Roman–Persian Wars

Rome, Parthia and Seleucid Empire in 200 BC. Soon both the Romans and the Parthians would invade the Seleucid-held territories, and become the strongest states in western Asia.
A sculpted head (broken off from a larger statue) of a Parthian warrior wearing a Hellenistic-style helmet, from the Parthian royal residence and necropolis of Nisa, Turkmenistan, 2nd century BC
Parthia, its subkingdoms, and neighbors in 1 AD
Reliefs depicting war with Parthia on the Arch of Septimius Severus, built to commemorate the Roman victories
Bishapur Relief II commemorating Shapur I's victories on the Western front, depicting him on horseback with a captured Valerian, a dead Gordian III, and a kneeling emperor, either Philip the Arab or Uranius.
Julian's unsuccessful campaign in 363 resulted in the loss of the Roman territorial gains under the peace treaty of 299.
A rock-face relief at Naqsh-e Rostam, depicting the triumph of Shapur I over the Roman Emperor Valerian and Philip the Arab.
Map of the Roman–Persian frontier after the division of Armenia in 384. The frontier remained stable throughout the 5th century.
Relief of a Sassanian delegation in Byzantium, marble, 4th–5th century, Istanbul Archaeological Museums.
Roman and Persian Empires in 477, as well as their neighbors.
Hunting scene showing king Khosrau I (7th century Sasanian art, Cabinet des Medailles, Paris).
The Eastern Roman–Persian border at the time of Justinian's death in 565, with Lazica in Eastern Roman (Byzantine) hands
The Sasanian Empire and its neighbors (including the Eastern Roman Empire) in 600 AD
The Roman-Persian frontier in the 4th to 7th centuries
Late Roman silver coin showing the words Deus adiuta Romanis ("May God help the Romans")
Cherub and Heraclius receiving the submission of Khosrau II; plaque from a cross (Champlevé enamel over gilt copper, 1160–1170, Paris, Louvre).
Byzantine and Sasanian Empires in 600 AD
The Sasanian Empire at its greatest extent ca. 620 AD
The assassination of Khosrau II, in a manuscript of the Shahnameh of Shah Tahmasp made by Abd al-Samad c. 1535. Persian poems are from Ferdowsi's Shahnameh.
Historical re-enactment of a Sasanian-era cataphract
Roman siege engines
The Humiliation of Valerian by Shapur (Hans Holbein the Younger, 1521, pen and black ink on a chalk sketch, Kunstmuseum Basel)

The Roman–Persian Wars, also known as the Roman–Iranian Wars, were a series of conflicts between states of the Greco-Roman world and two successive Iranian empires: the Parthian and the Sasanian.

- Roman–Persian Wars

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Early Muslim conquests

The early Muslim conquests (الفتوحات الإسلامية), also referred to as the Arab conquests and the early Islamic conquests began when the Islamic prophet Muhammad, in the 7th century, established a new unified polity that embraced Islam in the Arabian Peninsula which, under the subsequent Rashidun and Umayyad Caliphates, saw a century of rapid ideological and territorial expansion.

Expansion from 622–750, with modern borders overlaid
Byzantine and Sasanian Empires in 600 AD
Arab conquests of the Sassanid Empire and Syria 620-630
Arab campaigns in Anatolia 637–638
The Byzantine Empire after the Arabs conquered the provinces of Syria and Egypt c. 650
Map of the main Byzantine-Muslim naval operations and battles in the Mediterranean
Sasanian weaponry, 7th century
Bilingual Latin-Arabic dinar minted in Iberia AH 98 (716/7 AD)
Battle of Talas between Tang dynasty and Abbasid Caliphate c. 751
Byzantine manuscript illustration showing Greek fire in action
Mosaic from Hisham's Palace, an Umayyad residence near Jericho (c. 724–743)
Egyptian papyrus PERF 558 containing a bilingual Greek-Arabic tax receipt dated from 643 AD

Most historians agree as well that the Sassanid Persian and Byzantine Roman empires were militarily and economically exhausted from decades of fighting one another.

Buffer state

Country lying between two rival or potentially hostile great powers.

The marked territories on this global map are mostly of countries which are sovereign states with full international recognition (brackets denote the country of a marked territory that is not a sovereign state). Some territories are countries in their own right but are not recognized as such (e.g. Taiwan), and some few marked territories are disputed about which country they belong to (e.g. Kashmir) or if they are countries in their own right (e.g. West Sahara).

Multiple buffer states played major roles during the Roman–Persian Wars (66 BC – 628 AD). Armenia was a frequently contested buffer between the Roman Empire (as well as the later Byzantine Empire) and the various Persian and Muslim states.

Arab–Byzantine wars

The Arab–Byzantine wars were a series of wars between a number of Muslim Arab dynasties and the Byzantine Empire between the 7th and 11th centuries AD. Conflict started during the initial Muslim conquests, under the expansionist Rashidun and Umayyad caliphs, in the 7th century and continued by their successors until the mid-11th century.

Greek fire, first used by the Byzantine Navy during the Arab–Byzantine Wars.
Sham region was just the start of Arab expansion.
Gold tremissis of Constans II.
In spite of the turbulent reign of Justinian II, last emperor of the Heraclian dynasty, his coinage still bore the traditional "PAX", peace.
The Theodosian Walls of Constantinople.
Map of the Byzantine-Arab frontier zone in southeastern Asia Minor, along the Taurus-Antitaurus range
Abbasid Caliph Al-Ma'mun sends an envoy to Byzantine Emperor Theophilos
The siege of Amorium, miniature from the Madrid Skylitzes
A map of the Byzantine-Arab naval competition in the Mediterranean, 7th to 11th centuries
Nikephoros II and his stepson Basil II (right). Under the Macedonian dynasty, the Byzantine Empire became the strongest power in Europe, recovering territories lost in the war.
The Byzantine–Arab Wars provided the conditions that developed feudalism in Medieval Europe.
The 12th-century William of Tyre (right), an important commentator on the Crusades and the final stage of the Byzantine-Arab Wars

The prolonged and escalating Byzantine–Sasanian wars of the 6th and 7th centuries and the recurring outbreaks of bubonic plague (Plague of Justinian) left both empires exhausted and vulnerable in the face of the sudden emergence and expansion of the Arabs.

Muslim conquest of the Levant

The Muslim conquest of the Levant (الْـفَـتْـحُ الإٍسْـلامِيُّ لِـلـشَّـام, ), also known as the Arab conquest of the Levant (الْـفَـتْـحُ الْـعَـرَبِيُّ لِـلـشَّـام, ), occurred in the first half of the 7th century, shortly after the rise of Islam.

Scene of the Roman Theatre at Palmyra, 2005
Map detailing Rashidun Caliphate's invasion of the Levant.
Ruins of Ancient Petra, one of the first cities to fall to invading Muslim armies
Map detailing the route of Khalid ibn Walid's invasion of Syria.
Geographical map detailing the route of Khalid ibn Walid's invasion of Syria
Map detailing the route of Muslim invasion of central Syria.
Muslim and Byzantine troop movements before the battle of Yarmouk
Map detailing the route of Muslim invasion of northern Syria.
Temple of Jupiter, Lebanon.
Map detailing the route of Khalid ibn Walid and Iyad ibn Ghanm's raids into Anatolia.
Rashidun Empire at its peak under third Rashidun Caliph, Uthman (654)

During the last of the Roman-Persian Wars, beginning in 603, the Persians under Khosrau II had succeeded in occupying Syria, Palestine and Egypt for over a decade before being forced by the victories of Heraclius to conclude the peace of 628.

Roman Armenia

Roman Armenia refers to the rule of parts of Greater Armenia by the Roman Empire, from the 1st century AD to the end of Late Antiquity.

The short-lived Roman province of Armenia in 117, north of Mesopotamia.
The Armenian Kingdom in 250, when it was a vassal of the Roman Empire
Roman coin of 141, showing emperor Antoninus Pius holding a crown on the Armenia King's head
The Eastern Roman border after the treaty of Acilisene.
The Saint Bartholomew Monastery at the site of the Apostle's martyrdom in historical Armenia
The Etchmiadzin Cathedral

Throughout this period, Armenia remained a bone of contention between Rome and the Parthian Empire, as well as the Sasanian Empire that succeeded the latter, and the casus belli for several of the Roman–Persian Wars.

Battle of Carrhae

Fought in 53 BC between the Roman Republic and the Parthian Empire near the ancient town of Carrhae .

Marcus Licinius Crassus
Extent of the Parthian Empire
Formations at the start of the battle
Relief of a Parthian cataphract attacking a lion using kontos
Roman coin of Augustus (19 BC) showing a Parthian soldier returning the standards captured at Carrhae. Augustus hailed the return of the standards as a political victory over Parthia.
Parthian horseman
Detail from the breastplate of Augustus Prima Porta, showing a Parthian man returning the aquila lost by Crassus at the Battle of Carrhae

It is commonly seen as one of the earliest and most important battles between the Roman and Parthian Empires and one of the most crushing defeats in Roman history.


City in Mardin Province, Turkey.

Stele of Shar-pati-beli, governor of Assur, Naṣibina, Urakka, Kahat, and Masaka. 831 BCE. From Assur, Iraq. Pergamon Museum
The Roman Near East under Pompey in 63 BCE, showing Nisibis in Parthian territory south of Roman Corduene
The newly excavated Church of Saint Jacob in Nisibis.
The interior of the Church of Saint Jacob in Nisibis

However, despite several Roman attempts to recapture Nisibis through the remainder of the Roman–Persian Wars and the construction of nearby Dara to defend against Persian attack, Nisibis was not returned to Roman control before it was conquered in 639 by the Rashidun Caliphate during the Muslim conquest of the Levant.


Roman emperor from 198 to 217.

Bust of Caracalla, Museo Nazionale Romano, Rome
Young Caracalla; Hermitage Museum
Caracalla & Geta: Bearfight in the Colosseum, Lawrence Alma-Tadema, 1907
Geta Dying in his Mother's Arms, Jacques-Augustin-Catherine Pajou, 1766–1828 (Staatsgalerie Stuttgart)
Bust of Julia Domna (Museo Chiaramonti)
The Roman Empire during the reign of Caracalla
The Baths of Caracalla
Caracalla as Pharaoh, Temple of Kom Ombo
Portrait of Caracalla (AD 212–217) in the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Gold medallion of Caracalla (Bode Museum)
This medallion exemplifies the typical manner in which Caracalla was depicted (Walters Art Museum)
Bronze portrait of Caracalla (Antikensammlung Berlin)
Caracalla wearing nemes and uraeus headdress as Roman pharaoh, from the Nile bank opposite Terenouthis. (Alexandria National Museum)
Amethyst intaglio of Caracalla, later re-carved as Saint Peter inscribed with the (treasury of Sainte-Chapelle)
Septimius Severus and Caracalla, Jean-Baptiste Greuze, 1769 (Louvre)

This was the day Septimius Severus's triumph was celebrated, in honour of his victory over the Parthian Empire in the Roman–Persian Wars; he had successfully sacked the Parthian capital, Ctesiphon, after winning the Battle of Ctesiphon, probably in October 197.


Region between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea; mainly comprising Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and parts of Southern Russia.

Mount Elbrus
Mount Bazardüzü
Mount Shahdagh
Contemporary political map of the Caucasus
Ethno-linguistic groups in the Caucasus region in 2014
Petroglyphs in Gobustan, Azerbaijan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, dating back to 10,000 BC
Kingdom of Georgia at the peak of its might, early 13th century.
Circassian strike on a Russian military fort in the Caucasus, 1840
Georgian Civil War and the War in Abkhazia in August–October 1993
View of the Caucasus Mountains in Dagestan, Russia
Rosa Khutor alpine ski resort near Krasnaya Polyana, Sochi, Russia, the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics venue
Etchmiadzin Cathedral in Armenia, original building completed in 303 AD, a religious centre of Armenia. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in Georgia, original building completed in the 4th century. It was a religious centre of monarchical Georgia. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Northwest Caucasus caftan, 8-10th century, from the region of Alania.
Svaneti defensive tower houses
Palace of the Shirvanshahs, 13-th-15th centuries
Imamzadeh of Ganja, 7th-9th centuries
Celebration of Ashura, (Persian:Shakhsey-Vakhsey),19th century
Shamakhi, 19th century

The next 600 years was marked by a conflict between Rome and Sassanid Empire for the control of the region.


Arab kingdom in Southern Iraq and Eastern Arabia, with al-Hirah as their capital, from about 300 to 602 CE.

Map of the Lakhmid kingdom in the 6th-century. Light green is Sasanian territory governed by the Lakhmids
The ruins of a building in al-Hira, the Lakhmids' capital city,
A Persian manuscript from the 15th century describing the constructing of al-Khornaq Castle in al-Hirah.

They were generally but intermittently the allies and clients of the Sasanian Empire, and participant in the Roman–Persian Wars.