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Dādarši


A Persian nobleman. Terracotta figure from Persepolis. Archaeological museum, Tehran (Iran). Photo Marco Prins.
A Persian nobleman.
Terracotta figure from
Persepolis (Archaeological
museum
, Tehran)
Dādarši: name of an Armenian general serving under the Persian king Darius I the Great (522-486 BCE), known for his expedition along the Tigris to Armenia.

In March 522, a Magian named Gaumāta seized power in the Achaemenid empire, claiming to be the brother of the legitimate king Cambyses. Gaumāta could do this, because this brother, Smerdis, had been killed secretly. Immediately, Cambyses advanced against the usurper, but before he reached Persia, he died, and the false Smerdis was able to continue his reign until a relative of Cambyses named Darius, together with six Persian noblemen, killed the usurper (29 September).

Darius became king and faced a serious crisis: nearly all provinces of the Achaemenid empire revolted. The most important rebellion was that of the Medes, whose leader was called Phraortes. This revolt spread to the east to Parthia and to the north to Armenia.

This was the military situation when king Darius appointed Dādarši as commander of one of the two armies that had to suppress the Armenian revolt. The other army was commanded by Vaumisa. The latter advanced along the Greater Zab, to the heart of Armenia, but Dādarši had to move upstream along the Euphrates and to secure the roads to Syria and Lydia.

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Map of Armenia. Design Jona Lendering.
(©**)

Vaumisa defeated his enemies at  Izala, which may be 80 kilometers north of Arbela (modern Arbil) or directly north of Nisibis, on 31 December 522. For the moment, this was sufficient, because the Armenians could not descend to the country between the Euphrates and Tigris. After Darius' main force had defeated the Medes, Vaumisa could proceed along the Greater Zab.

At that moment, Dādarši launched the second offensive. He defeated the Armenians on 20 May 521 near Zuzza, on 30 May at Tigra (where 546 Armenians were killed) and on 20 June 20 at Uyamā, where 427 enemy warriors were killed. Together with a second victory by Vaumisa, Dādarši's victories marked the end of this rebellion.

The only source that describes the event is the Behistun inscription:

King Darius says: An Armenian named Dādarši, my servant, I sent into Armenia, and I said unto him: 'Go, smite that  host which is in revolt and does not acknowledge me.' Then Dādarši went forth. When he came into Armenia, the rebels assembled and advanced against Dādarši to give him battle. At a place in Armenia called Zuzza they fought the battle. Ahuramazda brought me help; by the grace of Ahuramazda did my army utterly overthrow that rebel host. On the eighth day of the month Thūravāhara the battle was fought by them.
   King Darius says: The rebels assembled for the second time, and they advanced against Dādarši to give him battle. At a stronghold in Armenia called Tigra they joined battle. Ahuramazda brought me help; by the grace of Ahuramazda did my army utterly overthrow that rebel host. On the eighteenth day of the month Thūravāhara the battle was fought by them.
   King Darius says: The rebels assembled for the third time and advanced against Dādarši to give him battle. At a stronghold in Armenia called Uyamā they joined battle. Ahuramazda brought me help; by the grace of Ahuramazda did my army utterly overthrow that rebel host. On the ninth day of the month Thāigaciš the battle was fought by them.
   Then Dādarši waited for me in Armenia, until I came into Armenia (DB, 26-28).

Dādarši must not be confused with his namesake, who at the same time fought against the Margians.
© Jona Lendering for
Livius.Org, 1998
Revision: 28 March 2007
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