Parthian Warfare


Parthian warfare was characterized by the extensive use of cavalry and archers. Coming at enemy troops from all directions Parthian riders created confusion and wreaked havoc. They even developed the famous “Parthian shot.” Able to shoot backward at full gallop, the Parthian archer delivered kill shots at pursuing cavalry. Just as essential were their heavy-armored horse cavalry called cataphracts that provided offensive support and assistance in mopping up remaining pockets of resistance with long lances and swords. Taking over the Seleucid Empire, Parthia (247 BCE - 224 CE) controlled territories that stretched from the Mediterranean in the west to India and China in the east and were even a match for the Romans. About Parthia's ability to wage war, Strabo mentions, "they were well adapted for establishing dominion, and for ensuring success in war" (11.9.2).

More about: Parthian Warfare


  • 247 BCE - 224 CE
    Empire of the Parthians.
  • 141 BCE
    Persis passes from Seleucid to Parthian domination.
  • 55 BCE
    Marcus Licinius Crassus is made consul for the second time and departs on campaign in Parthia.
  • 53 BCE
    Battle of Carrhae. Crassus is captured and executed by the Parthians.
  • 52 CE
    Parthian king Vologases I invades Armenia.
  • 58 CE - 63 CE
    Roman-Parthian War.
  • 114 CE
    Roman emperor Trajan annexes Armenia and declares war on Parthia.
  • 127 CE - 150 CE
    The Kushana emperor Kanishka conquers Kashmir, defeats Parthians, reaching the kingdom of Magadha. He crosses the Pamir mountains and defeats the Chinese under General Pan Yang and annexes Kashgar, Khotan and Yarkand.
  • 161 CE - c. 166 CE
    Parthian Wars with Rome; Lucius Verus commands Rome's forces in the field.
  • 195 CE
    First Parthian war.
  • 197 CE - 198 CE
    Second Parthian war.
  • 224 CE
    Sasanians overthrow the Parthians.