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The Parthian Empire


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Under Mithridates I (171-138 B.C.), the Parthians continued their conquests and annexed Media, Fars, Babylonia and Assyria, creating an empire that extended from the Euphrates to Herat in Afghanistan. This in effect was a restoration of the ancient Achaemenian Empire of Cyrus the Great.

In addition to the nomads that were a constant menace on its eastern frontier the Parthians also had to face another powerful adversary, Rome. For almost three centuries, Rome and Parthia were to battle over Syria, Mesopotamia and Armenia, without ever achieving any lasting results.

The Parthian kings referred to themselves on their coins as "Hellenophiles", but this was only true in the sense that they were anti-Roman. In reality the Parthians sought to establish themselves as the direct heirs of the Achaemenian Empire, and Mithridates II (123-87 B.C.) was the first Parthian ruler to use the old Achaemenian title "King of Kings" on his coins.

Head of a bronze statue of a Parthian prince from
1st or 2nd Century A.D.


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