slaves". [100]

Non-professional infantry

"The mass of lesser nobles and their retainers were traditional horse archers, mounted on tough steppe ponies and armed with the reflex bow."[101]

♠ Professional priesthood ♣ present ♥ Religions and full-time religious professionals were present within the Parthian realm including Christian bishops[102], Zoroastrian priests, Jewish priests? etc.

However, "We have no information about the place occupied at the court of the Parthian ruler by the Zoroastrian priests, since the part played by Zoroastrianism in the Parthian state has not been entirely clarified." [103]

Bureaucracy characteristics

♠ Full-time bureaucrats ♣ present ♥ Permanent officials and office holders. [104]

♠ Examination system ♣ absent ♥ Access to offices was via kin networks. [105]

♠ Merit promotion ♣ absent ♥

Access to offices was via kin networks. [106]

Mithradates II rock reliefs at Behistun 87 BCE show "his principal officials ... The chief of these is called satrap of satraps, the other three simply satraps. Probably these men belonged to the great families of Iran such as the Surens and Karens."[107]

According to Chinese records "From Dayuan heading west towards Anxi the different countries speak different languages, but their customs are largely similar and they can understand each other’s speech. ... Women seem to be held in high respect, and the men make decisions on the advice of their women." In other words the records "suggests that the oases between the Pamirs and the Amu-darya were occupied by people who were culturally related to each other, probably all of Iranian stock.[108]

♠ Specialized government buildings ♣ present ♥ e.g. the mint at Seleucia "largest in the Parthian empire". [109]

Law

♠ Formal legal code ♣ suspected unknown ♥

"The advent of the Parthians did not mark a break in the cultural history of the Greek cities, which retained their constitutions and magistrates, their schools, language, and law, long after the decline of Seleucid power."[110]

♠ Judges ♣ present ♥ Inferred from presence of law courts. [111]

"The advent of the Parthians did not mark a break in the cultural history of the Greek cities, which retained their constitutions and magistrates, their schools, language, and law, long after the decline of Seleucid power."[112]

♠ Courts ♣ present ♥ There were law courts in the main town of the districts and in every rural district [113]

"The advent of the Parthians did not mark a break in the cultural history of the Greek cities, which retained their constitutions and magistrates, their schools, language, and law, long after the decline of Seleucid power."[114]

♠ Professional Lawyers ♣ suspected unknown ♥

Specialized Buildings: polity owned

♠ irrigation systems ♣ present ♥ "From the earliest times, the flow of water was controlled for agricultural purposes by an elaborate system of canals, sluices, dams, embankments, and dikes."[115] "Iranians were the inventors of qanats ... during the Archaemenid era there appeared an extensive system of underground networks known as qanats".[116] "sites from the Parthian period together with irrigation canals have been found at Qala-i Sam, Kuh-i Khawaja, Sultan Baba Ziyarat"[117] "From the earliest times, the flow of water was controlled for agricultural purposes by an elaborate system of canals, sluices, dams, embankments, and dikes."[118]
♠ drinking water supply systems ♣ inferred present ♥ knowledge and or infrastructure retained from the Achaemenid Empire era: "Darius ordered the reconstruction of the city of Sarod destroyed by the Greeks. Mendrokles presented to Darius a plan of the city, which was to be built over an area of 50 x 50 Ostad [1 Ostad = 200m]. Piped water and sewers were considered in the plan."[119] Fact knowledge may have been retained implied by complex water infrastructure in the new city of Dara: "Tridot or Tirdad, whose foresight rivaled that of Cyrus of Darius built a large city called Dara or Darium or Darius in the year 211 BC near the present day Abivard, to preserve the name of Darius the Great for prosperity. In this city the water flowed in closed conduits and there were provisions for sewers. All houses were equipped with heaters and central heating, which brought steam from a hot water tank to the rooms via a piping system."[120]
♠ markets ♣ present ♥ e.g.the city of Apologos (Uulla) “an official emporium”. [121] "Parthian cities included palace complexes, fortresses for the military garrison, and temple complexes, as well as markets and residential areas."[122]
♠ food storage sites ♣ present ♥ Wine storage rooms at Nisa.[123]

Transport infrastructure

♠ Roads ♣ present ♥ Persian Royal Road. "the Arsacids succeeded in maintaining this network of roads and expanding it to the north-east to include their major cities of Rhagae and Nisa."[124] Trade with India by land "via southern Iran or from Merv by the southeast portion of the 'royal way' leading to India via Sistan and Kandahar."[125]
♠ Bridges ♣ present ♥ According to ancient authors the Parthians built caravanserei and constructed bridges to encourage trade.[126]
♠ Canals ♣ present ♥ e.g. the 'royal canal' that connected the city of Seleucia to the Euphrates. [127]
♠ Ports ♣ present ♥ e.g. Omana, annexed by Meredat, Parthian ruler of the kingdom of Characene.[128] Trade with India by sea "via Spasinu-Charax on the Persian Gulf".[129]

Special purpose sites

♠ Mines or quarries ♣ present ♥ Silver mines at Nakhlak. Copper and lead mine at Qual'eh Zari".[130]

Information

Writing System

♠ Mnemonic devices ♣ suspected unknown ♥ The majority of written sources used are written in Greek and Latin, and were written by people from outside the Parthian empire looking into it. The Parthian language survives on potsherds and some graffiti.[131] Lukonin comments, “The sources in the Parthian language consist mostly of fragmentary epigraphic material.” [132]
♠ Nonwritten records ♣ suspected unknown ♥
♠ Written records ♣ present ♥ The Parthians had administrative documents.[133] The 'various and heterogeneous' writing in Parthian times consisted mainly of epigraphic material, including over 2,000 documents written on pot sherds at Nisā. [134] The Chinese Shiji notes "To make records they cut leather and write horizontally."[135] Pahlavi parchment from Avroman in Kurdistan.[136]
♠ Script ♣ present ♥ "Greek served as their official language."[137] "Although we know little of Parthian administrative practice we may assume it provided the basis for the Sasanian administration that followed it in a closely related form of Middle Persian, and in a related script, in the 3rd century AD."[138] "After the introduction of Old Persian cuneiform under the Achaemenians, a related form of the same language (a Middle Persian language written in a simplified form of the Aramaic consonantal alphabet) continued as the vehicle of administration under the Parthians."[139] Chancellery script under the Achaemenians 1st century BC. [140]
♠ Non-phonetic writing ♣ absent ♥
♠ Phonetic alphabetic writing ♣ present ♥ Bactrain, derived from the Greek alphabet. [141]

Kinds of Written Documents

♠ Lists, tables, and classifications ♣ present ♥ "For an insight into the forms of Parthian taxation we can now look to the ostraca found in the citadel at the royal capital of Nisa. Almost 2,500 ostraca have been found since 1948 in the former wine-storage rooms at Nisa. All the documents date from the mid-second (no. 257 is of the year 97 = 151/150 B.C.) to the late first century B.C. and record payments of rent or taxes in kind, in this case wine."[142]
♠ Calendar ♣ present ♥ Evidence from Seleucia shows that the Parthians used the Babylonian system. [143] "In the indigenous Parthian lands the Zoroastrian calendar was also used beside the Seleucid era."[144]
♠ Sacred Texts ♣ present ♥ Zoroastrianism? Bible.
♠ Religious literature ♣ present ♥ Zoroastrianism?
♠ Practical literature ♣ present ♥ The Parthians had administrative documents.[145]
♠ History ♣ present ♥ "Armenian accounts of trade routes such as Parthian Stations of the Isidore of Charax and other mentions in Armenian histories are an indication of the involvement of Armenians in the internal trade of the Arsacid Empire."[146] Isidore of Charax is called a Greco-Roman but Characene was at times Parthian held territory and its literate population that we have evidence for being interested in books such as his Parthian Stations or his original work which was perhaps titled A Journey around Parthia. Characene was the area of southern Mesopotamia. "We know that varied schools of philosophy flourished in Hellenistic Babylonia, and Greek metaphysicians, astronomers, naturalists, historians, geographers, and physicians worked there. The Parthian court made considerable use of such trained and able men for building its bureaucracy."[147]
♠ Philosophy ♣ present ♥ "Iranians were familiar with Greek philosophy from the Achaemenid period."[148] "Parthian Empire in particular seems to have become a refuge for the Jews who fled the Roman persecution and brought the fundamental of the rabbinic learning with them, to appear in the form of the Babylonian Talmud a few centuries later."[149] "the Avesta (the holy book of Zoroastrianism) ... credits Vologases I (51-78 CE) with the collection and compiling of the corpus of Avesta itself. Whether true or not, this is an evidence of the interest of later Arsacid Emperors in Zoroastrianism and their possible patronage of its spread."[150] "the late Arsacid period is distinguished by the rise of the aforementioned Gnosticism and Neo-Platonism. Famous leaders of Gnosticism like Marcion lived either in the Parthian territories or had a large following within their lands, while the Egyptian philosopher Plotinus made a trip to the Parthian lands".[151] "We know that varied schools of philosophy flourished in Hellenistic Babylonia, and Greek metaphysicians, astronomers, naturalists, historians, geographers, and physicians worked there. The Parthian court made considerable use of such trained and able men for building its bureaucracy."[152]
♠ Scientific literature ♣ present ♥ "Credit for the discovery and use of the monsoon as an aid to navigation in the Indian Ocean is given to a merchant named Hippalus about the year 100 B.C."[153] Astronomy, primarily for calendar.[154] "We know that varied schools of philosophy flourished in Hellenistic Babylonia, and Greek metaphysicians, astronomers, naturalists, historians, geographers, and physicians worked there. The Parthian court made considerable use of such trained and able men for building its bureaucracy."[155]
♠ Fiction ♣ inferred present ♥ "the Arsacid rulers consciously promoted the creation of a cultural unity within their core-territories. This is best reflected in the foundation and promotion of a mythical history for Iran, possibly based on an Avestan model, and the revival of what was seen as profoundly local in nature, including literature and orthography, best marked by a return to Aramaic alphabet as the main means of communication."[156] "The Hellenistic commercial aristocracy of the city [Seleucia] supported cultural endeavors, as patrons of literature, art, and academies."[157] "No literature remains from the Arsacids themselves. Greek served as their official language; Greek drama was cultivated at their court ..."[158] Scholars assume that most Parthian literature was oral [159] Mary Boyce comments, "No Parthian literature survives from the Parthian period in its original form. The only work of any length which exist in the Parthian language were composed under Sasanian rule.” [160] "The interest in oral literature in pre-Islamic Iran meant that, apart from state or commerical records and documents and, on rare occasions, religious works, nothing was written down until the Sasanian period. Secular oral literature was preserved orally by gosan (poet-ministrels) or khunyagar (story-tellers)."[161] "Epic stories, frequently in verse, remained an oral form until the Sasanian period".[162] inferred present on the basis of the presence of e.g. Greek communities but for Persian tradition only it would be inferred absent.


Money

♠ Articles ♣ present ♥ Cattle were used in barter.[163] Taxes could be paid in kind, such as in wine.[164]
♠ Tokens ♣ suspected unknown ♥
♠ Precious metals ♣ inferred present ♥ In Roman stone art c.170 CE from Coblenz: "The Parthian who proffers gold bars is not necessarily portrayed as an enemy defeated in battle but as a fascinating stranger from the East serving a rich Roman(ised) master in the West."[165]
♠ Foreign coins ♣ ♥
♠ Indigenous coins ♣ present ♥ e.g the drachm issued by Parthian mints. [166] Many coins have been found that were produced in the Parthian Empire and they are an important source in their own right. Gold and silver coins have been found from the Oxus treasury.[167] "The earliest coins are those of Arsaces I (c. 238-211 BCE) and Arsaces II (c. 211-191 BCE) which were perhaps minted at Mithradatkirt or Nisa, now in the Republic of Turkmenistan."[168] In the most economically advanced regions (e.g. Mesopotamia, Susiana, Margiana) a "vast quantity of small bronze coins" were minted.[169]
♠ Paper currency ♣ absent ♥

Postal System

♠ Couriers ♣ present ♥ Isidore of Charax wrote "Parthian Stations" on the postal stations maintained by the Parthians. [170] "Roads were dotted with resting places or Caravanserais ... usually maintained by the local rulers, which provided the merchants and messengers, as well as their animals, an easy access to food, water, and fodder."[171]
♠ Postal stations ♣ present ♥ Isidore of Charax wrote "Parthian Stations" on the postal stations maintained by the Parthians. [172]
♠ General postal service ♣ inferred absent ♥ Isidore of Charax wrote "Parthian Stations" on the postal stations maintained by the Parthians. [173]

Warfare variables

♠ RA ♣ Will Farrell; Alice Williams; Edward A L Turner ♥

Military Technologies

Military use of Metals

♠ Copper ♣ present ♥ bronze made with copper: Heavy cavalry armour made from "rawhide, horn, iron, and bronze cut into scales."[174]
♠ Bronze ♣ present ♥ Heavy cavalry armour made from "rawhide, horn, iron, and bronze cut into scales."[175]
♠ Iron ♣ present ♥ Iron armour.[176]
♠ Steel ♣ inferred present ♥ "It is believed that Indian steel was exported in the early centuries A.D. and was known even in the time of Alexander. By the sixth century there is more definite evidence of the manufacture of Damascene swords and the steel used for this purpose came from India."[177] Artaxerxes II of Persia (Achaemenids, ruled around 400 BCE) had a Greek physician called Ctesias of Cnidus who was impressed by his sword of Indian steel.[178][179] Use of Damascene steel certainly by 540 CE: "This unique type of steel was a major technological innovation and Iran played an important role in its production over the centuries. Circumstantial evidence suggests that a trade in a special steel, conceivably the ingots from which damascene steel was made, was underway in the Parthian and Sasanian period. Sometime after 115 A.D. the Parthians were importing iron (steel) from some point to the east" [180] "High-carbon steel was being produced in the eastern Iranian region from the tenth century CE."[181]

Projectiles

♠ Javelins ♣ inferred present ♥ "The infantry was composed of good quality hillmen, and of peasants who were of indifferent military worth."[182]
♠ Atlatl ♣ absent ♥ Weapon of the Americas
♠ Slings ♣ inferred present ♥ "The infantry was composed of good quality hillmen, and of peasants who were of indifferent military worth."[183]
♠ Self bow ♣ inferred absent ♥ Inferred absent due to availability of more powerful composite bow.
♠ Composite bow ♣ present ♥ Light cavalry used compound bow. [184] "Monument D at Tang-i Sarvak shows a mounted soldier in scale armour on a horse protected by similar armour and armed with a long lance and bow."[185] "The mass of lesser nobles and their retainers were traditional horse archers, mounted on tough steppe ponies and armed with the reflex bow."[186]
♠ Crossbow ♣ suspected unknown ♥
♠ Tension siege engines ♣ suspected unknown ♥ "The only evidence for any knowledge of the use of siege engines East of the Roman frontier comes from Vani in Georgia where ballista shot of various calibres were found."[187] "the Parthians were not skilled nor equipped for sieges".[188]
♠ Sling siege engines ♣ absent ♥ First known use during Byzantine Empire.
♠ Gunpowder siege artillery ♣ absent ♥ Inferred as came later. [189]
♠ Handheld firearms ♣ absent ♥ Inferred as came later. [190]

Handheld weapons

♠ War clubs ♣ present ♥ Secondary weapons of the heavy cavalryman "included a long sword, axe, mace and dagger."[191]
♠ Battle axes ♣ present ♥ Secondary weapons of the heavy cavalryman "included a long sword, axe, mace and dagger."[192] Secondary weapons for the horse-archers: "Axes, short swords, daggers and sometimes long swords were secondary weapons worn at the belt."[193]
♠ Daggers ♣ present ♥ Secondary weapons of the heavy cavalryman "included a long sword, axe, mace and dagger."[194] Secondary weapons for the horse-archers: "Axes, short swords, daggers and sometimes long swords were secondary weapons worn at the belt."[195]
♠ Swords ♣ present ♥ Rock carvings of Firuzabad, third century CE, show sword (at least the handle of one), quiver for arrows and lance. [196] Secondary weapons of the heavy cavalryman "included a long sword, axe, mace and dagger."[197] Secondary weapons for the horse-archers: "Axes, short swords, daggers and sometimes long swords were secondary weapons worn at the belt."[198]
♠ Spears ♣ present ♥ "Monument D at Tang-i Sarvak shows a mounted soldier in scale armour on a horse protected by similar armour and armed with a long lance and bow."[199] Parthian cataphracts had a long, heavy lance.[200] 12-foot lance known as the kontos.[201]
♠ Polearms ♣ inferred absent ♥ Plutarch mentions Romans had to face "long pikes" at Carrhae.[202] Are these polearms or lances? Parthians did not have much infantry to presumably these are the Parthian heavy cavalry.

Animals used in warfare

♠ Dogs ♣ inferred absent ♥ No mention in sources so far consulted.
♠ Donkeys ♣ inferred absent ♥ No mention in sources so far consulted.
♠ Horses ♣ present ♥ Used by cavalry and archers on horse back. [203]
♠ Camels ♣ present ♥ Camels in supply train at Carrhae.[204] "There is evidence that Parthian archers also used camels on occasion, which had great stamina and gave a good advantage point from which to fire, but their effectiveness was limited due to their soft feet, which would quickly become injured walking on the debris of a battlefield."[205]
♠ Elephants ♣ absent ♥ "elephants seem to play no part in the Parthian army".[206]

Armor

♠ Wood, bark, etc ♣ inferred present ♥ Plutarch on the Parthians at Carrhae: "tough breastplates of raw hide or steel".[207]
♠ Leather, cloth ♣ present ♥ "The Persian royal horses are caparisoned, each one bearing rows of badges or symbols. Such trappers could have been of leather or quilted fabric with the devices applied in precious metals."[208] Plutarch on the Parthians at Carrhae: "tough breastplates of raw hide or steel".[209] Heavy cavalry armour made from "rawhide, horn, iron, and bronze cut into scales. Some horse-trappers were of thick felt".[210]
♠ Shields ♣ present ♥ Cassius Dio [c. CE 155 - 235] in Roman History: "The Parthians make no use of a shield". [211] Present at Carrhae. Light cavalry probably had a small oval shield. [212]
♠ Helmets ♣ present ♥ Early Parthian: "Amongst the many graffiti discovered [at Dura] was one of a Parthian cataphractus dating from the second century A.D. It is a crude drawing - probably the work of a child - but still remarkably detailed and informative. The horseman wears a tall conical helmet with little streamers tied at the point. This would appear to be of segments or lamellae with a hood of mail falling to the shoulders."[213] Late Parthian: Rock carvings of Firuzabad, third century CE, show Parthians "have rounded helmets with curtains of scale or lamellar attached, scale or lamellar body armour covered by sleeveless surcoats, and both their arms and their legs are completely encased in laminated plates. The sleeves extend over the wrists on to the back of the hands."[214] Cassius Dio's description of Parthian cavalry "in full armour" and depictions of helmets on coins. [215] "The standard turn-out would have included helmets of bronze or iron, sometimes with a neck guard and/or an aventail of lamellar, scale or mail, sometimes sporting a small plume of horsehair, either dyed or left natural". [216]
♠ Breastplates ♣ present ♥ Plutarch on the Parthians at Carrhae: "tough breastplates of raw hide or steel".[217]
♠ Limb protection ♣ present ♥ Early Parthian: "Amongst the many graffiti discovered [at Dura] was one of a Parthian cataphractus dating from the second century A.D. It is a crude drawing - probably the work of a child - but still remarkably detailed and informative. The horseman wears a tall conical helmet with little streamers tied at the point. This would appear to be of segments or lamellae with a hood of mail falling to the shoulders. ... a skirt of mail. His arms and legs are barred with horizontal lines, which represent laminated armour."[218] Late Parthian: Rock carvings of Firuzabad, third century CE, show Parthians "have rounded helmets with curtains of scale or lamellar attached, scale or lamellar body armour covered by sleeveless surcoats, and both their arms and their legs are completely encased in laminated plates. The sleeves extend over the wrists on to the back of the hands."[219] Greaves on terracotta statuette of Parthian warrior. [220] "Arm guards were also worn, and some wore guantlets too. The feet were often protected by armour over mail 'socks', and mail was often used to bridge defences at limb joints." [221]
♠ Chainmail ♣ present ♥ Cavalry wore chainmail. [222] "The standard turn-out would have included ... a corselet of lamellar, mail or scale for the torso." [223]
♠ Scaled armor ♣ present ♥ Late Parthian: Rock carvings of Firuzabad, third century CE, show Parthians "have rounded helmets with curtains of scale or lamellar attached, scale or lamellar body armour covered by sleeveless surcoats, and both their arms and their legs are completely encased in laminated plates. The sleeves extend over the wrists on to the back of the hands."[224] "The remains of overlapping iron scales from a suit of armour have been found in excavations at Shaikhan Dheri (Charsada) ... Monument D at Tang-i Sarvak shows a mounted soldier in scale armour on a horse protected by similar armour and armed with a long lance and bow."[225] "complete scale armor for man and horse"[226] Heavy cavalry armour made from "rawhide, horn, iron, and bronze cut into scales."[227] "The standard turn-out would have included ... a corselet of lamellar, mail or scale for the torso." [228]
♠ Laminar armor ♣ inferred present ♥ Early Parthian: "Amongst the many graffiti discovered [at Dura] was one of a Parthian cataphractus dating from the second century A.D. It is a crude drawing - probably the work of a child - but still remarkably detailed and informative. The horseman wears a tall conical helmet with little streamers tied at the point. This would appear to be of segments or lamellae with a hood of mail falling to the shoulders. ... a skirt of mail. His arms and legs are barred with horizontal lines, which represent laminated armour."[229] Late Parthian: Rock carvings of Firuzabad, third century CE, show Parthians "have rounded helmets with curtains of scale or lamellar attached, scale or lamellar body armour covered by sleeveless surcoats, and both their arms and their legs are completely encased in laminated plates. The sleeves extend over the wrists on to the back of the hands."[230] "The standard turn-out would have included ... a corselet of lamellar, mail or scale for the torso." [231]
♠ Plate armor ♣ present ♥ Used to protect men and horses. [232] Suit of armour found at Nisa and another in a 4th century BCE tomb at Tchirik-rabat.[233]

Naval technology

♠ Small vessels (canoes, etc) ♣ suspected unknown ♥
♠ Merchant ships pressed into service ♣ suspected unknown ♥
♠ Specialized military vessels ♣ present ♥ for a time had seventy valleys, tribute from Armenia. [234]

Fortifications

♠ Settlements in a defensive position ♣ suspected unknown ♥
♠ Wooden palisades ♣ suspected unknown ♥
♠ Earth ramparts ♣ present ♥ Discovered at 2nd century BCE Parthian archaeological site near Bisitun.[235] Earthern rampart at Hatra, in addition to wall and ditch.[236]
♠ Ditch ♣ present ♥ Ditch at Hatra.[237]
♠ Moat ♣ present ♥ Hatra had "inner and outer city walls surrounded by a moat".[238] "Other than a few cities in Mesopotamia, Parthian cities seem not to have been surrounded by walls, although some defensive preparations, such as the aforementioned fortresses and moats, have been identified in some sites."[239]
♠ Stone walls (non-mortared) ♣ inferred absent ♥ "according to Koldewey, Achaemenid, Seleucid, and Parthian builders generally used mud mortar." Quick-setting gypsum also known from Sassanian buildings.[240] "Other than a few cities in Mesopotamia, Parthian cities seem not to have been surrounded by walls, although some defensive preparations, such as the aforementioned fortresses and moats, have been identified in some sites."[241]
♠ Stone walls (mortared) ♣ present ♥ City walls of Dura-Europos 1st century AD. [242] Walled cities mentioned in Chinese records.[243] Parthian walls at Hatra.[244] "Other than a few cities in Mesopotamia, Parthian cities seem not to have been surrounded by walls, although some defensive preparations, such as the aforementioned fortresses and moats, have been identified in some sites."[245]
♠ Fortified camps ♣ inferred absent ♥ No mention in sources so far consulted. Parthian army was small and cavalry based. After takeover of Persia and Mesopotamia Parthians did not campaign and mostly fought defensive wars. Due to mobile nature of warfare and lack of campaigns unlikely to have developed and/or required fortified camps.
♠ Complex fortifications ♣ present ♥ Earthern rampart at Hatra, in addition to wall and ditch.[246] Hatra had "inner and outer city walls surrounded by a moat".[247]
♠ Long walls ♣ ♥ km.
♠ Modern fortifications ♣ absent ♥

Phase II Variables (polity-based)

Institutional Variables

♠ RA ♣ Edward A L Turner ♥

Limits on Power of the Chief Executive

Power distributed

♠ Constraint on executive by government ♣ inferred present ♥ The Parthians were "a military aristocracy, which found it most convenient to rule not directly but through various kinds of authorities". This meant "while provincial administration was extensive, central government was scant."[248] "The Parthian government consisted of the king and the royal court, in addition to the Council of the Nobles (the Mahistan)"[249], which made use of trained Greek scholars.[250] The Mahistan (Council of Nobles[251] and priests[252]) "was similar to the Roman Senate, its members being responsible for drawing laws and enacting them."[253] These were two different councils, one for kinsmen and one for magi.[254] The various parts of the Parthian realm were ruled "by great noble families, allegedly seven in all, such as the Surens, Karens, and Mihrans. These families commanded detachments of the army in battle and wielded semi-dependent suzerainty in their fiefdoms. The 'king of kings' was such in fact as well as in title, for he dealt apparently as primus inter pares with powerful lords."[255] "The court system of the Arsacids was copied from the Achaemenid model, being staffed by many offices called Diwans, responsible for record-keeping, communication, budgeting, and taxation. These were headed by their respective Dibirs who were all responsible to a first-minister, a member of the nobility as mentioned before."[256] "It seems, however, that the Parthians, much like their Achaemenid predecessors, did not have one single capital and moved from city to city along with their administration."[257] There was little in the way of Parthian central government to constrain but the Mahistan (Council of Nobles) which could draw and enact laws, and choose the king's successor particularly in the later Parthian era[258] was a constraint on the executive. Local government also proved to be a constraint: autonomy granted to Greek cities such as Seleucia on the Tigris "often the source of tensions and serious conflicts with Parthian rulers trying to restrain it."[259] The Parthians provided the autonomous city of Susa with its own charter.[260]
♠ Constraint on executive by non-government ♣ inferred present ♥ The Parthians were "a military aristocracy, which found it most convenient to rule not directly but through various kinds of authorities". This meant "while provincial administration was extensive, central government was scant."[261] "The Parthian government consisted of the king and the royal court, in addition to the Council of the Nobles (the Mahistan)"[262], which made use of trained Greek scholars.[263] The Mahistan (Council of Nobles[264] and priests[265]) "was similar to the Roman Senate, its members being responsible for drawing laws and enacting them."[266] These were two different councils, one for kinsmen and one for magi.[267] The various parts of the Parthian realm were ruled "by great noble families, allegedly seven in all, such as the Surens, Karens, and Mihrans. These families commanded detachments of the army in battle and wielded semi-dependent suzerainty in their fiefdoms. The 'king of kings' was such in fact as well as in title, for he dealt apparently as primus inter pares with powerful lords."[268] "The court system of the Arsacids was copied from the Achaemenid model, being staffed by many offices called Diwans, responsible for record-keeping, communication, budgeting, and taxation. These were headed by their respective Dibirs who were all responsible to a first-minister, a member of the nobility as mentioned before."[269] "It seems, however, that the Parthians, much like their Achaemenid predecessors, did not have one single capital and moved from city to city along with their administration."[270] The powerful families that constituted the Parthian military aristocracy would have been able to constraint the executive. Elite families such as the Surens and Karens had the greatest influence and probably held top posts such as "satrap of satraps" and were regular satraps.[271] The reason why they held the top posts was presumably because there would have been unwanted consequences for the king had they not have been able to retain them. The interests of the elite families were not always identical with that of the king's. "As the nobility settled down, and intermarried with the old upper classes, local loyalties took the place of former dynastic ones."[272]
♠ Impeachment ♣ inferred absent ♥ The Parthians were "a military aristocracy, which found it most convenient to rule not directly but through various kinds of authorities". This meant "while provincial administration was extensive, central government was scant."[273] "The Parthian government consisted of the king and the royal court, in addition to the Council of the Nobles (the Mahistan)"[274], which made use of trained Greek scholars.[275] The Mahistan (Council of Nobles[276] and priests[277]) "was similar to the Roman Senate, its members being responsible for drawing laws and enacting them."[278] These were two different councils, one for kinsmen and one for magi.[279] The various parts of the Parthian realm were ruled "by great noble families, allegedly seven in all, such as the Surens, Karens, and Mihrans. These families commanded detachments of the army in battle and wielded semi-dependent suzerainty in their fiefdoms. The 'king of kings' was such in fact as well as in title, for he dealt apparently as primus inter pares with powerful lords."[280] "The court system of the Arsacids was copied from the Achaemenid model, being staffed by many offices called Diwans, responsible for record-keeping, communication, budgeting, and taxation. These were headed by their respective Dibirs who were all responsible to a first-minister, a member of the nobility as mentioned before."[281] "It seems, however, that the Parthians, much like their Achaemenid predecessors, did not have one single capital and moved from city to city along with their administration."[282] Nothing in the literature to suggest a formal process of impeachment existed.

Social Mobility

Status

Elite status

♠ elite status is hereditary ♣ present ♥ "It was status as an agnate [kin group or clan] in one of the noble groups that alone gave access to appointment to any state or court official of importance. Certain offices even became, with the passing of time, hereditary in a particular group." The groups had "preferential right" to hold the office.[283] Elite families such as the Surens and Karens had the greatest influence and probably held top posts such as "satrap of satraps" and were regular satraps.[284]

Religion and Normative Ideology

♠ RA ♣ Enrico Cioni ♥

Deification of Rulers

♠ Rulers are legitimated by gods ♣ inferred present ♥ Inferred from the fact that rulers were legitimated by the gods both among the Achaemenids and among the Sasanians. Schmitt says that although the Achaemenid kings were not gods or descendants of gods, 'the other fundamental basis of their kingship beside the genealogical principle is the theory of divine right of kings, Gottesgnadentum. They are kings vasna Auramazdaha, "by the favor of Ahura Mazda;" [...]. This supreme god "bestowed the empire" (xsacam frabara) on the kings. As these and similar expressions show, the Achaemenids' reign is legitimized by the gods, and the king is invested by them; i.e., he is their elect and their representative on earth [...]' [285] As for the Sasanians: "As seen on Ardashir’s investiture relief above, for Sasanian monarchs it was all about the xwarrah, the divine fortune or glory, which was brought to the king, and then to the land and its inhabitants through the bestowal of power by Ohrmazd." [286] Of course, it is likely that the Parthians practiced Zoroastrianism in a somewhat different way from the other two Zoroastrian dynasties, but it also seems reasonable to infer some degree of continuity.

♠ Rulers are gods ♣ {absent; present} ♥ Inferred from the fact that this was not believed to be the case either among the Achaemenids or among the Sasanians. 'The Achaemenid kings were no gods, in spite of Aeschylus (Persae 157), where Queen Atossa is called "a god's [Darius'] wife" and "a god's [Xerxes'] mother" (here and elsewhere Greek ideas are brought forward); and they were not of divine origin.'[287] As for the Sasanians, their iconography and inscriptions make it quite clear that the rulers are blessed by the gods [288], but are not gods themselves. Of course, it is likely that the Parthians practiced Zoroastrianism in a somewhat different way from the other two Zoroastrian dynasties, but it also seems reasonable to infer some degree of continuity.

Normative Ideological Aspects of Equity and Prosociality

(CC: The following variables reference only Zoroastrianism. However the previous polity references a number of religions simultaneously. Check with expert the chronology of religion in the NGA, and simulataneous religions. I have changed some variables to 'inferred', where sources relating to later Zoroastrianism are cited. But generally need to clarify when various religions practiced in the NGA)


♠ Ideological reinforcement of equality ♣ inferred absent ♥ Zoroastrian eschatology held that the potential for resurrection and salvation was universal [289]. At the same time, a passage from Shaki's article suggests that in Zoroastrian thought, elites were understood as cosmologically distinct from other social groups: 'The omniscient Mazdean religion is likened to a mighty tree with one trunk (the mean), two main boughs (action and abstention), three branches (good thoughts, good words, and good deeds), four small branches (the estates of the priests, warriors, husbandmen, and artisans), five roots (the lord of the house, the village headman, the tribal chieftain, the ruler, and the highest religious authority, the representative of Zoroaster on earth ...), and above them all the head of all heads ... the king of kings, the ruler of the whole world.'[290]

♠ Ideological thought equates rulers and commoners ♣ absent ♥ A passage from Shaki's article suggests that in Zoroastrian thought, elites were understood as cosmologically distinct from other social groups: 'The omniscient Mazdean religion is likened to a mighty tree with one trunk (the mean), two main boughs (action and abstention), three branches (good thoughts, good words, and good deeds), four small branches (the estates of the priests, warriors, husbandmen, and artisans), five roots (the lord of the house, the village headman, the tribal chieftain, the ruler, and the highest religious authority, the representative of Zoroaster on earth ...), and above them all the head of all heads ... the king of kings, the ruler of the whole world.'[291]
♠ Ideological thought equates elites and commoners ♣ absent ♥ A passage from Shaki's article suggests that in Zoroastrian thought, elites were understood as cosmologically distinct from other social groups: 'The omniscient Mazdean religion is likened to a mighty tree with one trunk (the mean), two main boughs (action and abstention), three branches (good thoughts, good words, and good deeds), four small branches (the estates of the priests, warriors, husbandmen, and artisans), five roots (the lord of the house, the village headman, the tribal chieftain, the ruler, and the highest religious authority, the representative of Zoroaster on earth ...), and above them all the head of all heads ... the king of kings, the ruler of the whole world.'[292]
♠ production of public goods ♣ inferred present ♥ Balali, Keulartz and Korthals link Zoroastrian ethics to the construction of qanats, an ancient irrigation system, in pre-Islamic Iran. Through the Zoroastrian exhortation to carry out 'good deeds', they argue that the worshipper 'is directed to relieve the poor, to irrigate and cultivate the soil, to provide food and fresh water in places where needed, and to devote the surplus of his wealth in charity to the well-being and prosperity of his fellow man'.[293] However, the focus of their article is on the lessons we could learn from 'traditional' systems of water management, rather than on rigorous historical analysis. It is unclear to what extent worshippers of Ahura Mazda in this specific polity actually laboured to produce public goods, directed solely by their religious values.

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