Persia's Imperial Power in Late Antiquity: The Great Wall of Gorgan and the Frontier Landscapes of Sasanian Iran [Hardback]

H. Omrani Rekavandi (Author); T. J. Wilkinson (Author); J. Nokandeh (Author); Eberhard Sauer (Author)

ISBN: 9781842175194 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Series: British Institute of Persian Studies Archaeological Monograph Series | Volume: 2 | Year of Publication: 2013 | Language: English 800p, Illus.

Persia's Imperial Power in Late Antiquity


The Gorgan Wall stretches for over 200km through northern Iran. Guarded by over 30 forts, it is longer than Hadrians Wall and the Antonine Wall put together and is the most monumental ancient border defence system between Central Europe and China. Yet few have heard of it. Until recently, dating proposals ranged over more than a millennium, and majority opinion attributed the wall to the Parthians (3rd century BC 3rd century AD). Scientific dating has now established that this massive monument was created in the 5th/6th century AD and belongs to one of the largest and most long-lasting empires of antiquity, that of Sasanian Persia (3rd-7th centuries AD). Stretching from modern Pakistan to Mesopotamia and into Central Asia and the Arabian Peninsula, the empire conquered in the early 7th century much of the Levant and advanced as far as the Bosporus. Investigations between 2005 and 2009 by a team of archaeologists makes clear that such expansion was made possible through one of the largest and most well organised military systems of antiquity, together with targeted investment in border defence and the empires agriculture. In the hinterland of the wall there were massive square fortifications, of some 40 ha size each, one of which has yielded traces of dense occupation, probably neat rows of army tents. The Late Sasanian era also saw the foundation of a city, more than twice the size of Roman London at its prime, demonstrating that the area was prosperous enough to sustain a sizeable urban population. Substantial manpower was required for these construction projects. Brick production for the Gorgan Wall depended on thousands of kilns that received water via major canals. The wall cut through a landscape that already a millennium earlier was heavily settled and irrigated by canals which enabled a flourishing culture to emerge in the steppe. The Gorgan Wall project has shed light on what made one of antiquitys largest empires and earlier civilisations succeed.

Table of Contents

2. History of Research

3. The Landscapes of the Gorgan Wall (Tony J. Wilkinson, Hamid Omrani Rekavandi, Kristen Hopper, Seth Priestman, Kourosh Roustaei and Nikolaos Galiatsatos)
4. The Brick Kilns Alongside the Gorgan Wall
5. The Architecture of the Gorgan Wall
6. Forts, Fortlets and Watchtowers on the Gorgan Wall
7. The Brick Kilns Alongside the Tammisheh Wall
8. The Architecture of the Tammisheh Wall
9. The Forts on the Tammisheh Wall
10. Mountain Strongholds and Refuges Above the Tammisheh Wall
11. Linear Earthworks Of More Recent Date – Timeless Responses To A Continuous Threat
12. Sasanian Campaign Bases
13. A Sasanian City In The Gorgan Plain: Dasht Qal‘eh
14. Early Urban Expansion Into The Steppe: Qelich Qoineq

15. The Underwater Survey of the Tammisheh and Gorgan Walls (Julian Jansen Van Rensburg, Francesco Caputo, Hamid Omrani Rekavandi, Eberhard W. Sauer, Bardia Shabani and James Ratcliffe)
16. Archaeomagnetic Studies Of Features Along The Gorgan And Tammisheh Walls (Cathy M. Batt and David P. Greenwood)
17. OSL Dating (Jean-Luc Schwenninger and Morteza Fattahi)
18. Sasanian Ceramics From The Gorgan Wall And Other Sites On The Gorgan Plain (Seth M.N. Priestman)
19. Vessel Glass and Beads (Birgitta Hoffmann)
20. Animal Bones (Marjan Mashkour, Valentin Radu and Richard Thomas)
21. Charcoal (Imogen Poole and Rowena Gale)
22. Bitumen (Richard Evershed)

23. History of the Walls and of the Sasanian Military Build-up in the Gorgan Plain: A Microcosm of a Powerful Empire

19th-Century Sources On The Physical Remains Of The Gorgan Wall
Persian translation of introduction, table of contents and title page (Amin Nazifi)

Reviews & Quotes

"Large format, high production standards, thoroughly illustrated. Table of contents and introduction translated into Farsi. Exemplary. Plugs some of the many gaps in our knowledge of the Sasanian world."
Gocha R Tsetskhladze
Ancient West & East (02/01/2018)

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