Croatians and Ancient Iran

The article below by Samar Abbas entitled “Identity of Croatians in Ancient Iran” was originally posted on the Iran Chamber Society website. Kavehfarrokh.com places this article for readers to generate questions, discussion and further research. Readers may also wish to consult the symposium proceedings at Zagreb on the subject of Croatian links with ancient Iran by accessing the following link through the Iran Chamber of Commerce venue:

  • http://www.iranchamber.com/history/articles/pdfs/iranian_origin_croats.pdf

Kindly note that the pictures/illustrations and accompanying descriptions do not appear on the original Iran Chamber Society website.

==================================================

To date, 120 Croat and non-Croat university professors and several academics have compiled 249 research works of which many have been printed in various publications and thereby have proven that Croats are of Iranian origin.

There are many real evidences about the identity of ancient Croats which all dismiss the theory that Croats are of Slav origin. Although research works on the Iranian origin of the Croats could not be publicized due to the censorship that was widely practiced at the time of the former regime in Yugoslavia, however, the available documented evidences reveal that the initiator of the effort on research about the Iranian origin of the Croats lived two centuries ago.

In his thesis in 1797, the researcher made a study on the Iranian origin of the Croats and reached the conclusion that the present day Croats migrated from the western part of ancient Iran.

Following the formation of Yugoslavia in 1918, the bigot Slavs known as the “wolves” collected the original copies of the research work and destroyed them in an attempt to conceal the truth about the Iranian origin of the Croats. To date, only some part of the research work that has been quoted in a report prepared by the academy of sciences of former Yugoslavia in 1938 is available.

1-oton_ivekovic_dolazak_hrvata_na_jadran

Oton Iveković’s (1869-1939) painting in 1905 entitled “The Coming of the Croats to the Adriatic” (Source: Public Domain).

One of the articles has quoted some police reports that the then government in former Yugoslavia mounted pressures on Iranologists within the period 1918 to 1990. The article further proves that upon official instructions by the then government, Croats had to be considered as the middle ages Slavs. For this same reason, all the research works conducted over the origin of the Croats were considered as criminal acts and thus prohibited for a period of 70 years. All the research papers compiled by Iranologists were confiscated as documents against state interests and the researchers were imprisoned or sent to detention camps. Even four researchers were killed by the Yugoslav secret police for making investigations over the issue.

However, there are other research works proving that 75 percent of the Croats are different in origin from the Slavs and more similar to Kurds and Armenians from genetic point of view. On the other hand, studies show that there are less similarities between domestic livestock, poultry and plants in the old time Croatia with those in Europe, lending further proof to the fact that Croats had most probably migrated from a region close to Asia to their present area.

Former Croat homeland and their migration

A manuscript dating back to 1370 B.C. has named the present day Croats and their language as Hurrvuhe (resembling Hrvati).

In the era of the Achaemenid, especially at the time of Cyrus II and Darius I, the name of the eastern Iranian province Harauvatya and the Croats of the ancient Iran Harauvatis and Harahvaiti have been mentioned for 12 times. In addition, two unearthed manuscripts belonging to the Croats living in the second and third centuries B.C. in ancient Iran have referred to the inhabitants of Horooouathos and Horoathoi. In the year 418, the Aryans were dubbed as Horites and Zachariasrhetor, in 559 the Aryan horse riders were referred to as Hrwts who lived in the vicinity of Krima and Azova and in the 7th century Croats were called as Slavs.

horovathos

Lecture slide by Kaveh Farrokh prepared for lectures delivered through the University of British Columbia Continuing Studies Division. The images of the inscriptions are from Croatianhistory.net

Other articles offered to the symposium discussed formation of the empire at the time of Cyrus the Great, history of the Croats in ancient Iran and Croat’s development from the time of ancient Indians to the time of their migration in the middle ages from the Caucasus through ancient Persian to the present Adriatic and emergence of the first traces of Croats which could be classified as follows:

  • Harahvaiti and Harauvati in Iran and Afghanistan
  • Hurravat and Hurrvuhe in Armenia and Georgia
  • Horoouathos in Azova and the Black Sea
  • Present day Croats Horvati and Hrvati along the Adriatic

First contacts between old-time Slavs and Croats of ancient Iran

Research works have been conducted on the relationship between the language spoken by the Croats and the language the present-day Slavs speak with an aim to identify the possible similarities. However, the studies do not dismiss the possibility that the old-time Croats were part of the ancient Iran at the time of the Persian Empire who later migrated to Europe and their language was changed into the Slav.

Meanwhile, studies on the Croats indicate that the old-time Slavs did not share the same race with the East European nations and that with the migration of the Croats with the Iranian origin, they established common cultural and lingual ties with each other.

Ties with the old-time Slavs in the 4th century was first established in the Red Croatia under the title Sarmatskim-Horitima and also after the 6th century in the realm of the Carpathians within the boundaries of the Great, or White, Croatia under the patronage of the Iranian Croats who had been turned Slavs due to the largeness of the population of the Slavs.

5-map-of-croation-migrations

A theoretical map of Croation migrations (Source: Erepublic)

Iranology and old-time language of Croats

Studies show that there had been various stages in which the Croats had been pressured for accepting the language of the Slavs and annexation to former Yugoslavia. The idea was realized by the Serb nationalist Karadzic whose slogan was “Serbs everywhere”. He invited all bigot Slavist Serbs to the Vienna Congress in the middle of the 19th century for a political and lingual consensus and for adopting policies for the future of former Yugoslavia. In the aftermath of the agreements reached in the gathering and from 1890 the pro-Karadzic Slavists launched their activities for the elimination of all signs of cultural and lingual differences between the Serbs and the Croats. To this end, they changed the past history of the Croats and eliminated all the terms with Indo-Iranian roots that did not exist in the Serbian language. Such a trend continued until 1918 when Yugoslavia was formed.

The process for the change of the spoken language of the Croats of ancient Iran to the language of Slavs that was started in the 7th century continued up to the 20th century and was forcefully followed by former Yugoslavia.

Mazdaism, ancient myths and religion of Croats

In addition to similarities in language, common cultural points can be pointed out as well. For example, reference can be made to the symbols belonging to the old-time Christians that resembled symbols of Mazdaism in the ancient Iran.

A study in this connection has drawn a parallel between the language used in Bosnia and littoral states and islands of the Adriatic Sea in two separate sections. The study further elaborates how followers of Mazda in ancient Iran converted to Christianity in Europe and how Mazdaism was spread in Europe by the migration of the inhabitants of the above-mentioned areas.

Other research works have studied the influence of traditions in ancient Iran on the symbols of the roots of old Christianity from the ancient time to the middle ages.

Surva-Bulgaria-5

Legacy of ancient Iran in Europe: celebration of “Surva” in modern-day Bulgaria. Local lore traces this festival to the Iranian God Zurvan. This folklore system appears to be linked to the Bogomil movement. Interestingly, much of the Surva theology bears parallels with elements of Zurvanism and Zoroastrianism (Picture Source: Surva.org).

Identity of old-time Croat tribes

Research works conducted in the past decade discuss the similarities between names and families used in the ancient-time Iran and the names and families in present Croatia. Some of these studies have pointed to the roots of alphabetic letters in the Croat language and stressed that contrary to the claims of the Slavs the roots of those letters are totally oriental and widely used at ancient times. Many manuscripts written with those letters date back to before 9th century.

Research studies on the style of dressing of the Croats show that they were dressed up as the Sassanid and most of the local costumes of women were exactly similar to those worn by women at the time of the ancient Iranian empire.

2-Khorvat-Ancient Eire-an(Left) Traditional Croat attire (Source: Folk Costume) and (Right) Mede nobleman at Persepolis (Source: Photo by Moradi, 1971). The lady’s embroidery is almost identical to that seen among tribal elements in Iran, notably Kurds and Lurs. Her shirt bears striking parallels to those produced by the Kurds of Khorasan in NE Iran and the front panel of her skirt also found among Iran’s tribal elements.  Her cap features a peacock feather; the peacock is a sacred entity in ancient Iranian mythology, as seen among present-day Yezidi Kurds.  The gentleman’s attire has stylistic parallels among Iran’s nomadic tribes, with his boots reminiscent of ancient soft Iranian riding boots. Of interest is also the man’s ancient Iranian Kandys slung over his shoulder: the Kandys was a sign of nobility in ancient Persia as seen among the Perso-Mede nobility of Persepolis of the Achaemenid Empire thousands of years ago in the 6th – 5th Centuries BCE. The Kandys is also seen among Gothic nobles from the 5th century CE.

Studies on other features of the Croats such as navigation reject the Slav presumption that the Croats had not have navigated before but that they had rather learned the art from the Italians. According to the studies, there are evidences available that the Croats were acquainted with sailing even before the Slavs and that the time for their navigation in the Adriatic goes back to the 6th and 7th centuries. It should be noted that local Croat navigators were known as “Indo-Iranian” and “Slavs” in the Adriatic.

Persian Heritage Journal article: The “Clash of Civilizations” Paradigm

The Persian Heritage Journal has published an article by Kaveh Farrokh and Javier Sánchez Gracia:

Farrokh, K., & Gracia, J.S. (2017). The “Clash of Civilizations” paradigm and the portrayal of the “Other”. Persian Heritage, 85, pp.12-14.

Spanish historian Dr. Javier Sánchez Gracia of the University of Zaragoza during the book signing of his recent text “Imperios de las Arenas: Roma y Persia Frente a Frente” (Empires at the sand: Rome and Persia Face to Face). The book signing above occurred during the “Feria del Libro de Zaragoza” book fair in Zaragoza, Spain on April 23, 2017.

As averred to in the initial parts of the Farrokh-Gracia article (page 12):

It was the late Professor Samuel Huntington (1927-2008) whose New York Times Bestseller “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order” proposed two main premises: (1) that all wars are the result of a “Clash of Civilizations” and that (2) there has been a hostile long-term “East (mainly “Islamic” & “Middle East”) vs. West” dynamic. Bernard Lewis, who first coined the “Clash of Civilizations” myth in his article “The Roots of Muslim Rage” (penned for the September 1990 issue of the Atlantic Monthly) defined the dynamic as thus: the “Islamic World” (itself a simplistic concept) has been at war with the “West” for centuries.”

[Right] Professor Bernard Lewis, original architect of the “Clash of Civilizations” thesis (Source: The Commentator); [Left] The late Professor Samuel Huntington (1927-2008) at the Annual World Economic Forum, Davos, 2008 (Source: Public Domain; Logo “Clash of Civilizations”: Fabius Maximus). Huntington adopted Lewis’ thesis by claiming that (1) the “East” and the “West” have always been isolated from one another (with no civilization links) and that (2) East-West relations have always been only characterized by war and hostility throughout history.

As cited in the Farrokh-Gracia article (page 13) note that the “Clash of Civilizations” myth has resurrected a …

“… racial image … and … transferred this to the Ancient World to justify it. So, for example the late John Philippe Rushton of the University of Western Ontario, produced volumes of studies claiming to have proven that persons of “whiter” complexion (and Chinese descent) are more intelligent than persons with darker complexion. Despite the fact that the scientific validity of Rushdon’s studies have been seriously questioned by top international experts in the field of intelligence studies, Eurocentrist and racialist activists continue to cite his works. What is significant is how works such as those of Rushdon are used by Eurocentrists to promote the “Clash of Civilizations” myth.”

The late Canadian (British-born) Psychology Professor John Philippe Rushton (1943-2012) (Source: SPLC) who claimed to have found “scientific” evidence linking complexion and intelligence. His viewpoint was duly expressed at the 2000 American Renaissance conference (cited in the SPLC – Southern Poverty Law Centre) “Whites have, on average, more neurons and cranial size than blacks… Blacks have an advantage in sport because they have narrower hips — but they have narrower hips because they have smaller brains.” In practice, mainstream scientists, intelligence experts, neurologists and academics overwhelmingly reject the late Rushton’s claims, however Eurocentrists who believe in the “Clash of Civilizations” continue to cite his (unsubstantiated) claims. For more on the late professor’s views visit the Southern Poverty Law Centre website …

As noted in the Farrokh-Gracia article (page 13):

There are also several positive references to ancient Iran in the Classical sources, such the role of Cyrus the Great in his governance and especially religious and cultural freedoms. Eurocentrists … made a point at dismissing all ancient sources citing Cyrus in a favorable light as “ancient propaganda” … claiming that the “East” (ergo: Persia) had no contributory role [in the evolution of human rights] … when in effect ancient Greece (and the later Roman Empire) were influenced by several innovations in Persia such as the postal system and Royal road, aqueduct systems, the water wheel, etc. Put simply: the “West” and “East” have mutually influenced each other in highly constructive ways over the millennia in the fields of arts, architecture, technology, communications, theology and mythology, and culture. This information exposes the fraudulent nature of the Eurocentrist “Clash” myth

Is there really a “Clash of Civilizations”? One of the lecture slides from Kaveh Farrokh’s Fall 2014 course at the University of British Columbia Continuing Studies Division “The Silk Route: Origins and History [UP 829]”. The slide above – Left: Reconstruction of a European Renaissance Lute; Right: Moor and European play their respective Oud-Lutes in harmony (from the Cantingas of Alfonso el Sabio, 1200s CE) – note that Oud-Lutes were derived from the Iranian Barbat and Tanbur originating in pre-Islamic Persia.

For more on links between “East and West” download the following in Academia.edu:

Farrokh, K. (2016). An Overview of the Artistic, Architectural, Engineering and Culinary exchanges between Ancient Iran and the Greco-Roman World. AGON: Rivista Internazionale di Studi Culturali, Linguistici e Letterari, No.7, pp.64-124.

PhD Dissertation by Sheda Vasseqhi (University of New England; academic supervision team Academic advising Team: Marylin Newell, Laura Bertonazzi, Kaveh Farrokh): Positioning Of Iran And Iranians In Origins Of Western Civilization.– see also News Release …

Sheda Vasseqhi PhD Study: Positioning of Iran And Iranians In Origins Of Western Civilization

Sheda Vasseghi has completed her PhD Dissertation at the University of New England entitled:

Positioning Of Iran And Iranians In Origins of Western Civilization. PhD Dissertation, University of New England (download this at Academia.edu …)

Sheda Vasseqhi

Vasseghi’s PhD academic advising team were composed of the following members: Marylin Newell, Laura Bertonazzi and Kaveh Farrokh.

Her study explored a number of widely taught college-level history textbooks in order to examine how these positioned Iran and Iranian peoples in the origins of Western Civilization. As noted by Vasseghi in her abstract:

“Western Civilization history marginalizes, misrepresents, misappropriates, and/or omits Iran’s positioning. Further, the mainstream approach to teaching Western Civilization history includes the Judeo-Christian-Greco-Roman narrative.”

Vasseghi used a multi-faceted theoretical approach—decolonization, critical pedagogy, and Western Civilization History dilemma—since her study transcended historical revisionism. This collective case study involved eleven Western Civilization history textbooks that, according to the College Board’s College-Level Examination Program (CLEP), are most popular among American college faculty. Vasseghi reviewed and collected expert opinion on the following five themes:

(1) terminology and definition of Iran, Iranians, and Iranian languages

(2) roots and origins of Iranian peoples

(3) which Iranian peoples are noted in general

(4) which Iranian peoples in ancient Europe are specifically noted

(5) Iranians in connection with six unique Western Civilization attributes.

Vasseghi selected experts specializing in Iranian, Western Civilization, and Indo-European studies in formulating a consensus on each theme. She then compared expert opinion to content in surveyed textbooks. Vasseghi discovered that the surveyed textbooks in her study overwhelmingly omitted, ill-defined, misrepresented, or marginalized Iran and Iranians in the origins of Western Civilization.

Readers are encouraged to visit Kaveh Farrokh’s Academia.edu profile cited in the introduction of this post to download Sheda Vasseghi’s Dissertation. Here is one of the quotes from her study:

“The researcher recommends that textbook authors and publishers engage experts in the field of Iranian studies in formulating content. A caveat for engaging those in the field of Iranian studies when writing Western Civilization history textbooks involves making a distinction between a native Iran and post-Islamic invasion and colonization of Iran in early Middle Ages (7th century onwards). That is, in the Age of Antiquity, Iran was under an Iranian governance and ancestral beliefs such as Zoroastrianism and Mithraism.”

This is an important observation given Western Media and academic outlets using sweeping (if not simplistic) terms such as “Middle East”, “Muslims”, etc. without acknowledging the context of Iran’s unique background, ancient history and language(s). Put simply, terms such as “Middle East” are not scientific but geopolitical in origin. The term “Muslim Civilization” for example serves to dilute (or even blur) the critical role of Iranian and Indian scholars in the preservation and promotion of learning, sciences and medicine. Arab historians such as Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406) who in his Muqaddimah (translated by F. Rosenthal (III, pp. 311-15, 271-4 [Arabic]; R.N. Frye (p.91) has acknowledged the role of the Iranians in the promotion of scholarship:

“…It is a remarkable fact that, with few exceptions, most Muslim scholars…in the intellectual sciences have been non-Arabs…thus the founders of grammar were Sibawaih and after him, al-Farisi and Az-Zajjaj. All of them were of Persian descent…they invented rules of (Arabic) grammar…great jurists were Persians… only the Persians engaged in the task of preserving knowledge and writing systematic scholarly works. Thus the truth of the statement of the prophet becomes apparent, ‘If learning were suspended in the highest parts of heaven the Persians would attain it”…The intellectual sciences were also the preserve of the Persians, left alone by the Arabs, who did not cultivate them…as was the case with all crafts…This situation continued in the cities as long as the Persians and Persian countries, Iraq, Khorasan and Transoxiana (modern Central Asia), retained their sedentary culture.”

[For more see: Farrokh, K. (2015). Pan-Arabism and Iran. In “The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Imperialism and Anti-Imperialism” (Immanuel Ness & Zak Cope, Eds.), Palgrave-Macmillan, pp.915-923.]

Sources such as Ibn Khaldun are now rarely mentioned in many modern-day “Islamic Studies” in Western history textbooks which may explain in part the numerous errors uncovered in Vasseghi’s study. She further avers:

“Critical pedagogy is important in transformational leadership in education. Educators are obligated to point out errors or problems in content and mainstream narratives. In regards to teaching history of Western Civilization, one should recall the warnings of its looming demotion by Ricketts et al. (2011) because unfortunately teaching it “had come to be seen as a form of apologetics for racism, imperialism, sexism, and colonialism” (p. 14). It appears that in perceiving that something is missing from or fragmented in Western Civilization history content, educational institutions are now marginalizing and omitting it from their curriculum in America, a Western nation. Therefore, the significance of this study is the need for authors and educators to shift the currently flawed narrative on the history of the West. Iran’s positioning is a key component in the study of Western Civilization. The researcher argues that Iran and Iranians not only influenced the making of the West; they are part of the West. By placing Iran and Iranians where they belong, historians may also address concerns about teaching the history of the West (Ricketts et al., 2011).”

In her final PhD defense session with her research committee (Marylin Newell, Laura Bertonazzi and Kaveh Farrokh) on Monday, March 20, 2017, Vasseghi noted that she plans to author books tailored to Western audiences to help educate with respect to the role of Iranians in the formation of European civilization. Vasseghi’s books would also be geared towards a lay (non-academic) audience.

Giusto Traina: Carrhes-Anatomie d’une Défaite (Carrhae-Anatomy of a Defeat)

Italian historian and professor Dr. Giusto Traina has written a seminal academic textbook entitled:

Carrhes-Anatomie d’une Défaite: Quand L’Orient humilia Rome (Carrhae-Anatomy of a Defeat: When the Orient humiliates Rome)

This book was published September 15th 2011 by Les Belles Lettres (first published 2010); the Preface of the book by Giovanni Brizzi.

For more regarding the textbook and means of obtaining this, consult the Les Belles lettres website here …

Dr. Giusto Traina is a professor of Roman history at Sorbonne University in Paris. Dr. Traina is also a senior member of the Institut Universitaire de France. His academic profile also includes authorship of  numerous books and articles.

Dr. Giusto Traina brings to life one of the most important battles in the military history of antiquity, one which marks the beginning of incessant warfare between Rome and Iran. In an alert and exciting narrative, Dr. Traina describes how Rome was blocked by the Parthian army whose competence, power and above all its ability in resisting the formidable military machine of Rome had been greatly underestimated.

In was in the Plains of Carrhae (modern Harran) on June 9, 53 BC, where an all-cavalry Parthian force barred the fifty thousand Roman army led by General Marcus Licinius Crassus to conquer the rival empire of the Parthians. Overwhelmed by the arrows of the Parthians, the Romans were reduced to military impotence: more than half of the legionaries were killed, with many others  captured and deported. The Romans were also subjected to the dishonor of having the Parthians seize their military insignia and place these in their Mithraic temples. It would take many years for Rome to erase the consequences of this defeat.

Parthian Horse archers engage the Roman legions of Marcus Lucinius Crassus at Carrhae in 53 BCE. Unlike the Achamenid-Greek wars where Achaemenid arrows were unable to penetrate Hellenic shields and armor, Parthian archery was now able to penetrate the armor and shields of their Roman opponents (Picture Source: Antony Karasulas & Angus McBride).

General Marcus Licinius Crassus, the same man who eighteen years earlier had defeated Spartacus and his six thousand rebellious slaves and gladiators, was to make his final mark with his death at Parthian hands at Carrhae.

Reconstruction by Peter Wilcox and the late historical artist, Angus McBride of Parthian armored knights as they would have appeared in 54 BCE (Picture Source: Osprey Publishing).

Carrhae halted Rome’s seemingly unstoppable conquest of the Classical world. Rome had learned that the Parthian Spada (army) of Persia was more than capable of blocking the Romans from expanding eastwards to India and China.

Javier Sánchez Gracia: Roma y Persia Frente a Frente (Rome and Persia Face to Face)

Dr. Javier Sánchez Gracia has written the first ever book in Spanish on the conflicts between Rome and Persia:

Imperios de las Arenas: Roma y Persia Frente a Frente (Empires at the sand: Rome and Persia Face to Face). Readers can obtain a copy by visiting this link here …

Dr. Gracia has a degree in Classical Philology from the University of Zaragoza (Spain) and is a doctor of Sciences of Antiquity from the same university. He has participated in several congresses of Classical Philology in Spain and published scientific papers and articles. His research topics are the Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus; the history of pre-Islamic Persia, and the image of Persia among classical Greco-Roman authors. In this endeavor, Dr. Gracia has also recently co-authored an article with Kaveh Farrokh in the Persian Heritage Journal entitled:

Farrokh, K., & Gracia, J.S. (2017). The “Clash of Civilizations” paradigm and the portrayal of the “Other”. Persian Heritage, 85, pp.12-14.

Dr. Javier Sánchez Gracia of the University of Zaragoza (seated) during the book signing of his recent text “Imperios de las Arenas: Roma y Persia Frente a Frente” (Empires at the sand: Rome and Persia Face to Face). The book signing above occurred during the “Feria del Libro de Zaragoza” book fair in Zaragoza, Spain on April 23, 2017. Standing next to Dr. Gracia is his friend and colleague Dr. Manuel Ferrando, also an accomplished historian from the University of Zaragoza, Spain.

Dr. Gracia’s book consists of the following chapters:

  • The Seleucid Empire
  • The Roman Republican Army
  • The Parthian Empire
  • Mithridates
  • The Battle of Carrhae
  • Marcus Antonius
  • The Parthians: from Carrhae to the Sassanian uprising
  • The Sassanian Empire: Rome vs Ctesiphon

Although Gracia’s textbook has a military focus, the rest of the subjects in his work also provide detailed analyses on the political and religious life of both empires. We are provided with exhaustive notes on the religion and the politics of the Parthians and Sassanians, even as the book focuses on an academic military analysis of the Romano-Persian conflicts, with particular attention paid to the structure of the armies of the ancient superpower rivals.

The book has done an excellent work in avoiding the pitfalls of (all too familiar) stereotyping and value judgements. This has resulted in Dr. Gracia’s objective analysis of each empire. Interestingly, Dr. Gracia also works to point out the contradictions, errors and falsehoods created by Greco-Roman authors. For this reason, Gracia has not just relied on classic scholarship (e.g. Polybius, Plutarchus, Tacitus, Ammianus…) but also on archaeology and modern historians.

Gracia’s central chapter is the battle of Carrhae, because it is a turning point for Roman expansionism and, with the defeat of Crassus, the political “propaganda” against Persia takes strength.

Parthian Horse archers engage the Roman legions of Marcus Lucinius Crassus at Carrhae in 53 BCE. Unlike the Achamenid-Greek wars where Achaemenid arrows were unable to penetrate Hellenic shields and armor, Parthian archery was now able to penetrate the armor and shields of their Roman opponents (Picture Source: Antony Karasulas & Angus McBride).

After examining the fall of the Parthians and the rise of the Sassanians, the book dedicates its last two chapters to Sassanian Persia. In one of these chapters, the history, politics and economy of Sassanian Persia, the primary “enemy” of Rome, is examined in academic detail. Gracia’s final chapter focuses on the struggles between the Romans and Sassanians, until the death of Julian “The apostate” in his failed invasion of Persia in 363 CE.

Emperor Julian is killed during his failed invasion of Sassanian Persia in June 26, 363 CE. Above is a recreation of Sassanian Persia’s elite cavalry, the Savaran, as they would have appeared during Julian’s failed invasion. Note the heavily armored Sassanian elite guardsman (Pushtighban) whose lance has pierced a Roman infantryman. Further right is a Savaran officer whose sword is drawn in what is now known as the “Italian grip” but Sassanian in origin. To the far right can be seen a Zoroastrian or Mithraist Magus brandishing a Sassanian era symbol. Also of interest are the armored elephants in the background. Armored elephants were especially prized as their cabs afforded very high elevation over the battlefield, which was ideal for Sassanian archery (Picture source: Farrokh, Plate D, Elite Sassanian cavalry, 2005).

In summary, Gracia’s book is the first Spanish language academic textbook on the military history of the Romans and Partho-Sassanians. As with a new generation of Western historians, Gracia avoids classical prejudices and clichés to arrive at a balanced and objective standard of scholarship. This sets a new approach in the study of the history of the ancient world beyond Rome: the realm of pre-Islamic Persia.