Tuesday 28 April 2015

House of Sassan –the research

Gathering a list of opponents for this project, Rome’s eastern frontier saw a change of dynasty in the land of the Tigris and Euphrates from the Arsacids (Parthia) to the House of Sassan (Sassanid). Researching the history I found the rebellion an eventual overthrow of Parthia offered great potential as a campaign.

Most histories and the DBA 3.0 Army List benchmark 220 AD as the start date of Sassan, while I find the rebellion which began in Khir (200 AD), a province of Parthia of far more interest.

To find more about events leading to the turn of century I bought Rawlinson’s Parthia and The Roman Eastern Frontier and the Persian Wars AD 226 - 363 compiled by M.H. Dodgeon and S.N. Lien. The latter is highly recommended and gives a wealth of detail and avenues for further investigation (Church records), while Parthia is a classic; it does not cover the twilight period as well as the early centuries.

Looking at the army list for Sassan (II/69), this is now divided into three sub-groups; a.) 220 – 224 AD, b.) 225 – 493 AD, and c.) 494 – 631 AD. The reader will note that Parthia (II/37) ends at 225 AD; this covers that portion held by Artabanus V.

List a) would cover the first two decades of rebellion rather well having nobles classed as 3Kn, Asavaran cavalry Cv and an adequate number of nomad horse archers LH.  


  1. I too got the Dodgeon and Lien book many years ago. It is an excellent resource and I keep meaning to use it as a campaign but have not yet. Of course, I go the book 15 years ago so it may never happen, but the Roman-Persian conflict covered by the book is one of the periods I am most fascinated in.

  2. The Dodgeon and Lien book has been my primary reference for all our DBA 3.0 test games.

    The rebellion of Sassan and most of Ardashir's campaign against Parthia have been covered as battle reports posted to Fanaticus. We will continue the consolidation by Sassan with the campaigns in the north against Parthian held Armenia.


  3. Will pass these book titles on to my mate he has this army and I don't think he has these two books.


  4. Current Archaeology ‘The Enigma of the Red Snake’, available online at: http://www.archaeology.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1555&Itemid=27
    Maurice, "Strategikon," translated by Dennis, G. T. (Philadelphia 1984).
    Marcellinus, Ammianus, "The Roman History, Bk XXIII," translated by Rolfe, J.C (Loeb 1939).
    Libianius 'Orationes', 59.64
    Christiansen, Arthur, "L'Iran Sous Les Sassanides" (Copenhagen, 1944).
    Procopius, "History of the Wars," translated by Dewing, H.B. (eBook - Project Gutenberg)
    Villing, A., 'Persia and Greece', in Curtis, J.E. and Tallis, N. (eds), “Forgotten Empire: the world of Ancient Persia,” (London 2005).
    CAIS http://www.cais-soas.com/News/2008/April2008/05-04.htm
    Frye, Richard N. “The History of Iran,”
    “Sasanian Remains from Qasr-i Abu Nasr: Seals, Sealings, and Coins,” edited by Frye, Richard N. (Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1973)
    Tafazzoli, Ahmad, “Sasanian society. I. Warriors II. Scribes III. Dehqans”. (Ehsan Yarshater Distinguished Lectures in Iranian Studies, New York: Bibliotheca Persica Press (Distributed by Eisenbrauns), 2000)
    Noldeke, “Geschichte der Perse und Araber zur Zet des Sasaniden aus der arabischen Chronik des Tabari ubersetzt”, Leyden 1879)
    Inostrancev, C.A. “The Sasanian Military Theory,” translated by Bogdanov, L. (K.R. Cama Oriental Institute, V7 1926)
    Firdowsi, “Shanameh,” translated by Davis, D. (Viking Press 2006)
    Pourshariatri, Parvaneh, “Decline and Fall of the Sasanian Empire,” (I.B. Tauris 2008)
    “The Roman Eastern Frontier and the Persian Wars – parts I & II,” edited by Dodgeon, Michael H. Lieu, Samuel N. C. and Greatrex, Geoffrey (Routledge 1993 & 2002)