The Sassanians and the Arabs

The Babylonian Collections of the University Museum

By: Leon Legrain

Originally Published in 1944

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In 226 A.D. another Persian dynasty, the Sassanian, succeeded the Parthian. Ctesiphon became the winter residence. From that epoch dates the great Arch still standing today. The palace with its fabulous riches later fell a prey to the Arab conquerors. The Museum has good examples of the silver coins and of the seals of semi-precious stones of the Sassanians, inscribed in their so-called Pehlvi characters, from which the Kufic, the oldest Arabic letters, are probably derived.

A beautiful silver bowl of the same period has been recovered in a late grave at Ur, and forms a choice piece of the Babylonian Section. It is decorated with fluting and a rosette on the under side and has a bronze coin imbedded in the centre inside, with an almost illegible Pehlvi inscription on the rim.

In 570 A.D. Muhammed was born in Mecca. In 635 A.D. the Romans were driven out of Damascus by the followers of the Prophet, and in 636 A.D. the Sassanids were routed at Kadisiyah, fifteen miles west of Kufa, leaving Babylonia open to the invaders. The following year, Ctesiphon was taken. In 702 A.D. Baghdad was built by the ‘Ab-basid Caliph Mansur, and with that date our survey of the Babylonian Section comes to an end. A few coins of the ‘Omayyad and of the ‘Ab-basid caliphs, minted at Wasit on the Tigris, have been recovered at Nippur (Museum Journal, March 1924, p. 75).

Cite This Article

Legrain, Leon. "The Sassanians and the Arabs." Museum Bulletin X, no. 3-4 (June, 1944): 66-67. Accessed July 15, 2024.

This digitized article is presented here as a historical reference and may not reflect the current views of the Penn Museum.

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