The Sasanian Warships

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: Associate Professor
Affiliation: Pskov State University
Address: Russian Federation, Pskov
Journal nameVestnik drevnei istorii
EditionVolume 78 Issue 4

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
Publication date23.01.2019
Number of characters35686
100 rub.
When subscribing to an article or issue, the user can download PDF, evaluate the publication or contact the author. Need to register.

Number of purchasers: 0, views: 2315

Readers community rating: votes 0

1. Agius, D.A. 2005: Seafaring in the Arabian Gulf and Oman: People of the Dhow. London.

2. Agius, D.A. 2008: Classic Ships of Islam. From Mesopotamia to the Indian Ocean. Leiden–Boston.

3. Ahrweiler, H. 1966: Byzance et la mer. La marine de guerre la politique et les institutions maritimes de Byzance aux VIIe–XVe siecles. Paris.

4. Bannikov, A.V., Morozov, M.A. Vizantijskaya armiya (IV–XII vv.). SPb., 2013.

5. Bannikov, A.V., Morozov, M.A. Istoriya voennogo flota Rima i Vizantii (ot Yuliya Tsezarya do zavoevaniya krestonostsami Konstantinopolya). SPb., 2014.

6. Bauehr, G. Kniga o slonakh. M., 1964.

7. Bonner, M.R.J. 2014: An Historiographical Study of Abū Ḥanīfa Aḥmad Ibn Dāwūd Ibn Wanand Al-Dīnawarī’s Kitāb Al-Aḫbār Al-Ṭiwāl’. PhD. Diss. Oxford.

8. Bosworth, C.E. 1983: Abna’. In: Encyclopaedia Iranica. Vol. 1. Fasc. 3. London, 226–228.

9. Christides, V. 1993: Milāḥa. 1. In the pre-Islamic and early mediaeval peri-ods. In: C.E. Bosworth et al. (eds.), The Encyclopaedia of Islam. New Edition. Vol. VII. Leiden–New York, 40–46.

10. Christides, V. 2013: Roman and Byzantine naval power in decline in the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. Ekklesiastikos Pharos 95, 80–106.

11. Daryaee, T. 2003: The Persian Gulf in Late Antiquity. Journal of World His-tory 14 (1), 1–16.

12. Daryaee, T. 2009: Sasanian Persia. The Rise and Fall of an Empire. Lon-don–New York.

13. Daryaee, T. 2016: The Sasanian ‘mare nostrum’: The Persian Gulf. Interna-tional Journal of the Society of Iranian Archaeologists 2 (3), 40–46.

14. Defant, A. 1961: Physical Oceanography. Vol. 2. New York et al.

15. Dmitriev, V.A. «Vsadniki v sverkayuschej brone»: Voennoe delo sasanidskogo Irana i istoriya rimsko-persidskikh vojn. SPb., 2008.

16. Dmitriev, V.A. Mezhdu Iranom i Vizantiej: vozniknovenie Tyurkskogo kaganata i vneshnepoliticheskaya orientatsiya alan v 50-e–70-e gg. VI v. V sb.: V.A. Alekshin i dr. (red.), Kul'tury stepnoj Evrazii i ikh vzaimodejstvie s drevnimi tsivilizatsiyami. T. 2. SPb., 2012. S. 510–516.

17. Dmitriev, V.A. «Persy poluchayut ikh iz Indii», ili Pochemu parfyane ne ispol'zovali boevykh slonov? // Metamorfozy istorii 4, 2013. S. 162–163.

18. Dmitriev, V.A. K istorii voenno-morskogo flota v sasanidskom Irane. // Vestnik Nizhegorodskogo universiteta im. N.I. Lobachevskogo 4, 2017a, S. 34–44.

19. Dmitriev, V.A. 2017b: The Sasanian navy revisited: an unwritten chapter in Iran’s military history. International Journal of Maritime History 29 (4), 727–737.

20. Dolley, R.H. 1948: The warships of the later Roman Empire. Journal of Roman Studies 38 (1–2), 47–53.

21. Frye, R.N. 1983: The political history of Iran under the Sasanians. In: T. Yarshater (ed.), The Cambridge History of Iran. Vol. 3(1). The Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanian Periods. Cambridge, 116–180.

22. Frye, R.N. 1984: The History of Ancient Iran. Munchen.

23. Gardiner, R., Morrison, J. (eds.) 1995: The Age of the Galley. Mediterranean Oared Vessels Since Pre-Classical Times. London.

24. Hirth, F. 1913: The mystery of Fulin. Journal of the American Oriental Society 33, 193–208.

25. Khudyakov, Yu.S. Zolotaya volch'ya golova na boevykh znamenakh: Oruzhie i vojny drevnikh tyurok v stepyakh Evrazii. (Militaria, Antiqua XI). SPb.

26. Konstam, A. 2015: Byzantine Warship vs Arab Warship. 7th–11th centuries. Oxford.

27. Laufer, B. 1919: Sino-Iranica. Chinese Contributions to the History of Civilization in Ancient Iran. With Special Reference to the History of Cultivated Plants and Products. Chicago.

28. MacKenzie, D.N. 1971: A Concise Pahlavi Dictionary. London.

29. Makris, G. 2002: Ships. In: A.E. Laiou (ed.), The Economic History of Byzantium. From the Seventh Through the Fifteenth Century. Vol. 1. Washington (DC), 91–100.

30. Nappo, D. 2009: Roman policy in the Red Sea between Anastasius and Justinian. In: L. Blue, J. Cooper, R. Thomas, J. Whitewright (eds.), Connected Hinterlands: Proceedings of the Red Sea Project IV, Held at the University of Southampton, September 2008. Pt. 3. A Transitional Sea: The Late-Antique and Early Islamic Red Sea. Oxford, 71–77.

31. Nicolle, D. 1996: Sassanian Armies. The Iranian Empire Early 3rd to Mid-7th Centuries AD. Stockport.

32. Nikonorov, V.P. K voprosu o parfyanskom nasledii v sasanidskom Irane: voennoe delo. V sb.: V.P. Nikonorov i dr. (red.), Tsentral'naya Aziya ot Akhemenidov do Timuridov: arkheologiya, istoriya, ehtnologiya, kul'tura. Materialy mezhdunarodnoj konferentsii, posvyaschennoj 100-letiyu so dnya rozhdeniya Aleksandra Markovicha Belenitskogo (Sankt-Peterburg, 2–5 noyabrya 2004 goda). SPb., 2005, S. 141–179.

33. Palmer, A. (ed.) 1993: Chronicon miscellaneum ad annum domini 724 pertinens. In: The Seventh Century in the West-Syrian Chronicles. In-trod., transl. and annot. by A. Palmer. Liverpool, 5–24.

34. Pigulevskaya, N.V. Vizantiya na putyakh v Indiyu. Iz istorii tor-govli Vizantii s Vostokom v IV–VI vv. M.–L., 1951.

35. Pryor, J.H. 2017: The dromon and the Byzantine navy. In: M. Balard, Ch. Buchet (eds.), The Sea in History – The Medieval World. Woodbridge–Rochester (NY), 401–411.

36. Pryor, J.H., Jeffreys, E.M. 2006: The Age of the ΔΡΟΜΩΝ. The Byzantine Navy ca. 500–1204. Leiden–Boston.

37. Schinz, A. 1996: The Magic Square: Cities in Ancient China. Stuttgart–London.

38. Shershov, A.P. K istorii voennogo korablestroeniya. M.

39. Syvanne, I. 2015a: The reign of Bahram V Gor: The revitalization of the Empire through mounted archery. Historia i swiat [History and the World] 4, 71–102.

40. Syvanne, I. 2015b: A Military History of Late Rome. 284–361. South Yorkshire.

41. Syvanne, I., Maksymiuk, K. 2018: The Military History of the Third Century Iran. Siedlce.

42. Tafazzoli, A. 1974: A list of trades and crafts in the Sasanian period. Archaologische Mitteilungen aus Iran 7, 191–196.

43. Unger, R.W. 1981: Warships and cargo ships in medieval Europe. Technol-ogy and Culture 22 (2), 233–252.

44. Vosmer, T. 1997: The durable Dhow. Archaeology 50 (3), 50.

45. Whitehouse, D., Williamson, A. 1973: Sasanian maritime trade. Iran 11, 29–49.

46. Zarrinkub, A.H. 1975: The Arab conquest of Iran and its aftermath. In: R.N. Frye (ed.), The Cambridge History of Iran. Vol. 4. The Period from the Arab Invasion to the Saljuqs. Cambridge, 1–56.

Система Orphus