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Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
(/ˈtɛsɪfɒn/ TESIFON; Greek: Κτησιφῶν; from Parthian/Middle Persian: tyspwn or tysfwn[1]) was an ancient city located on the eastern bank of Tigris, and about 35 kilometres (22 mi) southeast of present-day Baghdad. It became the capital of the Parthian Empire
Parthian Empire
in about 58 BC, and remained the capital of the Sasanian Empire
Sasanian Empire
until the Muslim conquest of Persia
Muslim conquest of Persia
in 651. Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
developed into a rich commercial metropolis, merging with the surrounding cities along both shores of the river, including the Hellenistic
Hellenistic
city of Seleucia. Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
and its environs were therefore sometimes referred to as "The Cities" (Aramaic: Mahuza, Arabic: المدائن‎, al-Mada'in). In the late sixth and early seventh century, it was one of the largest cities in the world.[2] During the Roman–Parthian Wars, Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
fell three times to the Romans, and later fell twice during Sasanian rule. It was also the site of the Battle of Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
in 363 AD. After the Muslim invasion the city fell into decay and was depopulated by the end of the eighth century, its place as a political and economic center taken by the Abbasid
Abbasid
capital at Baghdad. The most conspicuous structure remaining today is the Taq Kasra, sometimes called the Archway of Ctesiphon.[3]

Contents

1 Names 2 Location 3 History

3.1 Parthian period 3.2 Sasanian period 3.3 Downfall of the Sasanians and the Islamic conquests 3.4 Modern era

4 Population and religion 5 Archaeology 6 Gallery 7 See also 8 References 9 Bibliography 10 External links

Names[edit] The Latin name Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
derives from Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
Ktēsiphôn (Κτησιφῶν) is ostensibly a Greek toponym based on a personal name, although it may be a Hellenized form of a local name, reconstructed as Tisfōn or Tisbōn.[4] In Iranian-language texts of the Sasanian era, it is spelled as tyspwn, which can be read as Tīsfōn, Tēsifōn, etc. in Manichaean Parthian, in Middle Persian and in Christian Sogdian (in Syriac alphabet) languages. The New Persian form is Tisfun (تیسفون). Texts from the Assyrian Church of the East's synods referred to the city as Qṭēspōn (Syriac: ܩܛܝܣܦܘܢ‎) or some times Māḥôzē (Syriac: ܡܚܘܙ̈ܐ‎) when referring to the metropolis of Seleucia-Ctesiphon. In modern Arabic, the name is usually Ṭaysafūn (طيسفون) or Qaṭaysfūn (قطيسفون) or as al-Mada'in (المدائن "The Cities", referring to Greater Ctesiphon). "According to Yāqūt [...], quoting Ḥamza, the original form was Ṭūsfūn or Tūsfūn, which was arabicized as Ṭaysafūn."[5] The Armenian name of the city was Tizbon (Տիզբոն). Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
is first mentioned in the Book of Ezra[6] of the Old Testament
Old Testament
as Kasfia/Casphia (a derivative of the ethnic name, Cas, and a cognate of Caspian and Qazvin). Location[edit]

Taq Kasra
Taq Kasra
or Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
palace ruin, with the arch in the centre, 1864

Ctesiphon
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
Ctesiphon
measured 30 square kilometers, more than twice the surface of 13.7-square-kilometer fourth-century Imperial Rome. The archway of Chosroes (Taq Kasra) was once a part of the royal palace in Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
and is estimated to date between the 3rd and 6th centuries AD.[7] It is located in what is now the Iraqi town of Salman Pak. History[edit] Parthian period[edit] Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
was founded in the late 120s BC. It was built on the site of a military camp established across from Seleucia
Seleucia
by Mithridates I of Parthia. The reign of Gotarzes I
Gotarzes I
saw Ctesiphon
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
Hellenistic
capital of Seleucia
Seleucia
and other nearby settlements to form a cosmopolitan metropolis.[8] The reason for this westward relocation of the capital could have been in part due to the proximity of the previous capitals (Mithradatkirt, and Hecatompylos
Hecatompylos
at Hyrcania) to the Scythian
Scythian
incursions.[8] Strabo
Strabo
abundantly describes the foundation of Ctesiphon:

In ancient times Babylon
Babylon
was the metropolis of Assyria; but now Seleucia
Seleucia
is the metropolis, I mean the Seleucia
Seleucia
on the Tigris, as it is called. Nearby is situated a village called Ctesiphon, a large village. This village the kings of the Parthians were wont to make their winter residence, thus sparing the Seleucians, in order that the Seleucians might not be oppressed by having the Scythian
Scythian
folk or soldiery quartered amongst them. Because of the Parthian power, therefore, Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
is a city rather than a village; its size is such that it lodges a great number of people, and it has been equipped with buildings by the Parthians themselves; and it has been provided by the Parthians with wares for sale and with the arts that are pleasing to the Parthians; for the Parthian kings are accustomed to spend the winter there because of the salubrity of the air, but they summer at Ecbatana
Ecbatana
and in Hyrcania
Hyrcania
because of the prevalence of their ancient renown.[9]

Because of its importance, Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
was a major military objective for the leaders of the Roman Empire
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
Trajan
captured Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
in 116, but his successor, Hadrian, decided to willingly return Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
in 117 as part of a peace settlement. The Roman general Avidius Cassius captured Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
in 164 during another Parthian war, but abandoned it when peace was concluded. In 197, the emperor Septimius Severus sacked Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
and carried off thousands of its inhabitants, whom he sold into slavery. Sasanian period[edit]

Map of Sasanian Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
and its surroundings.

By 226, Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
was in the hands of the Sasanian Empire, who also made it their capital and had laid an end to the Parthian dynasty of Iran. Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
was greatly enlarged and flourished during their rule, thus turning into a metropolis, which was known by in Arabic
Arabic
as al-Mada'in, and in Aramaic
Aramaic
as Mahoze.[10] The oldest inhabited places of Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
were on its eastern side, which in Arabic
Arabic
sources is called "the Old City", where the residence of the Sasanians, known as the White Palace, was located. The southern side of Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
was known as Aspanbar, which was known by its prominent halls, riches, games, stables, and baths.[10] The western side was known as Veh-Ardashir
Veh-Ardashir
(meaning "the good city of Ardashir" in Middle Persian), known as Mahoza by the Jews, Kokhe by the Christians, and Behrasir by the Arabs. Veh-Ardashir
Veh-Ardashir
was populated by many wealthy Jews, and was the seat of the church of the Nestorian patriarch. To the south of Veh-Ardashir
Veh-Ardashir
was Valashabad.[10] Ctesiphon had several other districts which were named Hanbu Shapur, Darzanidan, Veh Jondiu-Khosrow, Nawinabad and Kardakadh.[10] Severus Alexander
Severus Alexander
advanced towards Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
in 233, but as corroborated by Herodian, his armies suffered a humiliating defeat against Ardashir I.[11] In 283, emperor Carus
Carus
sacked the city uncontested during a period of civil upheaval. In 295, emperor Galerius
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
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]

4th century Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
(Peutinger Map)

After the conquest of Antioch in 541, Khosrau I
Khosrau I
built a new city near Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
for the inhabitants he captured. He called this new city Weh Antiok Khusrau, or literally, "better than Antioch Khosrau built this."[12] 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.[13] Khosrau I
Khosrau I
deported 292,000 citizens, slaves, and conquered people to the new city of Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
in 542.[14] In 590, a member of the House of Mihran, Bahram Chobin
Bahram Chobin
repelled the newly ascended Sasanian ruler Khosrau II
Khosrau II
from Iraq, and conquered the region. One year later, Khosrau II, with aid from the Byzantine Empire, reconquered his domains. During his reign, some of the great fame of al-Mada'in decreased, due to the popularity of Khosrau's new winter residence, Dastagerd.[15] In 627, the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius
Heraclius
surrounded the city, the capital of the Sassanid Empire, leaving it after the Persians accepted his peace terms. In 628, a deadly plague hit Ctesiphon, al-Mada'in and the rest of the western part of the Sasanian Empire, which even killed Khosrau's son and successor, Kavadh II.[15] In 629, Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
was briefly under the control of Mihranid usurper Shahrbaraz, but the latter was shortly assassinated by the supporters of Khosrau II's daughter Borandukht. Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
then continued to be involved in constant fighting between two factions of the Sasanian Empire, the Pahlav (Parthian) faction under the House of Ispahbudhan and the Parsig (Persian) faction under Piruz Khosrow. Downfall of the Sasanians and the Islamic conquests[edit] In 636, the Muslim Arabs, who had since 633 invaded the territories of the Sasanian Empire, defeated them during a great battle known as the Battle of al-Qādisiyyah. The Arabs then attacked Ctesiphon, and occupied it in early 637.[10] The Muslim military officer Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas
Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas
quickly seized Valashabad
Valashabad
and made a peace treaty with the inhabitants of Weh Antiok Khusrau and Veh-Ardashir. The terms of the treaty were that the inhabitants of Weh Antiok Khusrau were allowed to leave if they wanted to, but if they did not, they were forced to acknowledge Muslim authority, and also pay tribute (jizya). Later on, when the Muslims arrived at Ctesiphon, it was completely desolated, due to flight of the Sasanian royal family, nobles, and troops. However, the Muslims had managed to take some of troops captive, and many riches were seized from the Sasanian treasury and were given to the Muslim troops.[10] Furthermore, the throne hall in Taq Kasra
Taq Kasra
was briefly used as a mosque.[16] Still, as political and economic fortune had passed elsewhere, the city went into a rapid decline, especially after the founding of the Abbasid
Abbasid
capital at Baghdad
Baghdad
in the 8th century, and soon became a ghost town. Caliph Al-Mansur
Al-Mansur
took much of the required material for the construction of Baghdad
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.[17] 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
Ctesiphon
were the site of a major battle of World War I in November 1915. The Ottoman Empire
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. Population and religion[edit] Under Sasanian rule, the population of Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
was heavily mixed: it included Arameans, Persians, Greeks
Greeks
and Assyrians. Several religions were also practiced in the metropolis, which included Christianity, Judaism
Judaism
and Zoroastrianism. In 497, the first Nestorian patriarch Mar Babai I, fixed his see at Seleucia-Ctesiphon, supervising their mission east, with the Merv
Merv
metropolis as pivot. The population also included Manicheans, a Dualist church, who continued to be mentioned in Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
during Umayyad
Umayyad
rule fixing their 'patriarchate of Babylon' there.[10] Much of the population fled from Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
after the Arab capture of the metropolis. However, a portion of Persians remained there, and some important figures of these people are known to have provided Ali
Ali
with presents, which he, however, refused to take. After the Battle of Siffin, the Persian population of Ctesiphon disappeared.[10] In the ninth century, the surviving Manicheans
Manicheans
fled and displaced their patriarchate up the Silk road, in Samarkand.[18] Archaeology[edit] A German Oriental Society led by Oscar Reuther excavated at Ctesiphon in 1928–29 mainly at Qasr bint al-Qadi on the western part of the site.[19][20][21][22] In winter of 1931-1932 a joint expedition of the German State Museums (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin) and The Metropolitan Museum of Art continued excavations at the site, focusing on the areas of Ma'aridh, Tell Dheheb, the Taq-i Kisra, Selman Pak and Umm ez-Za'tir under the direction of Ernst Kühnel.[23] 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, which they identified not as Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
but as Veh Ardashir. Work mainly concentrated on restoration at the palace of Khosrau II.[24][25][26][27][28][29] In 2013, the Iraqi government contracted to restore the Taq Kasra, as a tourist attraction.[30] Gallery[edit]

Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
Gallery

1824 drawing by Captain Hart

Remains of Taq Kasra
Taq Kasra
in 2008.

1923 Iraqi postage stamp, featuring the arch

See also[edit]

Persian Empire Cities of the ancient Near East Rachae

References[edit]

^ Kröger, Jens. "Ctesiphon". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 12 December 2016.  ^ "Largest Cities Through History". geography.about.com. Retrieved 25 November 2015.  ^ Eventually no less than four Sasanian rulers were quoted as its builders: Shapur I (241–273), Shapur II (310–379), Chosroes 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. JSTOR 25221709.  ^ E.J. Brill's First Encyclopaedia of Islam 1913–1936, Vol. 2 (Brill, 1987: ISBN 90-04-08265-4), p. 75. ^ Kröger, Jens (1993), "Ctesiphon", Encyclopedia Iranica, 6, Costa Mesa: Mazda, archived from the original on 2009-01-16  ^ Ezra 8:17 ^ Farrokh, K. (2007). The rise of Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
and the Silk Route. In Shadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia at War (p. 240). ^ a b Farrokh, K. (2007). The rise of Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
and the Silk Route. In Shadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia at War (p. 125). ^ "LacusCurtius • Strabo's Geography — Book XVI Chapter 1, 16". penelope.uchicago.edu. Retrieved 25 November 2015.  ^ a b c d e f g h Morony 2009. ^ Farrokh, K. (2007). The rise of Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
and the Silk Route. In Shadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia at War (p. 185). ^ Dingas, Winter 2007, 109 ^ Frye 1993, 259 ^ 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.  ^ a b Shapur Shahbazi 2005. ^ 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. ^ Bier, L. (1993). The Sassanian Palaces and their Influence in Early Islam. In Ars Orientalis, 23, 62-62. ^ John van Schaik, Ketters. Een geschiedenis van de Kerk, Leuven, 2016 ^ Schippmann, K. (1980). "Ktesiphon-Expedition im Winter 1928/29". Grundzüge der parthischen Geschichte (in German). Darmstadt. ISBN 3-534-07064-X.  ^ Meyer, E. (1929). "Seleukia und Ktesiphon". Mitteilungen der Deutschen Orient-Gesellschaft zu Berlin. 67: 1–26.  ^ Reuther, O. (1929). "The German Excavations at Ctesiphon". Antiquity. 3 (12): 434–451. doi:10.1017/S0003598X00003781.  ^ Upton, J. (1932). "The Expedition to Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
1931–1932". Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 27: 188–197.  ^ Fowlkes-Childs, Blair. “Ctesiphon.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/ctes/hd_ctes.htm (July 2016) ^ G. Gullini and A. Invernizzi, First Preliminary Report of Excavations at Seleucia
Seleucia
and Ctesiphon. Season 1964, Mesopotamia, vol. I, pp. 1–88, 1966 ^ G. Gullini and A. Invernizzi, Second Preliminary Report of Excavations at Seleucia
Seleucia
and Ctesiphon. Season 1965, Mesopotamia, vol. 2, 1967 ^ G. Gullini and A. Invernizzi, Third Preliminary Report of Excavations at Seleucia
Seleucia
and Ctesiphon. Season 1966, Mesopotamia, vol. 3–4, 1968–69 ^ G. Gullini and A. Invernizzi, Fifth Preliminary Report of Excavations at Seleucia
Seleucia
and Ctesiphon. Season 1969, Mesopotamia, vol. 5–6, 1960–71 ^ G. Gullini and A. Invernizzi, Sixth Preliminary Report of Excavations at Seleucia
Seleucia
and Ctesiphon. Seasons 1972/74, Mesopotamia, vol. 5–6, 1973–74 ^ G. Gullini and A. Invernizzi, Seventh Preliminary Report of Excavations at Seleucia
Seleucia
and Ctesiphon. Seasons 1975/76, Mesopotamia, vol. 7, 1977 ^ " Iraq
Iraq
to restore ancient Arch of Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
to woo back tourists". rawstory.com. May 30, 2013. 

Bibliography[edit]

M. Streck, Die alte Landschaft Babylonien nach den arabischen Geographen, 2 vols. (Leiden, 1900–1901). M. Streck, " Seleucia
Seleucia
und Ktesiphon," Der Alte Orient, 16 (1917), 1–64. A. Invernizzi, "Ten Years Research in the al-Madain Area, Seleucia
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), Morony, Michael (2009). "MADĀʾEN". Encyclopaedia Iranica.  Kennedy, Hugh N. (2004). The Prophet and the Age of the Caliphates: The Islamic Near East from the 6th to the 11th Century (Second ed.). Harlow, UK: Pearson Education Ltd. ISBN 0-582-40525-4.  Amedroz, Henry F.; Margoliouth, David S., eds. (1921). The Eclipse of the ‘ Abbasid
Abbasid
Caliphate. Original Chronicles of the Fourth Islamic Century, Vol. V: The concluding portion of The Experiences of Nations by Miskawaihi, Vol. II: Reigns of Muttaqi, Mustakfi, Muti and Ta'i. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.  Rekaya, M. (1991). "al-Maʾmūn". The Encyclopedia of Islam, New Edition, Volume VI: Mahk–Mid. Leiden and New York: BRILL. pp. 331–339. ISBN 90-04-08112-7.  Kennedy, Hugh N. (2004). The Prophet and the Age of the Caliphates: The Islamic Near East from the 6th to the 11th Century (Second ed.). Harlow, UK: Pearson Education Ltd. ISBN 0-582-40525-4.  Zarrinkub, Abd al-Husain (1975). "The Arab conquest of Iran and its aftermath". The Cambridge History of Iran, Volume 4: From the Arab Invasion to the Saljuqs. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 1–57. ISBN 978-0-521-20093-6.  Bosworth, C. E. (1975). "Iran under the Buyids". In Frye, R. N. The Cambridge History of Iran, Volume 4: From the Arab Invasion to the Saljuqs. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 250–305. ISBN 0-521-20093-8.  Kröger, Jens (1993). "CTESIPHON". Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol. IV, Fasc. 4. pp. 446–448.  Shapur Shahbazi, A. (2005). "SASANIAN DYNASTY". Encyclopaedia Iranica, Online Edition. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ctesiphon.

Wikisource
Wikisource
has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Ctesiphon.

Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
and Taq Kasra
Taq Kasra
photo gallery Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
Exhibition at German State Museum (Video) Livius.org: Ctesiphon Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
(profile at the Metropolitan Museum of Art)

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