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The Past

2,000 - 200 years ago
Parthians
















This Central Asian tribe hailed originally from the area of modern Turkmenistan, where there capital Nysa has been excavated for many years by Russian and Italian archaeologists. By the mid-second century BC, however, the Parthians had infiltrated western Iran and were posing a threat to the Seleucids, the rulers of Greek descent in Mesopotamia who had succeeded Alexander the Great. Under Mithridates I they rose to prominence, becoming one of Rome's most feared enemies in the east, until they were finally themselves conquered by the Sasanians in the early third century AD.

The Parthians are not particularly known for having been great sailors, but Parthian pottery in vast quantities moved across the Gulf to the Emirates. Much green-glazed Parthian pottery has been found at al-Dur, and smaller amounts have been recovered in excavations at Mileiha, Bidya, Sharm, Jazirat al-Hulayla and Kush. Small inlaid mother-of-pearl carvings from Mileiha are identical to Parthian ones from Shami in southwestern Iran. Surprisingly, no Parthian coins have yet been found in the Emirates, although the coinage of the kingdom of Characene may, in a sense, represent a remnant of Parthian-controlled contact since this small kingdom was a client of the Parthian state by the first century AD.


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