Parthian Empire
( Ashkanian or Arsacid Empire)

247 BCE -224 CE

A very brief history of Parthian Empire

The Parthians were from the Parni tribe of Central Asia. They were nomadic people of Iranian origin and spoke an Iranian language. Written literature of Parthians did not survive, so their history had to be put together from Greek, Roman and Chinese historical literature.

Around 250 BCE, a Parini tribal king named Arsaces declared his independence from the Seleucid Empire and established his kingdom of Parthia in the area of present day Turkmanistan. In 206 BCE, the Seleucid king Antiochus III the Great made the Parthians to submit to him and forbid minting coins in the name of the parthian king. However, it lasted for very brief period. Parthian power and territory increased under king Mithradates the Great (Mehrdad) from 171 to 138 BCE. At the height of the Parthian empire, it included  present day countries of Iran,  Iraq, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Bahrain, Georgia, eastern Syria, eastern Turkey,  Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Kuwait, the Persian Gulf coast of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Decline of the Parthia came during the reign of  King Vologases V (191-208 CE). He tried to reconquer Mesopotamia in 193 CE from the Roman Empire, but the roman general Septimius Severus counter-attacked. The Parthian capital Ctesiphon was captured and sacked.

The looting made Parthia impoverished and demoralized. In 224 CE, the Persian vassal king Ardashir revolted. In 226 CE,  he recaptured Ctesiphon and replaced the Parthian rule  by  establishing  the Sassanid dynasty.

List of the Parthian Kings in chronological order

Arsaces I (247-211 BCE)

Arsaces II (211-191 BCE)

Phriapatius (191-176 BEC)

Phraates I  (176-171 BCE)

Mithradates I (171-138 BCE)

Phraates II (138-127 BCE)

Artabanus I (127-124 BCE)

Mithradates II  (123-88 BCE)

Gotarzes I  95-90 BCE)

Orodes I  (90-80 BCE)

Unknown King (80-70 BCE)

Sinatruces (77-70 BCE)

Phraates III  (70-57 BCE)

Darius of Media Atropatene (65 BCE)

Mithradates III (57-54 BCE)

Orodes II  (57-38 BCE)

Pacorus I  (39 BCE)

Phraates IV  (38-2 BCE)

Tiridates I  (29-27 BCE)

Queen Musa  (29-27 BCE)

Phraataces  (2 BCE- 4 CE)

Orodes III   (6 CE)

Vonones I (8-12 CE)

Artabanus II (10-38 CE)

Tiridates II (35-36 CE)

Vardanes I    ( 40-47 CE)

Gotarzes II  (40-51 CE)

Sanabares ( 50-65 CE)

Vonones II   ( 51 CE)

Vologases I (51-78 CE)

Vardanes II  (55-58 CE)

Vologases II (77-80 CE)

Pacorus II  (78-105 CE)

Artabanus III  ( 80-90 CE)

Vologases III  ( 105-147 CE)

Osroes I (109-129 CE)

Parthamaspates  (116 CE)

Mithradates IV ( 140 CE)

Vologases IV (147-191 CE)

Osroes II   (190 CE)

Vologases V   (191-208 CE)

Vologases VI  ( 208-228 CE)

Artabanus IV  ( 216-224 CE)


Gardner, P. (2000) The Coinage of Parthia.

Shore, F. B. (1993) Parthian Coins and History: Ten Dragons against Rome.


Ancient Country List


RK. February 16, 2006.