SUMMARY: ASPECTS OF PARTHIAN MATERIAL CULTURE
dislike of the hunt and of traditional feasts, his free and open
manners, his failure to show interest in the horses - all these
things caused the nationalists to call in another Arsacid...
Orodes was killed in AD 6, one of the sons of a previous ruler who was
sent to Rome as a hostage was dispatched to Mesopotamia. Although
his blood line was secure, his manners offended the Parthian court at
Ctesiphon. He was expelled in AD 12, suggesting that at least
at the court, there was an expectation that a ruler should have certain
nomadic virtues. This appreciation leads one to an important
question: What do we know about Parthian material culture? In
the case of many ancient civilizations, there may be little cultural
difference between the artist and the culture we wish to study. For
a nomadic group, such as the Parthians, one cannot simply assume that the
artist and the overlord were from the same ethnic or cultural group.
Can one assume that the Parthians were Hellenized by looking at aspects of
material culture found within their realm? While these bits of
material culture may reflect some aspects of a nomadic existence, it is
likely that they reflect only the elite segment of the society.
Today, if one were to bury a traditional object of Turkmen material
culture, there may be little left for the archaeological record. The
two main measures of nomadic wealth, animals and woven products,
leave little for the archaeological record. Our evidence for the
bulk of the ‘Parthian horde,’ as written sources suggest played such
an important part of Near Eastern history, may be meagre indeed.