The Sassanid Empire lasted from 226 AD until the arrival of Islam in the mid-7th century AD. During that time, Persian civilisation reached its peak, and influenced art and architecture from Western Europe to China.

    Their main city, Bishapur, was established in the mid-third century AD, and now lies in ruins. The ruler Shapur I defeated the Roman armies several times, and prisoners of war were responsible for the intricate floor mosaics in the city, where tiny tiles of only a few milimeters diameter were used to cover vast areas. In addition, the Sasanians used Roman technology in the construction of roads, bridges and dams.

    The modern Iranian city of Qazvin was also established by Shapur I in the third century BC, at about the same time as Bishapur, but many of the original buildings were destroyed in a 19th century earthquake.

    Sasanian society was based on the Zoroastrian religion, and many high-relief rock carvings from that period (such as those below) show various ceremonies and customs. The ones pictured at the bottom of this page emulate the Achaemenian tombs at Naqsh-i Rustam. One friese shows Shapur's defeat of Gordian, Valerian and Philip the Arab, and is thought to be the work of captured Roman sculptors.


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