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Borderland Projects of Sasanian Empire: Intersection of Domestic and Foreign Policies

Karim Alizadeh
Published Online: 2014-11-08 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jah-2014-0015


The landscapes of the Sasanian Empire have been studied in detail and have been remarkably well interpreted during past few decades. Recent research in borderland areas has also increased our knowledge of Sasanian policies in borderlands. The Sasanian Empire is well known for massive construction work. Projects such as construction of fortifications and defensive walls, irrigation systems, fortified towns and cities in the Sasanian period usually are attributed to the reigns of Kawad I and his son Husraw I Anushirwan in the sixth century. This attribution mostly derives from historical documents in which Husraw is seen as primarily responsible for these massive projects. Recent archaeological researches in the Gorgān plain in the northeast of Iran and in Mughan Steppe in Iranian Azerbaijan have demonstrated the possibility of dating these projects earlier in the fifth century. This is significant because it may shed more light on the socio-political dynamics of the Sasanian Empire. Focusing on the Caucasus, especially on data acquired from the Mughan Steppe projects, I will try to place this new data and information in its socio-political context and reconsider earlier notions on borderlands of the Sasanian Empire. Regardless of insecurity in borderlands, the Sasanian Empire heavily invested in these areas. In this article, reviewing historical documents and archaeological data, I will argue that the imperial investments in the borderland areas represent a multi-purpose plan.

Keywords: Sasanian Empire; Iran; Caucasus; Borderland Politics; Landscape Transformation


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About the article

Published Online: 2014-11-08

Published in Print: 2014-11-01

Citation Information: Journal of Ancient History, Volume 2, Issue 2, Pages 93–115, ISSN (Online) 2324-8114, ISSN (Print) 2324-8106, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jah-2014-0015.

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