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By: M. Morony


(Updated 2011)



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Map of Arab invasion of Sasanian Iran


Anbār (Pers. term meaning granary), a town on the left bank of the Euphrates five km northwest of [modern] Fallūja and sixty-two km west of Baghdad [in nowadays Iraq]. Its strategic position at an important ford near the point where the Euphrates enters the alluvial plain and where the first navigable canal went to the Tigris was recognized as early as the Parthian period with the construction of a square fortress there. The town was refounded by Šāpūr I (241-72) and called Pērōz Šāpūr to commemorate his victory over Gordian IV in 243 and to protect the Euphrates end of the border with the Romans in Mesopotamia (Herzfeld, Samarra, Hamburg, 1948, p. 12; Maricq, p. 47). Arabic sources generally credit Šāpūr II with the foundation of Pērōz Šāpūr as the seat of a marzbanate, with a garrison of 2,000 men and storehouses for barley, fodder, and straw in the third century (Balāḏorī, Fotūḥ, p. 246; Dīnavarī, p. 51; Hamza, p. 45; Thālebī, Ghorar, p. 529; Tabarī, I, p. 859; Yāqūt, I, pp. 367-68).

When Pērōz Šāpūr fell to Julian in 363 it had a garrison of over 2,500 men. The town was surrounded by double brick walls with towers coated with bitumen at the level of the moat drawn from the Euphrates. In the center stood a tall, circular citadel where the Romans found large quantities of weapons and provisions (Ammianus Marcellinus 24.2.7-22; Zosimus 3.17-19).

During the reign of Qobād (Kawāḏ), in the early 6th century, Pērōz Šāpūr became the administrative capital and district of Šādh Qobād between the Euphrates and Tigris. This district consisted of the subdistricts of Šādh Fīrūz or Fīrūz Sābūr (Anbār, Hīt, and Anāt), Bādūrāya, Masken, and Qarabbol (Qodāma, Ketāb al-ḵarāǰ, BGA, VI, p. 235; Ebn al-Faqīh, p. 199; Yāqūt, III, p. 227; Dīnavarī, p. 68; Ebn Ḵordāḏbeh, p. 7). This unit survived in early Islamic administration as the Upper Province (Ōstān al-Ālī) with Anbār as its capital (Qodāma, Ḵarāǰ, p. 235; Yāqūt, I, p. 241, III, p. 592) and as a mint for post-reform dirhams (J. Walker, A Catalogue of the Arab-Sassanian Coins, London, 1941, pp. cxl-cxli).

During the ascendancy of the Banū Lakhm in the late 6th century, the friends and supporters of Nomān b. Moner were supplied from the storehouses of Anbār (Balādhorī, Fotūh, p. 246; Yāqūt, I, p. 368). Thereafter Anbār reverted to direct Persian rule, and at the time of the Muslim conquest the Persians living there are said to have been descendants of those who had been settled by Šāpūr I (Balādhorī, Fotūh, p. 177) and included dehqāns (Tabarī, I, p. 2203).

When Khāled b. Walīd raided that part of the Sasanian territory in 12/633 he is said to have been met outside Anbār by its commander, Šīrzād, with 70,000 completely armored Persian and Arab troops. After some 2,000 of them had been blinded by Muslim arrows, Šīrzād surrendered and was allowed to evacuate Anbār with the garrison, who had to leave all their possessions behind. Khāled then imposed an annual tribute on the town (Tabarī, I, p. 2060; Balamī, Chronique III, p. 337). In 14/635 Posfarrūkh, then marzbān of Anbār, is said to have provided Mothannā b. Hārea with guides when the latter raided the village of Baghdad (Dīnavarī, p. 122). The people of Anbār are said to have broken their treaty with Ḵāled, and then made new terms with Jarīr b. Abdallāh Baǰalī for an annual tribute of 400,000 dirhams and 1,000 cloaks (Balādhorī, Fotūḥ, p. 246; Tabarī, I, p. 2061; Yaqyā b. Ādam b. Solaymān, Ketāb al-ḵarāǰ, tr. A. Ben Shemesh, Leiden, 1958, rep. 1967, p. 46).

[After the mass migration of Bedouins from the Arabian deserts] Anbār remained a prosperous, populous town and administrative and military center in the early Islamic period. Hīt and Anāt were detached from the territory of Anbār and added to the Jazīra by Moʿāwīa or by Yazīd I (Dīnavarī, p. 681; Yāqūt, III, p. 929), and Mosab b. Zobayr sent a governor to the Upper Province in 68/687 (Tabarī, II, p. 757). Descendants of the Ḵorāsānī troops settled there in 134/752 by Abu’l-Abbās were still living there in the early 9th century (Dīnavarī, p. 38; Tabarī, III, p. 678; Yaqūbī, I, p. 510). Beginning in the 9th and 10th centuries the town declined in population due to Bedouin raids but survived as an administrative, agricultural, and commercial center until as late as the 8th/14th century (A. Azzāwī, Tarīkh al-Erāq bayn etelālayn, 8 vols., Baghdad, 1937-57, I, pp. 204, 337, 548). Its ruins are still visible and have recently been the object of Iraqi archaeology.


See also G. Le Strange, Lands, pp. 65-66.

A. Maricq and E. Honigmann, Recherches sur les ResGestaediviSaporis, Brussels, 1953, pp. 116-17.

A. Musil, The Middle Euphrates, New York, 1927, pp. 234, 236, 248, 296, 353-57.

Obermeyer, Landschaft Babylonien, Frankfort on the Main, 1929 pp. 65-66.

Camb.Hist. Iran III, pp. 70, 125, 485, 724, 759.

M. G. Morony, Iraq after the MuslimConquest, Princeton, 1984, see index.

EI2 I, pp. 484-85.



Source/Extracted From: Encyclopaedia Iranica


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