DEPORTATIONS, forced transfers of population from one region to another. Deportations should be distinguished from other, somewhat similar sanctions that may occur together with them, for example, expropriation and massacre, exile of individuals and their immediate families or adherents, enslavement or military conscription of conquered peoples, and forced sedentarization of nomads.

i. In the Achaemenid period.

ii. In the Parthian and Sasanian periods.

iii. In the Islamic period.  



The practice of uprooting whole communities and transplanting them in distant lands is well attested in ancient times, particularly in Mesopotamia (Oded, pp. 33 ff.). The Achaemenids adopted the same practice whenever a particular people was too troublesome or revolted after subjugation (Grosso) and occasionally even when craftsmen of an industrious nation fell into their hands. Cambyses deported to Susa 6,000 Egyptians together with their king, Amyrtaius, and many artisans (Ctesias, Persica 13.30; Diodorus, 1.46, 4). Darius I established Barcaean captives from northwestern Africa in a village in Bactria, which was still flourishing in Herodotus’ time (Herodotus, 4.204). He also settled Peonians of Thrace in Asia Minor, though most of them returned during the Ionian revolt (Herodotus, 5.14-15, 5.17, 5.98). Other instances include the deportation of Milesians to Ampé at the mouth of the Tigris (Herodotus, 6.20), of Carians and Sitacemians to Babylonia (Arrian, Anabasis 3.8, 5, 11.5; cf. Shahbazi, p. 245), of Eretrians to Ardericca in Elam (Herodotus, 6.119; Philostratus, Vita Apollonii 1.24), of Beotians to the Tigris region (Diodorus, 17.110), and of Sidonian prisoners sent by Artaxerxes III to his palaces at Susa and Babylon (Grayson, p. 114).

Mass deportations were in fact an effective means of procuring craftsmen and unskilled labor. Darius I mentioned (DSf 45-55; Kent, Old Persian, pp. 143) the use of Median, Egyptian, Babylonian, and Sardian artisans in the construction of his palace at Susa. There is no record that these deportees were ill treated. They were given land and allowed to preserve their languages and cultures, but they could not travel freely and were subject to taxation and the corvée (Herodotus, 2.204, 6.119; Diodorus, 17.110; cf. Narain, pp. 2-5). Their precise legal status and degree of dependence in this early period are not always clear, however.


(For cited works not found in this bibliography, see “Short References.”) A. K. Grayson, Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles, Locust Valley, N.Y., 1975.

F. Grosso, “Gli deportati in Persia,” Rivista di filologia e di istruzione classica 86, 1958, pp. 350-75.

A. K. Narain, The Indo-Greeks, Oxford, 1957.

B. Oded, Mass Deportations and Deportees in the Neo-Babylonian Empire, Wiesbaden, 1979.

R. G. Penella, “Scoplianus and the Eretrians in Cissia,” Athenaeum 52, 1974, pp. 295-300.

A. S. Shahbazi, “Darius’ Haft-Kišvar,” in H. M. Koch and D. N. MacKenzie, eds., Kunst, Kultur und Geschichte der Achämenidenzeit und ihr Fortleben, Berlin, 1983, pp. 239-46.




The Parthian period.

Although there were several mass deportations under the Achaemenids (see i, above), reports of such events from the Parthian period are rare. According to Isidore of Charax (Jacoby, Fragmente, no. 781, fr. 2.7), Phraates I (ca. 176-71 B.C.E.; incorrectly identified as Phraates II by Chaumont, 1988, p. 61 n. 28; cf. Justin, 41.5.9) settled the Mards in Charax, which had been founded near Rhages/Ray by the Seleucids. They may have been transported again, for Pliny (Naturalis Historia 6.47) located them on the northeastern borders of the Parthian empire.

After the defeat of Crassus at Carrhae in May 53 B.C.E. 10,000 troops were supposed to have been taken prisoner (Plutarch, Crassus 31.7) and settled in Alexandria Margiana (later Marv; Pliny, Naturalis Historia 6.47; incorrectly identified as Seleucia by Solinus, 48.3; cf. Justin, 42.4.4; Cassius Dio, 40.27.4). Horace (3.5.5-8) reported that the deportees married native women and entered the service of the Parthians (cf. de Plinval); whether or not they were forced into service is uncertain (pace Wolski, citing Velleius Paterculus, 2.82.5, and Florus, 2.20.4). N. V. Pigulevskaja assumed that they must have helped to guard the Parthian borders in the east, and G. A. Pugachenkova considered that they had participated in fortifying the city (Frumkin, p. 146). The hypothesis that some of these legionnaires fled to China, became soldiers for the Hsiung-nu, and founded the city of Li-Jien (Li-jun; Dubs; Ferguson, pp. 599-601; Dauge) should be viewed with caution.

It is not known how many of the Roman prisoners taken in the war between Antony and the Parthians in 36 B.C.E. suffered deportation (Plutarch, Antony 50.1: 24,000 casualties). The peace treaty concluded in 20 B.C.E. included a provision that the legion standard and the prisoners be returned (Cassius Dio 53.33.2; cf. 49.24.5), though most of them must have died in the interim. In Roman propaganda the return was celebrated as a major victory (e.g., Augustus’ claim of spoils in the so-called Res Gestae 29; Brunt and Moore; cf. Pompeius Trogus’ exaggerated report in the Epitome of Justin, 42.5.11, from which it would be possible to conclude incorrectly that the captives had been settled throughout the Parthian empire). Cassius, Dio (54.8.1) described prisoners who had committed suicide from shame or who did not wish to return.

Strabo (11.14.15) mentioned that the Armenian king Tigranes the Great (r. from ca. 95 B.C.E.), in order to populate his newly established capital, Tigranocerta (Tigranakert), deported the inhabitants of twelve Greek cities that he had destroyed (11.14.15, 12.2.9; Pauly-Wissowa VIA/1, col. 982; for the site of Tigranocerta, see Whitby, p. 217). Appian (Mithridatica 67) reckoned the total number of these deportees at 300,000. Plutarch (Lucullus 21.4, 26.1) mentioned masses of people transported from Cilicia and Cappadocia and of Arabs (Skēnitai) resettled in northern Mesopotamia for reasons of commercial policy (cf. Pliny, NaturalisHistoria 6.142; Manandian, 1963, p. 43); they included inhabitants of Adiabene, Assyria, and Gordyene, whom Tigranes forcibly settled in Tigranocerta. After the invasion of the city by L. Licinius Lucullus in 69 B.C.E., apparently with the help of the Cilicians settled there (Cassius Dio, 36.2.3; but cf. Manandian, 1963, pp. 119-20), the deported Greeks were permitted to return to their homes (Strabo, 12.2.9). The reports of this episode transmitted by Moses of Khorene (2.56; tr. Thomson, p. 199) from Artašês are not useful.

Great skepticism should also be adopted toward the reports by Faustus that Tigranes had deported the entire Jewish population of Palestine to Armenia (ed. Patkanean, pp. 145-46; tr. Garsoian, p. 175; cf. Widengren). Moses’ version, which was based on that of Faustus, is still more fantastic (2.19; tr. Thomson, pp. 155-58 and n. 8, on the supposed deportation of the residents of Marisa; cf. Widengren, p. 138), as is the passage in which he claimed the presence of large numbers of inhabitants of Ptolemais in Palestine among the captives (2.14; tr. Thomson, pp. 152-53; pace Manandian, 1965, pp. 62-66).

The Sasanian period.

Reports of deportations in the Sasanian period are scattered among sources of varying reliability and in a number of different languages. It is therefore preferable to begin by establishing the facts that can be gleaned from the sources.

Šāpūr I(240-70). In his inscription on the Kaʿba-ye Zardošt at Naqš-e Rostam Šāpūr I declared that he had defeated the Roman emperor Valerian and deported him with the pretorian guards and the officers of the Roman army to Persis (260; Back, ŠKZ, Mid. Pers. l. 15, Parth. l. 11, Gk. l. 25; cf. Kettenhofen, pp. 97-99). Ṭabarī (I, p. 827) claimed that Valerian worked on construction of the dam at Tostar, the ruins of which can still be seen today (cf. Dīnavarī, ed. Guirgass, p. 49; Ṯaʿālebī, Ḡorar, p. 527, erroneously attributing foundation of the city to Šāpūr II). Šāpūr also mentioned people from the Roman empire (Anērān) whom he had carried off as booty and “settled in the empire of Ērān, in Persis, in Parthia, Ḵūzestān, in Āsōristān (Iraq) and in all the other provinces where we and our forefathers and ancestors had royal estates” (Back, ŠKZ, Mid. Pers. ll. 20-21; Parth. ll. 15-16; Gk. ll. 34-35). The Arabic Chronicle of Seert (pp. 220-23) includes mention of the provinces of Iraq, Ḵūzestān, and Fārs, as well as cities founded by Šāpūr’s father, Ardašīr I (224-40), which he rebuilt and populated with Roman captives: Šāḏ-Šāpūr, identical with Dayr Meḵrāq in the province of Mēšān; Bīšāpūr in Fārs (cf. Ebn Qotayba, p. 654; Ṯaʿālebī, Ḡorar, p. 494; Maqdesī, Badʾ III, p. 157; Acta Martyrum II, p. 208); and Wuzurg-Šāpūr, later known as ʿOkbarā (Ar. Marw-Ḥābūr; cf. Seybold, p. 745). Šāpūr was also said to have rebuilt the ruined city of Gondēšāpūr, near the modern village of Šāhābād, and settled Roman prisoners there (cf. Ṭabarī, I, pp. 826-27; Yaʿqūbī, Taʾrīḵ, p. 180; Dīnavarī, ed. Guirgass, p. 48; Ebn Qotayba, p. 654; Ḥamza, I, p. 49; Maqdesī, Badʾ III,p. 157; Ṯaʿālebī, Ḡorar, p. 494; Yāqūt, Boldān II, p. 130), but no archeological traces of an earlier settlement have been found (Adams and Hansen, pp. 53-54). He called it Wēh Antiōk Šāpūr (Ṭabarī, I, p. 831: Beh-az-andīw-Sābūr; Chronicle of Seert, p. 221: Anṭīšābūr, with the gloss ant badal Sābūr; cf. Delehaye and Peeters, p. 387 n. 6; Honigmann and Maricq, pp. 21 n. 1, 46 n. 3; see BĒṮ LAPAT).

In the Chronicle of Seert it is reported that Šāpūr allocated agricultural land and living quarters to the deportees, among whom were many Christians; indeed, the spread of Christianity in the Sasanian empire was correctly attributed to his deportations (p. 221). In Rēw-Ardašīr (Rīšahr; Ar. text, p. 222: Yarānšahr) in Fārs Christians were supposed to have built two churches in the time of Šāpūr I, one for the Romans and one for the Carmanians (al-Karmānūn; emended by Seybold, p. 745, to al-Šoryānūn, but cf. Delehaye and Peeters, p. 388 n. 2).

According to Zosimus (1.27.2), after the conquest of Antioch during Šāpūr’s first campaign (probably in 253; Balty: 252) a portion of the inhabitants was carried off, along with vast quantities of booty; for captured clerics, cf. Baldus, pp. 257-59; Peeters, 1924, p. 292). The inhabitants of Hatra had already been carried off by the Sasanians when the 4th-century author Ammianus Marcellinus described the place as “an old city, long deserted” (Res Gestae 25.8.5); the same must have been true of Dura-Europos on the Euphrates, which Ammianus also referred to as deserted (23.5.8; on the controversial dating of the conquest, see MacDonald, pp. 45-68). After the conquest of Nisibis Šāpūr is supposed to have killed the soldiers and taken prisoners (Ṭabarī, I, p. 826; cf. Kettenhofen, 1982, pp. 44-46). Eutychius (Saʿīd b. Baṭrīq) described this event in greater detail without inspiring greater credence (CSCO L, pp. 108 l. 15-110 l. 4); he also specifically referred to the deportation of the inhabitants, though alluding only briefly to deportations from other cities of the Roman east. It is difficult to place in historical context the error-ridden report in the Chronicle of Seert that Šāpūr founded a city in Kaškar, which he called Ḥasar-Šābūr (emended to Ḵosrow-Šābūr by Seybold, p. 745; cf. Chaumont, 1988, p. 72 n. 82), and settled it with people from the east.

Šāpūr II (309-79). Only a few scattered fragmentary accounts of Šāpūr II’s deportations survive. There is in fact a surprising report that the king, disregarding economic considerations and political advantage, ordered the execution of many inhabitants of the cities and fortresses that he captured during his decades of conflict with Rome, perhaps out of retaliation for stubborn resistance (e.g., Ammianus, Res Gestae 20.7.15). Ammianus mentioned deportations after the conquests of Bezabde/

Bēṯ Zaḇdai (20.7.15; cf. Acta Martyrum II, pp. 316-24), the fortress of Reman/Busan (18.10.2; for identification, see Dillemann, p. 157), Ziata/Eğil (19.6.2), Amida (19.9.2; cf. Masʿūdī, Morūj, ed. Pellat, I, pp. 300-01; Ṯaʿālebī, Ḡorar, p. 530), and Singara/Senjār (Syr. Šīgār; 20.6.7-8; Ṯaʿālebī, Ḡorar, p. 530; Acta Martyrum, II, p. 154). About Ziata he said that many thousands were led away in slavery, but he alluded only briefly to their destinations; about the captives from Singara he noted only that they were transported to the farthest reaches of the empire. In the writings of Zonaras (13.8.3), Jacob of Edessa (Brooks, text, p. 269, tr., p. 310), and Eutychius (p. 121) there are only general references to these deportations. From Bezabde 9,000 men and women (exaggerated to 50,000 in the Gk. translation of Acta Martyrum; Wiessner, 1967, p. 116) are supposed to have been transported, with their bishop, priests, and deacons, to Ḵūzestān (Acta Martyrum II, pp. 316-24). Šāpūr allowed those who were prepared to worship the sun and moon and forswear their gods to settle at Dūrsak (in Bēṯ Darayē), a site praised for its virtues; twenty-five were thus settled, and their offspring were supposedly still living there at the time that the Acta Martyrum were composed. Of the others 275 people were said to have been executed (cf. Fiey, 1970, pp. 372-73).

According to the Arab sources, captives were taken to Ḵūzestān: Ērān-Xwarrah-Šāpūr/Šūš; Ērānšahr-Šāpūr, the royal residence founded by Šāpūr II (Syr. Karkā də Lādān, to be identified with Ḥadīṯa, mentioned by Ḥamza, I, p. 53, the ruined site of Ayvān-e Karḵa); and Tostar/Šūštar (Ṭabarī, I/2, pp. 840, 845; Ṯaʿālebī, Ḡorar, p. 530; Masʿūdī, Morūj, ed. Pellat, I, p. 301; Delehaye and Peeters, p. 288). According to Ṯaʿālebī, residents of Boṣrā and Ṭowāna (location unknown) were settled with residents of Singara and Amida at Tostar and Šūš, but he seems to have fallen into some confusion (Fiey, 1970, p. 140, erroneously attributing the deportation to Šāpūr I; cf. Ebn Qotayba, p. 654). Captives from different regions, for example, ʿArab, Šīgār, Bēṯ Zaḇdai, Arzōn, Qardū, and Armen (Armenia; Acta Martyrum II, p. 154), were supposed to have been settled in the city of Ērānšahr-Šāpūr and thirty families from each city of the empire mingled with them, in order to make it more difficult for them to flee to their homelands (Acta Martyrum II, p. 209).

Arab authors also knew about deportations within the Sasanian empire. According to Ṭabarī (I, p. 843; cf. Lieu, p. 498), 12,000 people of “good family” were transferred from Eṣṭaḵr, Isfahan, and other places to populate Nisibis, which had been ceded to Šāpūr II under the terms of the peace treaty with the Roman emperor Jovian in 363 (cf. Julian, 1.27A; Lieu, p. 498). According to the History of Karḵā də Bēṯ Slōḵ, the village of Tešʿīn (Syr. “ninety”) was named for ninety families from Mēšān settled there by Šāpūr (II?; Hoffmann, p. 48; on the reliability of the sources, cf. Fiey, 1964). He deported Arab tribes without altering their tribal structure (Ṭabarī, I, pp. 839-40); the Taḡleb were settled in Dārīn and Ḵaṭṭ, ʿAbd-al-Qays and a few groups of Tamīm in Hajar, people from Bakr b. Wāʾel in Kermān, and Ḥanẓala in Ramalīya (Ḵūzestān; Ṭabarī I, p. 839) or Tawwaj in Fārs (Ṯaʿālebī, Ḡorar, p. 529, mentioning that their chiefs were settled in Pērōz-Šāpūr; Caskel, p. 962).

Faustus furnished a wealth of dubious “information” on deportations from Armenia (though accepted without question by Grousset, pp. 144-45). The numbers given arouse suspicion, as do grotesque exaggerations, for instance, the claim that “men without number were carried off by elephants, and tender young boys too numerous to count were led away into captivity” (ed. Patkanean, 4.24; cf. 4.25). Forty thousand families from the completely demolished city of Tigranakert were supposed to have been carried off into captivity (4.24). Although the Persians were unsuccessful in their siege of Artagerkʿ, they carried off men and cattle from the surrounding countryside (4.55). From Artašat the entire population, 9,000 Jewish and 40,000 Armenian families, was deported (4.55; for archeological findings, see Koshelenko, p. 69), from Vałaršapat 19,000 families, though the following passage (4.55) contains the contradictory report that the Persians killed all the adult males in the land and led only the women and children into captivity. From Ervandašat 20,000 Armenian and 3,000 Jewish families were deported, from Zarehawan in Bagrevand 5,000 Armenian and 8,000 Jewish families, from Zarišat 14,000 Jewish and 18,000 Armenian families, from Van 15,000 Armenian and 18,000 Jewish families, from Naxčavan/Naḵjavān (where all the captives were initially assembled) 2,000 Armenian and 16,000 Jewish families. These captives were resettled in Āsōristān and Ḵūzestān; of those left behind all the adults were supposedly killed in Šāpūr’s camp at Zarehawan and the boys castrated and then deported to Persia (4.55; cf. Hewsen; cf. Moses of Khorene’s reports, tr. Thomson, pp. 292-94, based on Faustus; see ARMENIA AND IRAN ii).

From Bahrām IV to Kavād I (388-531). According to the Liber Calipharum (CSCO IV, text, pp. 136-37, tr., pp. 106-07), the Roman populations of Sophene, Armenia, Mesopotamia, Syria, and Cappadocia, 18,000 in all, were captured and led into exile by the “Huns” in 395. When the prisoners reached the Sasanian empire the Persians freed them, settled them in Slōk (Wēh Ardašīr) and Kōkbā (Kōḵē), and provided them with food. Although their release is mentioned in the text, neither the reason for it nor the number involved is given (there is a lacuna in the text at this point). Yazdegerd I (399-420) allowed 1,330 to return home, but around 800 remained in Persia. The author of the text praised the king for his goodness and gentle treatment of the deportees.

Ṭabarī (I, p. 871) provided an entirely legendary account of the advance of Bahram V (420-38) into southern Arabia, a great bloodbath there, and the carrying away of many of the inhabitants as slaves.

In the time of Yazdegerd II (438-57) there were a number of deportations during the reprisals after the Armenian uprising. The treacherous Vasak of Siwnikʿ was said to have carried off children of the Mamikonians, Kamsarakans, and other families that had been involved in the revolt; they were later entrusted to those who would care for their interests (Pʿarpecʿi, text, pp. 75-76, tr., p. 300). The priests and leaders of the rebellious Armenians, whom Łazar Pʿarpecʿi named individually, were deported to the province of Gorgān; later, when Yazdegerd was at war with the Hephthalites in the eastern empire, these captives were moved to the citadel at Nīšāpūr (Pʿarpecʿi, text, pp. 75, 86, 87, tr., pp. 300, 306, 307), where they were subsequently tortured and executed (Pʿarpecʿi, text, pp. 86-104, tr., pp. 306-16).

In the first year of his reign Pērōz (459-84) is supposed to have freed the Armenian nobles from their imprisonment and settled them in Areia; in his sixth year they were sent back to their homeland (Pʿarpecʿi, text, pp. 108-10, tr., pp. 319-20). It is not clear from where Ełišē, who was writing in the late 6th century, took his reports on the deportation of the populations of Artašat, Gaṙni, Ani, Artagerkʿ, Erkaynordkʿ, Arxni, Barjraboł, Xoranist, Caxanist, Ołakan, Arpʿaneal, Van, Gṙeal, Kapoyt, Orotn, and Vašakašat before the battle of Awarayr in 451 (tr. Thomson, p. 119; many of these place names are attested only in this text). The deportation, supposedly by Vasak, of priestly families from Gaṙni, Eramunkʿ, Drasxanakert, Vardanašat, the fortresses of Awšakan, Pʿaṙaxot, Sardeankʿ, the city of Jołakert, the fortress of Armavir, and the towns of Kuaš, Aruč, and Ašnak, as well as from Aragacotn and the city and province of Artašat is also known only from Ełišē’s history. His report resembles in many respects that of Pʿarpecʿi, but his claim to be an eyewitness of the events is untrue; his history reflects much more clearly the prevailing point of view in the late 6th century, a clue to determining the period in which his text was written (tr. Thomson, pp. 18-19).

During the war with the Byzantine empire in the time of the emperor Anastasius Sasanian troops under Kavād I (488-531, with interruption) succeeded in capturing Theodosioupolis (modern Erzurum) and Amida (Christensen, p. 7). Constantinus, the military governor of Theodosioupolis, was deported to Persia (Zacharias Rhetor, 7.3; Michael the Syrian, 9.7) along with many others (cf. Malalas, 16.9; Theophanes, I, p. 144; Wright, p. 37). The conquest of Amida and the deportation of the population were mentioned frequently by both Byzantine and Arab authors (though there is no mention of deportations in the works of Evagrius, 3.37, and Georgius Cedrenus, p. 628; for confusion with Hamadān, see Eutychius, CSCO L, p. 191; Yāqūt, Boldān I, p. 194; cf. Nöldeke, Geschichte der Perser, p. 138 n. 3). Only Joshua the Stylite mentioned the number of deportees, more than 80,000; others were stoned outside the city walls, and still others suffered a miserable death. The old, the maimed, and those who had hidden themselves were not deported (pp. 42-43). According to Zacharias (7.4), the “nobles, all the high officials, and the craftsmen were transported into the Sasanian empire, accompanied by a Sasanian commander.” The captives were taken to Rām-Kavād (later Arrajān; Mid. Pers. wyḥcʾmtˈ kwʾtˈ, attested on a seal; Gignoux, p. 15 no. 1.3; cf. Sundermann, pp. 98-99; Ḥamza, I, p. 55: Beh az-Āmid Kavād; Dīnavarī, ed. Guirgass, p. 68: Abar-Qubāḏ; Yāqūt, Boldān, I, p. 194: Abaz-Qubāḏ) on the border between Ḵūzestān and Fārs (Ṭabarī, I, pp. 887-88; cf. Metzler, p. 198). According to Procopius (De Aedificiis 3.2.7), Mayyāfāreqīn had been spared by Kavād; the deportation of its inhabitants is mentioned only in Arabic sources (Dīnavarī, ed. Guirgass, p. 68; Ṯaʿālebī, Ḡorar, pp. 594-95; Yāqūt, Boldān I, p. 194). Zacharias’ report that Kavād’s prisoners of war were returned to their homes was based on texts (or documents?) sympathetic to the Sasanians (7.5; cf. Procopius, De Bello Persico 1.7.34-35; Pauly-Wissowa, XXIII/1, col. 363). In 501-02 Kavād ordered the Lakhmid Noʿmān to enter Byzantine territory; he laid waste the area around Ḥarrān and Edessa (modern Urfa) and carried off 18,500 people (Joshua the Stylite, chap. 52; Wright, pp. 40-41). In the last year of Kavād’s reign, and at his behest, the Lakhmid Monḏer III invaded Byzantine territory (Rothstein, pp. 79-81); Zacharias (8.5) described the advance to Hemesa/Ḥemṣ, Apamea, and the region of Antioch and the deportation of many prisoners. Theophanes (I, p. 178) and Jacob of Edessa (Brooks, pp. 298-99, 319) reported that the Saracens and Persians carried off booty and prisoners, whereas Malalas (18.32) mentioned only the associated destruction.

Ḵosrow I Anōšīravān (531-79). Ḵosrow I captured Antioch in 540; the city was completely destroyed, and royal treasures were carried away (John Lydus, 3.54; John of Ephesus, 6.4-5; Michael the Syrian, 9.4; cf. Procopius, DeBello Persico 2.9.16; Masʿūdī, Morūj, ed. Pellat, I, p. 307; Chronicon Anonymumad Annum1234, tr. CSCO CIX, p. 152; Sebeos confused Syrian Antioch with the city of the same name in Pisidia, p. 69, tr., p. 7; cf. ANTIOCH, p. 123). According to a single source, the inhabitants suffered little, however (Chronicum Anonymum ad Annum 846, CSCO III, p. 229; tr, CSCO IV, p. 174). Jacob of Edessa, on the other hand, knew of the deportation of prisoners of war from the cities of Sura, Beroea, Antioch, Apamea, Callinicum, and Batnai in Osrhoene (Brooks, text, pp. 300-01, tr., pp. 320-21) to Wēh Antīōk Ḵosrow/Rūmagān (Ar. Rūmīya), a city that Ḵosrow had founded in the vicinity of Ctesiphon (Procopius, De Bello Persico 2.14.1: Antiocheia Chosroou; Ḥamza, I, p. 57: Beh-az-Andīv-e Ḵosrow); it is not clear whether it was identical with Māhōzē Ḥəḏattā, mentioned in the Syriac conciliar acts (see, e.g., Pauly-Wissowa, Supp. IV, col. 1116; Honigmann and Maricq, p. 46; cf. Chabot, p. 676; Fiey, 1967b, p. 37; see ARCHEOLOGY iv, p. 304). The most detailed information on the building of this city was provided by Procopius (De Bello Persico 2.14.1-4), who drew on a source friendly to the Sasanians, so that the reliability of certain details may well be debatable. Ṭabarī (I, pp. 898, 959-60) and Ṯaʿālebī (Ḡorar, pp. 612-14) elaborated this tradition, according to which the city was built on the plan of the Syrian metropolis and Ḵosrow did everything in his power to make the residents want to stay. Barāz, a Christian from Gondēšāpūr, is said to have been entrusted with the governorship. According to Procopius, the inhabitants were fed at the expense of the royal treasury. Baths, racetracks, and musical performances were also provided. The inhabitants were “the king’s people,” subject only to him; supposedly even an escaped slave who reached the city and was claimed as a relation by one of the residents could not then be repossessed (cf. Masʿūdī, Morūj, ed. Pellat, I, pp. 232-33; Dīnavarī, ed. Guirgass, p. 70; Eutychius, pp. 207-08; Chronicle of Seert 7.2).

On the other hand, John of Ephesus reflected the Roman point of view (6.4) in his reports of the deportation of an enormous number of prisoners under Ḵosrow I: In the year 573 the cities of Apamea and Daras (present-day Dara) were taken and their residents carried off in captivity (CSCO III, p. 230, tr., IV, p. 174: 98,000; Michael the Syrian, 10.9, Budge, I, p. 78: 90,000); the Sasanian general Āḏarmahān is supposed to have deported 292,000 people from Apamea and the surrounding area (6.6; cf. similar reports in CSCO CIX, pp. 161-62; Michael the Syrian, 10.9, Budge, I, p. 78, all based on John’s report, though the numbers vary from 92,000 to 292,000). Elsewhere John (6.19) reckoned the total number of deportees from Daras, Apamea, and other, unnamed cities at 275,000. He gave no details on the destination of these captives, other than “the land of the Persians” (6.6, 6.19; cf. 6.14). In this connection Bar Hebraeus, whose reports are often unreliable, mentioned the conquest of Aleppo and the “bitter captivity” of the cities of Antioch, Aleppo, and Apamea (Budge, I, p. 74). Theophylact Simocatta (3.5.2-4) referred to the fortress of Giligerdōn, in which the residents of the conquered city of Daras were sheltered (for the location, see Kettenhofen, 1988, pp. 96-101). They were, however, rescued and brought back to the Byzantine empire (Photius, I, no. 65). Certainly belonging to the genre of hagiography is the story of 2,000 (300 in CSCO CIX, p. 162; Michael the Syrian, 10.10, Budge, I, p. 78; Chronicle of Seert, pp. 224-25, where the story is set in the time of Šāpūr I) beautiful virgins whom Ḵosrow selected as gifts for the heathen barbarians; in their Christian zeal they threw themselves into the river and drowned, in order to avoid being forced to betray their religion (John of Ephesus, 6.7; cf. Fiey, 1970, pp. 359-60).

Resettlement of tribes and peoples within the Sasanian empire during the reign of Ḵosrow I was frequently mentioned. He settled the people of the Bārez in different parts of the empire (Ṭabarī, I, p. 894; for the name, see Nöldeke, Geschichte der Perser, p. 157). He is supposed to have left only eighty of the people of Ṣūl alive and to have settled them in Šah-Rām-Pērōz, the seat of a Nestorian bishop (Ṭabarī, I, pp. 894-95; Guidi, 1889, p. 414; Markwart, Ērānšahr, p. 73). Ṭabarī (I, p. 895) also mentioned the resettlement of 10,000 people (Abḵāz, Banjar, Balanjar, Alān) in Azerbaijan and neighboring regions (cf. Nöldeke, Geschichte der Perser, p. 157; Altheim and Stiehl, 1954, pp. 138-39 and nn. 1-2). The people identified by Balāḏorī (Fotūḥ, pp. 194-95) as Sīāsījūn/Sīāsījīya (but cf. Kramers: nešāstagān “warrior"?) were resettled in Ḵosrow’s newly built cities Šāberān, Masqaṭ, Bāb al-Abwāb (Darband), Dabīl (Arm. Dvin), and Našawā/Naxčavan/Nakjavān and the castles of Wayṣ, Kelāb, and Sāhyūnis. Sogdians and Persians were resettled in the city of Sōḡdabīl in Jorzān (Georgia; for location, see Minorsky, 1930, map 2; Christensen, Iran Sass., p. 369). Ebn Ḵordāḏbeh’s report (p. 30; cf. Altheim and Stiehl, 1954, p. 44) of Ḵosrow’s deportation of members from every family (az har ḵāna) to Farḡāna is probably based on popular etymology.

Ḵosrow II Parvēz (590-628, with interruption). A few reports have survived from the time of Ḵosrow II, who conquered Jerusalem in May 614 and deported its population, along with the patriarch and the holy cross, to Ctesiphon (Peeters, 1924, p. 307). According to Sebeos (p. 116, tr., p. 69), 57,000 people were taken prisoner and 35,000 of them deported; later the king is supposed to have mercifully ordered the rebuilding of the city and the return of the prisoners, as well as expulsion of the Jews, but there is no factual basis for these reports (for anti-Jewish polemics, differing in detail, see, Theophanes, I, pp. 300-01; CSCO CIX, p. 178; Michael the Syrian, 11.1; for a report that 90,000 perished at the hands of the Jews, see Georgius Cedrenus, p. 715). An account of this deportation is preserved in Georgian and Arabic, though embellished with hagio-graphical details, including many for which historical evidence has still not been adduced (Graf; Peeters, 1923; CSCO CCII-CCIII). Eutychius’ version (p. 216) is largely legendary.

Deportations from Mesopotamia occurred earlier than those from Jerusalem. According to the Chronography of Theophanes (I, pp. 293, 295), Daras was taken in the year 606, and an unspecified number of people were taken prisoner and carried off from Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine, and Phoenicia. In 609 the Sasanians conquered Edessa and transplanted the residents to Sīstān and Khorasan (Bar Hebraeus, ed. and tr. J. B. Abbeloos and T. J. Lamy, II, Louvain, 1874, p. 125, apud Fiey, 1970, p. 63 n. 94); Jacob of Edessa barely mentioned the deportation but reported that the exiles returned after the murder of Ḵosrow (Brooks, text, pp. 306-07, tr., p. 323). In the Chronicon Paschale (I, p. 699) and Sebeos’ history (Macler, pp. 61-62) only Edessa is mentioned as having fallen into the hands of the Persians. Theophanes (I, p. 299) reported the deportation of many thousands from Caesarea in Cappadocia (cf. Michael the Syrian, 11.1); Georgius Cedrenus (pp. 714-15) those from the cities of Asia, from Damascus (Theophanes, p. 300), and from “the whole of Egypt, Alexandria, and Libya to Ethiopia”; Jacob of Edessa (Brooks, pp. 306, 323) those from the “entire Roman empire to Bithynia, Asia, and the Black Sea”; Michael the Syrian (11.1) that of “prisoners without number.” Many of these reports are unconfirmed, and some are very much exaggerated (e.g., Theophanes, I, p. 300).

After the conquest of Karin/Erzurum in 610 Bishop John led the deportees to Hamadān, which the king had granted to them (Macler, p. 63; cf. p. 36). Ṭabarī (I, p. 1003) referred only generally to this incident, noting that Sasanian troops conquered the Roman lands, killed the soldiers, and carried off the children into captivity.

Outstanding problems.

Many questions remain unanswered. In sources like the Syriac Chronicle the conquest of a city (see Guidi, 1891, p. 19) may be mentioned but not the deportation of its inhabitants; even when such deportations are reported the numbers given are unreliable (e.g., Faustus, ed. Patkanean, pp. 145-46; tr. Garsoian, p. 175). Many texts leave the impression that entire populations of towns and villages were carried off in captivity, but these reports are generally exaggerations, as is clear from the brief intervals separating the repeated deportations from Antioch in the mid-3rd century C.E. (see above). Only a few clues are available, however, to the criteria for selection (age, skills, etc.). Joshua the Stylite, for example, reported (chap. 53; Wright, pp. 42-43) that older and disabled people were exempted from the deportation from Amida in 503. According to the church history of Zacharias Rhetor (7.4), “the notables, all high officials, and the craftsmen were gathered and led away by a Sasanian governor” (cf. Rubin, 1960, n. 1038). According to one report, in 614, after the prisoners were questioned about their occupations, the skilled craftsmen were taken away; the remainder were forced to live under such harsh conditions that many perished (CSCO CCIII, pp. 16-17), which Paul Peeters (1924, p. 307) considered common practice among the Sasanians.

Although no generalizations are possible about the Parthian period, deportation of populations seems not to have been a common feature of royal policy. On the other hand, the Sasanians, who were engaged in great military struggles with Rome and Byzantium, seized upon such measures and continued to rely on them into the 7th century (pace Altheim and Stiehl, 1954, p. 24). Some scholars (e.g., Pigulevskaja, p. 125) even consider the prospect of capturing prisoners to have been the motivating force behind the military campaigns. Especially the peoples of the provinces along the eastern frontiers of the Roman empire must have endured several deportations. Among the places to which the prisoners were taken several provinces stand out: Under Šāpūr I the home province of Fārs and the region along the lower Tigris; under Šāpūr II, as under the Achaemenids (cf. Herodotus, 6.119), especially Ḵūzestān (for the only contrary report, see Ammianus, Res Gestae 20.6.7; cf. Ḥamza, I, p. 53: “in the country”); under Kavād I the border territory between Fārs and Ḵūzestān; under the two Ḵosrows Āsōristān. Settlement of new groups in these provinces was mentioned several times, and the purpose may have been to increase the population. It is even more difficult to learn from limited sources about the deportation of peoples within the Sasanian empire. Why, for example, were the Kadisēnoi deported to Giligerdōn (Theophylact, 3.5.5.) or herdsmen from Kermān to the district of Māsabaḏān (Acta Martyrum II, p. 322; cf. Fiey, 1969, p. 182; Procopius, De Bello Persico 2.28.17, 2.28.30). According to the Acta Martyrum (II, pp. 209-10), Šāpūr I gathered craftsmen from among his subjects, settled them, and erected for them a workshop beside his palace. The report that, after the conquest of Nisibis in 363 and the forced exile of the Roman population (Ammianus, Res Gestae 25.9.5-13), the city was settled by Persians is plausible; the same thing must have happened in neighboring cities.

It seems certain from many indications not only that families were kept together but also that larger groups (like residents of a single village or even a city) were resettled together. In Gondēšāpūr the clergymen from Antioch who had been deported there elected a successor to their late bishop (Chronicle of Seert, pp. 221-22; cf. Baldus, pp. 257-59). Also, although the picture painted by Procopius (De Bello Persico 2.14) is biased, the settlement of at least a large proportion of the deported Antiochenes in Rūmagān seems established, as Ḵosrow entrusted control of their affairs to Barāz, a Christian (Ṭabarī, I, pp. 959-60); the creation of a special quarter with five wards (see ANTIOCH, p. 124) calls to mind several later comparisons. John of Ephesus mentioned an address to more than 30,000 prisoners (6.19). That captives from different locations were settled in a single city is also clear from the report in the Acta Martyrum according to which thirty families from every city in the empire were settled at Karḵā ḏə Lāḏān, though the numbers are certainly exaggerated. Such measures were probably influenced by a desire to avoid a ghetto situation.

On practical arrangements for the transport of prisoners of war information is very poor. The Dēnkard (8.26, apud Christensen, Iran Sass., p. 215) contains reports on the conduct of wars, but it does not provide any information on deportations. Ammianus Marcellinus (Res Gestae 19.9.2, 20.6.8) mentioned that the prisoners taken from Amida and Singara had their hands fastened behind their backs (cf. Ełišē, tr. Thomson, p. 93), a practice that was already attested in the Near East in the 3rd century B.C.E. According to Ełišē (tr. Thomson, p. 238), the princes deported after the battle of Awarayr (451) were chained hand and foot, but his text contains many exaggerated reports. In the Chronicle of Michael the Syrian (10.9) the fettering of men and women before their deportation following the conquest of Apamea in the 6th century was reported; according to the Chronicon Anonymum ad Annum1234, the men were killed and the women and children put in chains. It was also reported that the Sasanian general Šahrvarāz sent the prisoners that he had taken in Syria to Ḵosrow II in chains (tr. CSCO CIX, pp. 162, 176; for reports of individual clerics carried off in chains, see Bedjan, pp. 257-58, 264; cf. Peeters, 1946, pp. 154-59; CSCO CCIII, p. 22). Nevertheless, it is improbable that all prisoners of war were chained. Nor is there any information on the branding of deportees. That the expulsion of great masses of human beings from the conquered cities was accompanied by great privation is clear from Ammianus’ compassionate description of the many infirm and elderly women who were among them; many faltered and seemed unlikely to survive, so that they were left behind with their calf muscles or hamstrings cut (Res Gestae 19.6.2.). A glimpse of the deportees’ fate can be gained from the Annals of Zonaras: Prisoners received only scant daily rations, just enough for survival, and once a day they were led to water “like cattle” (12.23; cf. Lieu, p. 478). A report that Šāpūr I put prisoners to death on the return march in order to block a narrow valley that had previously been opened by draft animals (Zonaras, 12.23) is less believable and represents a literary convention. Cattle were taken along with the prisoners (Joshua the Stylite, chap. 52; Wright, pp. 40-41).

The sources provide no details on how deportees were transported, whether or not they were arrayed in a specific order, and what measures were taken to prevent escape; nor is it clear that they were allowed to carry cooking utensils or how provisions were obtained. Prisoners could not have been left to die in large numbers on the way, for the specific purpose of the deportation was to resettle them, in order to take advantage of their technical skills. The Sasanians were always quick to recognize the superior accomplishments of their enemies and to make use of them for their own purposes (Lieu, p. 478). Especially hydraulic engineers, metalworkers, irrigation specialists, construction workers, stonemasons, textile workers, physicians, teachers, and other skilled people were sought (cf. Faustus, ed. Patkanean, 5.4; Trever, p. 272). For example, Afsā (ʾpsʾy; Back, ŠVŠ l. 9) the scribe, who had been born in Carrhae, must have been among the deportees who participated in construction of Šāpūr I’s monument in Bīšāpūr; Greek letters found on it are further evidence of foreign participation (Ghirshman, 1938, p. 13; idem, 1962, figs. 180-86; Back, p. 381; pace Christensen apud Ghirshman, 1936, p. 128). The rectangular plan of this city (Ghirshman, 1962, fig. 176) confirms the influence of Roman prisoners; Gondēšāpūr and Ērānšahr-Šāpūr, founded by Šāpūr II in the 4th century (Vanden Berghe, pp. 66-67; Ghirshman, 1962, p. 180), were both, to judge from their plans, also laid out by Romans. Roman specialists laid out irrigation canals and were thus responsible for the economic development of Ḵūzestān, as has been confirmed by archeological evidence (Adams, 1962, fig. 5): The partially preserved dam at Šūštar, known today as Band-e Qaysar (Ṭabarī, I, p. 827; Nöldeke, Geschichte der Perser, p. 33 n. 2), as well as the bridges over the Āb-e Dez at Dezfūl and over the Karḵa at Ērānšahr-Šāpūr, betray the use of Roman prisoners of war (Altheim and Stiehl, 1954, p. 22). Furthermore, elements of Roman iconography have been recognized in the Sasanian rock reliefs (Peeters, 1924, p. 299; Ghirshman, 1962, p. 159; for a contrary view, see BĪŠĀPŪR, p. 287) and traces of Roman building techniques even at Ṭāq-e Kesrā and in the monuments of Ṭāq-e Bostān (Fiey, 1967a, p. 400; ARCHEOLOGY iv, p. 304). Particularly when the technique was not of Persian origin, for example, in the floor mosaics at Bīšāpūr, the participation of foreigners is certain (cf. von Gall; Lieu, p. 479; Göbl, pp. 290-91). The story that olive trees were planted in Iraq by Roman prisoners (Ṭabarī, I, p. 845; Masʿūdī, Morūj, ed. Pellat, I, p. 299; Ṯaʿālebī, Ḡorar, p. 528) is entirely legendary, however (Nöldeke, Geschichte der Perser, pp. 56 n. 2, 66 n. 2). Unfortunately, the author of the Chronicle of Seert did not specify the origins of the people that Kavād I settled in new villages in Arbāyestān and employed in agricultural production; as they received permission to construct a church, they must have been Roman prisoners (p. 125).

In the time of Šāpūr II deported craftsmen included especially silk weavers and embroiderers (cf. Ṯaʿālebī, Ḡorar, p. 530; Acta Martyrum II, p. 209). He settled them almost exclusively in the fertile lands of Ḵūzestān, which were a center of the textile industry. Their numbers were augmented under Ḵosrow I, in whose reign the silk industry became so important that the empire was no longer limited to transit trade in silk, which it monopolized, but itself manufactured textiles for export (Pigulevskaja, pp. 159-69). Masʿūdī reported that, after the resettling of the deported Roman prisoners in Ḵūzestān, the manufacture of silk brocade (al-dībāj al-tostarī) and other kinds of silk surpassed that of linen and carpets (Morūj, ed. Pellat, I, p. 301; Ebn Ḥawqal, p. 256; Christensen, Iran Sass., p. 127; Huart and Delaporte, p. 378; see BYZANTINE-IRANIAN RELATIONS, p. 594). Maqdesī (Badʾ III, p. 157) remarked on the flourishing of medicine at Gondēšāpūr and Tostar/Šūštar after the settlement of captives there (cf. Procopius, De Bello Gothico 8.10.11-14; Ṭabarī I, p. 845; Chronicle of Seert 7.2).

Urbanization and social conditions within the Persian empire were generally advanced by the captives’ skills. Nevertheless, the state might agree to release them in exchange for ransom, which represented a considerable source of funds (see, e.g., ŠKZ, Parth. text l. 4, Gk. text l. 9; Back, p. 501 n. 163; Procopius, De Bello Persico 2.5.29-30, 2.13.2-6; cf. Altheim and Stiehl, 1954, p. 47).

The Sasanian kings did not consider the use of Roman captives as footsoldiers in the army; rather, because of these captives’ skills, they could ease the task of Sasanian troops (Lieu, p. 478). The military purposes behind the resettlements within the empire are clear, as modern authors have correctly emphasized (Christensen, Iran Sass., pp. 369-70; Altheim and Stiehl, 1954, pp. 138-39). It was Clément Huart’s opinion that the Parthian king’s resettlement of the Mards was intended to provide guards for the Caspian Gates (Huart and Delaporte, p. 322, though Isidore of Charax provided no basis for this conclusion). The creation of a professional army and the organization of border defenses similar to the Roman limes required the formation of numerous contingent forces. Ṭabarī mentioned (I, p. 894) the settlement of the Bārez in various places where they were to support the military; the Ṣūl were supposed to do the same at Šahrām-Pērōz, and other peoples were settled in the borderlands of the Caucasus in order to protect the Sasanian empire from invasion from the north (see, e.g., Procopius, De Bello Persico 2.28.17, 2.28.30). The settlement of Arab tribes in distant Bahrain and Kermān under Šāpūr II seems, on the other hand, to have been intended to populate regions with unattractive climates, while at the same time bringing them under control (cf. Ammianus, Res Gestae 20.6.7; Altheim and Stiehl, 1965, p. 361).

Legal and social status of prisoners.

The preserved texts provide very little information on the legal status of deported Roman prisoners. Ammianus (Res Gestae 19.6.2) and more often Procopius (De Bello Persico 1.7.32, 2.5.26, 2.9.14), as well as the author of the Chronicle of Seert (4.3) and Ṭabarī (I, p. 894), referred to the institution of slavery (ʿobūdīya; Christensen, Iran Sass., p. 213; Downey, p. 544; Altheim and Stiehl, 1954, p. 48; Rubin, p. 330; for an opposing view, see Lieu, p. 481). According to Zacharias Rhetor, deportees were more correctly designated as “the king’s prisoners of war” (7.4; Procopius, De Bello Persico 2.14.3: “the king’s subjects”; cf. 2.26.4 for the Roman point of view). Ḵosrow I insisted on this designation and declared the prisoners subject to his authority alone. This arrangement seems already to have been the practice under Šāpūr I, for, according to his inscription (Back, ŠKZ), deportees were generally settled on fallow crown lands and in royal cities, which they helped to build. From one report by Procopius (De Bello Persico 2.14.4) it can be concluded that noble Persians also had the right to enslave prisoners but that, if the latter then escaped to Rūmagān and were claimed as relatives by residents there, they could not be repossessed by their owners. It cannot be determined from the sources whether the legal status of deportees was the same in all periods and in all places or in what form they paid taxes. They seem, however, not to have lived in oppressive conditions. When a prisoner returned to his homeland, his former legal status was restored according to the Roman doctrine of postliminium (cf. Ammianus, Res Gestae 19.9.6). On the numbers of those born in captivity in Persia there is no information (Lieu, p. 478).

In the Chronicle of Seert it is reported that Šāpūr I provided prisoners with land for cultivation and the use of living quarters (pp. 221, 223; cf. Mārī b. Solaymān, in Peeters, 1924, p. 292; Pigulevskaja, p. 127), but it cannot be determined whether they could own the land. From all appearances prisoners of war and their descendants did not play an active political role in the Sasanian state administration. During Šāpūr’s reign they are supposed even to have enjoyed freedom of religion and to have had the right to build monasteries and churches (though the report is anachronistic as far as monasteries are concerned; Chronicle of Seert, p. 221). Accounts of the martyrdom of Pusai, descendant of a Roman prisoner of war, provide valuable clues: As a gifted craftsman, he was admitted to membership in a cooperative (Syr. knūšyā) that erected a workshop next to the governor’s palace in Ērānšahr-Šāpūr. He was greatly honored and rewarded because of his skill and was named overseer of the workshop (Syr. rēš ummānē) and eventually of the workshops in all provinces of the empire (Acta Martyrum II, p. 210; cf. Wiessner, 1967, p. 168). Sozomenus called him overseer of all the royal workshops (2.11.1). In the longer account of the martyrdom of Simeon (Wiessner, 1967, p. 176) this official was called master of the royal workshops (Syr. kārōgbedò, explained in the text as ʾahīḏ ummānē ḏə malkā; Patrologia Syriaca I/2, cols. 773-76). In this capacity Pusai was ordered to visit the craftsmen in the city of Šāḏ-Šāpūr (Acta Martyrum II, p. 210). Whether or not these reports are reliable, they do suggest the heights to which one of “the king’s subjects,” the descendant of a deported Christian, might rise (cf. Wiessner, 1968; Pigulevskaja, pp. 159-61; Lieu, pp. 484-85). On the other hand, Procopius’ description of the “Roman city” (Procopius, De Bello Persico 2.14.1-2) where a bath and a racetrack were erected and an especially refined life style provided must be treated with reserve, though it must also be assumed that captives received adequate provisions. Procopius’ report (De Bello Persico 1.7.32-34) that Kavād I had humanely allowed the prisoners from Amida to return to their homes after a short time (cf. Zacharias Rhetor, 7.5.) also inspires a certain reserve. In the shorter account of the martyrdom of Simeon the mercy of Šāpūr II toward deportees is stressed (Patrologia Syriaca 1/2, col. 959). John of Ephesus, who wrote from the Roman point of view, emphasized the close watch kept on captives (p. 239; Fiey, 1967b, p. 27, characterizing the city as no less than a “labor concentration camp”). It is uncertain whether, under the terms of an agreement between Ḵosrow II and the Byzantine emperor Maurice in 591, all Roman deportees and their descendants were repatriated (Fiey, 1967a, p. 416). In the account of Mebodes, repeated by Theophylact (5.7.1-2), the rescue of prisoners who had grown old in captivity was the pretext for Maurice’s military campaign to Ctesiphon, but this report must be viewed with caution.

How the deportation of Roman prisoners affected the indigenous populations is also unknown; very probably the latter bore resettlement on their own land with considerable resentment. There is no indication in the sources of much internal unrest or of many attempts to escape. Procopius’ report (De Bello Persico 1.7.34) that Kavād I’s prisoners only pretended to escape is unfounded. Certainly the description of a failed attempt to rescue more than 30,000 captives after the defeat of the emperor Tiberius II, who was held responsible for the failure, is tendentious (John of Ephesus, 6.19; but see Lieu, p. 499). Theophylact reported (3.5.6-7) on the escape and flight of the deportees from Daras imprisoned at Giligerdōn and mentioned the common fate of the people of different origins (Roman prisoners of war and Kadisēnoi) imprisoned there.

The impact of deportations.

It is difficult to assess the impact of increased numbers of skilled workers and their technical knowledge on the functioning of the overall Persian economy. One of the most significant consequences of the deportations carried out under the two Šāpūrs was the spread of Christianity in the Sasanian empire (Chronicle of Seert, pp. 221-22; Christensen, Iran Sass., p. 266; Downey, p. 261; Gagé, p. 359; Fiey, 1974; Chaumont, 1988, p. 158). The claim in the Chronicle of Arbela that, when that city was conquered, there were more than twenty bishoprics in the Sasanian empire seems improbable (pace Chaumont, 1988, pp. 32-35). Already in the 3rd century the high priest Kirdēr included krestyānē (Christians from the Roman empire resettled by the Sasanians, according to Brock, 1975, pp. 91-95; cf. idem, 1982, pp. 3-4; Lieu, p. 482) among the followers of suppressed religions. Owing to the deportations of Christian prisoners under the two Šāpūrs and despite a decade of persecutions under Šāpūr II, three of the five bishops of Ḵūzestān who attended the first synod in Seleucia in 410 came from cities in which Roman prisoners had been settled (Fiey, 1969, p. 238). At the council of 424 Rēw-Ardašīr, to which prisoners had been deported under Šāpūr I, was designated as the metropolitan see of the ecclesiastical province of Fārs (Chabot, p. 681). In the acts of the synod of that year a bishopric by the name of Šḇīṯā ḏə Bəlašparr (captivity of Bəlašparr; Guidi, 1889, p. 414; for the location, see Fiey, 1968, III, pl. I) is attested; if Šḇīṯā was identical with Šwīta (Fiey, 1970, p. 382; cf. Chabot, p. 82), then there is also a reference to the captivity of Gorgān. It is clear from their names that these bishoprics had been established as the result of deportations. Nothing shows the role of Roman prisoners in the establishment of Christian worship in the Sasanian empire better than the insistence of many authors that some of the Sasanian kings were converted to Christianity, though there is no historical evidence to support this claim (Eutychius, p. 214; cf. Garsoïan, p. 568). Reports on the deportation of Christian prisoners form the basis for many legends, like that of the conversion of Marv to Christianity (Chronicle of Seert, pp. 253-58; cf. Sachau, 1918; Messina; Lieu, pp. 486-87) or of Mār Aḥḥa (cf. Fiey, 1965, pp. 621-25); it has been suggested, however, that earlier and more reliable reports were incorporated into the account of the martyrdom of Qandīda (Ar. Qandīra; Chronicle of Seert, p. 238), who was killed in the time of Bahrām II (cf. Brock, 1978; Lieu, pp. 483-84).

Theodor Nöldeke commented that the “old barbaric custom of transplanting the residents of entire cities and countrysides remained common among the Sasanians” (p. 116), but he did not attempt a more differentiated picture; it is often overlooked, for example, that the Sasanians’ enemies shared in this “barbaric custom.” Without attempting to provide complete coverage or to assess motivation, the following sources can be cited: Herodian (6.4.6), Ammianus (Res Gestae 24.1.9), Panegyrici Latini (4(8).21.1), Libanius (59.83-85), Joshua the Stylite (chap. 79); Jacob of Edessa (Brooks, text, p. 300, tr., p. 320; cf. Michael the Syrian, 10.13; Zacharias Rhetor, 8.5), Chronicum Pseudo-Dionysianum Vulgo Dictum (CSCO XCI, pp. 179-80, tr., CXXI, pp. 133-34), Theophylact Simocatta (2.5.3), and John of Ephesus (6.34). Even after the two great empires had achieved a certain balance of power and the Sasanians had come to be recognized as equal in diplomatic negotiations (cf. Garsoïan, p. 577), deportation of human beings remained a tool of policy until the 7th century. The technological benefits gained through the exploitation of their skills must have been highly prized by Sasanian rulers, who transported them over long distances, often more than several hundred kilometers, to Persia. 


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M. Back, Die sasanidischen Staatsinschriften, Acta Iranica 18, Tehran and Liège, 1978.

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Georgius Cedrenus …, ed. I. Bekker, I, Corpus Scriptorum Historiae Byzantinae 33, Bonn, 1838.

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Idem, Iran. Parther und Sasaniden, Munich, 1962.

P. Gignoux, Catalogue des sceaux, camées et bulles sassanides …, Paris, 1978.

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Idem, Un nuovo testo siriaco sulla storia degli ultimi Sasanidi, Leiden, 1891.

A. Günther, Beiträge zur Geschichte der Kriege zwischen Römern und Parthern, Berlin, 1922.

W. B. Henning, “The Great Inscripton of Šāpūr I,” BSOS 9, 1937-39, pp. 823-49; repr. Acta Iranica 14, pp. 601-27.

H. Hewsen, “The Successors of Tiridates the Great. A Contribution to the History of Armenia in the Fourth Century,” Revue des Études Arméniennes 13, 1978-79, pp. 99-123.

W. Hinz, Altiranische Funde und Forschungen, Berlin, 1969.

G. Hoffmann, Auszüge aus syrischen Akten persischer Märtyrer, Leipzig, 1880.

E. Honigmann and A. Maricq, Recherches sur les Res Gestae Divi Saporis, Brussels, 1953.

C. Huart and L. Delaporte, L’Iran antique. Élam et Perse et la civilisation iranienne, 2nd ed., Paris, 1943.

Julian, Panegyric in Honour of the Emperor Constantius, tr. W. C. Wright, I, London and Cambridge, 1913.

E. Kettenhofen, Die römisch-persischen Kriege des 3. Jahrhunderts n. Chr… ., Wiesbaden, 1982.

Idem, “Das Staatsgefängnis der Sāsāniden,” DieWelt des Orients 19, 1988, pp. 96-101.

G. A. Koshelenko, Drevneĭshie gosudarstva Kavkaza i Sredneĭ Azii (The ancient states of the Caucasus and Central Asia), Moscow, 1985.

J. H. Kramers, “The Military Colonization of the Caucasus and Armenia under the Sassanids,” BSOS 8, 1935-37, pp. 613-18.

J. Labourt, Le christianisme dans l’empire perse sous la dynastie sassanide (224-632), Paris, 1904.

S. N. C. Lieu, “Captives, Refugees and Exiles. A Study of Cross-Frontier Civilian Movements and Contacts between Rome and Persia from Valerian to Jovian,” in P. Freeman and D. Kennedy, eds., The Defence of the Roman and Byzantine East. Proceedings of a Colloquium Held at the University of Sheffield in April 1986, BAR 297/2, Oxford, 1986, pp. 475-505.

D. MacDonald, “Dating the Fall of Dura-Europos,” Historia 35, 1986, pp. 45-68.

H. A. Manandian, Tigrane II et Rome. Nouveaux éclaircissements à la lumière des sources originales, tr. H. Thorossian, Lisbon, 1963.

Idem, The Trade and Cities of Armenia in Relation to Ancient World Trade, tr. N. G. Garsoïan, Lisbon, 1965.

G. Messina, “Al-Biruni sugli inizi del christianesimo a Merv,” in Al-Biruni Commemoration Volume, Calcutta, 1951, pp. 221-31.

D. Metzler, Ziele und Formen königlicher Innenpolitik im vorislamischen Iran, Münster, 1977. V. Minorsky, “Transcaucasica,” JA 217, 1930, pp. 41-112.

Idem, A History of Sharvān and Darband in the 10th-11th Centuries, Cambridge, 1958.

T. Nöldeke, Aufsätze zur persischen Geschichte, Leipzig, 1887.

Łazar Pʿarpecʿi, History of the Armenians and the Letter to Vahan Mamikonean, ed. and tr. D. Kouymjian, Delmar, N.Y., 1985. Patrologia Syriaca I/2, ed. I. Parisot et al., Paris, 1907.

P. Peeters, “Un nouveau manuscrit arabe du récit de la prise de Jérusalem par les Perses, en 614,” Analecta Bollandiana 38, 1920, pp. 137-47.

Idem, “La prise de Jérusalem par les Perses,” Mélanges de l’Université de Saint-Joseph 9, 1923, pp. 3-42; repr. in P. Peeters, Recherches d’histoire et de philologie orientales I, Brussels, 1951, pp. 78-116.

Idem, “S. Démétrianus évêque d’Antioche?” Analecta Bollandiana 42, 1924, pp. 288-314.

Idem, “Observations sur la vie syriaque de Mar Aba, catholicos de l’église perse (540-552),” Miscellanea Giovanni Mercati 5, Vatican, 1946, pp. 104-08; repr. in P. Peeters, Recherches d’histoire et de philologie orientales II, Brussels, 1951, pp. 154-59.

N. V. Pigulevskaja, Les villes de l’état iranien aux époques parthe et sassanide. Contribution à l’histoire sociale de la Basse Antiquité, Paris and the Hague, 1963.

G. de Plinval, “Horace et le sort des prisonniers d’Orient,” in Mélanges de philologie, de littérature et d’histoire anciennes offerts à J. Marouzeau …, Paris, 1948, pp. 491-95.

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There is no standard Persian term for deportation. In the histories the verbs kūčānīdan and kūč dādan “to force to migrate” and soknā dādan “to resettle” are often used. From ancient to modern times centralizing monarchs of sprawling, ethnically diverse Eurasian empires have moved nomads, peasants, and townspeople across “their” chessboards in the hundreds of thousands. The ultimate motive has probably always been the demonstration of imperial power and symbolic demarcation of territory (cf. Oded, pp. 11, 31), but more pragmatic reasons for removal and relocation respectively can also be identified:

Table 25










economic development




scorched earth


defense of frontiers


Removal is designed either to punish rebellion and to guard against a repetition by fragmenting and exiling the troublemakers or to depopulate a frontier region to hamper an invader (“scorched earth”). The corresponding reasons for relocating people are either to promote the economic development of a particular city or region or to provide for defense of an underpopulated frontier. Removal and relocation exhibit a schematic complementarity, either A:A/B:B or A:B/B:A (cf. Perry, 1975, pp. 203-04). Often the main motive is the capture of a useful population, as in the systematic removal of merchants and artisans from conquered cities like Tabrīz for resettlement in Ottoman Istanbul under Mehmet II (848-86/1454-81, with interruption) and Selim I (918-26/1512-20; İnalcık, pp. 519-20), but sometimes a mixture of motives is apparent.

Deportation is the sanction of choice in a large, newly established empire under a strong, centralizing ruler. Not surprisingly, it is barely known from the considerable periods of fragmentation under petty rulers, as after the ʿAbbasid, Saljuq, Il-khanid, and Timurid dispensations. On the other hand, it appears not to have been employed at the height of the Saljuq or Il-khanid empires; it is not among the policies advocated in such classic manuals of administration as the Sīāsat-nāma of Neẓām-al-Molk, though from Ghaznavid times on the formation of an army from varied ethnic groups remained one motive for uprooting populations. Systematic deportation seems to have been initiated under Tīmūr (771-807/1370-1405) and most widely practiced by the Safavid shah ʿAbbās I (996-1038/1588-1629) and by Nāder Shah Afšār (1149-60/1736-47). Before the 14th century it was overshadowed as a stratagem for demographic engineering by massive incursions and voluntary migrations of Turkish and Mongol nomads, with consequent flight of refugees from conquered and threatened cities. These population movements were generally from east to west, and the thrust of the imperial constructs that arose with them was also westward. Only after the turkicization of Azerbaijan and Anatolia and the establishment of other nomadic invaders in new Persian territories was there a demographic withdrawal eastward, most dramatically apparent in Safavid expansion but reflected in detail in the upsurge of deportations from west to east that began in the late 14th century and peaked during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Tīmūr’s deportations. In Persia Tīmūr came closest to the primarily acquisitive deportation (sürgün) policy of the Ottoman sultans. As he methodically expanded his territory from the province of Transoxania in 784-808/1382-1405, he treated both settled and nomadic populations as part of the booty, deporting selected groups of the former to serve in Samarqand and of the latter to defend the frontiers of Turkestan. In 785/1383 he transplanted the Jāvūn-e Qorbānī Mongols from Ṭūs and Kalāt to Samarqand (Manz, p. 102; Roemer, VIb, p. 49), and when he recaptured Tabrīz in 788/1386 he sent scholars, artisans, and craftsmen in large numbers to Samarqand (Roemer, VIb, p. 58). After his defeat of the Ottoman Bāyazīd in 806/1403 he resettled captives from Amasya and Qayṣarīya (30,000-40,000, according to some accounts), chiefly Qara Tatar nomads, in Transoxania; they rebelled at Dāmḡān en route and were slaughtered in large numbers (Barthold, p. 701; Manz, pp. 80, 102). This particular incident apparently contributed to the myth of Safavid origins, for during the journey Tīmūr was said to have visited Ḵᵛāja ʿAlī, then head of the Ṣafawī order, at Ardabīl and to have been so impressed by his miracles that he granted his request for 30,000 “Turkmen” prisoners from Anatolia, the forebears of the seven Turkmen tribes that helped to found the Safavid dynasty a century later (Roemer, VIa, pp. 205-06). Deportees to Transoxania on such occasions included nomads from the Jalayerid confederation of Iraq (Manz, p. 193 n. 67).

The forced transfer of these and other groups from India, the Qepčāq steppe, Iraq, Syria, and the Persian plateau to Samarqand or the ranges of Khorasan and Transoxania left the home territories open to the Čaḡatāy nomads of Tīmūr’s invading armies. During the struggles over succession some of his garrisons were expelled from Persia, and many of his Transoxanian transplants, including Kurds and Qara Tatars, deserted to their ancestral homes or elsewhere (Manz, p. 102); in at least one instance, one of Tīmūr’s successors reversed his policy: Oloḡ Beg issued a decree in 814/1411 permitting Muslim captives forcibly resettled in Samarqand by Tīmūr to return to their homes (Woods, p. 88). Nevertheless, such massive exchanges of population have left marks throughout southwestern Asia.

Deportations by Shah ʿAbbās I. Shah ʿAbbās inherited a state threatened by the Ottomans in the west and the Uzbeks in the northeast. He bought off the former, in order to gain time to defeat the latter, after which he selectively depopulated the Zagros and Caucasus approaches, deporting Kurds, Armenians, and others who might, willingly or not, supply or support an Ottoman campaign. The Kurds and other warrior nomads were transplanted chiefly to northern Khorasan, in order to help repel Uzbek and Turkmen incursions; urban and rural Armenians and Georgians were resettled in selected Persian cities, in order to promote commerce, crafts, and agriculture. On one occasion ʿAbbās is said to have intended to transplant 40,000 Kurds to northern Khorasan but to have succeeded in deporting only 15,000 before his troops were defeated. His efforts resulted in the rise of five distinct Kurdish “states” northwest of Mašhad: Čenārān, Bām or Mīānābād, Ḵabūšān (later Qūčān, the most important), Darragaz, and Bojnūrd; the last three survived well into the 19th century (Fraser, app. B, pp. 42-43). ʿAbbās is also credited in local tradition with having transplanted to Baluchistan the Kurds who are still there (Jane Fair Bestor, private communication). According to legend, he also deported the Qajar tribe from Qarabāḡ and Ganja to Marv (30,000 families), Khorasan, and Estarābād (Hedāyat, Rawżat al-ṣafā IX, p. 5; cf. Bākīḵānof, p. 173), though it appears to have been established in most of these regions earlier (Eskandar Beg, II, p. 643). If the legend is true these transfers would be classic instances of deportation for the definition and defense of the fragile northern frontiers against the Uzbeks, Turkmen, and Lazgīs; the Zīādoğlū Qajars of Ganja ultimately succumbed to the Russians in 1804 (Bakīḵānof, p. 173).

Shah ʿAbbās’ most renowned deportation was on the pattern B:A, involving both scorched-earth tactics and the capture of a useful population. This transfer had been anticipated by Shah Ṭahmāsb (930-84/1524-76), who in 941/1534-35 retreated before the invading Ottomans, destroying crops and settlements and driving refugees, including Armenians, before him. During his campaign in northern Azerbaijan in 1013-14/1603-05 ʿAbbās destroyed all crops and immovable property and herded the population, sometimes of complete towns like Aqčaqalʿa and Jolfā, “out of harm’s way,” onto the plain of Ararat (Eskandar Beg, II, p. 667 ff.). The prisoners, who included Turks, Georgians, and perhaps as many as 75,000 Armenians, were then marched southeast. Of the Armenians who survived about 6,000 families (according to some accounts, only 3,000) were settled in New Jolfā, across the river from Isfahan. Others were established on lands around the capital and in the Baḵtīārī foothills; 500 families were sent to Shiraz at the governor’s request, chiefly to engage in viticulture (Eskandar Beg, II, pp. 667 ff.; Tournebize; Gregorian, p. 661 ff.). From the shah’s point of view the operation was a success: The Ottoman army was obliged by famine and consequent disaffection to retreat from the Aras and winter at Van, and the transplanted communities (particularly that at Isfahan) eventually flourished and contributed greatly to the commercial and economic efflorescence of the later Safavid period.

In 1024/1615 ʿAbbās deported peasants from wartorn Qarabāḡ and Šīrvān, refugees who had fled thence to Georgia, and 2,000-3,000 Georgian and Ganjaʾī “rebels” to Faraḥābād, his favorite Caspian resort, “both to develop that province and to requite their ingratitude” (Eskandar Beg, II, pp. 881, 903). In the same year he transferred the Qazāqlū (Qazāqlar, Qaramānlū) from Qarabāḡ to lands at Dārābjerd in Fārs, probably to ensure their loyalty (Eskandar Beg, II, pp. 882-23, 1086; Bākīḵānof, p. 173). In a rare example of “fragmentation and exile” counter to this geographical pattern, the Borjalu tribe was removed from Arāk to Šīrvān (Bākīḵānof, p. 173).

The cited examples constitute a small part even of the documented instances of mass deportation carried out during the Safavid period, which may have affected as many as 100,000 families. With accompanying massacres, induction of male captives into the army, and sale of women and children into slav-ery, it is clear that Shah ʿAbbās saw himself as physically molding his realm, defining its frontiers, culling or stocking selected pastures and cities, and determining the centers of economic growth by shunting his subjects from one point to another. So far as can be ascertained, most of his transplants remained: The Armenian communities weathered subsequent calamities and maintained their identity (though the descendants of the Faraḥābād colony migrated to Tabrīz), whereas the Georgians (often pressed into the army) tended to become assimilated into the variegated population of Isfahan and other Safavid cities and provinces (Roemer, VIa, pp. 271-72; Persia, p. 363).

Deportations by Nāder Shah. For Nāder Shah there is a score of documented epsodes, involving perhaps 150,000 families, the greatest volume and consistency of deportations in Persia. Like Tīmūr, whom he also emulated in other ways, he aimed to transplant populations, chiefly nomadic, from the interior of Persia to Khorasan and the frontiers of Turkestan. Following the policy of Shah ʿAbbās, he settled some in the Atrek valley to absorb Turkmen raids and others on agricultural land around Mašhad, Nišāpūr, Ḵabūšān and Torbat-e Jām to increase production. His principal use for deracinated tribesmen (Baḵtīārī, Kurds, Baluch, Afghans, Turkmen, etc.) was in his army, which was in almost perpetual movement from Dāḡestān to Delhi, from Bukhara to Baghdad; many of them were thus never permanently relocated.

In 1141/1728, even before his coronation, Nāder Shah deported a group of Abdālī tribesmen from Herat to Jām, Langar, and Mašhad; a few years later he dispatched 60,000 more to settle at Mašhad, Nišāpūr, and Dāmḡān (Marvī, I, p. 198; Estarābādī, p. 95; Lockhart, p. 54). In 1151/1738 he transported some Ḡelzāy Afghans to Nišāpūr and Gorgān, then moved some Abdālī from there to Qandahār in order to weaken the Ḡelzāy further (Estarābādī, p. 303). In 1143/1730, after recapturing Tabrīz from the Ottomans, Nāder Shah deported and dispersed in the vicinity of Mašhad 56,000 families from assorted tribes from the whole length of the Zagros, Afšār, Moqddam, Kurds, and Baḵtīārī (Estarābādī, pp. 134-35; Lockhart, pp. 51-52). At least 25,000 more families captured in his northwestern campaigns in 1148-54/1735-41 followed: Zīādōglū Qājārs, Šaqāqī Kurds, Georgians, and Turks (Marvī, I, p. 254; Lambton, Landlord and Peasant, p. 133; Perry, 1975, p. 209). A total of at least 13,000 families of the turbulent Baḵtīārī were sent to northern Khorasan on at least two occasions (Estarābādī, pp. 189, 283; Marvī, II, p. 247). Nāder Shah continued this policy into his last years, when his primary motivation was undoubtedly exile and fragmentation, rather than redistribution of useful populations: Lor and Baḵtīārī tribesmen who rebelled against excessive taxes in about 1159/1746 were savagely put down and deported to Jām and Langar (Marvī, III, p. 1093).

There appear to be no extant accounts sympathetic to Nāder Šhah’s deportees, but it can be guessed that the conditions under which they were escorted over distances ranging from 200 to 1,000 miles were no better than those under Tīmūr or ʿAbbās. One of Nāder Shah’s bureaucrats, who was twice put in charge of deporting families of the ʿAlīvand and Ḵalīlvand sections of Moqdam to Kalāt (1,000 miles away), reported only that he spent some time in Marāḡa, the assembly point, organizing the move and that, on the second occasion, they were given six months to complete the journey, perhaps because it was winter and an immediate start impracticable (Marvī, I, pp. 313-14; II, p. 666). Allowing for a few weeks’ initial delay, the party would thus have averaged about 7 miles a day.

Karīm Khan Zand and his successors. After Nāder Shah’s assassination most of the deportees serving in his army in Khorasan and an indeterminate number of the resettled tribesmen deserted and made their way home (Perry, 1979, pp. 3-4). The leader of one such Zagros clan, Karīm Khan Zand, eventually came to rule an ostensibly neo-Safavid state in western Persia (1165-93/1751-79). He sought, with considerable success, to reverse the voluntary and forcible depopulation of his realms, chiefly by establishing secure communications and inviting refugees and deportees, including tribal groups, to return (Lambton, Landlord and Peasant, p. 141). His only deportations of the classic type were of rebellious Baḵtīārī, who in 1178/1764 were rounded up without bloodshed and resettled, the Haft Lang near Qom and Varāmīn, the Čahār Lang around Fasā and Kangān in Fārs (Perry, 1979, p. 111). Karīm Khan did, however, settle tribal hostages from his northern territories in his capital at Shiraz and built up a standing army from contingents of Lor, Lak, Kurd, and other Zagros tribes, a modified form of resettlement (Perry, 1979, p. 225).

The collapse of Karīm Khan’s successors in Fārs before the rising power of the Qajars brought a brief recrudescence of forcible demographic engineering under Āḡā Moḥammad Khan Qājār (fl. 1784-97; shah from 1211/1796). He moved groups of ʿAbd-al-Malekī and Ḵᵛājavand from Fārs to Māzandarān, where they were to help defend Estarābād against the Turkmen of the Gorgān steppe; they were later used by the Qajars in the Russian wars and remained in Māzandarān into this century (Persia, p. 363; Lambton, p. 1104). For the rest of the Qajar period there is little sign of a consistent policy of mass deportation. The new capital, Tehran, was situated midway between the source and target areas of most deportations of the previous three centuries; it commanded the populous province of Māzandarān and continually attracted voluntary migrants from Azerbaijan. Artificial measures to populate it were thus unnecessary.

"Exile and fragmentation” were again used as sanctions during the reign of Reżā Shah Pahlavī (1304-20 Š./1925-41) as part of a concerted policy of disarmament and resettlement of the nomadic tribes. Of the three principal targets, the Turkmen, the Qašqāʾī, and the Lors of Pīš-e Kūh, only the last were deported in large numbers. In the late 1920s families of the Sagāvand, whose chief had been killed at military headquarters, were moved under escort to settle near Qazvīn; their flocks suffered severe losses on the way (Wilber, p. 133). Others were sent to Varāmīn. The Beyrānvand, who had ambushed a government detachment, were “decimated and exiled in their thousands to the distant province of Khorassan” (Black-Michaud, p. 218; Persia, pp. 343, 387).

It is worth emphasizing the salient differences between forced sedentarization, practiced only in this century, and deportation. Certain tactics, like the killing of leaders and destruction of strongholds, are common to both. Sedentarized nomads were, however, generally disarmed, stripped of their flocks, and settled on agricultural land; they were thus rendered completely dependent upon the government for protection and provisions and often in unequal competition with an existing sedentary population. Most of them subsequently perished. Deportees in former centuries, if they survived the journey, were encouraged to resume their former transhumant life with their own livestock on ranges somewhat similar to those from which they had come and to keep their weapons, ostensibly for use in the service of the state. Ideally, they were relocated to places where they would be less troublesome and more profitable to the state. Although in practice there were much suffering and waste and deportees often returned home when coercion was relaxed, for six centuries the policy was evidently perceived as cost effective in Persia.

Although no regular and reliable figures have been preserved, estimates from the periods of Shah ʿAbbās and Nāder Shah can be combined and compared with figures from Neo-Assyrian deportations under Tiglath-Pileser III, Sargon II, and Sennacherib (cf. Perry, 1975, p. 203; Oded, pp. 20-21). Shah ʿAbbās and Nāder Shah were active for a total period of sixty-two years, during which they deported approximately 1.5 million people in thirty-five separate instances. The three Neo-Assyrian monarchs ruled for a total of fifty-nine years, during which they deported approximately 1.1 million people in ninety-five recorded instances. It thus appears that, though the overall scale of deportations is generally comparable, the Persian rulers deported people less frequently but in greater numbers. 


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J. Perry, “Forced Migration in Iran during the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries,” Iranian Studies 8, 1975, pp. 199-215.

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H. R. Roemer, “The Safavid Period,” in Camb. Hist. Iran VIa, pp. 189-350.

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(A. Shapur Shahbazi, Erich Kettenhofen, John R. Perry)

Originally Published: December 15, 1994

Last Updated: November 21, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. VII, Fasc. 3, pp. 297-312

Cite this entry:

A. Shapur Shahbazi, Erich Kettenhofen, John R. Perry, “DEPORTATIONS,” Encyclopædia Iranica, VII/3, pp. 297-312, available online at (accessed on 30 December 2012).