The Arsacid Empire

Edward Dąbrowa

in The Oxford Handbook of Iranian History

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199732159
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

The Arsacid Empire

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  • Ancient History (Non-Classical, to 500 CE)



The Parthians rose to power under the banner of the Arsacid dynasty, their claim to fame being the victory over the Romans in Carrhae (53 bc). The dynasty consolidated itself across the length and breadth of Asia Minor and the Indian subcontinent, by raising claims to Achaemenid heritage, and thus its pan-Asian empire. Knowledge of Parthian history is restrained by the nature and preservation of historical sources. Accounts of Polybus merits a special mention within the Hellenistic genre of Parthian history. A sizeable portion of Parthian history is covered with the mutual relationship with their Roman counterpart. The Parthians, originally a nomadic tribe called ‘Parni’/‘Aparni’, with roots in the Dahae strain of Persian demography, originated in Central Asia. Exploiting the Seleucid state's war with Mesopotemia and the Celtics during the time, the Parthians conquered sizeable amounts of arable land in the Seleuclid Empire. Conquest of Parthyene propelled them to rechristen themselves Parthian.

Keywords: Parthian; Arsacid; Carrhae; Polybus; Dahae; Seleucid Empire; Parni

Article.  12122 words. 

Subjects: History ; Ancient History (Non-Classical, to 500 CE)

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