Archiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 2005-01 > 1105988449

From: "Paul K Davis" <>
Subject: Soshandukht and the Sasanians
Date: Mon, 17 Jan 2005 11:00:49 -0800

In a recent sketch of the Sasanian dynasty of Persia, Soshandukht,
daughter of a Jewish leader, was included.

There is good and useful information on her in the "Jewish Encyclopedia"
(not to be confused with the also useful "Encyclopedia Judaica"). See the
articles entitled "Pahlavi Literature", "Persia", and "Exilarch". See also
the Encyclopaedia Britannica article on "Yazdegerd" for background
information on her husband. (He was a liberal who allowed religious
freedom, and was therefore condemned by the Zoroastrian priesthood.)

From material discussed in the JE articles I have concluded that
Soshandukht (also sometimes given as Gasyandukht, Sashandukht, Susan,
Shoshan-dukht, and probably other transliterations) was indeed a Jewish
wife of Yazdegerd I and mother of Bahram V "Gor". However, I disagree with
the popularly given identifications of her father. There seems to be in
the ultimate sources only the statement that her father was an "exilarch",
that is a hereditary leader of the Babylonian Jewish community claiming
agnatic descent from King David. One source appears to give her father's
name as "Galuta", but this is simply based on the Hebrew title "Resh
Galuta", meaning "head of the exile", which we translate with the
Greek-derived term "exilarch". There is one source, however, mentioned in
the "Pahlavi Literature" article, which implies her father was exilarch at
the time of the birth of her son Bahram. The dates of the exilarchs are
not absolutely certain, but from those I have seen, including from the
"Exilarch" article, the most likely choice would be Mar Zutra I, probable
son of Nathan II.

I have consulted these Encyclopedias in my local library, but I believe
JE is also now available on line.

-- PKD [Paul K Davis, ]

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