The Sasanian Warships

 
PIIS032103910002909-2-1
DOI10.31857/S032103910002909-2
Publication type Article
Status Published
Authors
Occupation: Associate Professor
Affiliation: Pskov State University
Address: Russian Federation, Pskov
Journal nameVestnik drevnei istorii
EditionVolume 78 Issue 4
Pages909-923
Abstract

The warships used by the Sasanids belonged exclusively to the type of transport-landing ships and were used only for the transportation of troops to the place of ground engagement. It is possible that the Persians transported by ships not just infantry units but also cavalry detachments, but all evidence of this is controversial. The sources do not report anything about the transportation of battle elephants by sea and, most likely, such a practice did not exist at all in Sasanian Iran. Because of historical, geographical and military-technical factors, in the basin of the Indian Ocean the Persians used the sailing vessels of the local, i.e. Asian design (dhow), in the Mediterranean – the ships (galleys) of Byzantine design (dromons and chelandi-ons). The capacity of these types of ships in both cases was approximately identical. The total strength of the Sasanian fleet is unknown, but it can be assumed that the Persian naval squadrons could number from a few to a few dozen ships. The small size and functional limitations of the Sasanid naval forces were due, above all, to the inability of the Sasanids, unlike their ancient Achaemenid predecessors, to gain a foothold on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. So when the Sasanian fleet still appeared in the Mediterranean in the early seventh century CE, it was not able to compete successfully with the Byzantine navy because of its low numbers and lack of sufficient combat experience. This circumstance became one of the important reasons for Sasanian Iran’s defeat in the Persian-Byzantine war of 602–628 CE.

KeywordsSasanian Iran, navy, warship, dhow, dromon, military history, Roman-Persian wars, Byzantium-Persian wars
Received23.01.2019
Publication date23.01.2019
Number of characters35686
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