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====The Parthian Military====
right|Statue of a Mounted Parthian Archer]]
The Parthian military was the vanguard of the empire’s territorial expansion, defeating several rebellious tribes in central Asia and fighting the Romans for control of Armenia and Mesopotamia. Cavalry comprised the most important core of the Parthian army and it was the nobility who were the overwhelming majority of the horse-borne fighters. The nobles were the only members of society who could afford horses, which they fought on wearing mailed armor with a variety of different weapons. In exchange for their service to the king, the noble cavalrymen were given an increased amount of autonomy in their own lands. <ref> Brosius, p. 116</ref> According to a variety of different ancient sources, the bow was the preferred weapon of the Parthians, which they put to great use on foot and horseback. The third century AD Roman historian Cassius Dio wrote:
“The Parthians make no use of a shield, but their forces consist of mounted archers and pikemen, mostly in full armour. Their infantry is small, made up of the weaker men; but even these are all archers. They practise from boyhood, and the climate and the land combine to aid both horsemanship and archery. The land, being for the most part level, is excellent for raising horses and very suitable for riding about on horse-back; at any rate, even in war they lead about whole droves of horses, so that they can use different ones at different times, can ride up suddenly from a distance and also retire to a distance speedily.” <ref> Cassius Dio. <i> Roman History.</i> Translated by Earnest Cary. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1954), XL, 15, 3-4</ref>
The Parthian tactic to attack and then retreat quickly that Dio mentions became known as the “Parthian Shot.” More specifically, the Parthian Shot involved the horsemen going into a tactical or even feigned retreat, enticing the enemy to give chase at a full speed. The Parthian horsemen then turned and shot arrows at their enemy as they retreated. Besides references made by Roman historians to the tactic, it was depicted in art as early as the late Hellenistic period. The earliest portrayals of the tactic are in a non-Parthian context, dated to eight and seventh century BC Assyrian and Phoenician art. <ref> Rostovtzeff, M. “The Parthian Shot.” <i>American Journal of Archaeology</i> 47 (1943) p. 180</ref> Numerous pottery, statues, and figurines, excavated in Mesopotamia and central Asia show horsemen, dressed in Parthian garb, riding while turning their heads and bodies to shoot at their enemies behind them. <ref> Rostovtzeff, p. 177</ref> The Parthians employed this tactic for their entire history because it was so effective; even when it did not prove to be decisive it still caused confusion among the enemy ranks.