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Sasanian PersiaBetween Rome and the Steppes of Eurasia$
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Eberhard Sauer

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781474401012

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474401012.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 15 May 2021

Cultural Contacts Between Rome and Persia at the Time of Ardashir I (c. AD 224–40)

Cultural Contacts Between Rome and Persia at the Time of Ardashir I (c. AD 224–40)

(p.221) 10 Cultural Contacts Between Rome and Persia at the Time of Ardashir I (c. AD 224–40)
Sasanian Persia

Pierfrancesco Callieri

Edinburgh University Press

There has been much scholarly interest in the relationship between Rome and Persia in the Sasanian era. Historians have devoted detailed studies to the intensified political and military contacts following Ardashir I’s accession to the throne of Iran. Most art historians and archaeologists, by contrast, have argued that cultural contacts between Rome and Sasanian Persia were only established under Shapur I. There is, however, architectural and artistic evidence to suggest that such contacts commenced, in fact, during the reign of Ardashir I. As far as architecture is concerned, Dietrich Huff has made a persuasive case, that architects and masons from the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire were involved in the construction of the fire temple in the city of Ardashir Khurrah (Firuzabad). This chapter argues that rock reliefs also imply similar cultural influence, even though the case is more difficult to prove. It examines the chronology of the five rock reliefs accomplished under Ardashir, as well as the workshops involved in producing them. The earliest relief, at Firuzabad I, shows traits characteristic of Elymaean craftsmen. Subsequently, new techniques and styles appear, and the relief at Naqsh-e Rostam I seems to imitate Persepolitan sculpture. Since numismatic evidence suggests that the reliefs were all carved within about ten years, only the involvement of experienced sculptors, perhaps from the Syro-Mesopotamian regions invaded by Ardashir, can explain such a major and rapid change of style.

Keywords:   Ardashir I, Persepolis, Relations between Rome and Persia, Sasanian art, Sasanian rock reliefs

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