he awareness of Parthian art, distinct from the following Sassanid dynasty, is rather recent. For example, Fergusson, in his well-known History of Architecture writes that native western Asian architecture is practically nil from the conquests of Alexander the Great till the Sassans .However, as a result of recent discoveries, this view has been challenged with examples of Greco-Iranian art from such sites as Dura Europos, Hatra(Iraq) , Nisa ( Turkmenistan ) and Palmyra(Syria) .
bronze statue, Iraq, possibly Surena
One of the most noticeable changes from the Achaemenid era is the use of statues in the round and full face views in the Parthian era . This is attributed to the influence of Greek art after Alexander and the Seleucids .It became fashionable for private individuals of the upper classes to have themselves portrayed in life-like sculptures .They were not idealized as Greek Sculptures were, and often emphasized the external clothing and evidence of wealth rather than the underlying physical body .Gone are the long, tightly curled beards of the Achaemenid era, replaced with wavy hair and moustaches .
Parthian ceramic 3rd cent B.C.
One of the great architectural inovations of the Partian era was the iwan a great hall vaulted hall walled on three sides, the fourth side opening up onto a courtyard. Some would say it derived from the nomadic tent . The most famous of these is the Sassanid palace at Ctesiphon and the Taj Mahal
How were these huge vaults possible ? By using a new technology, gypsum motar. the motor was set almost as soon as the bricks were placed .
face of a Parthian, from textile
Greek style helmet Nisa
2nd cent BC
Close up of Partihan rhyton