The Sasanian Empire (224 CE – 651 CE), which was a contemporary of the Roman and later Byzantine Empires, was once a great power. And like other great powers it built great walls to mark and control its borders. These included the Wall of the Arabs (in the southwest), Walls of Derbent (in the northwest at the Caspian Mountains) and Great Wall of Gorgan (in the northeast). Remains of the Sasanian border walls still exist, particularly in Derbent where they are a UNESCO world heritage site.
This snapshot shows the greatest territorial extent of the Sasanians, circa 620 to 627 CE.
It was the last great empire in the Middle East before Islam. The Sasanians were locked into a struggle with the Byzantine Empire, which made both weaker when the Islamic army swept out of the Arabian peninsula.
PEOPLE OF THE ANCIENT WORLD: Shapur I (King of the Sasanian Empire)
SHAPUR I (240-270 CE) was the son of Ardashir (224 – c. 241 CE), the founder of the Sasanian dynasty, who made him his co-ruler and brought him on campaigns to learn the art of war. Ardashir was a skilled military leader who not only defeated the Parthian king Artabanus V (c. 208-224 CE) in numerous battles but finally killed him and brought down the Parthian Empire, replacing it with his own. Shapur I learned the lessons his father taught well and used them effectively against his own enemies, most notably Rome.
In the course of his wars with Rome, Shapur I proved himself a clever and unpredictable adversary. He held the distinction of being the first foreign ruler to capture a Roman emperor in battle (the emperor Valerian, 253-260 CE) and was doing well in his war of conquest against Rome until he made an enemy of the Roman governor of Syria, Odaenathus (died c. 267 CE), who defeated him in battle and drove him from Roman territory. After Odaenathus, Shapur I made no further moves against Rome, nor did his son and successor Hormizd I (270 – c. 273 CE) who maintained an uneasy truce with Rome throughout his reign.