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date: 18 September 2019

Sasanian [Sassanian]locked

  • G. Herrmann

Extract

[Sassanian]

Name given to the Iranian dynasty that ruled from c.ad 224 to 631. The Sasanian empire was the foremost power of late antiquity in the Middle East; it was administered by an efficient bureaucracy and controlled by a monarch symbolically invested with power by the state religion, Zoroastrianism. Under the dynasty innovations were made that later permanently influenced Islamic architecture, and Sasanian rock reliefs and silverwork are famous. Influences on Sasanian art can partly be explained by the political and economic situation of the empire. In the west it was in contact with the Romano-Byzantine empire. In the east the situation is less clear, though contacts and a rich and flourishing trade were maintained with the Chinese. One of the dynamics of the period was an insatiable western appetite for eastern silks and spices, and the control of this trade was a major Sasanian interest and source of wealth....

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E. Yar Shater, ed.: Encyclopedia Iranica (London, 1986)