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Ctesiphon: 3rd century BC - 8th century AD

After Seleucus establishes the Hellenistic city of Seleucia in 312 BC on the west bank of the Tigris, the opposite side of the river, known as Ctesiphon, becomes a Greek army base. It remains just this until the 2nd century BC, when the Parthians seize this part of Mesopotamia. On the site of Ctesiphon they develop a town which soon forms a famous twin city with the older Seleucia on the other bank.

During the 2nd century AD the twin city changes hands several times between Romans and Parthians. Seleucia is largely destroyed by the Romans in 165. But the eastern site, Ctesiphon, has its greatest days ahead - as a favourite city of the Sassanian emperors of Persia.

Ardashir, founder of the Sassanian dynasty, enters Ctesiphon in triumph in AD 224. The city's most famous building - the great vaulted Taq-e Kisra, still standing today as an impressive ruin - derives from later in the same dynasty. It is believed to have been built in the 6th century by Khosrau I as his palace. In the Taq-e Kisra he receives his guests on the most spectacular of Persian carpets.

The Arabs capture and destroy Ctesiphon (and with it the carpet) in 637. The Taq-e Kisra is used for a while as a mosque. But by the 8th century Ctesiphon is deserted and ruined.