Safavid Science and Technology

Science and Technology

By: Cole Brandser
In 1514, the Safavid were not very technologically advanced. They relied mainly on the technology and tactics that the Persian emperors before them had left. These military tactics, however, had been out dated and made obsolete by the new tactics and strategies of the surrounding empires. One empire in particular being the Ottoman empire. These Ottoman tactics involved the use of newly found resources such as gunpowder. This allowed them to create artillery for battle, which put them at a great advantage.

On a hot August day in 1514, the Persian army and the Ottoman army met on the plains of Chaldiran. he soldiers met facing each other until the two armies ran forward and colided with great force. Although the Persians were good fighters, the Ottomans had artillery that shot from the back. In the end, the Ottoman’s overcame the Safavids.

After this battle, the Safavids created artillery and other firearms to help in battle. This was in their best interest because of how effective it was in the Battle of Chaldiran. These new weapons in which they created involved portable rifles to heavy cannon. The rifle were created to give infantry men some for fire power than just a sword. They were mostly slow weapons because your had to put powder in separately. The major factor may have been the cannon. While in battle, the cannon would launch heavy balls into the enemy line. This greatly influenced how the Safavids fought and has changed the warfare that is fought today.

Remains of a Safavid Cannon

Along with the new use of gunpowder that Shah Abbas started, the Safavid empire began to look towards horses and their multiple functions. First introduced to the Safavids mainly by the Europeans, the horse proved to be a great asset to Safavid society. The horse was a fast and mobile creature that could carry lots of weight wile maintaining high speeds for that time. This then made the horse the main method of transportation in Safavid times. The horse was used by merchants and common people for daily needs. Yet this is not where the horse stopped in aiding the empire because the horse was great for the military. The horse could maneuver through enemy lines quickly, making it great for battle. Also, when fighting, the person on horseback was higher than a foot soldier, giving them an advantage. Lastly, the horse was fast enough to track down enemies that were retreating so that made them a great military aspect. That is how the horse played role in the Safavid Empire.

Painting of a Safavid ruler and his Horse

Finally, ships were made to help aid the Safavid empire in trade. The ships were introduced to the Safavids by the Europeans, but the Safavids eventually created their own ships. These ships were used for military purposes, but mainly trade because the Safavids did not create a large enough armada to be notable. That is why these ships were mainly used for commerce.

With these many technologies in the possession of the Safavid Empire, it is clear to see how the empire grew to its peak. Trade and warfare had parts in this growth, but the success shown in these areas wouldn’t be possible without the use of technology.


Bentley, Jerry H., and Herbert F. Ziegler. Traditions & Encounters: A Global Perspective on the Past. 3rd ed. New York City, New York: McGraw-Hill, 2006.

“The Islamic World to 1600: The Rise of the Great Islamic Empires (The Safavid Empire).” Home | University of Calgary. Web. 24 May 2011.

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