Glossary & Historical Information


The Sassanids ruled Persia for 400 years from 200 AD to 600 AD

The Sassanians called their Empire Eranshahr ( modern Iran )

‘In many ways the Sassanid period witnessed the highest achievement of Persian Civilisation, and constituted the last great Iranian Empire before the Muslim conquest and adoption of Islam’.

Persia influenced Roman civilization considerably during the Sassanids times; their cultural influence extended far beyond the empire's territorial borders, reaching as far as Western Europe, Africa, China and India and played a prominent role in the formation of both European and Asiatic medieval art. The Sassanids saw themselves as successors of the Achaemenids, after the Hellenistic and Parthian interlude, and believed that it was their destiny to restore the greatness of Persia.

Sassanid merchants ranged far and wide and gradually ousted Romans from lucrative Indian ocean trade routes.

Sassanian & Bactrian Etched Carnelians

Etching (carnelians and other stones)

Etching stones is an ancient technique. The stones are painted with ‘natrum’, calcium carbonate, an alkali substance and then heated to seal the design to the stone It is a technique that has been used from earliest times 3000-2000BC It is sometimes difficult to be accurate about dating This technique was much used in Roman and Sassanian bead-making

Etched Stones

Etched carnelians have been found at the Ancient Mesopotamian cities of Ur & Mohenjo-Daro, but it is thought that the beads were made in the Indus valley up to 4,500 years ago proving that trade existed between these civilisations

The technique was used in Iran ( Parthian to Sassanian ) from 200BC-700 AD

Natrum ( calcium carbonate )

Ancient bead making in the Indus Valley

The stone was first chipped to form the bead into rough shape, which was then ground to a smooth outline & polished, then the perforation hole drilled, Finally the bead was polished

Bactrian ,

Bactria was an ancient Greek kingdom in central Asia. Its capital was Bactra, present-day Balkh in N Afghanistan. Before the Greek conquest, the region was an eastern province of the Persian Empire. It prospered as the area for transmitting Siberian and Indian metals and goods to the Persians. When Alexander the Great invaded the Persian Empire, the Bactrians, under Bessus, resisted stoutly, but they were subdued in 328. Bactria took on Greek culture, became quasi-independent, and theoretically remained part of the Seleucid empire. In 256 BC, Diodotus I was made satrap, and a little later he assumed complete independence. His successor, Euthydemus, successfully resisted attempts (208-206 BC) to bring Bactria back into the empire. Euthydemus' son Demetrius made Bactria a powerful state. The Seleucid ruler, Antiochus IV, sent Eucratidas into Bactria, and Eucratidas in 167 BC brought about the death of Demetrius but was himself slain in 159 BC Menander, Demetrius' general, continued to exercise power until his death in 145 BC Bactria later (c.130 BC) became part of the Kushan empire. It was subjugated by the Ephthalites in the 5th cent. and partially by the Turks in the 6th cent.