HORMOZDGĀN (also Hormozgān, Arabicized Hormozjān), BATTLE OF, the engagement which brought the Sasanians to power. It was fought between Ardašir I (q.v.) and his Parthian overlord Ardavān (Artabanus) V (IV according to the new reckoning; see EIr. II, p. 649), on 30 Mehr/28 April 224 C.E.; Ardavān was killed and the 427-year rule of the Sasanian dynasty began (Ṭabari I, p. 821; Nöldeke, Geschichte der Perser, pp. 14-15, 409-11; Dināvari, ed. ʿĀmer and Šayyāl, p. 42; the often-quoted date in the Chronicle of Arbela [q.v.] is a miscalculation, and the authenticity of the work is in serious doubt). Ardašir had about 10,000 horsemen, some of whom had been equipped with Roman-style, flexible chain armor (see ARMOR i.). Ardavān had a larger force, which was less prepared (still wearing the cumbersome lamellar armor; Bivar, pp. 275-76; Widengren, p. 739).
The site of the battle has not been identified. The Arabic chronicle Nehāyat al-arab gives it as bʾdrjʾan (see Widengren, Pl. VI, l. 3) or bʾdjʾn (ibid., p. 769, n. 167). Widengren restores the name as *Jurbaḏijān (i.e., Golpayagān) and argues for a northerly advance by Ardašīr (pp. 716, n. 16, 739-45; cf. Garrusi, pp. 109-10). This is unlikely. Ardašir was active in the Kaškar region prior to the battle (Ṭabari, p. 818; Nöldeke, Geschichte der Perser, pp. 13-14), and an incomplete manuscript of Balʿami mentions the site’s name as Ḵoš-Hormoz (Balʿami, ed. Bahār, p. 882, n. 4). This is a “translation” of the well-known city Rām-Hormoz on the border of Arrajān (q.v.) and Ahvāz (q.v.), and it suggests that Hormozdgān could be a synonym for Rām-Hormoz, which explains why the former is not attested in the works of Islamic geographers while the latter is described in detail (see Le Strange, Lands, pp. 243-44; Schwartz, Iran IV, pp. 293-95, 333, 343-45). The town of Rām-Hormoz still exists, some 65 km (as the crow flies) east of Ahvāz, in a wide plain just at the foot of the hills that form the northeastern tail of the Bengestān Mountain of the Zagros chain. The plain nearby is admirably suited for a cavalry engagement.
The battle is symbolically shown on one of Ardašir’s rock-reliefs at Firuzābād (see ARDAŠĪR i. and the Rock-reliefs reproduction, in EIr. II, p. 379, fig. 14; von Gall, pp. 20-27), where Ardašir is depicted on horseback overthrowing a mounted Ardavān, while Ardašir’s heir, Šāpur (I), is transfixing with his lance a Parthian grandee, Dāḏbondād (cf. Ṭabari, I, p. 819). The victory was commemorated by the kindling of Ardašir’s royal fire (Henning, pp. 113-16) and his assumption of the title Šāhānšāh “king of kings” (Ṭabari, I, pp. 819, 821).
A. D. H. Bivar, “Cavalry Equipment and Tactics on the Euphrates Frontier,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 26, 1972, pp. 27-91.
Hubertus von Gall, Das Reiterkampfbild in der iranischen und iranisch beeinflussten Kunst parthischer und sasanidischer Zeit, Berlin, 1990.
ʿAbbās Garrusi, “Ātaškada-ye Bahrām az banāhā-ye Ardašir-e Bābakān dar Ḵīr-e Estahbān,” Majalla-ye barrasihā-ye tāriḵi 11, December 1976-January 1977, pp. 107-44.
Walter B. Henning, “The Date of Mani’s Life, by S. H. Taqizadeh, tr. from the Persiaŋand Concluded by W. B. Henning,” Asia Major 6/1, 1957, pp. 106-21; repr. in idem, Selected Papers II, Acta Iranica 15, Leiden and Tehran, 1977.
Geo Widengren, “The Establishment of the Sasanian Dynasty in the Light of New Evidence,” in Atti del Convegno internationale sul tema: La Persia nel Medioevo (Roma, 31marzo-5april 1970), Rome, 1971, pp. 711-82.
(A. Shapur Shahbazi)
Originally Published: December 15, 2004
Last Updated: March 23, 2012
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Vol. XII, Fasc. 5, pp. 469-470