ANBĀR (Pers. term meaning granary), a town on the left bank of the Euphrates five km north-west of Fallūǰa and sixty-two km west of Baghdad. 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; Ḥamza, p. 45; Ṯaʿālebī, Ḡorar, p. 529; Ṭabarī, 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 Šāḏ Qobāḏ between the Euphrates and Tigris. This district consisted of the subdistricts of Šāḏ Fīrūz or Fīrūz Sābūr (Anbār, Hīt, and ʿAnāt), Bādūrāya, Masken, and Qaṭrabbol (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-ʿĀlī) 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 Laḵm in the late 6th century, the friends and supporters of Noʿmān b. Monḏer were supplied from the storehouses of Anbār (Balāḏorī, Fotūḥ, 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 (Balāḏorī, Fotūḥ, p. 177) and included dehqāns (Ṭabarī, I, p. 2203).
When Ḵāled b. Walīd raided Iraq in 12/633 he is said to have been met outside Anbār by its commander, Šīrzāḏ, with 70,000 completely armored Persian and Arab troops. After some 2,000 of them had been blinded by Muslim arrows, Šīrzāḏ surrendered and was allowed to evacuate Anbār with the garrison, who had to leave all their possessions behind. Ḵāled then imposed an annual tribute on the town (Ṭabarī, I, p. 2060; Baḷʿamī, Chronique III, p. 337). In 14/635 Posfarrūḵ, then marzbān of Anbār, is said to have provided Moṯannā b. Ḥāreṯa 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. ʿAbdallāh Baǰalī for an annual tribute of 400,000 dirhams and 1,000 cloaks (Balāḏorī, Fotūḥ, p. 246; Ṭabarī, I, p. 2061; Yaḥyā b. Ādam b. Solaymān, Ketāb al-ḵarāǰ, tr. A. Ben Shemesh, Leiden, 1958, rep. 1967, p. 46).
Anbār remained a prosperous, populous town and administrative and military center in the early Islamic period. Hīt and ʿAnāt 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 Moṣʿab b. Zobayr sent a governor to the Upper Province in 68/687 (Ṭabarī, II, p. 757). Descendants of the Ḵorāsānī troops settled there in 134/752 by Abu’l-ʿAbbās were still living there in the early 9th century (Dīnavarī, p. 38; Ṭabarī, III, p. 678; Yaʿqūbī, 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 (ʿA. ʿAzzāwī, Taʾrīḵ al-ʿErāq bayn eḥtelālayn, 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.
Originally Published: December 15, 1985
Last Updated: August 3, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. II, Fasc. 1, p. 5
M. Morony, “ANBĀR,” Encyclopædia Iranica, II/1, p. 5, available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/anbar-ancient-and-medieval-town-on-the-left-bank-of-the-euphrates (accessed on 30 December 2012).