and the Persian Wars
Above: Relief with Achaemenid warriors in the Pergamon Museum, Berlin. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Creator: Jakub Hałun. License: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International.
Articles from the
Oxford Classical Dictionary
Persia | Babylon | Babylonia | Lydia | Media | Mesopotamia | Persepolis | Phrygia | Sardis | Susa | Achaemenids | Cambyses | Cyrus | Darius I | Mardonius | Themistocles | Xerxes I | Persian religion | Persian Wars | Ionian Revolt | Key battles: Artemisium | Marathon | Plataea | Salamis | Thermopylae | Persian Wars: the Persian viewpoint
Around 550 B.C.E. the Persian people―who were previously practically unknown in the annals of history―emerged from their base in southern Iran (Fars) and engaged in a monumental adventure that, under the leadership of Cyrus the Great and his successors, culminated in the creation of an immense Empire that stretched from central Asia to Upper Egypt, from the Indus to the Danube. The Persian (or Achaemenid, named for its reigning dynasty) Empire assimilated an astonishing diversity of lands, peoples, languages, and cultures. This conquest of Near Eastern lands completely altered the history of the world: for the first time, a monolithic State as vast as the future Roman Empire arose, expanded, and matured in the course of more than two centuries (530–330) and endured until the death of Alexander the Great (323), who from a geopolitical perspective was “the last of the Achaemenids.” Even today, the remains of the Empire-the terraces, palaces, reliefs, paintings, and enameled bricks of Pasargadae, Persepolis, and Susa; the impressive royal tombs of Naqsh-i Rustam; the monumental statue of Darius the Great-serve to remind visitors of the power and unprecedented luxury of the Great Kings and their loyal courtiers (the “Faithful Ones”). Though long eclipsed and overshadowed by the towering prestige of the “ancient Orient” and “eternal Greece,” Achaemenid history has emerged into fresh light during the last two decades. Freed from the tattered rags of “Oriental decadence” and “Asiatic stagnation,” research has also benefited from a continually growing number of discoveries that have provided important new evidence-including texts, as well as archaeological, numismatic, and iconographic artifacts. The evidence that this book assembles is voluminous and diverse: the citations of ancient documents and of the archaeological evidence permit the reader to follow the author in his role as a historian who, across space and time, attempts to understand how such an Empire emerged, developed, and faded. Though firmly grounded in the evidence, the author’s discussions do not avoid persistent questions and regularly engages divergent interpretations and alternative hypotheses. This book is without precedent or equivalent, and also offers an exhaustive bibliography and thorough indexes.
A History of the Achaemenid Empire considers archaeological and written sources to provide an expansive, source-based introduction to the diverse and culturally rich world of ancient Achaemenid Persia. Assuming no prior background, this accessible textbook follows the dynastic line from the establishment and expansion of the empire under the early Achaemenid kings to its collapse in 330 BCE. The text integrates the latest research, key primary sources, and archaeological data to offer readers deep insights into the empire, its kings, and its people. Chronologically organized chapters contain written, archaeological, and visual sources that highlight key learning points, stimulate discussion, and encourage readers to evaluate specific pieces of evidence. Throughout the text, author Maria Brosius emphasizes the necessity to critically assess Greek sources―highlighting how their narrative of Achaemenid political history often depicted stereotypical images of the Persians rather than historical reality. Topics include the establishment of empire under Cyrus the Great, Greek-Persian relations, the creation of a Persian ruling class, the bureaucracy and operation of the empire, Persian diplomacy and foreign policy, and the reign of Darius III. Part of the acclaimed Blackwell History of the Ancient World series, A History of the Achaemenid Empire is a perfect primary textbook for courses in Ancient History, Near Eastern Studies, and Classical Civilizations, as well as an invaluable resource for general readers with interest in the history of empires, particularly the first Persian empire or Iranian civilization.
The Greek Wars: The Failure of Persia
The Greek Wars treats the whole course of Persian relations with the Greeks from the coming of Cyrus in the 540s down to Alexander the Great's defeat of Darius III in 331 B.C. . Cawkwell discusses from a Persian perspective major questions such as why Xerxes' invasion of Greece failed, and how important a part the Great King played in Greek affairs in the fourth century. Cawkwell's views are at many points original: in particular, his explanation of how and why the Persian invasion of Greece failed challenges the prevailing orthodoxy, as does his view of the importance of Persia in Greek affairs for the two decades after the King's Peace. Persia, he concludes, was destroyed by Macedonian military might but moral decline had no part in it; the Macedonians who had subjected Greece were too good an army, but their victory was not easy.
This sumptuous book traces the rise and fall of one of the ancient world's largest and richest empires. Encompassing a rich diversity of different peoples and cultures, Persia's Achaemenid Empire flourished between 550 and 331 B.C. The empire originated with Cyrus the Great (559-530 B.C.) and expanded under his successors, who ruled from the royal capitals of Susa and Persepolis, until at its peak it stretched from the Indus Valley to Greece and from the Caspian Sea to Egypt. The Achaemenids acted as a bridge between the earlier Near Eastern cultures and the later Classical world of the Mediterranean and had a profound influence on Greece in political, military, economic, and cultural fields. Forgotten Empire was created in association with the British Museum, which is mounting the most comprehensive exhibit ever staged on the Achaemenids. This book opens a window onto the wealth and splendor of Persian society—its rich palaces, exquisite craftsmanship, and sophisticated learning. Showcasing an unprecedented loan of unique material from the National Museum of Tehran—most of which has never before been presented outside of Iran—this beautifully illustrated and produced book demonstrates why the sculpture, glazed panels, gold vessels, and jewelry of the Achaemenids rank among the finest ever produced. Because the palace was central to imperial life, remains from the royal sites of Susa and Persepolis are a major focus. Forgotten Empire is divided into sections such as the expansion of the Persian Empire, arms and warfare, trade and commerce, writing, luxury dinner services, jewelry, religious and burial customs, and the rediscovery of ancient Persia.
Griffins in the ruins of Persepolis, Iran. Source: Wikimedia Commons. Creator: Hansueli Krapf. License: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported.
Interest and fascination in Achaemenid Persia has burgeoned in recent years. It is time for a major new appraisal of the glorious civilization founded by Cyrus the Great and continued by his successors, the Great Kings Darius I, Xerxes and Artaxerxes I. This volume offers precisely that: a sustained and comprehensive overview of the field of Achaemenid studies by leading scholars and experts. It discusses all aspects of Achaemenid history and archaeology between 550 BCE and 330 BCE, and embraces the whole vast territory of the Persian Empire from North Africa to India and from Central Asia to the Persian Gulf. Topics covered in this title include aspects of Achaemenid religion, administration, material culture, ethnicity, gender and the survival of Achaemenid traditions. The publication of the book is an event: it represents a watershed not only in better appreciation and understanding of the rich and complex cultural heritage established by Cyrus, but also of the lasting significance of the Achaemenid kings and the impact that their remarkable civilization has had on wider Persian and Middle Eastern history.
The long and bitter struggle between the great Persian Empire and the fledgling Greek states reached its high point with the extraordinary Greek victory at Salamis in 480 B.C. The astonishing sea battle banished forever the specter of Persian invasion and occupation. Peter Green brilliantly retells this historic moment, evoking the whole dramatic sweep of events that the Persian offensive set in motion. The massive Greek victory, despite the Greeks' inferior numbers, opened the way for the historic evolution of the Greek states in a climate of creativity, independence, and democracy, one that provided a model and an inspiration for centuries to come. Green's accounts of both Persian and Greek strategies are clear and persuasive; equally convincing are his everyday details regarding the lives of soldiers, statesmen, and ordinary citizens. He has first-hand knowledge of the land and sea he describes, as well as full command of original sources and modern scholarship. With a new foreword, The Greco-Persian Wars is a book that lovers of fine historical writing will greet with pleasure.
Imperial Matter: Ancient Persia and the Archaeology of Empires
What is the role of the material world in shaping the tensions and paradoxes of imperial sovereignty? Scholars have long shed light on the complex processes of conquest, extraction, and colonialism under imperial rule. But imperialism has usually been cast as an exclusively human drama, one in which the world of matter does not play an active role. Lori Khatchadourian argues instead that things—from everyday objects to monumental buildings—profoundly shape social and political life under empire. Out of the archaeology of ancient Persia and the South Caucasus, Imperial Matter advances powerful new analytical approaches to the study of imperialism writ large and should be read by scholars working on empire across the humanities and social sciences.
Bringing together a wide variety of material in many different languages that exists from the substantial body of work left by this large empire, The Persian Empire presents annotated translations, together with introductions to the problems of using it in order to gain an understanding of the history and working os this remarkable political entity. The Achaemenid empire developed in the region of modern Fars (Islam) and expanded to unite territories stretching from the Aegean and Egypt in the west to Central Asia and north-west India, which it ruled for over 200 years until its conquest by Alexander of Macedon. Although all these regions had long since been in contact with each other, they had never been linked under a single regime. The Persian empire represents an important phase of transformation for its subjects, such as the Jews, as well as those living on its edges, such as the European Greeks.
Above: Fragment of a limestone relief showing a sphinx with the head of a bearded man; Achaemenid Persian, likely 4th c. BCE. Source/creator: British Museum. License: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International.
Upper right: Silver rhyton (drinking horn) terminating in the forepart of a ram; Achaemenid Persian, ca. 5th century BCE. Source/creator: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. License: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.
Lower right: Gold earring; Achaemenid Persian, ca. 6th-4th century BCE. Source/creator: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. License: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.
Persepolis: Discovery and Afterlife of a World Wonder
This work presents the first full study of the history of archaeological exploration at Persepolis after its destruction in 330 BC. Based in part on archival evidence, anecdotal information, and unpublished documents, this book describes in detail the history of archaeological exploration, visual documentation, and excavations at one of the most celebrated sites of the ancient world. The book addresses a broad audience of readers ranging from students of the archaeology, history, and art history of ancient, medieval, and modern Iran to scholars in Classical Studies and Ancient Near Eastern Studies.
Iran's heritage is as varied as it is complex, and the archaeological, philological, and linguistic scholarship of the region has not been the focus of a comprehensive study for many decades. This book provides up-to-date, authoritative essays on a wide range of topics extending from the earliest Paleolithic settlements in the Pleistocene era to the Arab conquest in the 7th century AD. The volume, authored by specialists based both inside and outside of Iran, is divided into sections covering prehistory, the Chalcolithic, the Bronze Age, the Iron Age, the Achaemenid period, the Seleucid and Arsacid periods, the Sasanian period, and the Arab conquest. In addition, more specialized chapters are included which treat numismatics, religion, languages, political ideology, calendrics, the use of color, textiles, Sasanian silver and reliefs, and political relations with Rome and Byzantium. No other single volume covers as much of Iran's archaeology and history with the same degree of authority. Drawing on the results of the latest fieldwork in Iran and studies by scholars from around the world, this volume addresses a longstanding gap in the literature of the ancient Near East.
The Persian War was one of the most significant events in ancient history. It halted Persia's westward expansion, inspired the Golden Age of Greece, and propelled Athens to the heights of power. From the end of the war almost to the end of antiquity, the Greeks and later the Romans recalled the battles and heroes of this war with unabated zeal. The resulting monuments and narratives have long been used to reconstruct the history of the war itself, but they have only recently begun to be used to explore how the conflict was remembered over time. States of Memory focuses on the initial recollection of the war in the classical period down to the Lamian War (480-322 BCE). Drawing together recent work on memory theory and a wide range of ancient evidence, Yates argues that the Greek memory of the war was deeply divided from the outset. Despite the panhellenic scope of the conflict, the Greeks very rarely recalled the war as Greeks. Instead they presented themselves as members of their respective city-states. What emerged was a tangled web of idiosyncratic stories about the Persian War that competed with each other fiercely throughout the classical period. It was not until Philip of Macedonia and Alexander the Great dealt a devastating blow to the very notion of the independent city-state at the battle of Chaeronea that anything like a unified memory of the Persian War came to dominate the tradition.
Panorama of the ruins of Persepolis in Shiraz, Fars Province, Iran. Source: Unsplash. Creator: amin zeinali. License: Unsplash license.