ARDAÈR I (?-242 A.D.), the founder of the Sasanian empire.
ii. Rock reliefs.
ArdaŞ^r, Middle Persian spelling ÷rthŞtr ( = Parthian ÷rthŞtr), pronounced ArtaŞ^r, later ArdaŞ^r, is derived from Old Iranian *R®taxŞira, a two-stem hypocoristic name (*ráta-xŞ-ira) to a full name *R®taxŞra (R. Schmitt, “Artaxerxes, ArdaŞ^r und Verwandte,” in Incontri Linguistici 5, 1979, pp. 61-72 and below under Artaxerxes).
Family and early career. Sources on ArdaŞ^r's birth and early years vary on many points. According to one account given by T®abar^ (I, p. 814) he stemmed from a noble family of Persis and was born at T®^ru@da, a village in the district of K ^r and subdistrict of Esátáakòr. His grandfather Sa@sa@n (q.v.), whose name was to be given to the dynasty, is described as custodian of the temple of the Fire of Ana@hita@ (Bayt na@r Na@h^dò) at Esátáakòr and his grandmother, Ra@mbeheŞt, as a descendant of the princely family named Ba@zrang^. His father was Pa@pak (Ba@bag, q.v.), a son of Sa@sa@n, and his successor to the “governorship of the people.” A second version may be adduced from the inscription of a@pu@r I on the Ka¿ba-ye ZardoŞt (KZ), which names Sa@sa@n as a lord (hwt÷y) but not as Pa@pak's father (Mid. Persian, line 25). A third version appears in the Middle Persian romance generally known as the Ka@r-na@mag ^ ArdaŞ^r (Book of the deeds of ArdaŞ^r, tr. Th. Nöldeke, Geschichte des ArtachŞ^r i Pa@paka@n [ = Bezzenbergers Beiträge 4, 1878, pp. 22ff.]), repeated in Ferdows^'s a@h-na@ma (Moscow, VII, pp. 116ff.) and echoed by Agathias (2.27). According to this, the local ruler Pa@pak gave his daughter in marriage to Sa@sa@n after learning of Sa@sa@n's descent from Da@ra@, i.e. the Achaemenid king Darius III, and ArdaŞ^r was the child of their union. Thereafter, however, Sa@sa@n disappears from the romance and Pa@pak is treated as ArdaŞ^r's father. The discrepancy of the sources is variously explained. Some accept T®abar^'s version, dismissing the third as a legend, or suggest a possible adoption, consistent with Zoroastrian practice, of Sa@sa@n's son ArdaŞ^r by Pa@pak. Others surmise that, as in the case of Achaemenes, Sa@sa@n may have been an ancestor and patronym of the Sasanian dynasty (see Nöldeke, Geschichte der Perser, pp. 1ff.; Herzfeld, Paikuli I, pp. 35f., 240ff.; R. N. Frye, Camb. Hist. Iran III, 1983, pp. 116ff.; M. L. Chaumont, RHR 153, 1958, pp. 154ff., and JA 247, 1959, pp. 175ff.).
Equal obscurity surrounds ArdaŞ^r's early career. According to T®abar^ (in Nöldeke, ibid., pp. 4f.; see also Bal¿am^, Ta@r^kò, pp. 877ff., and the anonymous Neha@yat al-erab, cited and tr. in G. Widengren, “The Establishment of the Sasanian Dynasty in the Light of New Evidence,” in La Persia nel Medioevo, Rome, 1971, pp. 767ff.), Pa@pak obtained permission from Go@zihr, the king of Esátáakòr to place his son in the care of T^r^, the commandant of the castle of Da@ra@bgerd; when T^r^ died, ArdaŞ^r took over his post, but then defiantly began to extend his own sway, and in the process killed several local princes, and even urged his father to overthrow Go@zihr. Pa@pak did so and upon the refusal of the Parthian Great King to make a@pu@r the new king of Esátáakòr, declared open rebellion. The leading role of ArdaŞ^r in the rebellion against the central authority could be a later interpretation; it is quite likely, on the other hand, that Pa@pak gained partial control of Fa@rs because he is known from ArdaŞ^r's coins (see below). The rebellion began with the overthrow of the king of Esátáakòr, after which the realm was consolidated and its independence from the Parthian monarch was proclaimed. It may be inferred that one of these events took place in 205-206 A.D., because that year is implied as the start of an era (the Sasanian era?) in a Middle Persian-Parthian inscription at B^Şa@pu@r which is dated to “the year 58, forty years of the [royal] fire of ArdaŞ^r, twenty-four years of the fire of a@pu@r” (see R. Ghirshman and A. Christensen in RAA 10, 1936, pp. 123ff.; O. Hansen, ZDMG 92, 1936, pp. 441ff.; W. B. Henning, BSOAS 9, 1939, pp. 825f.). The chronological implication of this text is much discussed (see esp. W. B. Henning and S. H. Taqizadeh, Asia Major 6, 1957, pp. 106-21, and most recently R. Altheim-Stiehl, AMI, N.F. 11, 1978, pp. 113ff., and more fully in Boreas 5, 1982, pp. 153ff.). The supposition that the date indicated Pa@pak's rebellion seems all the more probable because subsequent Sasanian time-reckoning was not based on the epochal year 205-206, but either on the start of each king's reign or on the Seleucid era, and ArdaŞ^r himself initiated his own era (H®amza, p. 23) with his overthrow of the Parthians in 224. The reign of the Parthian monarch Vologeses IV (192-207) was disturbed by the invasion of Mesopotamia by the Roman emperor Septimius Severus, and the attention of the paramount Iranian power was naturally directed to the west providing a good opportunity for the local rulers in the southwestern and central regions to initiate revolts. Pa@pak was supported by his sons, the eldest of whom, a@pu@r, became king in his father's life time (his coins are known), but after they both were dead, ArdaŞ^r assumed power and gave the movement a new impetus (see for details and sources S. H. Taqizadeh, in BSOAS 9, pp. 125ff.; V. G. Lukonin, Kul÷tura Sasanidskogo Irana, Moscow, 1969, chap. 2; Widengren, op. cit., pp. 711ff.).
By 224, ArdaŞ^r had extended his sway over Persis and beyond into Elymais (K u@zesta@n) and Kerma@n, forcing to submission many local kings and vassals of the Parthians (T®abar^, I, p. 815; Bal¿am^, pp. 881ff.). The extent of his original realm cannot be determined precisely. During this first phase he was already flouting Parthian authority through administrative actions such as the foundation of new towns and probably the issue of coins (see details in Lukonin, op. cit.). The story of an exchange of letters between ArdaŞ^r and the reigning Arsacid, Artabanus (Ardava@n) V (told by T®abar^, I, pp. 817f.) and some other Oriental sources, e.g., Bal¿am^, pp. 880f.) may be regarded as a literary or historiographical dramatization of the fact that ArdaŞ^r was claiming the throne of all Iran. His prospect of success would have been less good if his pretensions had not concurred with a widespread mood of discontent with the Parthian re gime and willingness to look favorably on the rebellion. His policy declarations and propaganda (cf. the letters to local kings cited in H®amza, p. 45), as well as his military victories, probably induced many individuals to stake their lot on the movement's success (see also Ferdows^, VII, pp. 130f.).
Overthrow of the Parthian empire (224), and subsequent expansion of ArdaŞ^r's realm. The decisive battle between the Parthians and the Sasanians was fought in the plain of Hormazèa@n in Media on 28 April 224 (Nöldeke, Geschichte der Perser, p. 411). The year is confirmed by the evidence of the inscription of a@pu@r at B^Şa@pu@r (cf. Altheim-Stiehl in a forthcoming work on the Chronicle of Arbela, ed. by P. Kawerau). A detailed account of the battle was probably composed for the official history of the Sasanians, and if so, is likely to have been T®abar^'s ultimate source. An illustration of this account was carved by ArdaŞ^r in a bas-relief at F^ru@za@ba@d (see T®abar^, I, p. 818, Bal¿am^, pp. 882ff.; T a¿a@leb^, pp. 478ff.; D^navar^, p. 44; Ferdows^, VII, pp. 134f.; Chronicle of Arbela, in A. Mingana, ed., Sources syriaques I, Leipzig, 1908, p. 29.8ff.; Acta Martyrum et Sanctorum Syriaca, ed. P. Bedjan, II, Paris, 1891, p. 128. On the bas-relief, see below).
While still on the battlefield, ArdaŞ^r assumed the title a@ha@nŞa@h (king of kings), and this marked his accession, and indeed, in the light of the most plausible interpretation of the bilingual inscription at B^Şa@pu@r, the “official” opening year of the Sasanian re gime began in 223-224 A.D., i.e. the Sasanian calendar year starting with 27 September 223 and ending with 25 September 224 (R. Altheim-Stiehl, AMI, N.F. 11, 1978, pp. 113ff., and Boreas 5, 1982, pp. 152ff.). In other sources an official coronation of ArdaŞ^r at Ctesiphon in 226 is mentioned in the context of an expedition to annex former Parthian territories in northwestern Iran and Upper Mesopotamia (see Taqizadeh and Henning, op. cit., and Lukonin, op. cit., for references and discussion).
In the campaign in the northwest of the Parthian empire, ArdaŞ^r failed in an attempt to capture Hatra about 226-227 (Dio Cassius 80.3.2), just as two Roman emperors—Trajan (Dio Cassius 68.17ff.) and Septimius Severus (Dio Cassius 76.9ff.; Herodian 3.9)—had failed before him. He was also repulsed (in 227-228?) by the Arsacids of the collateral line reigning in Armenia, who were to give the Sasanians trouble for a long time (Dio Cassius 80.3.2-3). On the other hand ArdaŞ^r was apparently able, in the following years, to take over the east of the Parthian empire and obtain the submission of numerous Parthian vassals, local magnates, and noble families (Lukonin, op. cit., chap. 2). The precise extent of the Sasanian empire can not be ascertained. It appears that the rulers of the Ku@Şa@n and of Turan in the east paid homage to ArdaŞ^r and that the oasis of Marv (and presumably also K úa@razm) fell into his hand (T®abar^, I, p. 819; Ya¿qu@b^, I, p. 179; D^navar^, p. 44; Neha@ya, in Widengren, op. cit., p. 770. On the campaign see E. Herzfeld, Paikuli I, Berlin, 1924, pp. 37ff.; Widengren, op. cit., pp. 752ff.). In the southwest, the Sasanians succeeded in conquering the north Arabian coast (Bahárayn) (T®abar^, I, p. 820; D^navar^, pp. 44f.; Neha@ya, in Widengren, op. cit., p. 771; cf. R. N. Frye, “Bahrain under the Sasanians,” in Dilmun, ed. D. T. Potts, Berlin, 1983, pp. 167ff.). In the northwest, the old Roman-Parthian frontier probably at first marked the limit of Sasanian influence (Wiesehöfer, Klio 64, 1982, pp. 440ff. with literature). There can be no doubt that ArdaŞ^r's view of foreign relations was shaped by his ambition to resume “Achaemenid” policy and repeat its successes. As J. Wolsksi (in Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt, ed. H. Temporini and W. Haase, II/9, pt. 1, Berlin, 1976, pp. 195ff.) has rightly observed, the Sasanians were not the first to pursue a consciously Iranian policy and propagate a related political ideology (see below); the Arsacids had done the same before them. In both war and propaganda, however, ArdaŞ^r and his heirs achieved better results.
ArdaŞ^r appears to have discerned that an irredentist and offensive policy would have no chance of success without prior stabilization of conditions within the empire. The Parthian central government's dependence on local magnates and tribal leaders, and the autonomy acquired by the aristocratic and tribal interests, had for two centuries curbed foreign policy and repeatedly enabled dangerous adversaries, above all the Romans, to exploit internal troubles (H®amza, p. 45; T®abar^, I, p. 814; Ebn Qotayba, Keta@b al-ma¿a@ref, ed. Wüstenfeld, Göttingen, 1850, p. 321; Ebn Meskawayh, Taèa@reb al-omam I, ed. Caetani, Leiden and London, 1909, p. 77. Cf. The Letter of Tansar, tr. Boyce, Rome, 1968, p. 29). Only through elimination of most of the local kings and establishment of a new centralized and bureaucratically organized system (T a¿a@leb^, GÚorar, p. 480) would it be possible to change the existing military balance and territorial configuration. Both the army and the administration would have to be reformed to ensure success (Christensen, Iran Sass., pp. 97ff., 107ff., 130ff., 207ff.). Although the Sasanians had only a superficial and imprecise knowledge of their “ancestors” (see E. Yarshater, “Were the Sasanians Heirs to the Achaemenids?” in La Persia nel Medioevo, Rome, 1971, pp. 517ff.) there is plenty of evidence in the Middle Persian and Perso-Arabic literature to show that the aggressive confrontation with Rome was meant to restore a once glorious position in the west, aims that were also taken seriously by the Romans. Thus, T®abar^ (I, p. 814) reports a declaration by ArdaŞ^r that he had risen “to avenge the blood of his cousin Da@ra@ b. Da@ra@ whom Alexander had fought and two of Alexander's hirelings had murdered” (Nöldeke, Geschichte der Perser, p. 3. Cf. The Letter of Tansar, tr. Boyce, p. 29). This claim to the imperial lineage and territory of the Achaemenids is also evidenced by Roman historians who report that the Sasanian ruler demanded retrocession of all the former Achaemenid domains in the west (Herodian 6.2.2; Dio Cassius 80.3.4; Zonaras 12.15). The Sasanian claims were probably not so precisely formulated and historically based as Herodian, in particular, suggests; but these reports show that the objective of Sasanian foreign policy was well understood by their Roman adversaries, although they failed to see the change of regime in Iran as revolutionary (Christensen, op. cit., p. 97), for the Parthians had also aired similar pretensions at times when their military position was strong (Tacitus, Annals 6.31). It is noteworthy that the Sasanian evocation of the traditional view of Alexander as the great wrecker of Iran was matched by a contemporary Roman emphasis on the idea of imitatio Alexandri. The emperor Caracalla described himself as a second Alexander (Dio Cassius 78.7.1ff.; Herodian 4.8.1f.), and Alexander Severus cherished the same notion (Dio Cassius 79.17.3; Herodian 5.7.3; Historia Augusta, Alexander Severus 5l.4).
The available information about the fighting in the west comes almost exclusively from Latin and Greek sources (mainly Herodian 6.2ff.). Sasanian troops invaded the Roman-ruled part of Upper Mesopotamia in 230 A.D. and laid siege to Nisibis, one of the territory's two main fortresses (the other being Carrhae), but were unable to capture it. Raids by Sasanian cavalry squadrons penetrated into Syria and Cappadocia (Herodian 6.2.1; Zonaras 12.15; Syncellus 1.674 ed. Dinorf). When negotiations, which the Romans had proposed, broke down, Alexander Severus reluctantly decided to march in person against ArdaŞ^r. After conscripting troops and reinforcing them with experienced veteran units (vexillationes) from garrisons in the Danube region, he proceeded overland to Syria. From his headquarters at Antioch he appears to have made another unsuccessful attempt in the winter of 231-232 to settle the conflict by diplomatic means (Herodian 6.4.4; Zonaras 12.15). A mutiny in the army had to be crushed before any advances to the war fronts could be undertaken.
The war ended unrewardingly for the Romans, whose early victories were outweighed by later defeats (Herodian 6.5f.); but the result of this first trial of strength was not exactly advantageous to ArdaŞ^r either, because the Sasanian army suffered severe losses and was for the most part so exhausted that the troops had to be discharged (Herodian 6.4.4ff., 7.1). The lack of any mention of this war in the Perso-Arabic literature suggests that the whole venture in fact ended ingloriously for ArdaŞ^r. Conversely, in some of the Roman writings, the war's outcome in maintenance of the status quo is made to look like a great success for the emperor. Alexander Severus staged a triumph for himself after his return to Rome (Aurelius Victor, Caes. 24.2; Eutropius 8.23; Festus 22; Hieronymus, Chron. 215; Orosius 7.18; Jordanis, Rom. 36; Historia Augusta, Alex. Sev. 55.1, 56.1ff. all discussed in A. Rösger, “Die Darstellung des Perserfeldzugs des Severus Alexander in der Historia Augusta,” Bonner Historia-Augusta-Colloquium 1975/76, Bonn, 1978, pp. 167ff.)
No formal peace treaty was signed, but in the following years Rome's eastern frontier was not disturbed by any new Sasanian attacks. Perhaps more important for the Romans was the defection to them of Hatra and the incorporation of its fortress in the Roman frontier defense system (A. Maricq, “Les dernieàres anne es de Hatra,” Syria 34, 1957, pp. 228ff.; H. J. W. Drijvers, “Hatra, Palmyra und Edessa,” in Temporini and Haase, eds., op. cit., II/8, pp. 799ff. esp. p. 825). The people of Hatra knew that their relative autonomy in the later Parthian period had been made possible by the weakness of the Arsacid central government and was now in peril from the declared political designs of the Sasanians. The foreign policy of Iran's new rulers was set on westward expansion and perhaps also intended to distract from the coercion within the country, whereas the Parthian and likewise the Roman policy in recent years had been to leave things as they were. Certainly Hatra's concerns would have to be subordinated to the Sasanian objective, and probably its special political or economic interests would be disregarded altogether (literature in Maricq, op. cit.; Wiesehöfer, art. cit.).
Disorder in the Roman empire after the murder of Alexander Severus in 235 evidently encouraged ArdaŞ^r to launch new attacks on Rome's eastern frontier: The most important were a raid on Dura in April 239 (Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum [ = SEG], VII, 743 b), a thrust into Upper Mesopotamia about 237-238 when Carrhae and Nisibis were captured (Syncellus I, 681 [Dindorf]; Zonaris 12.18) and an expedition against Hatra. It appears that Hatra resisted a very long siege and did not fall until sometime between April and September 240 (Mosig-Walburg, Boreas 3, 1980, pp. 117ff. Cf. also Chaumont, “A propos de la chute de Hatra et du couronnement de Shapur Ier,” Acta Antiqua Scient. Acad. Hungarica 27, 1979 , pp. 207ff.). The city appears to have been chosen as a base for operations against the Roman Mesopotamia (Dio Cassius 80.3.2). The capture of Hatra was presumably the cause of the Persian war of Gordianus III (cf. Historia Augusta, Gordianus 23.5 with the date given in the Cologne Ma@n^ Codex [ = CMC], 18, 2-5. Important maps (BV 11 and BV 12 of the Tübinger Atlas des Vorderen Orient, by E. Kettenhofen).
Because of the difficult state of the sources, ArdaŞ^r's last years and the date of his death are subjects of scholarly controversies. His son a@pu@r was probably crowned as co-monarch on 12 April 240 (A. Henrichs and L. Koenen, “Der Kölner Mani-Kodex;” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 5, 1970, p. 129; 19, 1975, p. 21 (CMC 18, 5-8). Probably assignable to this time is the rock relief in northwestern Iran at P^r Ùa@vu@Ş near Salma@s, which appears to be a representation of the co-monarchy (see below). The question whether a@pu@r was designated (and crowned) as sole monarch during ArdaŞ^r's lifetime depends on the interpretation of a particular coin type (Mosig-Walburg, in Boreas 3, 1980, pp. 117ff.). It can now be accepted, on the evidence of the Cologne Ma@n^ Codex (164, 1ff.) that ArdaŞ^r lived until the early part, perhaps February, of the year 242 (Henrichs-Koenen, Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 48, 1982, pp. 4ff., 44).
Administration. The Sasanian empire in ArdaŞ^r's reign resembled the later Parthian state in many ways, though differences were already apparent. In the KZ inscription (Middle Persian, line 28), ArdaŞ^r's name as the Great King is mentioned together with the names of four “kings” who governed the provinces of Apre@nak, Marv, Kerma@n, and Sagesta@n with some measure of semi-independence from the central authority. There were also “kingdoms” (Makura@n, Tu@resta@n, Ku@Şa@nŞahr) whose rulers had had to accept vassal status (Lukonin, op. cit., chap. 2 and in Camb. Hist. Iran III/2, 1983, pp. 681ff.; M. L. Chaumont, in Acta Iranica 4, 1975, pp. 89ff.). Next came provinces comparable with the Achaemenid satrapies. In addition to royal lands, there were large areas under the administration of local chiefs and noble families, and thus not immediately subject to royal control. Taxes could of course only be obtained from these areas through indirect channels (F. Altheim and R. Stiehl, Ein asiatischer Staat, Wiesbaden, 1954, pp. 3ff.). Even at this early time, Sasanian policies had to be shaped with due regard to the relationships between the monarch, the royal family, and the landowning magnates (including members of the old Parthian aristocracy). Although a process of centralization was set on foot, and the number of local kings was greatly reduced, during ArdaŞ^r's reign, his empire was still run on much the same lines as the later Parthian empire (see Lukonin, in Camb. Hist. Iran III/2, 1983, pp. 681ff.).
The order of precedence of the dignitaries and offices at ArdaŞ^r's court is given in the KZ inscription (Middle Persian, lines 28ff.) as follows. First are four kings holding governorships with right of succession inheritable by the youngest son, namely Sada@raf (Sata@ro@p ?) king of Apre@nak (N^Şa@pu@r); ArdaŞ^r king of Marv; ArdaŞ^r king of Kerma@n; ArdaŞ^r king of the Sacae (of Sagesta@n). Next are three queens, namely De@nak grandmother of ArdaŞ^r; Ro@dak mother of ArdaŞ^r; De@nak wife of ArdaŞ^r. Then come ArdaŞ^r the bidaxŞ (viceroy); Pa@pak the haza@ruft (prime minister? or guard commander ?); and five members of the great noble families, namely De@he@n of the family of Wara@z, Sa@sa@n of the family of Su@re@n, Sa@sa@n the lord of And^ga@n, and Pe@ro@z and Go@k of the family of Ka@rin, together with Apursa@m (Abarsa@m, q.v.) “ArdaŞ^r-Farr” whose function is not clear, but was perhaps that of the chief counselor to the monarch. After these come fifteen more named dignitaries including the spa@hbed (head of the army) and the dib^ruft (head of the chancery) (Lukonin, ibid., pp. 681ff.).
Other officials which already existed in this early stage were: the aywe@nbed (master of ceremonies), the frama@da@r with his secretaries, and the religious functionaries he@rbads, mo@bads and mo@gs (Lukonin, ibid., pp. 73f.; Christensen, Iran Sass. pp. 97ff.; Ph. Gignoux, “Die religiöse Administration in sasanidischer Zeit: Ein Überblick,” in H. Koch and D. N. MacKenzie, eds., Kunst, Kultur und Geschichte der Achamenidenzeit und ihr Fortleben, Berlin, 1983, pp. 254ff.; cf. also Boyce, The Letter of Tansar, pp. 1ff. ). Higher offices of wuzurg frama@da@r, mo@bada@n mo@bad and he@rbada@n he@rbad were not ArdaŞ^r's foundations (against Christensen, ibid., pp. 118ff., see Gignoux, op. cit., pp. 255ff.; cf. Boyce, Zoroastrians, London, 2nd ed., 1984, p. 122).
Urban foundations. Iranian monarchs could only establish, reestablish, or rename cities and towns on sites lying within the royal lands (dastkart). T®abar^ (I, p. 820) credits ArdaŞ^r with the following urban foundations: (1) ArdaŞ^r-K orra( = Gu@r, F^ru@za@ba@d); (2) Ra@m-ArdaŞ^r; (3) Re@v-ArdaŞ^r ( = R^Şahr); (4) Hormozd-ArdaŞ^r ( = Su@q al-Ahwa@z) in K u@zesta@n; (5) Ve@h-ArdaŞ^r opposite Ctesiphon; (6) Astara@ba@d-ArdaŞ^r ( = Karkò-e MeyŞa@n) in Lower Mesopotamia; (7) Ps÷ (and variants) ArdaŞ^r on the Arab side of the Persian Gulf; (8) Nu@dò-ArdaŞ^r near Mosul. Further foundations are mentioned by H®amza (pp. 46f.), D^navar^ (p. 47), and other authors. The materials are discussed in D. Metzler, Ziele and Formen königlicher Innenpolitik im vorislamischen Iran, Munster, 1977, pp. 184ff., but the dating back to ArdaŞ^r I's reign must be considered dubious. Several more towns are known with names compounded with ArdaŞ^r, but some were definitely founded by a@pu@r I and named in honor of his father, while some may have been founded by, or named after, other bearers of the name ArdaŞ^r (Nöldeke, Geschichte der Perser, p. 20 n. 4). Each of these towns was made the center of a rural district under a Şahrab (KZ, p. 34 of the Middle Persian text); and the tax revenues from the town and district went straight to the monarch (Lukonin, in Camb. Hist. Iran III/2, pp. 723ff.). It was for this reason that increase of number of royal urban foundations and attached districts was a goal of Sasanian internal and fiscal policy from ArdaŞ^r I onward. Even so, the dichotomy between lands under direct royal control and lands in the possession of the nobility and only indirectly subject to the central government continued to be a basic feature of the agrarian economy until the tax reforms of Kava@dò I and K osrow I Ano@Ş^rava@n (for possible models of this reform mentioned by T®abar^, I, p. 897, see N. V. Pigulevskaya, “K voprosu o podatno¥ reforme Khosrova Anushirvana,” VDI, 1937, pp. 143ff. accepted and supported by Altheim and Stiehl, op. cit., pp. 129ff.; cf. also Lukonin, op. cit., pp. 745f.; N. Garsoïan, in Camb. Hist. Iran III/2, 1983, pp. 587f.).
Coinage. As a broad generalization, it may be said that the coins minted for ArdaŞ^r I are of three distinct types (R. Göbl, Sasanidische Numismatik, Braunschweig, 1968; idem, in Comb. Hist. Iran III/2, 1983, pp. 322ff.; V. G. Lukonin, in Acta Iranica 8, 1968, pp. 106ff.; Mosig-Walburg, Die frühen sasanidischen Könige als Vertreter und Forderer der zarathustrischen Religion, Frankfurt, 1982, pp. 25ff.). Type I shows ArdaŞ^r in full face or profile on the obverse, and his father Pa@pak facing to the left in Parthian style on the reverse. The legends are ÷rthŞtr MLK÷ “ArdaŞ^r the king” and bgy p÷pky MLK÷ “the Lord, Pa@pak the king.” Type II, the commonest, shows ArdaŞ^r facing to the right and variously capped or crowned on the obverse, and a fire altar on the reverse. The legends read: mzdysn bgy ÷rthŞtr MLK÷n MLK÷ ÷yr÷n MNW ±try MN yzd÷n “the Mazda-worshiping Lord, ArdaŞ^r, king of kings of Iran, whose origin is from the gods.” They show the Zoroastrian beliefs of ArdaŞ^r. Type III shows ArdaŞ^r and a@pu@r facing each other on the obverse, and again a fire altar on the reverse. The legends on this third type are Şhpwhry MLK÷ ÷ry÷n MNW ±try MN yzd÷n “Sapur, king of Iran, who is descended from the gods,” and NWR÷ ZY ÷rthŞtr “the fire of ArdaŞ^r.”
The emblem on the reverse of Type II, showing a fire altar of a design found in Persis, and the legend NWR÷ ZY ÷rthŞtr (fire of ArdaŞ^r) refer to the royal fire which was kindled at the start of each king's reign (A. Christensen, RAA 10, 1936, p. 127). As regards the fire altar, the part supported by a pillar has been seen as resembling the throne platform of the Achaemenids (I. Pfeiler, “Der Thron der Achaimeniden als Herrschaftssymbol auf sasanidischen Münzen,” Schweizer Münzblätter 23, 1973, pp. 107ff.; cf. J. Duchesne-Guillemin, in La Persia nel Medioevo, Rome, 1971, p. 377). The ribbons may perhaps be interpreted as ends of an unfastened and outspread diadem, the traditional Iranian symbol of sovereignty. Thus the reverse of these coins reflects ArdaŞ^r's concern to present himself not only as the rightful successor to the Achaemenids, but also as a pious Zoroastrian. In the matter of headdresses and crowns, ArdaŞ^r at first adhered to Parthian conventions and took over a type of crown dating from Mithridates II (Göbl, Sasanidische Numismatik, Type II). In later years, however, his principal crown was of a type (Göbl's Type III) which permitted arranging part of the hair into a globe over the cranium and a shock projecting from the nape of the neck; the headpiece (often with cheek-guards) and the globe are covered with thin silk gauze from which ribbons dangle to the rear. Also found are variants in which ArdaŞ^r wears a crenellated crown or a tall, round cap with an eagle held in place by a tape. While Göbl thinks that all these types symbolize Ohrmazd's or Ana@h^d's investiture of ArdaŞ^r with the kingship (“Investitur im sasanidischen Iran und ihre numismatische Bezeugung,” WZKM 56, 1960, pp. 36ff.), Mosig-Walburg maintains (op. cit., p. 31) that only the first of these designs denotes a special relationship of ArdaŞ^r to Ohrmazd and that the second is a “victory crown” (otherwise Lukonin, Iran v III veke, Moscow, 1979, p. 117). The coin-type III, which shows ArdaŞ^r with his son a@pu@r, can be associated with the introduction of a@pu@r as the successor (Chaumont, “Core gence et aveànement de Sha@puhr Ier,” in Ph. Gignoux and A. Tafazzoli, eds., Me morial J. de Menasce, Louvain, 1974, p. 135). In the matter of coin denominations and weights, the Sasanians at first strictly followed the existing traditions, though ArdaŞ^r introduced a new half-drachma. Moreover some gold pieces minted for him have been found. Apparently only three mints were at work in his reign, the former mints in semi-autonomous parts of the empire having been closed down (Göbl, Sasanidische Numismatik, pp. 25ff. and in Camb. Hist. Iran III/1, pp. 328ff).
Religious policy. In ArdaŞ^r's reign, Zoroastrianism was already the religion which the Sasanian king supported and personally professed. It has been suggested that under ArdaŞ^r, the supporters of a@taŞ-kadags “fire temples” were favored but those honoring temples with cult statues (uzde@s-kadag) were persecuted (Boyce, The Letter of Tansar, p. 47, and “Iconoclasm among Zoroastrians,” in J. Neusner, ed., Christianity, Judaism and other Greco-Roman Cults. Studies for M. Smith at Sixty IV, Leiden, 1975, pp. 93ff.), but this view is strongly disputed (G. Gnoli, Zoroaster's Time and Homeland, Naples, 1980, pp. 221ff.). Although no member of the priesthood figures in the list of the dignitaries at his court, it seems likely that the first steps to organize a Zoroastrian state church were taken in his reign and that traditions from Achaemenid, Hellenistic, and Parthian times were applied and developed in this connection. On his coins and in his inscription at NaqŞ-e Rostam (ANRm-a), ArdaŞ^r describes himself as “Mazda-worshiping” and “descended from the gods.” His religious belief is also proclaimed pictorially through the fire-temple emblem on the reverse of his coins. (Christensen, Iran Sass., pp. 116ff., 141ff.). The investiture reliefs depicting ArdaŞ^r's divine appointment at F^ru@za@ba@d, NaqŞ-e Raèab, and NaqŞ-e Rostam give further evidence of the first Sasanian monarch's close attachment to Ohrmazd. In Middle Persian lore, the incidence of Ohrmazd's choice on ArdaŞ^r is concretized in the mental image of the Xwarrah, “(God-given) fortune,” which may be compared with the Greek Tyche and the Roman Fortuna (cf. A. Sh. Shahbazi, “Farnah Symbolised,” AMI 13, 1980, pp. 119ff.; Calmeyer, in Jahrbuch des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts 94, 1979, pp. 347ff.). ArdaŞ^r, having been invested with the Xwarrah, is the rightful ruler; and investiture with the Xwarrah is always prerequisite for legitimate rulership. ArdaŞ^r is also credited with the erection and endowment of fire-temples and with a helpful interest in Zoroastrian literature (T®abar^, I, p. 817; De@nkard, p. 412.11-17). A special fire-temple, the “fire of ArdaŞ^r,” which he founded at the start of his reign, is named in the inscription of a@pu@r at B^Şa@pu@r. Mas¿u@d^ (Moru@è II p. 162) gives a traditional version of ArdaŞ^r's words concerning the church-state relationship: “Know that the religion and the monarchy are two brothers neither of which can exist without the other. The religion sustains the monarchy, and the monarchy protects the religion. That which lacks sustenance and support must perish, and that which has no protector will pass away” (see Mosig-Walburg, loc. cit.).
ArdaŞ^r's policy toward other religions made his reign, on the whole, a hard time for the non-Zoroastrian communities. The Jews and others had enjoyed considerably mote tolerance and autonomy under the Parthians. ArdaŞ^r, and later also a@pu@r in the early years of his reign, sought to incorporate and control the Jewish population more effectively and to deprive them of their communal jurisdiction in religious and legal matters (which were hardly separable). The underlying motive was probably to propagate Zoroastrianism and enlarge the Zoroastrian community by procuring conversion of non-Zoroastrians. The Syriac-speaking Christian communities enjoyed more tolerant or at any rate milder treatment, and their numbers grew substantially up to the middle of the 3rd century. Mani did not publicly come forth until after ArdaŞ^r's death, perhaps in the correct expectation that a@pu@r would be more receptive than his father (see J. Neusner, in Camb. Hist. Iran III/2, 1983, pp. 909ff.; J. P. Asmussen, ibid., pp. 924ff.; Chaumont, RHR 165, 1964, pp. 165ff.; Henrichs-Koenen, op. cit., pp. 1ff., esp. p. 5).
Royal ideology and propaganda. ArdaŞ^r's efforts to present himself as a god-related and devout Mazda-worshiper, and as the possessor of the divinely given Xwarrah, his claim to legitimacy as a worthy scion of the Iranian (mythical) kings, his successful propaganda against the rightfulness of the Parthians and their proper place in the sequence of Iranian history, prove the importance of the Achaemenid legacy to the minds of the early Sasanians though they presumably did not know much about actual Achaemenid conditions and figures. This interest was enhanced by the location of the temple of Ana@h^d at Esátáakòr, the choice of major Achaemenid sites such as NaqŞ-e Rostam for the carving of reliefs and inscriptions and the erection of fire-temples, the inclusion of members of the Achaemenid dynasty in the legendary Sasanian genealogies (conserved in the Arabo-Persian literature, the mentions of ArdaŞ^r's ambition to “avenge his ancestors” in the Arabo-Persian literature and of his claims to former Achaemenid territories in the histories of Herodian and Dio Cassius. The question whether such plans and claims were really formulated by ArdaŞ^r as literary sources claim (on the Testament (¿ahd) of ArdaŞ^r see M. Grignaschi, JA 254, 1966, pp. 1ff.) or ascribed to him, as the empire's founder, in later times can not be answered with certainty for lack of evidence though the latter seems more probable. The same applies to the endeavor of the Sasanians to remove the Parthian link from the chain of Achaemenid-Sasanian legend and to depict the Parthian kings as alien “chiefs of tribes” in a time of Iranian weakness (Gnoli, Zoroaster's Time and Homeland, pp. 166ff.; M. Grignaschi, in La Persia nel Medioevo, pp. 143ff.; A. Sh. Shahbazi, BSOAS 40, 1977, pp. 25ff.). To all appearances, ArdaŞ^r actually owed a great deal to the Parthian legacy (Yarshater, op. cit.). On surer ground, scholars are now examining Achaemenid relics in Sasanian administration, art, religion, coinage (resumed minting of gold), and epigraphic texts and formulas.
Bibliography : Given in the text.
ii. Rock Reliefs
The first Sasanian ruler ArdaŞ^r I (224-241) established the Sasanian tradition of rock carving, which flourished until the reign of a@pu@r II (383-388) and made an impressive resurgence under K osrow II (590-628) (H. Luschey, Iranica Antiqua 11, 1975, pp. 127ff. and plates 21, 22; D. Shepherd, in Camb. Hist. Iran III, 1983, pp. 1085ff. and plates 94ff.). ArdaŞ^r's rock reliefs differ markedly from the few preserved Parthian specimens (as do his coins) and foreshadow a new monumental form. His three earliest reliefs are in various styles and do not show any clear development. Only the fourth, namely the investiture relief at NaqŞ-e Rostam, attains a well-defined form, which reappears in the rock carvings of a@pu@r I and his successors. The chronological order of ArdaŞ^r's reliefs is a matter of some controversy, with certain details still remaining unresolved. The problems of figure identification has been discussed in the detailed study of all ArdaŞ^r's reliefs by W. Hinz, (Altiranische Funde und Forschungen, Berlin, 1969).
The bridge relief at F^ru@za@ba@d. Ohrmazd, standing, invests ArdaŞ^r, also afoot, by handing the ring of sovereignty to him over a fire altar. Behind ArdaŞ^r stand the crown prince a@pu@r and two more princes. Dimensions: 7m x 3.70m (Plate VI A). The very well-shaped figures are in profile and arranged like those in the relief of Mithridates II at B^sotu@n (E. Herzfeld, Am Tor von Asien, Berlin, 1920, pp. 35ff., fig. 11 and plate 21; D. Schlumberger, in Camb. Hist. Iran III, 1983, p. 1041 and fig. 7). The carving, however, shows a radical departure from Parthian work and a reversion to Achaemenid tradition.
This type of investiture scene became a recurrent theme of Sasanian rock carving. Its source, and the exact significance of the ring-like object which the god bestows, can evidently be traced to a line of tradition through the 3rd millennium Anubanini relief at Sar-e Pol (Kurdistan), where a goddess hands over a ring (Herzfeld, ibid., p. 3, fig. 1; B. Hrouda, Iranische Denkmäler, Lieferung 7, Reihe II C, Berlin, 1976, pp. 7ff., plates 5 and 6); to Darius's relief at B^sotu@n, where a winged man emerging from a circle and holding a ring, who is commonly identified as Ohrmazd (see most recently P. Lecoq in Orientalia J. Duchesne-Guillemin Emerito Oblata, Acta Iranica 23, Leiden, 1984, pp. 301-26, who defends this identification against the alternative one as xwarrah “Royal Fortune,” see A. Sh. Shahbazi, AMI, N.F. 7, 1974, pp. 139ff. and M. Boyce, Zoroastrianism II, pp. 103ff. with references; Luschey, AMI, N.F. 1, 1968, pp. 63ff., plates 25ff.), and to the portrayals of this same winged figure at Persepolis (E. F. Schmidt, Persepolis I, Chicago, 1953, III, 1969, passim). In the relief of Artabanus V at Susa, the king invests a satrap by giving him a ring (Schlumberger, in Camb. Hist. Iran III, p. 1042 and plate 67). Furthermore, on certain Parthian coins the goddess Tyche hands a garland to a figure on horseback (E. T. Newall, in Survey of Persian Art, p. 489, plate 143; G. D. Sellwood, in Camb. Hist. Iran III, pp. 279ff. and plates 1ff.; P. Calmeyer, in Jahrbuch des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts 94, 1979, pp. 347ff. and fig. 2); no doubt this coin design was influenced by Greek portrayals of garland-presentation by the goddess Nike@. Some recent researchers see the conferred badge of office as a ring, others as a diadem. There are grounds to suppose that the ring was the original form and that the diadem was a later development (R. Göbl, WZKM 56, 1960, p. 37 note 5; P. Calmeyer, AMI 10, 1977, p. 167).
In the opinion of K. Erdmann (Die Kunst Irans zur Zeit der Sasaniden, Berlin, 1943, pp. 52, 56), investiture reliefs should not all be dated from the beginning of a king's reign, but are likely to have been carved successively during the whole of the reign as expressions of gratitude for divine favor. V. G. Lukonin (Iranica Antiqua 8, 1968, pp. 106-17) argues on the basis of coin designs that all ArdaŞ^r's rock reliefs date from the years 235-240, i.e., from the last part of his reign. This theory, however, presents difficulties; moreover it would invalidate all attempts to understand the stylistic development, particularly if the F^ru@za@ba@d combat relief had to be dated from those years, as Lukonin maintains.
The mounted combat relief at F^ru@za@ba@d (see Figure 14 and Plate VI C-D). This depicts a scene from ArdaŞ^r's victorious battle against the last Parthian king, Artabanus (Ardava@n) V, in 224. Eighteen meters long and nearly four meters high, it is the largest surviving Iranian rock relief (Camb. Hist. Iran III, fig. 1 on p. 1078, and plate 89). Six mounted figures are shown in three groups of single combatants: right, ArdaŞ^r transfixing Artabanus with a lance; center, crown prince a@pu@r overpowering Artabanus's chief minister Da@dòbunda@dò (mss. d÷bnd÷d, d÷dbnd÷r), left, a page grappling with a Parthian knight. The portrayal is strikingly dynamic as well as rich in detail. Hair and beards, armor (chain mail), and horse trappings are represented with remarkable precision. The carving is in relatively low relief and has been damaged by weathering in the lower part. The treatment conforms with Parthian tradition showing affinities with the rock relief of Gotarzes (one of the Arsacid kings of that name) at B^sotu@n (Herzfeld op. cit., pp. 40ff. and plates 21-23) and with the fresco of galloping knights in armor at Dura Europos (M. Rostovtzeff, Dura and the Problem of Parthian Art, New Haven, 1935, pp. 273, 280, 283, and figs. 71, 79, 82-85; C. Kraeling, The Synagogue, in The Excavations at Dura Europos. Final Report VIII, 1, 1956, p. 93 and plate 55). The theme is resumed in the later mounted combat reliefs of Bahra@m II (276-293) and Hormozd II (303-309), both at NaqŞ-e Rostam (E. F. Schmidt, Persopolis III, p. 130 and plate 89, p. 135 and plates 91-94).
The investiture relief at NaqŞ-e Raèab. The scene (5m x 3m) shows (Figure 15) Ohrmazd entrusting the ring of sovereignty to ArdaŞ^r in the presence of six onlookers (Hinz, op. cit., pp. 123ff. and plates 57ff.; E. F. Schmidt, Persepolis III, pp. 123ff and plates 96ff.). The accompanying figures are: left, crown prince a@pu@r and a page; right behind Ohrmazd, the spouses of probably ArdaŞ^r and a@pu@r; center, two small figures identified by Hinz as ArdaŞ^r's grandsons Bahra@m and Heracles. This relief represents a third stylistic trend. With its heavy, larger-than-life-sized forms, it foreshadows the specifically Sasanian style of rock carving but remains cramped by a provincial clumsiness peculiar to itself.
The investiture relief at NaqŞ-e Rostam. (Width 6.30m; height 4.20m): it shows Ohrmazd handing the ring of sovereignty to ArdaŞ^r (Schmidt, Persepolis III, pp. 121f. and plates 80ff.; Camb. Hist. Iran III, p. 1079 and plate 90). Both figures are mounted. Under the hoof of ArdaŞ^r's horse lies the defeated Parthian king Artabanus V, and under the hoof of Ohrmazd's horse lies a figure symbolizing Ahriman. Behind ArdaŞ^r stands a page holding a fly-whisk (Plate VI B). The relief is made more explicit by two inscriptions: on the breast of Ohrmazd's horse, “This is the effigy of the god Ohrmazd” in Middle Persian, Parthian, and Greek ( C C ), and on the breast of ArdaŞ^r's horse a corresponding identification of ArdaŞ^r (Schmidt, op. cit.; M. Back, Die Sasanidischen Staatsinschriften, Acta Iranica 19, Tehran and Lieàge, 1978, p. 282).
These inscriptions became known in the 17th century through engravings by Chardin (Voyages en Perse et autres lieux de l'Orient, Amsterdam, 1711, II, pl. 73) and E. Kaempfer, Amoenitates exoticae, Lemgo, 1712, p. 307). Being trilingual, they were a great help to Silvestre de Sacy in his decipherment of the Middle Persian script in 1793 (Me moires sur diverses antiquite s de la Perse, Paris, 1793, pp. 106ff. and plate 1), an achievement long antedating the decipherment of the ancient Persian cuneiform script by Grotefend and Rawlinson. Ohrmazd was already named as the sovereignty-conferring god in the inscription of Darius at B^sotu@n.
This is the most mature, and therefore certainly the latest, of ArdaŞ^r's reliefs. With its balanced composition and fully lifelike sculpture, it falls little short of the earliest relief of a@pu@r I at NaqŞ-e Raèab (Hinz, op. cit., pp. 137ff. and plate 73; Luschey, Iranica Antiqua 11 , 1975, p. 125 and plate 29.2).
While the first three reliefs above may be regarded as very dissimilar but basically commensurable first starts, and are certainly the work of different sculptors, this relief bears the stamp of the distinctive Sasanian style dominant in the later reliefs. There is also a borrowed foreign element in its subject-matter. The portrayal of the defeated adversary under the hoof of the victor's horse is derived from Roman monumental art, cf. Marcus Aurelius on horseback trampling the now missing figure of a vanquished king (W. Technau, Kunst der Römer, 1940, pp. 210f. and fig. 176; Luschey, AMI, N.F. 1, 1968, pp. 33f. and plate 19.1). Furthermore the horses are on the whole similar to the typical horse with a raised foreleg in Roman monuments—a characteristic maintained until the relief of Bahra@m II (276-293) at B^Şa@pu@r (R. Ghirshman, Bîchâpour I, Paris, 1975, pp. 73f. and plate 16). Reminders of Persepolis also stand out in ArdaŞ^r's relief. In the head and trunk of the figure of Ohrmazd, the features of the great king as shown in the central edifice at Persepolis (which was never covered by sand) are consciously reproduced, even to details of the hair and beard and the pleats of the clothing (E. F. Schmidt, Persepolis I, plates 75, 76; Luschey, Iranica Antiqua 11, 1975, p. 125). First signs of this influence are traceable, though not so cleanly, in the investiture relief at NaqŞ-e Raèab.
The relief at Salma@s. The scene (5m x 2.60m) represents ArdaŞ^r and a@pu@r, both on horseback, investing two Armenian governors, who are on foot (W. Hinz, op. cit., plate 69). The workmanship is provincial and the style heavy and lifeless; from the later part of ArdaŞ^r's reign, probably to be dated, as Hinz does, to 238 A.D.
It has recently been argued that the relief at Da@ra@b was carved in two phases, the first in ArdaŞ^r's reign, the second in a@pu@r's (L. Trumpelmann, Das Relief von Darab, Iranische Denkmäler, Lieferung 6, Reihe II D, Berlin, 1975). This is unconvincing, if only because the style of the robes and other apparel of the royal figures belong in all respects to a@pu@r's reign. Moreover a@pu@r is the subject of this relief.
The rock reliefs of ArdaŞ^r I are tokens of a momentous historical change. Their designs, like those of ArdaŞ^r's coins, are the first manifestations of a swing away from outworn Parthian tradition. They announce the renaissance of Iranian tradition and the start of all-out confrontation with the Roman world. They were the basis from which Sasanian rock carving developed in the four centuries up to the relief of T®a@q-e Bosta@n (left partly unfinished at the death of K osrow II in 628)—a much longer time than the allotted span of the Achaemenids.
Bibliography : See also F. Sarre and L. Herzfeld, Iranische Felsreliefs, Berlin, 1910. E. Herzfeld, “La sculpture rupestre de la Perse Sassanide,” Revue des Arts Asiatiques 5, 1928, pp. 129-42. N. C. Debevoise, “Rock Reliefs of Ancient Iran,” JNES 1, 1942, pp. 76-104. L. Vanden Berghe, Arche ologie de l'Iran ancien, Leiden, 1959. R. Ghirshman, Parthes et Sasanides, Paris, 1962. G. Herrmann, “The Da@ra@bgird Relief, Ardash^r or Sha@hpu@r? A Discussion in the Context of Early Sasanian Sculpture,” Iran 7, 1969, pp. 63-88. D. Shepherd, “Sasanian Art. Rock Reliefs and Sculpture,” Camb. Hist. Iran III, 1983, pp. 1077-1098. L. Vanden Berghe, Reliefs rupestres de l'Iran ancien, Bruxelles, 1983. H. von Gall, Das Reiterkampfbild in der altiranischen Kunst, AMI, Ergänzungsband (in preparation). H. von Gall, Iranische Denkmäler, forthcoming.
Plate VI. A. ArdaŞ^r's investiture by Ohrmazd. Bridge relief at F^ru@za@ba@d
Figure 14. ArdaŞ^r's triumph-relief at F^ru@za@ba@d (drawn by E. Smekens)
Figure 15. ArdaŞ^r's investiture by Ohrmazd. Rock relief at NaqŞ-e Raèab (drawn by E. Smekens)