No Sassanids/Zoroastrian revival

As it says on the lid, this AHQ is a two-parter.

The first question if what if the house of Sassan was never founded, or was struck down during their initial rise to take over the lands of the Parthians. Who would replace them? Some other noble dynasty out of Persia seems most likely, but are there any in particular? And is there anyone else who could perhaps fill their role, either somewhere else in the Parthian empire or even outside it? Maybe Parthia can continue on?
Next is Zoroastrianism. Say the Sassanids never arise, and someone else who wasn't Zoroastrian fills their role. As I understand even last the peak of Imperial power the state religion was never really more than a sizeable minority of the empire. Which other religions would fill its role? Continued polytheism? Buddhism? Christianity? Something gnostic like Mandaeism or Manichaeism?
 
The first question if what if the house of Sassan was never founded, or was struck down during their initial rise to take over the lands of the Parthians. Who would replace them? Some other noble dynasty out of Persia seems most likely, but are there any in particular? And is there anyone else who could perhaps fill their role, either somewhere else in the Parthian empire or even outside it? Maybe Parthia can continue on?
If the Arshakuni keep displaying incompetence in the face of the Romans, they might even be overthrown by their own cadet branches. A by-effect of this may instead of Persia, the exonym Parthia would stick via the Greeks into English again.
Pointing this out because if even the Sassanids failed in their bid to rule "the empire" at the head of the Frataraka alliance, it would be rather unlikely any bid for power could be done by what's left of their power, which means we need to look to other directions of usurpation.
If the Karens/Surens/Mihranids do make their move and depose the Arshakuni, little would perhaps change. They might even keep the family-rule system wholesale, so something another poster mentioned in another thread - an Armenian Persia - could be counted as achieved if the crowns of Armenia and Persia (and Parthia, and Sophene, and Padishgwakar, and Adharbayjan, and Sakastan, and so on) are held by the same family and its various branches?
Next is Zoroastrianism. Say the Sassanids never arise, and someone else who wasn't Zoroastrian fills their role. As I understand even at the peak of Imperial power the state religion was never really more than a sizeable minority of the empire. Which other religions would fill its role? Continued polytheism?
That really depends on who wins. If it's just another Frataraka sort of situation, Mazdayasna would probably still evolve into something similar to what we see from the Sassanid artifacts. Even if it's a faction with remarkably different rituals, like the Mihranids, it's still reasonably likely only the well-versed would notice the differences (like Mihr's day (IIRC that's the autumn equinox) replacing the Hundred Days' Feast), with the Shahanshah-Temple-Wuzurgan system still falling in place.
Buddhism?
Not likely unless a Buddhist nomadic invader overthrows this interval dynasty between the Arshakuni and them.
Christianity?
Still not likely. The good thing about screwing or wanking Iran is you could just ascribe it to "it was the nomads". Still, Christianity has a habit of doing well in cities, so out of all candidate faiths, all branches of Christianity are especially unlikely.
Mandaeism
The tenacity of the faith hardly translates into its ability to spread to other peoples, nor it capitalizing on its spread to expand temporal power. It would take a considerably convoluted series of events for Mandaeism to be anything greater than it is IOTL, and it would probably be unrecognizable in structure and ritual anyway.
Manichaeism?
It was created after the advent of the Sassanids, but for simplicity's sake let's just say it still does appear. Then it would have to out-compete Christianity, which would be difficult because they take syncretism way too far (the Theodosian Codex considers them Christian heretics for legal purposes, FYI) and have a similar spread pattern. I don't know how they caught on the Uyghur Khaganate in the 8th century, but that's so far off from your proposed POD time-range it's pointless anyway.
 
As it says on the lid, this AHQ is a two-parter.

The first question if what if the house of Sassan was never founded, or was struck down during their initial rise to take over the lands of the Parthians. Who would replace them? Some other noble dynasty out of Persia seems most likely, but are there any in particular? And is there anyone else who could perhaps fill their role, either somewhere else in the Parthian empire or even outside it? Maybe Parthia can continue on?
Next is Zoroastrianism. Say the Sassanids never arise, and someone else who wasn't Zoroastrian fills their role. As I understand even last the peak of Imperial power the state religion was never really more than a sizeable minority of the empire. Which other religions would fill its role? Continued polytheism? Buddhism? Christianity? Something gnostic like Mandaeism or Manichaeism?
The fall of the Arsacids and the rise of the Sasanians is a complete mystery filled with contradictions, unreliable sources and general inconclusiveness, we can only get so much by squeezing our scarce sources and filling the gaps with our imagination to create a coherent narrative of facts (which Rezakhani calls "more literature than history").

So Papak doesn't overthown the Kings of Persis, the Arsacid dynasty is split between Artabanus IV in the Iranian plateau and Wologases VI in Mesopotamia, with the Romans more than ready to exploit the unstability of their eastern rival, the future of the Empire itself lies on whoever comes on top, at least for now, there is also the enigmatic and mysterious Indo-Parthian branch of Sistan but we know basically nothing about them. The thing is, one thing most sources (Armenian and Syriac) agrees is that the Arsacid Empire collapsed from within, Armenians histories of the 4th or 5th century are pretty explicit that the Suren and Asparet (probably Ispabhudan)[1] families sided with Ardashir against the Arsacids and Karens and the SKZ does lists envoys of the Suren, Karen, Andegan and Waraz in high positions [2], this all implies the Iranian nobility was willingly to throw their horses against the Arsacids, Artabanus or Vologases, if neither is able to restore grace than any success from the shahanshah is temporary.

As for religion, the Arsacids were Zoroastrians and most of the "traditions" that the Sasanians are famouse for (the fire temples, etc) are dated to the Parthian period and unless there is an outside conquering force there is no reason for them to change so radically.

[1] Although late Armenian sources kinda imply those were the same family so well...
[2] The Mihranids are present too, but in a very low position, maybe they were latecomers, but the Armenians also say the Karen fought against Ardashir so well...
 
@John7755 يوحنا
But basically, it'd be much the same as Carter says. The Sassanids were for all intents and purposes rulers of a military-focused confederacy with themselves as the head and the other houses as confederates.
 
@John7755 يوحنا
But basically, it'd be much the same as Carter says. The Sassanids were for all intents and purposes rulers of a military-focused confederacy with themselves as the head and the other houses as confederates.
That's a controversial take that most Iranologists don't really agree (although they acknowledge the role of the powerful noble families in the Empire's lifetime), I recommend works by Daryaee and Bonner's most recent book The Last Empire of Iran that shows that the Sasanian Empire shows all signs of a strong, centralized realm, at least much more than their Arsacid predecessors.
 
Carter says.
I'm Yog. Really. Yog, short for Carter I'm Yog.
The Sassanids were for all intents and purposes rulers of a military-focused confederacy with themselves as the head and the other houses as confederates.
At the time Ardashir rose, he (I assume) led the Frataraka, which is different from the wuzurgan later on. The kings of Persis had much closer ties to Ardashir, and perhaps some of them evolved into wuzurgan later on, but just to be clear the Sassanian political structure in the middle of their war against the Arshakuni was very different from the one after.
 
That's a controversial take that most Iranologists don't really agree (although they acknowledge the role of the powerful noble families in the Empire's lifetime), I recommend works by Daryaee and Bonner's most recent book The Last Empire of Iran that shows that the Sasanian Empire shows all signs of a strong, centralized realm, at least much more than their Arsacid predecessors.
I feel that the alternative view is a more conservative and flawed approach to how the Eranshahr operated. A take on Iranian history and it’s composition not through western orientalist lines will take one into a field of confederate ‘Great House’ or dynastic politics that itself is foreign to Rome. The power and centralization of the Sassanid royalty within lands firmly their domain is not indicative of a true centralized framework in either ideology or in true political formulation.
 
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