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Ctesiphon(tĕs`ĭfŏn', tē`sĭ–), ruined ancient city, 20 mi (32 km) SE of Baghdad, Iraq, on the left bank of the Tigris opposite Seleucia and at the mouth of the Diyala River. After 129 B.C. it was the winter residence of the Parthian kings. Ctesiphon grew rapidly and was of renowned splendor. The Romans captured it in warring against Parthia. It became the capital of the Sassanids in c.224 and a center of Nestorian Christianity. In 637 it was taken and plundered by the Arabs who renamed it, along with Seleucia, al Madain; it was abandoned by them when Baghdad became the capital of the Abbasids. It is now a suburban part of Baghdad. The ruined vault of the great audience hall contains the world's largest single span of brickwork.
(Greek, Ktesiphon; Arabic, Taysafun or Madain), an ancient city on the banks of the Tigris River (near modern Baghdad in Iraq). From the first century B.C. until the early third century A.D., Ctesiphon was the winter residence of the Arsacids, the kings of Parthia. From the second century A.D. on, it was repeatedly conquered by the Romans. In A.D. 226–227 it became the capital of the Sassanian state and one of the largest and richest cities in the Near East. In the 630’s it was captured and destroyed by the Arabs.
On the eastern bank of the Tigris are the remains of Taq-e Kisra, the Sassanian royal palace (made of glazed brick, dated between the third and fifth centuries), with a gigantic vaulted iwan (throneroom; the arch spans 25.63 m). The facade is decorated with tiers of false arcatures. Excavations have turned up fragments of stucco decoration.
REFERENCESPigulevskaia, N. V. Goroda Irana v rannem srednevekov’e. Moscow-Leningrad, 1956.
Kinzhalov, R. V., and V. G. Lukonin. Pamiatniki kul’tury Sasanidskogo Irana. Leningrad, 1960.
Vseobshchaia istoriia arkhitektury, vol. 1. Moscow, 1970. Pages 314–47.
Reutner, O. Die Ausgrabungen der Deutschen Ktesiphon-Expedition im Winter 1928–1929. [Berlin, 1930.]