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It also “stood as a great shield in defense of the culture of Western Asia” against the constant onrush of Central Asian nomads (Ghirshman, 1954, p. He left a lasting memory as a model king (see ARDAŠIR I), a city-builder (no fewer than eight were said to have been founded by him [Ṭabari, I, p. 19-20]), an administrative reformer, and a consolidator of the Zoroastrian religion.He did not, however, elevate Zoroastrianism to be the state religion, as Sasanian-based sources claimed; and the clerical hierarchy was not yet fully organized (see Gignoux, 1984). 38), to the extent that Sasanian Ērānšahr was described as “the empire of Persians and Parthians” (see Mac Kenzie, 1993, pp. Indeed, during the Sasanian period most of the Great Houses of Persia (see HAFT) were Parthian, more specifically Arsacid (Nöldeke, , pp.103-6).Then Ardašir retired, and Shapur succeeded him as the sole ruler (12 April 240) and reigned until May 270.
The legend conveyed “year X of the sacred fire of King Y” (Henning, 1957, p. 2); “years of the sacred fire” meant “regnal years.” empire” which was recognized for over four centuries as one of the two great powers in Western Asia and Europe (see BYZANTINE-IRANIAN RELATIONS; see further Widengren, 1976; Howard-Johnston, 1991).
Mani dedicated a compendium of his doctrine in Middle Persian translation to the king, calling it .
Sasanian society was basically comprised of three classes (see CLASS SYSTEM ii.): the warriors, the commoners (“cultivators”), and the clergy (see Tafazzoli 2001).
The three of them are represented on the wall of the Harem of Xerxes at Persepolis—evidence, it has been suggested, of a claim to Achaemenid heritage (Calmeyer, 1976, pp. Claiming that he was the inheritor of the ancient kings and destined to revive their glory and reunite all peoples of Persia, he began to conquer local rulers of Fārs (Ṭabari, I, pp. His coins (Alram, 1999) show his father’s image on the reverse but he himself is represented on the obverse and “divine [= Majesty] Ardašir, son of divine Pāpk the King” (see also Herzfeld, 1924, I, p. This brought about the war with Rome (Felix, 1985, pp. , a fine, bejeweled fabric encasing the top hair in a glob-like fashion; it became the identifying feature of the Sasanian kings (on the symbolism of Sasanian crowns, see Herzfeld, 1938, pp. The legend is also new (Klima, 1956; Sundermann, 1988): “Mazda-worshipping divine [=Majesty] Ardašir King of Kings of Iran whose seed is from gods.” Having re-united the Iranians (hence his traditional epithet, “the Unifier”; Maqdisi, III, p.
156), he adopted what appears to have been the old designation of their lands— “Empire of the Iranians—”to serve as the official name of his country (Shahbazi, “The History of the Idea of Iran,” forthcoming; for a different interpretation, see Gnoli, 1989).