This introduction to the special issue offers an overview of the articles and their implications for current research on Sasanian history and archaeology, with an emphasis on direct and indirect intersections between textual and archaeological evidence. It suggests that settlement patterns, irrigation systems, coins, ceramics, and landscapes can provide more productive starting points for analyzing certain aspects of Sasanian political culture such as the comparative robustness of the imperial apparatus than texts, especially when placed in dialogue with literary and documentary sources. In particular, the still poorly understood political economy of the Iranian Empire begins to yield its outlines in the contributions to this special issue. Keywords: Iranian Empire, Sasanian archaeology, ancient economy, urbanism, Sasanian numismatics DOI 10.1515/jah-2014-0029 The Iranian Empire constituted one of the most enduring and extensive political systems of the ancient world. Extending from Bactria to Northeastern Arabia, the Sasanian dynasty transcended massive cultural and environmental differences across its 3000km axis, from its foundation in 226 CE until the beginning of its dissipation in the face of the Arab conquests in 636 CE. The sources of its power were military, economic, and religious. Field armies composed chiefly of aristocratic cavalrymen conducted campaigns that
Journal of Ancient History – de Gruyter
Published: Nov 1, 2014
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