A while ago I read a passage regarding the economy of different Persian empires. The passage was implying that the Achaemenid Persian empire (a.k.a first Iranian empire) was in total ``far richer" than the Sasanian Persian empire (a.k.a third Iranian empire). This was somehow strange for me as per my knowledge Iran enjoyed a certain golden period during the Sasanian era between the years of 498 AD and 622 AD. In this era the empire can be loosely called strong all round. Some even call it the peak of Persian civilization which would naturally mean flourishing economy as well (If I'm not wrong I read it in Pirnia). Now, my question is:

  • Are there enough sources to make an economic comparison between these two empires at their different periods? Is it possible to roughly say which one is by average richer?
  • I believe that there are enough historical sources to safely say that both of these empires were notably richer than the Parthian empire (a.k.a second Iranian empire). But I would like to roughly know how much richer.
  • Golden age is relative. Every era or dynasty has its golden era. There is no absolute or compelling reason why dynasty 1 had to be richer or poorer than dynasty 3.
    – Jos
    Nov 19, 2021 at 11:46
  • @MCW It might be somewhat useful for people who do not know what Achaemenids and Sasanians are.
    – Jan
    Nov 19, 2021 at 13:54
  • @MCW You are right. I edit it. I thought that its good to put Persian there due to the fact that the first Persian empire is called "Hakhamanishian" among Persian people and maybe some of them are not familiar with its English name. Therefore, I put the name Persian there for a safety. Nov 19, 2021 at 13:56
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    Note that it is perfectly possible to have a healthy flourishing empire with an economy that is a raging dumpster fire. Diocletian comes to mind, or Napoleon, or possibly the Spanish in the age of silver. If your Empire is based on plunder or colonialism, your economy can be in ruins while your empire is strong. ( I might even argue that the very notion of Mercantilism is the essence of this observation)
    – MCW
    Nov 19, 2021 at 14:11
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    Did a little preliminary investigation into what's been tried measuring economies in the ancient era, and found some interesting stuff. On that basis, I think I rather like this question.
    – T.E.D.
    Nov 19, 2021 at 14:41


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