Parthia: The Ancient International Trade Center


This article will briefly cover the Parthian Empire. We will cover the Parni tribe, Parthia’s location, The Parthian Capital Nisa, Zoroastrianism, and the end of the Parthian Empire.

The Parni

The Parni were a Scythian tribe located in the Steppes of central Asia. They conquered many of the surrounding lands by developing a unique fighting style. These people would later develop into what we know as the Parthians. There are records of the Parthian people from 1000 BCE to 700 BCE from documents written by previous empires that ruled the area.

They would eventually gain more land from the collapsing Seleucid Empire. Due to their trade routes and location, they were able to develop their own unique culture, with examples being found in architecture, art, and clothing.



The Parthian Empire was officially founded in 247 BCE and originally covered parts of Iran and parts of Turkmenistan. It would shift to more central Iran throughout the later years of its existence as an empire. Due to its location, It acted as a major trade hub between east and west, allowing it to gain major influence and power within the area.

Parthia is also known as one of Rome’s greatest adversaries. Marcus Crassus would die by having gold poured into his mouth by Parthian Soldiers after a complete failure of a campaign that Crassus was leading into Parthia. Parthia would continue to be a pain in Rome’s side. However, Parthia’s economy allowed it to grow into an empire that rivaled Rome.


Parthian Capital Nisa

Nisa is located 11 miles west of the capital of Turkmenistan, Ashgabat. Nisa was located along major trade routes, making it easy for Nisa to become one of Parthia’s major trade hubs. The Parthian’s focus on trade and the development of trade routes is one of the reasons historians question the Roman’s portrayal of the Parthian Empire as backward and bloody.

During the rule of Mithridates I, the name of the capital of Parthia was changed to Mithradatkirt, which roughly translates into “Fortress of Mithridates.”

Many of the buildings excavated show a decent amount of greek influence in the construction techniques. Nisa would eventually be abandoned around 100 BCE in favor of a different capital.

The Parthia Capital Nisa The parni tribe Parthian
Ancient Parthian capital Nisa, located near Ashgabat in Turkmenistan. Beautiful panoramic view at sunset.


Zoroastrianism was the most followed religion in the Parthian Empire. It was based on the teachings of Zoroaster. While we don’t know his birth or death, we know he lived sometime before 500 BCE. Zoroastrianism is one of the world’s oldest religions and is still practiced today, with about 200,000 followers worldwide.

Zoroastrianism, while sharing aspects of the Abrahamic religions, has its own unique expression and perspective of the world. It acted as the State religion for the Parthians, but they also had other religious minorities within their empire.


The End of Parthia

During the 2nd century CE, Rome was at its peak. Due to the many wars between Parthia and Rome, Parthia was suffering. On top of that, there were increasing civil wars within Parthia. In 224 CE, there was a civil war where Ardashir I revolted against the Parthian rulers and killed their last ruler, Artabanus IV, in 224 AD.

After this defeat, Parthia could no longer afford to run its empire and would eventually fracture into independent kingdoms fighting for power. This would lead to the end of the Parthian Empire.

The Parthians, however, had built a base for future empires, such as the Sassanian and other future Empires to build upon.


Collecting Parthian Coins

The Parthians minted very detailed and beautiful coins. The attention to detail and style of portraits makes partian coins unique and a great addition to any coin collection. Below is a link to all the silver Parthian coins we currently have in stock.

Silver Parthian coins for sale
Parthian Drachma from the Rule of Pakoros.

Published by Invest in History Co.

We specialize in high-quality gold and silver coins. Focusing on Middle East, Eastern European, and Ancient coins. We carry Roman, Greek, Parthian, Phoenician, Celtic, Byzantine, Russian, Jewish, Islamic, and many other culture's coins.

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