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Shapur II (Sassanid) invasion of Arabia

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    Posted: 12 Aug 2009 at 16:19
Do you have any information regarding Shapur II invasion of Arabia in 4th century?

I saw something regarding this invasion which shows following one of the Roman/Persian war, Arabs attacked southern Iran and pillaged some Iranian cities and massacred many people , after Shapur was told about this, he send a huge army to the south. Persians advanced in desert and defeated Arabs and taken many prisoners. Arabs named him, as "Shabur Dhul-aktaf" or "Zol Atkaf" that means "The owner of the shoulders" after this battle.

Now, please come and share your knowledge about this battle from your point of view without hatred or personal attacks.

I have never heard about this battle before that's why I want to know what was the name of the battle and how exactly happened.

I like a good and serious discussion, so please avoid any funny, mockery or off topic post.Smile


Edited by Harburs - 11 Feb 2012 at 11:16
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Harburs Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Aug 2009 at 17:40
I found this when I was searching about the topic.

The Arab incursions

The first serious attacks by the Arabs occurred when Shapur II was an infant. The Arabs successfully launched deep raids into Persia from islands in the Persian Gulf. Their primary targets were the southern territories of the Sassanian Empire. The Bundahishn notes that "in the reign of Shapur son of Hormuz, the Arabs came and seized the banks of the River Karun (Ulay) and remained there for many years pillaging and attacking..."1 Geographical factors may have also encouraged the Arab assault, notably the lowering of the water levels to the east of Arabia.2 Many of Iran's border towns and villages were looted and destroyed, and their inhabitants killed or taken as slaves. Emboldened by these raids, the Arabs even began making thrusts into the interior of Mesopotamia, with hopes of reaching Ctesiphon. The Arab successes were mainly due to the absence of any meaningful Sassanian military response. The boy-emperor Shapur II was surrounded by a large number of indecisive and mediocre andarzbad (lit. advisors), who proved incompetent at stopping the Arabs. The Sassanian military machine was certainly capable of at least containing the Arab raids. It is a mystery as to why the advisors of the boy-king failed to mobilize the armed forces to confront the threats.
The Arabs, however, may have erroneously concluded that their successes had been due to military prowess. Rather than vacate the Sassanian territories they had recently raided, the Arabs decided to forcefully settle in southwestern Iran and the Sassanian Persian Gulf coastline. It was in these circumstances that the young Shapur formally ascended the throne in Ctesiphon. The advisors were pushed aside and Shapur immediately ordered the Savaran to crush the Arab invaders and expel them back across the border. The Bundahishn notes that

"Shapur became of age and drove away those Arabs and took the land from them. He killed many rulers of the Arabs and scattered many of them."


Mounted Arab troops on camel and horse lacked the ability to stand up to the armored knights, especially in close-quarter fighting. Horse and foot archery must have taken a terrible toll on the Arabs, and the Sassanians also fielded a regular force of armored infantry that was trained for close-quarter combat. The Savaran had little difficulty when they entered the Arab-occupied southwest in the vicinity of modern Persis and Khuzistan. Shapur's Savaran were overwhelmingly successful: all occupied lands were liberated, including the entire Persian Gulf coastline. Shortly after the liberation of the southern territories, the Savaran boarded ships and sailed across the Persian Gulf. Shapur was determined to greet the Arab raiders on their own soil: the Savaran landed in Bahrain, Ghateef, and Yamama, and once again the Arabs were overpowered and defeated, as corroborated by Islamic sources.
Judging from historical accounts, Shapur was especially ruthless in the treatment of his defeated Arab foes. One clearly embellished account incredibly states that Shapur had his Arab prisoners led to captivity across the desert on a rope threaded through their pierced shoulders. The Arabs of Arabia's interior, Bahrain, and Yamama, were to remember their humiliating defeats and nurse a multi-generational grievance against the Sassanians, brutally expressed in the Arab invasions of the 7th century AD.
The seriousness of the Arab raids prompted the Sassanian high command to take military measures to protect the southern regions against future assaults. Defensive walls began to be constructed along the western regions of modern-day southern Iraq in an attempt to contain future Bedouin raids. The model for these walls was at least partly derived from the Roman system along the Romano-Syrian borders further west. Shapur's defenses facing Arabia became known as the "Khandaq-e-Shapur" (Shapur's ditch). The Sassanians also cultivated friendly relations with those Arab tribes who had earlier entered the Mesopotamian plains near Syria. Of these, the Bani Lakhm or Lakhmids proved to be excellent warriors who maintained the peace along the southern frontiers. The Sassanians soon trained and equipped the Lakhmids to fight like the Savaran. The settling of warrior peoples along the Empire's borders may have been inspired by the Roman limitanei system.

http://www.ospreypublishing.com/store/view_extract.aspx?ID=809


Edited by Suren - 12 Aug 2009 at 17:46
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Aug 2009 at 18:54
Hello Suren
 
You talk about "Arabs" as if they had a state and the raides were organized.
 
The invasion is mentioned as a very distant event in Arab chronicles. Arab tribes seasonally moved into Iraq for the water since Iraq has rivers and Arabia doesn't. Each tribe was an enemy to the other and they allied with the Persians against each other. The Persians established the Lakhmids (or more correctly allowed them to settle) based on the latter protecting the borders and only allowing the allied tribes to enter Iraq. Tamim and Abdul-Qais, which were the tribes that invaded during Shapur's infancy as you said, moved as far the foothills of the mountains in Ahwaz. Some of these tribes flipped sides and remained until the conquest but most were kicked out. Then the persians invaded but not to rule, to discipline and to take tribute which was paid until the revolts a century later culminating in Dhi Qar when the Persians were completely driven out of east Arabia (todays south Kuwait, easter Saudi Arabia and Qatar).
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Harburs Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Aug 2009 at 10:58
There were three major tribes, Tamim, Abdul Al-Qais and Bakr ibn Wa'il which were involved in pillages and attacks to southern Persian cities.

Here is another source about the Shapur's revenge/invasion.

Muhammad and the origins of Islam,  By Francis E. Peters, Pg 36-38


http://books.google.com/books?id=0OrCo4VyvGkC&pg=PA36&lpg=PA36&dq=shapur+II+invasion+of+arabia&source=bl&ots=nOc270_7qs&sig=x3-vR3o5vSvoSNg0EAHkTRTR33o&hl=en&ei=pJ2ESoS0IJX0NbKzidwL&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=8#v=onepage&q=&f=false

Shapur II was declared Shah In 310 A.D., while still in his mother's womb, a generous gesture on the part of his subjects, perhaps, bust a provocative one to his neighbors. The prospect of a long minority rule, and possibly the occurrence of drought on the Arabian side of the Persian Gulf, triggered events that thrust the Sasanians even deeper into Arabian affairs. It began with an Arab invasion. "A great number of the Abd al-Qays," Tabari reports, "came by sea from Bahrain and Kazima until they took a fortress at Abruvanshahr, on the (Iranian) coast of Ardashir- Khurra [that is, Firuzabad], and from the cities of Fars they carried away the provisions of the inhabitants."
Once Shapur reached maturity his revenge against the Arab raiders--it was the first military campaign he led in person-was exacting and thorough. He collected an army on the coast of Fars, carried them across the Persian Gulf to Khatt and Bahrayn on the Arabian side. There was an engagement with the Arabs of Tamim, Bakr ibn Wa'il, and Abd al-Qays, and when the shah had triumphed over them he marched deep into Yamama where he blocked up the tribal wells and waterholes. Finally, he continued across the peninsula to the vicinity of Medina, more than 600 difficult miles from the gulf coast, and then apparently marched north where the campaign ended" in the region between the Persion kingdom and Roman quardposts in the land of Syria."
In Arab legend Shapur acquired the name of "the shoulder cruncher,"...


Edited by Harburs - 11 Feb 2012 at 11:20
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Harburs Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Aug 2009 at 15:23
I guess this is the beginning of the Arab/Persian conflicts. What do you think Al Jassas? Was there any other issue before these invasions?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Harburs Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Aug 2009 at 15:47
I think this can show the raids route from and to Arabia.



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Aug 2009 at 18:32
The Sassanids never crossed the desert of Dahna (the geographical limit between Nejd and Bahrain). The did however rule the coast of Oman (of which todays UAE is part) intermittintly since the time of the Akhminids.
 
The last rule came from the time of Shapur until some time in the middle of the 6th century when due to wars with Justinian the soldiers were withdrawn (except in coastal forts) and only tribute was taken. Later under Khosru the Persians invaded only to lose the battle of Dhi Qar. By that time Bakr (which was a small tribe in the 4th century) was the dominant tribe there. Khosru never retried a reconquest for two reasons. The coast kept paying him tribute because he had a navy but they didn't and Yemen. Much richer and easier to rule from the sea.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Unferth Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Sep 2009 at 07:49
Tabari has an accurate account of what happened during Shapur II's reign.

If I remember correctly, he states that Shapur took a small force of heavily armored cavalry across the desert from Mesopotamia and supplied them by ship.

The desert arabs could not hurt the heavily armored cavalry with their arrows. Shapur marched along the coast and filled up all the wells with sand so they could not be used by the local inhabitants.

 




Edited by Unferth - 16 Sep 2009 at 07:53
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Unferth Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Sep 2009 at 07:51
Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

The Sassanids never crossed the desert of Dahna (the geographical limit between Nejd and Bahrain). The did however rule the coast of Oman (of which todays UAE is part) intermittintly since the time of the Akhminids.
 
The last rule came from the time of Shapur until some time in the middle of the 6th century when due to wars with Justinian the soldiers were withdrawn (except in coastal forts) and only tribute was taken. Later under Khosru the Persians invaded only to lose the battle of Dhi Qar. By that time Bakr (which was a small tribe in the 4th century) was the dominant tribe there. Khosru never retried a reconquest for two reasons. The coast kept paying him tribute because he had a navy but they didn't and Yemen. Much richer and easier to rule from the sea.
 
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Sources please.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Sep 2009 at 08:10

The same sources you quote plus ibn Al-Athir (all of Vol. 1 revolved around pre-Islamic history of arabia). Other sources exist too (written before Al-Tabari and ibn Al-Athir) that slo confirm this like Al-Baladhuri, Al-waqidi and the rest.

Plus there were never a continous military presence for persians in the Peninsula except in Yemen for about 50 years in the 6th-7th century and the coast of Oman, vassals ruled the rest of the coast area instead.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Harburs Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Sep 2009 at 14:23
Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

Hello Suren
 
You talk about "Arabs" as if they had a state and the raides were organized.

Well they were Arab tribes, and I called them so. I didn't say organized or not. By the way I found this regarding the Arab raids during Shapur infancy. What do you think Al Jassas do you have any Idea who this Arab king or chief was?

First Source:

      When Shapur II (310-379), the heir to Hormizd, was only a child when the Arab king, Thair exploited Persia's weakness by raiding Iran in 320. Eight years later Shapur took his revenge in the first campaign of his reign by invading Arabia and defeating Thair. (The Encyclopedia of Warfare: From Earliest Times... to the Present Day by Adrian Gilbert page 36)

Second Source:...The Arab tribes of the south began a pattern of depredations that lasted for some sixteen years and threatened to tear the kingdom apart, although they made no attempt to consolidate control over the territories they raided. The tribes of Beni-Ayar and Abdul Kais of Bahrain, which at the time encompassed the Arabian districts of Hasa and Qatif on the western shores of  the Persian Gulf, subjected Babylonia and Khuzistan to a long series of devastating raids. Farther north, a Mesopotamian sheikh, Tayir, attacked and captured Ctesphon. (The pre-Islamic Middle East by Martin Sicker, page 183).


Edited by Suren - 28 Sep 2009 at 15:26
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Harburs Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Sep 2009 at 19:14
Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

The Sassanids never crossed the desert of Dahna (the geographical limit between Nejd and Bahrain). The did however rule the coast of Oman (of which todays UAE is part) intermittintly since the time of the Akhminids.
 
The last rule came from the time of Shapur until some time in the middle of the 6th century when due to wars with Justinian the soldiers were withdrawn (except in coastal forts) and only tribute was taken. Later under Khosru the Persians invaded only to lose the battle of Dhi Qar. By that time Bakr (which was a small tribe in the 4th century) was the dominant tribe there. Khosru never retried a reconquest for two reasons. The coast kept paying him tribute because he had a navy but they didn't and Yemen. Much richer and easier to rule from the sea.
 
Al-Jassas


Check this sources about how much they advanced in Arabia during their invasion.

1. "In 325/6 Shapur II projected a Sassanian military presence through Bahrayn deap into central Arabia to the vicinity of Yathrib returning through Syro-Arabian desert.." (The cambridge companion to the Age of Constantine, Volume 13 by Noel Emmanuel Lenski)

2. "According to Al-Tabari, Shapur, because the Arabs used Fars as pasture ground, crossed the sea to Bahrayn, took Hagar in Al-Hasa, crossed the Yamama and reached the land close to Yathrib/Medina..." (The Arabs in antiquity by Jan Retso)

Edited by Suren - 28 Sep 2009 at 19:26
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Sep 2009 at 19:49
Hello Suren
 
The Arab incursions were never a threat to anybody, its just certain Arab sources wanting to make those lakhmid kings look great. The fact is Arabs are nomads and they went wherever water was and Khuzistan and southern Iraq were abundant in water resources during the long hot and dry season.
 
Incursions into todays Iran were since the time of the Selucids while arabs have been effectively in Iraq since the time of the Assyrians (they were mentioned many times by them). However by the time of the sassanids, Arabs started to come in huge numbers and settle because successive droughts. These Arabs were divided into two groups. those who remained free and these were the desert nomads responsible for much of the raids and the Lakhmids and others who accepted the status of vassals and at the same time border guards.
 
To use them in war some were indeed allowed to settle beyond the Tigris in Khuzistan well before the conquests but most were kept in present day Iraq where they have been for centuries.
 
Shapur's raid can be looked at in the context of the man's life and should not be seriously taken from sources written nearly 500 years after the fact. He was probably the most successful Sassanid ever and because of that and to enforce his stature he would never succumb to pesky bedouins raiding and stealing from his empire so he sent a punitive campaign which I doubt he even led himself at least he didn't go as far as they went. The campain was supported and largely conducted by his Arab vassals the lakhmids (this is a fact and why they got their kingdom in the first place) and it was a success. I very much doubt he ever reached Yamamah because the tribes mentioned in the accounts of the expedition didn't live near there, they lived in Al-Hasa, the coast and the present day borders between Iraq and Saudi Arabia east of Dahna and Yamamah.
 
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