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Ancient Persia: A Concise History of the Achaemenid Empire, 550-330 BCE

Ancient Persia: A Concise History of the Achaemenid Empire, 550-330 BCE

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By (author) Matt Waters

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  • Publisher: CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS
  • Format: Paperback | 268 pages
  • Dimensions: 155mm x 229mm x 23mm | 386g
  • Publication date: 20 January 2014
  • Publication City/Country: Cambridge
  • ISBN 10: 0521253691
  • ISBN 13: 9780521253697
  • Edition statement: New.
  • Illustrations note: 31 b/w illus. 6 maps
  • Sales rank: 137,936

Product description

The Achaemenid Persian Empire, at its greatest territorial extent under Darius I (r.522-486 BCE), held sway over territory stretching from the Indus River Valley to southeastern Europe and from the western Himalayas to northeast Africa. In this book, Matt Waters gives a detailed historical overview of the Achaemenid period while considering the manifold interpretive problems historians face in constructing and understanding its history. This book offers a Persian perspective even when relying on Greek textual sources and archaeological evidence. Waters situates the story of the Achaemenid Persians in the context of their predecessors in the mid-first millennium BCE and through their successors after the Macedonian conquest, constructing a compelling narrative of how the empire retained its vitality for more than two hundred years (c.550-330 BCE) and left a massive imprint on Middle Eastern as well as Greek and European history.

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Author information

Matt Waters is Professor of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire. He is the author of A Survey of Neo-Elamite History (2000), and his work has appeared in numerous journals, including Iran, Revue d'Assyriologie and the Journal of the American Oriental Society. Waters is the recipient of fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, Harvard University's Center for Hellenic Studies, the Loeb Classical Library Foundation, and the University of Wisconsin, Madison's Institute for Research in the Humanities. He was awarded the Jonas C. Greenfield Prize from the American Oriental Society in 2006 for the best published article in ancient Near Eastern studies in a three-year period by a scholar under the age of forty.

Review quote

'An invaluable new resource for students of the Classical and Near Eastern worlds! Unparalleled in its clear and concise discussion, Ancient Persia draws on rich textual, visual, and archaeological sources to convey a cogent overview of the systems, places, and people who made up the Persian Empire. This tour-de-force is a must-have for scholars and the interested public alike.' Elspeth Dusinberre, University of Colorado, Boulder 'Attractively written, concise, and even-handed, this compact presentation fills a notable gap in the available literature. It will find a warm welcome from students and others who wish to familiarize themselves with a key period in the history of ancient Iran.' David Stronach, University of California, Berkeley 'Matt Waters's book should now be the first stop for those wanting an introduction to the Achaemenids and the study of them. It is a traditional history handbook, a chronological political narrative punctuated with social themes, but a thoroughly enjoyable one: well written and stimulating, the chapters pull the reader along through the book, and while concise it is packed with information and satisfyingly detailed, lucid discussions ... this book is a strong synthesis, which will be instrumental in disseminating the gains of the last decades of Achaemenid studies to a broad readership and in encouraging scholarship that transcends the traditional disciplinary boundaries of Classics and Ancient Near Eastern studies. It is not only useful, but a model of engaging scholarly writing, and a good read.' Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Table of contents

1. Introduction: tracking an empire; 2. Forerunners of the Achaemenids: the first half of the first millennium BCE; 3. Persia rising: a new empire; 4. From Cyrus to Darius I: empire in transition; 4. Appendix: Darius' war for the succession; 5. Darius the king; 6. Mechanics of empire; 7. Xerxes, the expander of the realm; 8. Anatomy of empire; 9. Empire at large: from the death of Xerxes to Darius II; 10. Maintaining empire: Artaxerxes II and Artaxerxes III; 11. Twilight of the Achaemenids; 12. Epilogue; Appendix A. Timeline; Appendix B. Chronological chart of Achaemenid Persian kings; Appendix C. Lineages (family tree) of the Achaemenid royal family; Appendix D. Further readings.