Ctesiphon

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other uses, see Ctesiphon (disambiguation).
Ctesiphon
تيسفون (Persian)
Karte Seleucia Ktesiphon.png
Map of Sassanid Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon is located in Iraq
Ctesiphon
Shown within Iraq
Location Salman Pak, Baghdad Governorate, Iraq
Region Mesopotamia
Coordinates 33°5′37″N 44°34′50″E / 33.09361°N 44.58056°E / 33.09361; 44.58056Coordinates: 33°5′37″N 44°34′50″E / 33.09361°N 44.58056°E / 33.09361; 44.58056
Type Settlement
History
Cultures Iranian
Site notes
Excavation dates 1928–1929, 1931–1932, 1960s–1970s
Archaeologists Oscar Reuther, Antonio Invernizzi, Giorgio Gullini
Condition Ruined

Ctesiphon (Persian: تيسفون‎, Tīsfūn) was the imperial capital of the Parthian Empire and the Sasanian Empire. It was one of the great cities of late ancient Mesopotamia. Its most conspicuous structure today is the great archway of Ctesiphon.[1]

It was situated on the eastern bank of the Tigris across from where the Greek city of Seleucia stood and northeast of ancient Babylon. Today, the remains of the city lie in Baghdad Governorate, Iraq, approximately 35 km (22 mi) south of the city of Baghdad.

Ctesiphon was the largest city in the world from 570 AD, until its fall in 637 AD, during the Muslim conquests.[2]

Names[edit]

The Latin name Ctesiphon or Ctesifon derives from Ancient Greek Ktēsiphôn (Κτησιφῶν), a Hellenized form of a local name that has been reconstructed as Tisfōn or Tisbōn.[3] In Iranian sources of the Sassanid period it is attested in Manichean Parthian, in Sassanid Middle Persian and in Christian Sogdian as Pahlavi tyspwn, continuing in New Persian as tīsfūn (تیسفون).

Syriac sources mention it as Qṭēsfōn (ܩܛܝܣܦܘܢ), and in medieval Arabic texts the name is usually Ṭaysafūn (طيسفون) or Qaṭaysfūn (قطيسفون) in Modern Arabic al-Mada'in (المدائن) (literally the cities, referring to the Greater Ctesiphon). "According to Yāqūt [...], quoting Ḥamza, the original form was Ṭūsfūn or Tūsfūn, which was arabicized as Ṭaysafūn."[4] The Armenian name of the city was Tizbon (Տիզբոն). Ctesiphon is first mentioned in the Book of Ezra[5] of the Old Testament as Kasfia/Casphia (a derivative of the ethnic name, Cas, and a cognate of Caspian and Qazvin).

Location[edit]

Ctesiphon palace ruin, with the arch in the centre, 1864

Ctesiphon is located approximately at Al-Mada'in, 32 km (20 mi) southeast of the modern city of Baghdad, Iraq, along the river Tigris. Ctesiphon measured 30 square kilometers (cf. the 13.7 square kilometers of 4th-century imperial Rome).

The archway of Chosroes was once a part of the royal palace in Ctesiphon and is estimated to date between the 3rd and 6th centuries AD.[6] It is located in what is now the Iraqi town of Salman Pak.

History[edit]

Foundation[edit]

Ctesiphon was founded in the late 120s BC. It was built on the site of a military camp established across from Seleucia by Mithridates I of Parthia. The reign of Gotarzes I saw Ctesiphon reach a peak as a political and commercial center. The city became the Empire's capital circa 58 BC during the reign of Orodes II. Gradually, the city merged with the old Hellenistic capital of Seleucia and other nearby settlements to form a cosmopolitan metropolis.[7]

The reason for this westward relocation of the capital could have been in part due to the proximity of the previous capitals (Mithradatkirt, and Hyrcania at Hecatompylos) to the Scythian incursions.[7]

Strabo abundantly describes the foundation of Ctesiphon:

Roman–Persian Wars[edit]

Because of its importance, Ctesiphon was a major military objective for the leaders of the Roman Empire in their eastern wars. The city was captured by Rome five times in its history – three times in the 2nd century alone. The emperor Trajan captured Ctesiphon in 116, but his successor, Hadrian, decided to willingly return Ctesiphon in 117 as part of a peace settlement. The Roman general Avidius Cassius captured Ctesiphon in 164 during another Parthian war, but abandoned it when peace was concluded. In 197, the emperor Septimius Severus sacked Ctesiphon and carried off thousands of its inhabitants, whom he sold into slavery.

Late in the 3rd century, after the Parthians had been supplanted by the Sassanids, the city again became a source of conflict with Rome. In 283, emperor Carus sacked the city uncontested during a period of civil upheaval. In 295, emperor Galerius was defeated outside the city. However, he returned a year later with a vengeance and won a victory which ended in the fifth and final capture of the city by the Romans in 299. He returned it to the Persian king Narses in exchange for Armenia and western Mesopotamia. In c.325 and again in 410, the city, or the Greek colony directly across the river, was the site of church councils for the Church of the East.[citation needed]

Severus Alexander advanced towards Ctesiphon in 233, but as corroborated by Herodian, his armies suffered a humiliating defeat against Ardashir I.[9]

After the conquest of Antioch in 541, Khosrau I built a new city near Ctesiphon for the inhabitants he captured. He called this new city Weh Antiok Khusrau, or literally, “better than Antioch Khosrau built this.”[10] Local inhabitants of the area called the new city Rumagan, meaning “town of the Romans” and Arabs called the city al-Rumiyya. Along with Weh Antiok, Khosrau built a number of fortified cities.[11] Khosrau I deported 292,000 citizens, slaves, and conquered people to the new city of Ctesiphon in 542.[12]

Emperor Julian was killed following a battle outside of the city walls, in 363, during his war against Shapur II. Finally, in 627, the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius surrounded the city, the capital of the Sassanid Empire, leaving it after the Persians accepted his peace terms.

Downfall of the Sasanians and the Islamic conquests[edit]

Ctesiphon fell to the Muslims during the Islamic conquest of Persia in 637 under the military command of Sa'ad ibn Abi Waqqas during the caliphate of Umar. When the Arabs entered the city, the throne hall in Taq Kasra was briefly used as a mosque.[13]

Still, as political and economic fortune had passed elsewhere, the city went into a rapid decline, especially after the founding of the Abbasid capital at Baghdad in the 8th century, and soon became a ghost town. Caliph Al-Mansur took much of the required material for the construction of Baghdad from the ruins of Ctesiphon. He also attempted to demolish the palace and reuse its bricks for his own palace, but he desisted only when the undertaking proved too vast.[14]

It is believed to be the basis for the city of Isbanir in One Thousand and One Nights.

Modern era[edit]

The ruins of Ctesiphon were the site of a major battle of World War I in November 1915. The Ottoman Empire defeated troops of Britain attempting to capture Baghdad, and drove them back some 40 miles (64 km) before trapping the British force and compelling it to surrender.

Archaeology[edit]

A German Oriental Society and University of Pennsylvania team led by Oscar Reuther excavated at Ctesiphon in 1928–29 and 1931–32, mainly at Qasr bint al-Qadi on the western part of the site.[15][16][17][18]

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, an Italian team from the University of Turin directed by Antonio Invernizzi and Giorgio Gullini (it) worked at the site, mainly doing restoration at the palace of Khosrau II.[19][20][21][22][23][24] In 2013 the Iraqi government contracted to restore the Arch of Ctesiphon as a tourist attraction.[25]

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Eventually no less than four Sasanian rulers were quoted as its builders: Shapur I (241–273), Shapur II (310–379), Khosrau I Anushirvan (531–579) and Chosroes II Parvez (590–628). Kurz, Otto (1941). "The Date of the Ṭāq i Kisrā". The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. (New Series) 73 (1): 37–41. 
  2. ^ http://geography.about.com/library/weekly/aa011201a.htm
  3. ^ E.J. Brill's First Encyclopaedia of Islam 1913–1936, Vol. 2 (Brill, 1987: ISBN 90-04-08265-4), p. 75.
  4. ^ Kröger, Jens (1993), "Ctesiphon", Encyclopedia Iranica 6, Costa Mesa: Mazda 
  5. ^ Ezra 8:17
  6. ^ Farrokh, K. (2007). The rise of Ctesiphon and the Silk Route. In Shadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia at War (p. 240).
  7. ^ a b Farrokh, K. (2007). The rise of Ctesiphon and the Silk Route. In Shadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia at War (p. 125).
  8. ^ Strabo XVI, 1, 16
  9. ^ Farrokh, K. (2007). The rise of Ctesiphon and the Silk Route. In Shadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia at War (p. 185).
  10. ^ Dingas, Winter 2007, 109
  11. ^ Frye 1993, 259
  12. ^ Christensen (1993). The Decline of Iranshahr: Irrigation and Environments in the History of the Middle East, 500 B.C. to A.D. 1500. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press. ISBN 87-7289-259-5. 
  13. ^ Reade, Dr Julian (1999). Scarre, Chris, ed. The Seventy Wonders of the Ancient world The Great Monuments and How they were Built. Thames & Hudson. pp. 185–186. ISBN 0-500-05096-1.
  14. ^ Bier, L. (1993). The Sassanian Palaces and their Influence in Early Islam. In Ars Orientalis, 23, 62-62.
  15. ^ Schippmann, K. (1980). "Ktesiphon-Expedition im Winter 1928/29". Grundzüge der parthischen Geschichte. Darmstadt. ISBN 3-534-07064-X.  (German)
  16. ^ Meyer, E. (1929). "Seleukia und Ktesiphon". Mitteilungen der Deutschen Orient-Gesellschaft zu Berlin 67: 1–26. 
  17. ^ Reuther, O. (1929). "The German Excavations at Ctesiphon". Antiquity 3 (12): 434–451. doi:10.1017/S0003598X00003781. 
  18. ^ Upton, J. (1932). "The Expedition to Ctesiphon 1931–1932". Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art 27: 188–197. 
  19. ^ G. Gullini and A. Invernizzi, First Preliminary Report of Excavations at Seleucia and Ctesiphon. Season 1964, Mesopotamia , vol. I, pp. 1–88, 1966
  20. ^ G. Gullini and A. Invernizzi, Second Preliminary Report of Excavations at Seleucia and Ctesiphon. Season 1965, Mesopotamia, vol. 2, 1967
  21. ^ G. Gullini and A. Invernizzi, Third Preliminary Report of Excavations at Seleucia and Ctesiphon. Season 1966, Mesopotamia, vol. 3–4, 1968–69
  22. ^ G. Gullini and A. Invernizzi, Fifth Preliminary Report of Excavations at Seleucia and Ctesiphon. Season 1969, Mesopotamia, vol. 5–6, 1960–71
  23. ^ G. Gullini and A. Invernizzi, Sixth Preliminary Report of Excavations at Seleucia and Ctesiphon. Seasons 1972/74, Mesopotamia, vol. 5–6, 1973–74
  24. ^ G. Gullini and A. Invernizzi, Seventh Preliminary Report of Excavations at Seleucia and Ctesiphon. Seasons 1975/76, Mesopotamia, vol. 7, 1977
  25. ^ "Iraq to restore ancient Arch of Ctesiphon to woo back tourists". rawstory.com. May 30, 2013. 

References[edit]

  • M. Streck, Die alte Landschaft Babylonien nach den arabischen Geographen, 2 vols. (Leiden, 1900–1901).
  • M. Streck, "Seleucia und Ktesiphon," Der Alte Orient, 16 (1917), 1–64.
  • A. Invernizzi, "Ten Years Research in the al-Madain Area, Seleucia and Ctesiphon," Sumer, 32, (1976), 167–175.
  • Luise Abramowski, "Der Bischof von Seleukia-Ktesiphon als Katholikos und Patriarch der Kirche des Ostens," in Dmitrij Bumazhnov u. Hans R. Seeliger (hg), Syrien im 1.-7. Jahrhundert nach Christus. Akten der 1. Tübinger Tagung zum Christlichen Orient (15.-16. Juni 2007). (Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 2011) (Studien und Texte zu Antike und Christentum / Studies and Texts in Antiquity and Christianity, 62),

External links[edit]