The Sassanid emperor Shapur II fought a long and inconclusive war with Rome, before concluding a truce to concentrate on the subjugation of Arab and Hunnic tribes on the southern and eastern borders of his empire. One of these tribes, the Chionitae of Transoxiana, became his allies when he renewed the offensive against Rome in 358 CE. Shapur originally intended to skirt round Amida (modern Diyarbakir, Turkey), but when the son of the Grumbate, king of the Chionitae, was killed by the Roman defenders, honour needed to be satisfied. Shapur’s great-grandfather had used a captured Roman emperor as a footstool, before having his corpse stuffed and mounted, so the garrison of Amida expected no quarter and inflicted heavy casualties in repulsing successive Sassanian assaults. Even when weakened by an outbreak of plague, they managed devastating sorties against the enemy camps. Finally, Roman attempts to refortify collapsed, inadvertently creating a ramp for the besiegers, who then successfully stormed the city through the Mardin Gate.
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