Steven Collins

April 25, 2008


The link below contains new evidence that international commerce existed between the ancient Sassanian Persians and the Korean Peninsula. I think the context of this evidence also sheds new light on the likely trade routes of the Parthians, who preceded the Sassanian Empire of Persia. As readers of my book know, the Parthians were a Semitic people who ruled over the ancient territories of the Persians, Babylonians and Assyrians from circa 250 BC until 227 AD. My book, Parthia–The Forgotten Ancient Superpower, details much evidence that the Parthians were the ten tribes of Israel who had been relocated into that region of Asia. Hosea 1:10 prophesied that the ten tribes would become far more numerous after they went into exile, and Josephus confirmed that the ten tribes were “an immense multitude [in Asia], and not to be estimated by numbers” during his lifetime in the 1st century AD (Antiquities of the Jews, XI, V, 2). Josephus further identifies the ten tribes geographically as living in the region of Parthia! The fact that the ten tribes had risen to rule over their former captors was a fulfillment of a prophecy in Isaiah 14:2 that such an outcome would occur.


In 227 AD, the Parthian Empire was overthrown by the Sassanian Persians who drove the Parthians out of their old empire. The subsequent migrations of the Parthians is examined in my book, Israel’s Tribes Today. The Persians had lived under Parthian rule for almost a half-millennium, and they were very familiar with Parthian cities and trade routes. The Sassanians took over the formerly-Parthian cities, and the Sassanian Persians inherited control of the Silk Road trade routes that formerly had been a lucrative operation for the Parthians. Archaeological evidence that the Sassanian Persians traded with the Koreans infers that the Parthians had also done so during the centuries of their own empire, and that the Sassanians simply inherited that same trade route. My above-cited book on Parthia cites evidence that the Parthians were known to have contacts with the Chinese empire as early as the 1st century BC, so it would hardly be surprising that Korean goods would be included in the active trade routes between Parthia and China. It would have been easy for Korean goods to travel with Chinese merchants bringing trade goods to Parthia and transporting Parthian/Persian goods back to China and Korea on the return trip.


The evidence in the link below confirms that ancient civilizations traveled and traded on a far wider scale than many historians have realized. Although Chinese/Korean trade with Parthian/Persian regions was easily understandable via the overland Silk Road trade routes, this commerce may also have taken place via maritime routes. My book on Parthia cites further evidence that the Parthians had a booming maritime commerce into the Indian and Pacific Ocean regions. It is known that the Parthians had maritime commerce with the Malay Peninsula and in ports as far as the modern Vietnamese regions of the Mekong and the Gulf of Tonkin. That latter destination also includes the southern shores of China. The Sassanian Persians inherited Parthia’s maritime commercial positions and routes when Parthia fell, so it would not have been difficult for later Sassanian ships to have sailed as far as the Korean Peninsula. Indeed, a maritime commercial route may have been preferable to an overland alternative. A land route between Parthia/Persia and the Korean peninsula would have had many geographical barriers to surmount and trade goods had to be escorted by many armed men to protect those cargoes from raiders and warlords along the route.  Hiring a small army to protect trade goods would make the trade goods themselves very expensive. A maritime commercial alternative in which a fleet of ships could sail directly from the Persian Gulf to the Korean Peninsula would have been considerably quicker and cheaper. There were sea pirates as well, but fleets sponsored by ancient monarchs would have traveled in a well-protected fashion.  


Now for the “interesting possibility.”


Ancient records indicate the Parthians had sizeable commercial delegations residing in Asian ports (Asian Culture Quarterly’s Winter, 1996 issue notes that one port in the Malay Peninsula had at least 500 Parthians in residence). All Parthian commercial posts in Asia and the crews of all Parthian ships at sea in the Indian and Pacific Oceans would have been “cut off” from their Parthian homeland when the Sassanian Persians overthrew the Parthian Empire. The Sassanians drove the Parthians out of their old empire in a murderous fashion so there was no hope of the dislocated Parthians ever rejoining the Parthian main body of refugees which fled northwestward toward Europe. They could not travel home via a land route either as all such routes were controlled by their Sassanian enemies. The dislocated Parthians in Asia had no choice but to band together as best as they could and look for a new homeland in Asia which would be far beyond Sassanian reach. It would have to be even further north than Korea if Sassanian contacts reached that far.


In the far north of the Japanese islands, a mysterious people known as the Ainu have dwelled since ancient times, although they are now all but gone.  They had a different ethnic origin than the usual Japanese people. The Encyclopedia Americana (1988 Ed., Vol. 1, p. 368) stated that “They are probably of Caucasian stock” as they were “fair-skinned,” had “round eyes” and wore heavy beards. The Encyclopaedia Britannica (1943 Ed., Vol. 1, p. 439) described them as “Proto-Nordic.” The Ainu were closely related to the Parthian refugees who were later called “Caucasians” as they migrated toward and into Europe via the Caucasus Mountains. There is another possible link. The Parthians were a “Sacae” or “Saka” people who were named after Isaac, a progenitor of the Hebrew/Israelite tribes. One of the islands inhabited by the Ainu is known as “Sakhalin.” The Ainu lived on an island named after Isaac, and they looked like the “Caucasians,” who were known as Parthians before they were driven out of Persia. It is very plausible that the Parthian commercial residents and sailors who were scattered all over Asia when Parthia fell banded together and made a new homeland for themselves in the northern Japanese islands far from any Sassanian Persian contacts which may have existed as far northward as Korea. The Ainu of Japan may have begun as a colony of Parthian expatriates. How else would a small group of “Caucasians” and “Nordics” have taken up residence at that location?