Coin of Shahpur I

Contributed by Iman Khodaei

After the fall of the Arsacid Empire, the Sassanids created the Persian Empire, ostensibly on purely Persian grounds-in contrast to their predecessors who had called themselves "Friend of the Hellenes." Under Shahpur's reign, Iran very quickly regained its place as the dominant military and cultural power in the Middle-East. This brought Shahpur's new empire in direct conflict with the Romans. While Shahpur created rock reliefs around Iran depicting the defeat of the Roman Emperor Valerian several times, he should also be remembered for his tolerance of new ideas and building of great cities. The prophet Mani flourished under his reign and he even dedicated a book to the Emperor, the Shapurgan, written in Middle Persian.

Wars with the Roman empire were not new at the time; and with rise of an Empire in the East, the Romans found an even more formidable enemy on their doorstep. Eventually, hundreds of years of conflict and blood shed brought both sides to their knees, paving they way for the Arabic conquests of the 7th Century AD.
Perhaps the mightiest of the Sassanid rulers, Shahpur remains as the last great emperor of ancient Persia whose name has gained world fame.

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