The Best Books On The Parthian Empire

The Books I Picked & Why

The Parthians: The Forgotten Empire

By Uwe Ellerbrock

The Parthians: The Forgotten Empire

Why this book?

Compared to the Roman Empire, there are few titles on Rome’s greatest rival in the ancient world. This volume, the result of 30 years of research, goes some way to redress the balance. Scholarly yet very readable, superbly illustrated and exhaustively researched, this should be on the shelves of anyone interested in the Parthian Empire.


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Shadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia at War

By Kaveh Farrokh

Shadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia at War

Why this book?

A single-volume history of the ancient Persian, Seleucid, Parthian, and Sasanian Empires written by an expert on ancient Persia. It is a very readable account of the great powers of the ancient world that inhabited the region that is now Iraq and Iran. It places the Parthians in the context of the story of Persia and from an eastern perspective.


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Rome's Wars in Parthia: Blood in the Sand

By Rose Mary Sheldon

Rome's Wars in Parthia: Blood in the Sand

Why this book?

An excellent account of the military and political rivalry between Rome and Parthia, the two superpowers of the ancient world, spanning 300 years. Sheldon shows how the Roman defeat at Carrhae in 53BC resulted in a Roman obsession not only to reclaim the eagles lost in the battle, but also to avenge a humiliating military defeat, leading to 250 years of military campaigns and political intrigues.


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Defeat of Rome: Crassus, Carrhae and the Invasion of the East

By Gareth C. Sampson

Defeat of Rome: Crassus, Carrhae and the Invasion of the East

Why this book?

Rome suffered many military reverses during the course of its 800-year history, but of them all the reverse at Carrhae in 53BC was more keenly felt than any other (even the disaster in the Teutoburg Forest resulted in the loss of only three eagles). The loss of seven eagles to the barbarian Parthians stunned the Roman world and led to a crisis of confidence, made worse by the realisation that an army of 50,000 Romans had been defeated by 10,000 Parthians. This excellent title explores the background to the battle and how the numerically inferior Parthians were able to defeat the army of Marcus Licinius Crassus.


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Cataphracts: Knights of the Ancient Eastern Empires

By Erich B. Anderson

Cataphracts: Knights of the Ancient Eastern Empires

Why this book?

The armies of ancient Parthia were mostly composed of two troop types: horse archers and cataphracts. This title explores the development of the latter horsemen, which in fact predated Parthia but were particularly effective in Parthian service. So much so that they were adopted by the Romans in the second century AD as they sought to defend the borders of their threatened empire.


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