the sassanian collapse

Topics: Sassanid Empire, Byzantine Empire, Roman Empire Pages: 6 (2061 words) Published: December 4, 2013
When one considers the empires of historical Eurasia, perhaps it is the Roman Byzantines that first come to mind. Indeed, the Romans are certainly well known for their history, a result of their diverse interactions with other powers throughout their period and the records preserved by the Roman Byzantines and the aforementioned nations of interaction. However, the Sassanid Empire, although less known, should not be overlooked. The Sassanid Empire existed alongside the Romans with many comparable achievements in influence and scale. While the fall of the Romans is documented fairly well, certainly a result of being split into two separate entities with separate records. However; the collapse, or rather, disappearance of the Sassanid Empire is quite a bit more difficult to determine. How did such a prominent power as the Sassanid Empire disappear in such an abrupt manner? Many scholars have attempted to address this question, with a good deal of success considering the lack of detailed records one would normally hope to recover from an entity with the size and scope the possessed by the Sassanians. As previously mentioned, the study of the fall of the Sassanid Empire is far from new. Many scholars have contributed to the study over the years, often citing well known materials and authors on the subject. David Morgan examines the work of Touraj Daryaee, Parvaneh Pourshariati, and Greg Fisher in his paper “Sasanian Iran and the Early Arab Conquests.” 1 Morgan explores the different theories presented by the previously mentioned scholars, citing their work as the basis of his paper. Morgan posits that a major obstacle in unraveling the history surrounding the fall of the Sassanian Empire presents itself in the lack of primary sources, as well as the fact that the sources currently relied upon exist in more languages than any individual could hope to master2. This issue presents itself as a rather difficult task to overcome, however calling on the work of several other scholars we are able to piece together a framework of information on the topic. It is commonly assumed that the Sassanid Empire fell as a result of the Arab Islamic invasion eventually overwhelming their forces. While the Arabs certainly play a major role in the disappearance of the empire, it should be noted that their conquest was most likely only successful due to internal factors within the Sassanian polity. Morgan cites the work of Pourshariati to emphasise the political states of the Sassanian Empire. Previously believed to be solely a centralized monarchy, the polity of the empire would be better described as a “Sasanian-Parthian confederacy.”3 Suggesting that political structures were unstable, Pourshariati is cited claiming that the Pahlav, better known as Parthians, agreed to kingship under the Sassanid on the conditions that they would retain a “substantial degree of independence in their respective Pahlav territories. These were concentrated in the quarters of the east and north.”4 The article suggests that this political divide played a role in destabilizing the empire. When Khusraw I instituted reforms moving the Parthians away from their power centers, Morgan states that these actions served as the ground work of the withdraw of support the Sassanian monarch received from the Pahlav. While the “confederacy” remained intact for the remainder of Khusraw I’s reign, the eventual Parthian rebellions during the reign of Khusraw II as a result of these reforms contributed significantly to the state’s collapse5. The conception of the Parthian peoples contributing to the decline of the Sassanid Empire is explored in great detail in the work of Nadereh Nafisi6. Nafisi presents in great detail the influence of the Parthian people had throughout the era of the Sassanid Empire. Presented in Nafisi’s paper “The Parthian Mehran Family, Key to the Collapse of Sassanid Empire,” is a complex analysis of the genealogy of notable Parthian noble’s and their...
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