The Sasanian Empire (), also known as the Sassanian, Sasanid, Sassanid or Neo-Persian Empire (known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr, or Iran, in Middle Persian), was the last kingdom of the Persian Empire before the rise of Islam, and was named after the House of Sasan; it ruled from 224 to 651 AD. The Sasanian Empire succeeded the Parthian Empire and was recognised as one of the leading world powers alongside its neighbouring arch-rival the Roman-Byzantine Empire for a period of more than 400 years.
The Sasanian Empire was founded by Ardashir I, after the fall of the Parthian Empire and the defeat of the last Arsacid king, Artabanus V. At its greatest extent, the Sasanian Empire encompassed all of today's Iran, Iraq, Eastern Arabia (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatif, Qatar, UAE), the Levant (Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan), the Caucasus (Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Dagestan), Egypt, large parts of Turkey, much of Central Asia (Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan), Yemen and Pakistan. According to a legend, the vexilloid of the Sasanian Empire was the Derafsh Kaviani.
The Sasanian Empire during Late Antiquity is considered to have been one of Iran's most important and influential historical periods and constituted the last great Iranian empire before the Muslim conquest and the adoption of Islam. In many ways, the Sasanian period witnessed the peak of ancient Iranian civilisation. The Sasanians' cultural influence extended far beyond the empire's territorial borders, reaching as far as Western Europe, Africa, China and India. It played a prominent role in the formation of both European and Asian medieval art. Much of what later became known as Islamic culture in art, architecture, music and other subject matter was transferred from the Sasanians throughout the Muslim world.
Shapur II the Great (Persian: شاپور دوم بزرگ), was the ninth king of the Sassanid Empire and the longest reigning monarch of the Sassanid dynasty, he reigned from 309 to 379 and was a son of Hormizd II. During his long reign, the Sassanid Empire saw its first golden era since the reign of Shapur I (241–272). His name is sometimes given in English as "Shahpour" or "Sapor".
By his death in 379 the Sassanid Empire was stronger than ever before, considerably larger than when he came to the throne, the eastern and western enemies were pacified and Persia had gained control over Armenia.
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