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The Middle East—Seventh Century. Icon showing Christ with Saints Sergios and Bacchos, Constantinople, 6th or 7th century. Encaustic and gold on pine.

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The Middle East—Seventh Century

Icon showing Christ with Saints Sergios and Bacchos, Constantinople, 6th or 7th century. Encaustic and gold on pine


Two Great EmpiresByzantine West and Sassanian Persian EastReached an Arrangement with Clan Among the ArabsGhassanids for the ByzantinesLakkhmids—Iranian


Byzantine Empire at 600 CEMauriceTitle of AugustusCapitol ConstantinopleReligion ChristianitySenate, ConsulsLaws Based on JustinianLatin the Official LanguageGreek Language of Learning and Business

Flavius Mauricius Tiberius Augustus


Fourth and Fifth Centuries Towns Self-governingTown had Councils and Collected TaxesMonumental Baths, Theaters, Colonnaded StreetsSixth Century All ChangedTowns Lost Political and Financial AutonomyGovernors Appointed by Imperial AuthorityCivic Revenues ConfiscatedChurches and Monastic Building BuiltNo Large Scale Civic Buildings

Yassıada 7th century Byzantine merchant ship


541 CE Bubonic Plague—1/3EarthquakesBeirut Flourishing Intellectual and Legal Center540 Persians Sacked Antioch573 Apamea582 Basra Sacked by GhassanidsByzantines Arrested ChiefAvars and Slavs

Byzantine Church in Trabzon near the eastern end of the Black Sea


Loss of Population and Constant WarsArmyRecruit Armenians and ArabsEmpire Rural and AgrarianStill Mediterranean TradeTrade Carried on at FairsPilgrimage Centers, Monasteries, and ChurchesNo Trace of Local Self-governmentLost Classical Aspects—End of 6th

The theatre at Aphrodisoas


Syria and EgyptLanguageEthnic IdentityUrban Greek Speaking Classical CulturalAntioch and AlexandriaVernacular (Coptic and Aramaic)Village Culture and Pastoral PeopleNo Taste for Urban LifeCoexistedDecline of Urban WorldAscendancy of Vernacular World

City Gate at Aphrodisias


Bulk of Egyptians and Syrians were MonophysitesGovernment was DiophysiteMonophysites Deep Distrust of any Representation of DivinityMonophysite Church used VernacularSyriac—AramaicStill UsedIn Syria Rural Monasteries Far From the CityGovernment PersecutionGhassanids Money and Refuge for Persecuted

Coptic Art


Political ProblemsMaurice and all his Family Murdered, 602 CEAlliance with Persian King Khusrau II ParvezMaurice Helped KhusrauSecure the FrontierUsurper Phocas IncompetentKhusrau Launched CampaignTook Antioch (613)Jerusalem (614)Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and Anatolian UplandsSoldier killed Phocas Heraclius

Emperor Heraclius


Battle between Heraclius and Chosroes, fresco by Pieroat the Church of San Francesco in Arezzo

Heraculus Retook Lands from Persians628 Heraculus Entered CtesiphonRelic of True Cross Returned to JerusalemLong War Contributed to Urban DeclineLoyaltiesCity Walls and Fortification in Bad ShapeCyrus, Bishop of Phasis, Incompetent and Intolerant622 CE—Muhammad Made Hijra from Mecca to Median628 CE Year Muhammad Made Agreement with Mecca


Sassanian RuleGreat Achaemenid Empire of Cyrus, Darrius, and XerxesRuling Family for 300 YearsFounder Ardashyir Papagan (King of Fars)DynasticDivine Given Right to Rule6th Century Right Challenged by GeneralsPrestigeBahram Chobin 628-632 There Ten different KingsYazdgard III Discovered Hiding

Sassanian Warrior Military Dress


Ahura Mazda—The Good GodSassanian Sovereigns Claimed SupportClaimed Divinity for themselvesGod-King Part of Imperial IdeologyContolled the iranian Plateau and IraqBanu Lakhmid of HiraInvaded by Hunnic Peoples the Hepthalites560 CE Khusrau I allied with Turks and destroyed the Hepthalites or Soghdians (Iranian Origin)Influence on the Arabian Peninsula

Faravahar (or Ferohar), one of the primary symbols of Zoroastrianism, believed to be the depiction of a Fravashi (guardian spirit)


Dynasty and Centralized MonarchyHigher Aristocracy and Local Kings maintained their Rights; ConflictMazdakit Uprising; Religious and Social OvertonesAbolition of Private Property and Class; DistinctionSassanians Moved from Feudal Army to a Paid ArmyTaxes—Iraq Much of Land Was State LandCultivators paid up to 1/3 of the Produce in Rent and TaxesPoll Tax—All Paid except AristocracyPoll Tax Social Stigma

The Zoroastrian Atash Behram of Yazd, Iran.


GovernmentEmpire under Four Military Commanders17 Provicnes Known as OstansIn Iraq Called Kuras—SurvivedUrban Life Not So Important in IranCities had No Self-governing InstitutionsSmall Country TownsKing Lived in Villa in Zagros Mountains

Parsi Navjote ceremony (rites of admission into the Zoroastrian faith)


Ghal'eh Dokhtar (or "The Maiden's Castle") in present-day Fars, Iran, built by Ardashir in 209, before he was finally able to defeat the Parthian empire.

High Aristocracy Very Powerful Claimed Descent From Parthian KingsSuren Family: Karen Family; Mihran Family

Lesser Aristocracy Called DihqansSome of These Not Persian—Arameans and ArabsFoundation of Sassanian PowerPersian Culture and Administrators for the ArabsRetained Much of Their Power After Islamic ConquestMany Administrators in 9th century Were Drawn from the Dihqan Families of Iraq

The Sassanid Empire at its greatest extent, under king Khosrau II


ReligionZoroastrianism; Cast of Priests Called MagiansFire Temples; Fire a Pure and Sacred ElementAdministered Vast Estates Attached to TemplesExposure of the DeadIncestuous MarriagesLimited Popular SupportImperial ReligionConcerned with Proper Performance of Ceremony

Ahura Mazda, Supreme God in Zoroastrianism, Persepolis, Unesco World Heritage Site, Iran


Most of the People in Iraq Were ChristiansNestorian ChristianityNetwork of Religious Schools and MonasteriesSome Sassanians Married ChristiansFear of Nestorian—ByzantinesJewish Community; Babylonian TalmudMajority of the People in and Around BabylonRelationship Not Always EasyIntermittent Persecution in the 5th and renewed in 581 CEJewish Leaders Joined the Revolt of Bahram Chobin in 590 CERevolt failed –More Violent Attacks


Zoroaster, portrayed here in a popular Parsi Zoroastrian depiction. This iconographic tradition can be traced to the eighteenth century.

Religion; No Common Religious FaithManichaeans Survived PersecutionsEthnic ProblemsKurds in The ZagrosDaylamites in the North of IranLurs and BaluchisIraq—Aramaic—Christian and JewishGovernment Alien, Oppressive, and often HostileNeither Language, Custom, or ReligionFarsNot Prepared to Struggle to Save Old Order


“ کجا آن بزرگان ساسانیانزبهرامیان تا بسامانیان

kojā ān bozorgān-e Sāsānīyānze Bahrāmīyān tā be Sāmānīyān?

"Where have the great Sassanids gone?"What has come upon the Bahrāmids and Samanids?"