Battle of Barbalissos

The Battle of Barbalissos was fought between the Sassanid Persians and Romans at Barbalissos. Shapur I used Roman incursions into Armenia as pretext and resumed hostilities with the Romans. The Sassanids attacked a Roman force of 60,000 strong at Barbalissos and the Roman army was defeated. The defeat of this large Roman force left the Roman east open to attack and led to the eventual capture of Antioch and Dura Europos three years later. This battle is only known through Shapur I's inscription at Naqsh-e Rostam.

Battle of Barbalissos
Part of the Roman–Persian Wars
Result Sassanid victory[1][2]
Sassanid Empire Roman Empire
Commanders and leaders
Shapur I
Unknown 60,000[3]
Casualties and losses
Unknown Roman force annihilated[4][5]


Battle of Barbalissos was fought between the Sassanid Persians and Romans at Barbalissos, an old Roman town near Aleppo in modern-day Syria and close to the Euphrates River. The battle was fought in 252 when Shapur I (239-270 CE), King of Sassanian Empire and son of Ardashir I, led his army from the Euphrates River and met with a Roman army of 60,000 strong legionaries, archers, and Roman cavalry. Although the number of forces of Sassanid Persians are unclear, through tactics and use of strategy Shapur I managed to win the battle and open a way through the Syrian cities and castles.[6][7] The major defeat of the battle of Barbalissos was very costly for the Roman emperor Valerian who appointed many more armies to stop Shapur I from quick advance in the Roman soil and later on he decided to lead a major army of 70,000 legionaries himself.[8]


Roman gladius-transparent
"Gladius", main sword of a Roman soldier.


For a 1,000 years, the Roman empire was a major power in Europe. Roman emperors controlled most of Southern Europe, North Africa, and some parts of Asia giving them the numbers to encounter any intruding forces. There would be celebration in honor of military victories to remind people of the power of the Roman army. The republic of Ancient Rome changed into a complete monarchy in 27 BC with Augustus as the first emperor until battle of barbalissos during the monarchy of Valerian the Elder (253-260 CE).[9] During the life of Roman empire, many great architectures and historical entertainment places such as the coliseum were made for people and nobles of Rome. The people financially were separated into three branches of poor, medium, and noble. Most people were fed enough to avoid starvation and would join the army to generate a good income for their family. Even with police presence, the slums, where the poor live, were a common place for criminal activities and many would avoid such places if possible. Roman army was the main pride and happiness for any person who was born a Roman. The weapons of choice for the Roman soldiers were pilum, gladius, and pugio. Pilum was similar to a javelin used to throw at the enemy but not for a hand-to-hand combat. Gladius was the razor sharp blade used for frontier battles. Pugio was a small dagger which was used as the last resort if all other equipment was gone. The Roman legionaries were said to be very disciplined, armored, and ready for any incoming surprises. The captured soldiers of enemy in numerous battles automatically became slaves to their noble masters and was impossible to receive their freedom.[10]

Sassanian Persians:

Sassanian empire had the vast majority of Asia which expanded to Europe and Africa during the monarchy of the kings for 410 years of its stand. The Sassanian were feared by many from their massive conquests and advances. Their great libraries and architectures were a way for them to show the history of the empire. Sassanian empire was the only empire of Persia which gave massive amounts of territory and power to its people throughout history. On the level of power, society was divided into priests, warriors, secretaries, and commoners. Petty rulers, royal family, priests, and great landlords had the highest level of power in society and therefore had more available options towards their way of choosing their lifestyle. The monarchy of Sassanids began from Ardashir I (224-244 CE) until the second king of kings Shapur I who fought the battle of Barbalissos and became known as "the Great". There were many historians and artists during the Sassanian empire who made books and drawings of king's achievements and conquest. They were known mostly for the fascinating art and the strength of their military. The military of Sassanian empire was nobles and medium class people who would undergo "hard service" which taught them of different military tactics, maneuvers, and strategy. They would come out as professional soldiers with full body armor taking part as an archer, infantry, or heavy cavalry. The commanders wrote manuals on art of archery which proved the skill of the Persian archers. The Sassanian heavy cavalry were full of body armor to the point that "they could only see through the small holes in their helmets..".[11] Although they were slow, they were proved to be a big advantage on legionaries of Roman army. The infantry was not as powerful as the cavalry of Sassanid Persians since they were equipped with much less armor and weapons compared to a cavalry unit. Slavery was not used as much in Sassanid empire since the Persian culture did not believe in such beliefs. The Persian army would take captured soldiers as "prisoners of war" rather than slaves and exchange them for money.[12]


Valerian Ant
The coin from the time of emperor Valerian.

Valerian the Elder (253-260 CE)

Shapur Captured Valerian2 Sahand Ace
Valerian after his capture, used as a step for Shapur I to mount his horse

. The story of Valerian being used as a mounting block by Shapur, though oft-repeated, is almost certainly apocryphal. As the Bishapur and Naqs-i-Rustam monuments show clearly, Valerian was not humiliated after his capture.

During Valerian's rule, the Roman empire suffered repeated, heavy attacks on its territory. In the West, the Empire proved vulnerable to raids by Franks and others. In the East, Sassanian Persians were a major threat. Valerian let his son Gallienus (253-268 CE) look after the West, while focusing his own efforts in the East. Valerian was not successful since he was defeated and captured near Edessa (260 CE) by Shapur I and eventually died among other prisoners.[13]

Shapur I the Great (239-270 CE)

Shapur I had been given the title of "the Great" since he conquered and maintained multiple Roman territories during his time of power. However, his shining moment began with the battle of barbalissos. It was his second battle with the Romans and since he learned a lot from his father, Ardashir I (224-242 CE), about tactics, strategic traps, and troop formations he took over Syria by "destroying the entirety of 60,000 legionaries" along with many more in the cities after the battle of Barbalissos. He was born and taught to be a leader by his father which later helped on the expansion of Sassanian empire and its power to be grown vastly.[14]

Shapur i s
A coin of king of kings Shapur I.



  1. ^ The Cambridge Ancient History: Volume 12, The Crisis of Empire, AD 193-337, "He captured several tomns and then destroyed a Roman army of 60000 men at Barbalissus (Balis) on the large bend of the Euphrates to the north."
  2. ^ Maria Brosius, The Persians, (Routledge, 2006), 145.
  3. ^ Maria Brosius, The Persians, 145.
  4. ^ Encyclopaedia Iranica "And we annihilated a Roman force of 60,000 at Barbalissus [modern Qalʿat al-Bālis, on the left bank of the Euphrates in Syria] and we burned and ravaged the province of Syria and all its dependencies; and in that one campaign we conquered from the Roman empire the following forts and cities (some thirty-six of them are named)"
  5. ^ The Cambridge Ancient History: Volume 12, The Crisis of Empire, AD 193-337, "He captured several tomns and then destroyed a Roman army of 60000 men at Barbalissus (Balis) on the large bend of the Euphrates to the north."
  6. ^ Brosius, Lecturer in Ancient History Maria; Brosius, Maria (2006-04-18). The Persians. Routledge. ISBN 9781134359844.
  7. ^ Millar, Fergus (1993). The Roman Near East, 31 B.C.-A.D. 337. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674778863.
  8. ^ Kia, Mehrdad (2016-06-27). The Persian Empire: A Historical Encyclopedia [2 volumes]: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9781610693912.
  9. ^ Kia, Mehrdad (2016-06-27). The Persian Empire: A Historical Encyclopedia [2 volumes]: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9781610693912.
  10. ^ "Ancient Rome - History Learning Site". History Learning Site. Retrieved 2017-10-19.
  11. ^ "History of Iran: Sassanian Army". Retrieved 2017-10-19.
  12. ^ "History of Iran: Sassanid Empire". Retrieved 2017-10-19.
  13. ^ Millar, Fergus (1993). The Roman Near East, 31 B.C.-A.D. 337. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674778863.
  14. ^ Brosius, Lecturer in Ancient History Maria; Brosius, Maria (2006-04-18). The Persians. Routledge. ISBN 9781134359844.

Coordinates: 36°03′40″N 37°53′28″E / 36.0610°N 37.8912°E


The 250s decade ran from January 1, 250, to December 31, 259.


Year 252 (CCLII) was a leap year starting on Thursday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Trebonianus and Volusianus (or, less frequently, year 1005 Ab urbe condita). The denomination 252 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.


Year 253 (CCLIII) was a common year starting on Saturday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Volusianus and Claudius (or, less frequently, year 1006 Ab urbe condita). The denomination 253 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.


Barbalissos (Latinized as Barbalissus) was a city in the Roman province of Euphratensis. Its site is marked by the ruins at Qala'at Balis (Arabic: قلعة بالس‎), which partly retains the old name, south of Maskanah (the ancient Emar), in modern Syria, on the road from Aleppo to the site of Sura, where the Euphrates turns suddenly to the east.

Battle of Misiche

The Battle of Misiche (Greek: Μισιχή), Mesiche (Μεσιχη), or Massice (Middle Persian: 𐭬𐭱‎𐭩‎𐭪‎‎‎‎‎ mšyk; Parthian: 𐭌‎𐭔‎𐭉‎𐭊‎ mšyk) (dated between January 13 and March 14, 244 AD.) was fought between the Sasanians and the Romans in Misiche, Mesopotamia.

Byzantine–Sasanian wars

The Byzantine–Sasanian wars, also known as the Irano-Byzantine wars refers to a series of conflicts between the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire and the Sassanian Empire of Persia. A continuation of the Roman–Persian Wars, the conflict involved several smaller campaigns and peace treaties lasting for years at a time.

Campaign history of the Roman military

From its origin as a city-state on the peninsula of Italy in the 8th century BC, to its rise as an empire covering much of Southern Europe, Western Europe, Near East and North Africa to its fall in the 5th century AD, the political history of Ancient Rome was closely entwined with its military history. The core of the campaign history of the Roman military is an aggregate of different accounts of the Roman military's land battles, from its initial defense against and subsequent conquest of the city's hilltop neighbors on the Italian peninsula, to the ultimate struggle of the Western Roman Empire for its existence against invading Huns, Vandals and Germanic tribes. These accounts were written by various authors throughout and after the history of the Empire. Following the First Punic War, naval battles were less significant than land battles to the military history of Rome due to its encompassment of lands of the periphery and its unchallenged dominance of the Mediterranean Sea.

The Roman army battled first against its tribal neighbours and Etruscan towns within Italy, and later came to dominate the Mediterranean and at its height the provinces of Britannia and Asia Minor. As with most ancient civilizations, Rome's military served the triple purpose of securing its borders, exploiting peripheral areas through measures such as imposing tribute on conquered peoples, and maintaining internal order. From the outset, Rome's military typified this pattern, and the majority of Rome's campaigns were characterised by one of two types. The first is the territorial expansionist campaign, normally begun as a counter-offensive, in which each victory brought subjugation of large areas of territory and allowed Rome to grow from a small town to a population of 55 million in the early empire when expansion was halted. The second is the civil war, which plagued Rome from its foundation to its eventual demise.

Roman armies were not invincible, despite their formidable reputation and host of victories, Romans "produced their share of incompetents" who led Roman armies into catastrophic defeats. Nevertheless, it was generally the fate of even the greatest of Rome's enemies, such as Pyrrhus and Hannibal, to win the battle but lose the war. The history of Rome's campaigning is, if nothing else, a history of obstinate persistence overcoming appalling losses.


Emar (modern Tell Meskene) is an archaeological site in Aleppo Governorate, northern Syria. It sits in the great bend of the mid-Euphrates, now on the shoreline of the man-made Lake Assad near the town of Maskanah. It has been the source of many cuneiform tablets, making it rank with Ugarit, Mari and Ebla among the most important archeological sites of Syria. In these texts, dating from the 14th century BC to the fall of Emar in 1187 BC, and in excavations in several campaigns since the 1970s, Emar emerges as an important Bronze Age trade center, occupying a liminal position between the power centers of Upper Mesopotamia and Anatolia-Syria. Unlike other cities, the tablets preserved at Emar, most of them in Akkadian and of the thirteenth century BC, are not royal or official, but record private transactions, judicial records, dealings in real estate, marriages, last wills, formal adoptions. In the house of a priest, a library contained literary and lexical texts in the Mesopotamian tradition, and ritual texts for local cults.

Lesser Armenia

Lesser Armenia (Armenian: Փոքր Հայք, Pokr Hayk; Latin: Armenia Minor), also known as Armenia Minor and Armenia Inferior, comprised the Armenian–populated regions primarily to the west and northwest of the ancient Kingdom of Armenia (also known as Kingdom of Greater Armenia). The region was later reorganized into the Armeniac Theme under the Byzantine Empire.

List of conflicts in Asia

This is a list of wars and conflicts in Asia, particularly East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia and Russia. For a list of conflicts in Southwest Asia, see List of conflicts in the Near East for historical conflicts and List of conflicts in the Middle East for contemporary conflicts.

List of conflicts in the Near East

The area known as the "Near East" is usually referred to as Middle East in modern contexts.

For periods predating Classical Antiquity, the common term is Ancient Near East.

The Near East is generally associated with Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, Egypt, the Arabian Peninsula, and the Caucasus.

Roman Syria

Syria was an early Roman province, annexed to the Roman Republic in 64 BC by Pompey in the Third Mithridatic War, following the defeat of Armenian King Tigranes the Great. Following the partition of the Herodian Kingdom into tetrarchies in 6 AD, it was gradually absorbed into Roman provinces, with Roman Syria annexing Iturea and Trachonitis.

Roman–Persian Wars

The Roman–Persian Wars were a series of conflicts between states of the Greco-Roman world and two successive Iranian empires: the Parthian and the Sasanian. Battles between the Parthian Empire and the Roman Republic began in 66 BC; wars began under the late Republic, and continued through the Roman (later Byzantine) and Sasanian empires. Various vassal kingdoms and allied nomadic nations in the form of buffer states and proxies also played a role. The wars were ended by the Arab Muslim Conquests, which led to the fall of the Sasanian Empire and huge territorial losses for the Byzantine Empire, shortly after the end of the last war between them.

Although warfare between the Romans and Persians continued over seven centuries, the frontier, aside from shifts in the north, remained largely stable. A game of tug of war ensued: towns, fortifications, and provinces were continually sacked, captured, destroyed, and traded. Neither side had the logistical strength or manpower to maintain such lengthy campaigns far from their borders, and thus neither could advance too far without risking stretching its frontiers too thin. Both sides did make conquests beyond the border, but in time the balance was almost always restored. Although initially different in military tactics, the armies of both sides gradually adopted from each other and by the second half of the 6th century they were similar and evenly matched.The expense of resources during the Roman–Persian Wars ultimately proved catastrophic for both empires. The prolonged and escalating warfare of the 6th and 7th centuries left them exhausted and vulnerable in the face of the sudden emergence and expansion of the Caliphate, whose forces invaded both empires only a few years after the end of the last Roman–Persian war. Benefiting from their weakened condition, the Arab Muslim armies swiftly conquered the entire Sasanian Empire, and deprived the Eastern Roman Empire of its territories in the Levant, the Caucasus, Egypt, and the rest of North Africa. Over the following centuries, more of the Eastern Roman Empire came under Muslim rule.

Shapur I

Shapur I (Middle Persian: 𐭱𐭧𐭯𐭥𐭧𐭥𐭩‎; New Persian: شاپور‎), also known as Shapur the Great, was the second shahanshah (king of kings) of the Sasanian Empire. The dates of his reign are commonly given as 240/42 – 270, but it is likely that he also reigned as co-regent (together with his father) prior to his father's death in 242 (more probably than 240).Shapur I's rule was marked by successful military and political struggles in the northeastern regions and the Caucasus, and two wars with the Roman Empire during the second of which he captured the Roman Emperor Valerian and his entire army at the Battle of Edessa. His support for Zoroastrianism caused a rise in the position of the clergy, and his religious tolerance accelerated the spread of Manichaeanism and Christianity in Persia. He is also noted in the Jewish tradition.

Siege of Antioch (253)

The Siege of Antioch took place when the Sassanids under Shapur I besieged the Roman city of Antioch in 253 after defeating the Romans in the Battle of Barbalissos.

Timeline of Italian history

This is a timeline of Italian history, comprising important legal and territorial changes and political events in Italy and its predecessor states, including Ancient Rome and Prehistoric Italy. Date of the prehistoric era are approximate. To read about the back ground check these events, see History of Italy. See also the list of Prime Ministers of Italy.

Timeline of Roman history

This is a timeline of Roman history, comprising important legal and territorial changes and political events in the Roman Kingdom and Republic and the Roman and Byzantine Empires. To read about the background of these events, see Ancient Rome and History of the Byzantine Empire.

Following tradition, this timeline marks the deposition of Romulus Augustulus and the Fall of Constantinople as the end of Rome in the west and east, respectively. See Third Rome for a discussion of claimants to the succession of Rome.


Volusianus (Latin: Imperator Caesar Gaius Vibius Volusianus Augustus; died August 253), also known as Volusian, was a Roman Emperor from November 251 to August 253. His father, Trebonianus Gallus, became Roman Emperor after being elected in the field by the legion, following the deaths of the previous co-emperors Decius and Herennius Etruscus. Trebonianus Gallus raised Hostilian, the son of Decius, to augustus, making him his co-emperor in June 251. Volusianus was elevated to caesar in the same month. After the death, or murder, of Hostilian in November 251, Volusianus was raised to augustus, co-ruling with his father. The short reign of Trebonianus Gallus and Volusianus was notable for the outbreak of a plague, which is said by some to be the reason for Hostilian's death, the invasion of the Sasanian Empire, and the raids of the Goths. Volusianus was killed alongside his father in August 253 by their own soldiers, who were terrified of the forces of the usurper Aemilian which were marching towards Rome.

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