A History of Ancient Persia

A History of Ancient Persia : The Achaemenid Empire

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An innovative approach to the history of the First Persian Empire, offering an accessible historical narrative for students and general readers alike

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 historyoften 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. This innovative textbook:



Offers a unique approach to Achaemenid history, considering both archaeological and literary sources
Places primary Persian and Near Eastern sources in their cultural, political, and historical context
Examines material rarely covered in non-specialist texts, such as royal inscriptions, Aramaic documents, and recent archaeological finds
Features a comprehensive introduction to Achaemenid geography, Greek historiography, and modern scholarship on the Persian War

Part of the acclaimed Blackwell History of the Ancient Worldseries, 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.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 288 pages
  • 178 x 253 x 17mm | 554g
  • Wiley-Blackwell (an imprint of John Wiley & Sons Ltd)
  • Chicester, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1. Auflage
  • 1444350927
  • 9781444350920
  • 1,000,082

Back cover copy

An innovative approach to the history of the First Persian Empire, offering an accessible historical narrative for students and general readers alike

A History of Ancient Persia: 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 frm 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. This innovative textbook: Offers a unique approach to Achaemenid history, considering both archaeological and literary sources Places primary Persian and Near Eastern sources in their cultural, political, and historical context Examines material rarely covered in non-specialist texts, such as royal inscriptions, Aramaic documents, and recent archaeological finds Features a comprehensive introduction to Achaemenid geography, greek historiography, and modern scholarship on the Persian War

Part of the acclaimed Blackwell History of the Ancient World series, A History of Ancient Persia: 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.
show more

Table of contents

List of Illustrations ix

List of Maps xv

List of Special Topics xvii

List of Sources in Translation xix

List of Boxed Texts xxi

List of Abbreviations xxiii

The Achaemenid Dynasty xxvii

Preface xxix

Acknowledgements xxxi

Author's Note xxxiii

1 Introduction 1

2 The Arrival of the Persians on the Iranian Plateau 5

2.1 The Persians 5

2.1.1 Parsua and Parsumash 6

2.1.2 Kurash of Parsumash 8

2.2 The Indigenous Population of the Iranian Plateau: The Elamites 8

2.3 The Neighbours in the North: The Medes 10

2.3.1 Media in Herodotus 11

2.3.2 Near Eastern Sources on the Medes 11

3 The Establishment of Empire: Cyrus the Great 17

3.1 Cyrus II and Media 17

3.1.1 A Folktale or a Tool for Legitimacy? 18

3.2 The Conquest of the Lydian Kingdom 19

3.3 Cyrus and the Ionian Greeks 20

3.4 The First Royal City of the Persians: Pasargadae 20

3.5 The Conquest of Babylon 24

3.5.1 A Peaceful Conquest? 27

3.5.2 Political Astuteness 28

3.6 The Scythian Campaign 30

3.7 Cyrus II, Conqueror and Empire-Builder 30

4 A Worthy Successor: Cambyses II 33

4.1 The Succession of Cambyses II 33

4.2 The Power of Propaganda 36

4.2.1 The Demotic Papyrus 39

4.3 Cambyses's Depiction in Herodotus 39

4.4 The Apis Bull 41

4.4.1 The Apis Bull and the Death of Cambyses 43

4.4.2 The Killing of His Sister-Wife 43

4.4.3 Fratricide 44

5 From Bardiya to Darius I 47

5.1 The Succession of Darius I 47

5.1.1 Herodotus's Version of Events 47

5.1.2 Darius's Version: The Inscription of Bisitun 48

5.2 The Death of Bardiya 49

5.2.1 Herodotus and the Bisitun Inscription: A Comparison 60

5.2.2 A Murder Mystery 61

5.2.3 Darius the Achaemenid 61

5.2.4 Teispes 63

5.2.5 The Royal Line of Kings 63

5.2.6 Dynastic Marriages 64

5.3 The Consolidation of Empire 64

5.3.1 Royal Cities 67

5.3.1.1 Pasargadae 67

5.3.1.2 Susa 67

5.3.2 Parsa - City of the Persians 68

5.4 Foreign Policy 73

5.4.1 The Scythian Campaign 75

5.4.2 The Athenian-Persian Alliance of 508/7 76

5.4.3 The Ionian Revolt 77

5.4.4 The Sequence of Events 78

5.4.5 Problems in the Historical Account 80

5.4.6 The Punitive Campaign of 490 81

6 The Face of Empire 85

6.1 Achaemenid Kingship 85

6.1.1 The Power of Royal Imagery 87

6.2 Royal Ideology 90

6.3 Persian Religion 93

6.3.1 Funerary Customs 95

6.4 Persepolis: The Microcosm of Empire 98

6.4.1 The Royal Court 99

6.4.2 Gift-Giving 100

6.4.3 Rhyta 101

6.4.4 The Women of the Court 102

6.4.5 The King's Friends and Benefactors 105

6.4.6 Courtiers 105

6.4.7 Refugees and Foreigners 106

7 The Organisation of Power 113

7.1 The Satraps 113

7.1.1 The Satrapies 114

7.1.2 The Great Satrapy of Bactria 115

7.1.3 The Status of the Caucasus Region and Thrace 116

7.2 Administering the Empire 122

7.2.1 Royal Correspondence 122

7.2.2 Taxes and Tribute 125

7.2.3 The Administration of Persepolis 126

7.2.4 Royal Roads 127

8 Taking up the Baton: Diplomacy and Foreign Policy from Xerxes I to Artaxerxes II 137

8.1 The Reign of Xerxes 137

8.1.1 Xerxes's Succession 137

8.1.2 Quashing Rebellions in Egypt and Babylonia 139

8.2 The War in Greece 139

8.2.1 The State of Play in Greece 140

8.2.2 The Persian Army on the March 140

8.2.3 Thermopylae and Artemisium 140

8.2.4 The Fall of Athens and the Battle of Salamis 141

8.2.5 Attempts at Diplomacy 141

8.2.6 The Battle of Plataea 142

8.2.7 Xerxes in Asia Minor 142

8.2.8 The Story of Xerxes and the Wife of Masistes 143

8.2.9 ... And a Story Retold 143

8.2.10 The Beginning of the Myth 148

8.2.11 Medising 149

8.2.12 Perserie 149

8.2.13 After the War 150

8.3 Artaxerxes I 152

8.3.1 The Death of Xerxes I and the Succession of Artaxerxes I 152

8.3.2 Revolts in Bactria and Egypt 153

8.3.3 Rebellion in Egypt 464-454 153

8.3.4 The Revolt of Megabyxus 154

8.3.5 The Peace of Callias 157

8.3.6 Judaea Under Artaxerxes I 158

8.3.7 Continuity in Persepolis 158

8.4 Succession Trouble in 424 158

8.4.1 Rebellions in the Empire 161

8.4.2 The Royal Building Programme Continued 161

8.4.3 Persia Re-enters Greek Politics 161

8.4.4 The Bilateral Treaty of 411 163

8.5 Artaxerxes II 166

8.5.1 The War of the Brothers 166

8.5.2 Persian Affairs in Asia Minor 168

8.5.3 Evagoras of Salamis 172

8.5.4 Revolt in Egypt 404/400-343/2 174

8.6 The Winds of Change 175

8.6.1 City-Rulers and Local Dynasts of the Western Empire 175

8.6.2 The Hecatomnids 176

8.6.3 Perikle of Limyra 180

8.6.4 The Political Level 181

8.6.4.1 The kings of Sidon 181

8.6.5 Stele of the King of Byblos/Gubal 183

8.6.6 Rebellions in Western Asia Minor 366-359/8 187

8.6.7 Datames 187

8.6.8 Ariobarzanes 188

8.6.9 Orontes 189

8.6.10 The Death of Artaxerxes II 189

9 A Whole New Ballgame: The Reign of Artaxerxes III and Artaxerxes IV 199

9.1 The Succession of Artaxerxes III 199

9.2 Egypt 200

9.3 Athenian-Persian Relations 349-342 200

9.4 The Death of Artaxerxes III and the Reign of Artaxerxes IV 204

10 A Good King in the End: Darius III 207

10.1 The Succession of Darius III 207

10.1.1 Battling Negative Propaganda 207

10.2 External Threat 209

10.2.1 The Macedonian Invasion 209

10.2.2 Granicus 209

10.2.3 Issus 210

10.2.4 Gaugamela 211

10.2.5 The Royal Cities 212

10.2.6 The Death of Darius III 216

10.3 In the Footsteps of the Persian Kings? 217

11 Epilogue 221

Bibliography 225

Index 233
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About Maria Brosius

Maria Brosius is a former Associate Professor in Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, University of Toronto, and Lecturer at The Queen's College, Oxford University. Now retired, Professor Brosius' research focuses on the history of pre-Islamic Persia, especially on the Achaemenid period, as well as on the cultural, intellectual, and religious connections between Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean. She is the author of The Persians: An Introduction, The Persian Empire from Cyrus II to Artaxerxes I, and Women in Ancient Persia.
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