History of Persia

de Trevor Culley

A podcast dedicated to the history of Persia, and the great empires that ruled there beginning with the Achaemenid Empire of Cyrus the Great and the foundation of an imperial legacy that directly impacted ancient civilizations from Rome to China, and everywhere in between. Join me as we explore the cultures, militaries, religions, successes, and failures of some of the greatest empires of the ancient world. All credits available on the website (https://historyofpersiapodcast.com/) Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/history-of-perisa/support

Episodios

59: Holy War

por Trevor Culley

Early in Xerxes' reign, an infamous and dramatic story of religious conflict was inscribed at Persepolis. When Xerxes became king he put down a rebellion, but in the process encountered a community dedicated to a god or gods he considered false and immoral. As consequence he destroyed their sanctuary and worshiped Ahura Mazda in their place.

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58: Persia's First Family

por Trevor Culley

As the reign of another king draw's toward a close, it's time to look at the royal family. Xerxes' household was like a microcosm of early Achaemenid history. His mother, Atossa, drew a direct connection back to Cyrus, his uncles, cousins, and siblings were woven into the political scene of his reign. Herodotus' catalog of Persian commander's is also a catalog of the Great King's family, and many of them held positions of power as Satraps across the empire. The royal family is also an opportunity to look forward, and introduce the next generation of kings, satraps, generals, and rebels.

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57: Xerxes at Home

por Trevor Culley

It's time to return to the imperial heartland and tour the "city" that Xerxes' built. The foundations may have been laid by Darius, but Xerxes was the one who turned Persepolis from a construction project into a shining palace complex in the Iranian plateau.

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56 Domestic Affairs

por Trevor Culley

As the war with the Greeks drags on into obscurity, it is time to investigate what was happening inside the empire under Xerxes. In the far west, most territories slipped from Persian control completely. The Mediterranean coastal region was reconfigured and given a new leadership class to carry on the war against Athens. In the royal court, Xerxes dealt with infamous court drama and intrigue, while in Babylon the daily minutia of government wore on and dealt with economic crises.

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55: Still Loud on the Western Front

por Trevor Culley

After the Persian defeat at Mycale, the stories of the Greco-Persian war get less dramatic, but the war itself did not come to an end. Late 479 BCE saw the beginning of Greek offensives in Persian territory, which continued long after the Spartans pulled out of the war in 478. The third year of war between Xerxes and Athens saw the foundation of the Delian League, which could continue to lead Greek attacks on Persian cities for years to come.

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54: Two By "Sea"

por Trevor Culley

Supposedly on the same day as the Battle of Plataea, another battle was unfolding at the foot of Mount Mycale (modern Mount Dilek). The Greek fleet agreed to aid Samian rebels against Persia and sailed all the way to mainland Anatolia to fight the Persian fleet. Still recovering from Salamis, the Persians opted to turn the confrontation into a land battle, but the new general, Tigranes, and his men were overwhelmed and even more of the fleet was destroyed by Greek hands.

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53: One By Land

por Trevor Culley

After a year of relative success, the Persian occupation of northern Greece received its second massive defeat. For the first time, the Hellenic League managed to field the full might of a Greek army against the occupation force commanded by Mardonius. They clashed repeatedly in the plains surrounding the small town of Plataea until their maneuvers drew both sides into a decisive and bloody confrontation.

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Interview: Sean Manning

por Trevor Culley

I sat down with Dr. Sean Manning, author of the new book: Armed Force in the Teispid-Achaemenid Empire: Past Approaches, Future Prospects to discuss the military might of the Persian Empire (and why it's so hard to find anything written about it). That includes both the academic nuances of which sources deserve primacy, and ever exciting topics of arms, armor, and tactics.

Dr. Manning's research represents an invaluable resource for anyone trying to engage with the military history of Achaemenid Persia - especially when we try to disentangle it from the Greek Wars.

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52: The Adventure Continues

por Trevor Culley

At the end of 480 BCE, there was a lull in the conflict between the Greeks and Persians, but not a stop. The Peloponnesians went home. The Athenians raided the Aegean. Xerxes took most of his troops back to Lydia while Mardonius stayed in Greece, and Artabazos lead a Persian army back from Lydia to Thrace. All of them had their own adventures along the way.

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51: Defeat from the Jaws of Victory

por Trevor Culley

September 480 BCE marked the high point for the Persian army in Greece. Athens was the smoldering campfire at the heart of the Persian army's camp. The Greek army had retreated all the way to Corinth and their fleet was in limbo with the Athenian refugees on Salamis. After some deliberation, Xerxes sent his navy to clear out the Greek ships only for the land and sea themselves to turn against the Great King.

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Interview: Uzume Wijnsma

por Trevor Culley

I sat down with an interview with Uzume Wijnsma, a researcher and PhD candidate at the University of Leiden, whose research has proved invaluable to the podcast on a few occasions. Her research focuses on Egyptian and Babylonian resistance to Achaemenid rule, and she is part of the Persia & Babylonia project at Leiden.


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Purim: Holiday Special 2021

por Trevor Culley

It's that somewhat random time of year again, where I set aside a bit of time to celebrate a holiday that intersects with our narrative. This year that means Purim, the Jewish celebration of the Book of Esther. Esther tells the story of a Jewish woman turned Achaemenid queen in the court of Ahasuerus (maybe Xerxes, maybe an Artaxerxes, probably a bit of both). Esther and her cousin Mordecai have to foil the genocidal plans of the King's vizier Haman to save their people, and the result is today's festivities.

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Episode 49: Breaking Through

por Trevor Culley

Late in the summer of 480 BCE, the Persian invasion force under King Xerxes came to blows with the Greek Allies for the first time. The famous twin battles at Thermopylae and Artemisium played out surrounded by a series of smaller sacks and skirmishes. After three days of fighting, the Greek attempt to block the Persians in narrow passes failed and the Persian army pushed south, conquering Phocis, Boeotia, and ultimately: Attica and Athens. By the end of September 480, Xerxes nominally controlled all of Greece north of the Peloponnese.  

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Episode 48: What is your profession?

por Trevor Culley

Before launching into the actual warfare between the Persian Empire and Greek city states, it's worth examining how the Greeks prepared for war. Athens prepared by building a navy, everyone prepared by planning to deploy their armies, and we'll explore the whole history of the famous "300" Spartans.


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Announcement 2: Darics

por Trevor Culley

Season's Greetings, Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Shab-e Yalda Mubarak, or a pleasant solstice festival of your choice. This is not a holiday episode, but a fundraising announcement to tell you about some new features that will appear on the podcast, HistoryOfPersiaPodcast.com, and Patreon going into 2021. Just like last time, I hate to just ask for money, so I've included a mini-episode about Persian coinage.

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Episode 47: Preparing the Way

por Trevor Culley

From 484-481 BCE, Xerxes directed his subjects to prepare for war in Greece. This didn't just mean assembling soldiers and ships, but also preparing the infrastructure of the western empire to receive one of the largest armies ever assembled. 200,000 soldiers from across the Persian empire converged on the Hellespont in the spring of 480 and began the march to Hellas.

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Episode 46: The Persian Emperor

por Trevor Culley

In 486 BCE, Darius the Great died while Egypt was in revolt. Over the following years, Xerxes put his empire back in order. First in Egypt, then twice in Babylon, the new king defeated rebel kings. The traditional nobility of the two most ancient and prestigious satrapies in the empire were punished, and Xerxes asserted himself as the King of Kings.

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Episode 45: Xerxes Porphyrogennetos

por Trevor Culley

In 486 BCE, Darius the Great died and passed the Persian Empire on to his son, Xerxes. With plans to invade Greece in development, and Egypt in open revolt, the Achaemenid house had to pause and deal with the succession. Darius became the first king entombed at Naqsh e Rostam while Xerxes competed with his elder half-brother for power.


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Episode 44: Also Sprach Zarathustra

por Trevor Culley

This is the second part of the two-part discussion on the life and times of Zoroaster. This time, I discuss the Zoroastrian conception of reality and how it is portrayed in the Gathas as well as the legacy of Zarathustra in Zoroastrianism, Iran, and Europe.

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Episode 43: Thus Spoke Zarathustra

por Trevor Culley

By audience demand, we're headed back in time. Before wrapping up the reign of Darius, it's time to look back to the bronze age and talk about Zarathustra Spitama, the prophet more often known in the west as Zoroaster. This is the first of a two part series on the life and teachings of Zoroaster, as presented in the Gathas - 5 hymns to Ahura Mazda believed to be composed by Zoroaster himself.


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Episode 42: Darius the Shopkeeper

por Trevor Culley

Darius the Great is one of Persia's most infamous kings for many reasons. An illegitimate heir who reunified the empire. The king of the first war with Greece. Conqueror of territory at the far reaches of Persian control. He was many things. He was also a reformer and an administrator who oversaw the implementation of new systems of taxation, record keeping, and political organization. Those reforms formed the basis of Persian governance for centuries to come, and may be his longest lasting legacy.


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Episode 41: The Greatest

por Trevor Culley

To round out our series on Darius' royal family, it's only fair to talk about the men of the family. After all, like it or not, the narrative will follow them going forward. Grandpa Arsames, the fascinating Hystaspes, and all of Darius' brothers, sons, and cousins get their own time in the spotlight. Then, it's time to prepare for the competition to become the Greatest.

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Episode 40: Heiresses of the Empire

por Trevor Culley

There were many Duksis (royal women) in Darius' household, and there would be many more in future generations of the Achaemenid family, but three women in particular standout above the rest. Most famously we know of Atossa, daughter of Cyrus and mother of Xerxes, from our Greek sources. Thanks to the documents of the Persepolis Fortification Archive we also know about the remarkable wealth and influence of Artystone and Irdabama as Persian women in the early 5th century BCE.

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Episode 39: Rise of Achaemeneis

por Trevor Culley

Our sources for Achaemenid history are clearly biased towards the stories of men in the ancient world, but we actually know a lot about Achaemenid women. To fully understand the whole royal family, it's time to get a better understanding of the role Royal Women - the Duksish - played in Persian society.

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Episode 38: The Last Battle

por Trevor Culley

Nearly a decade after Aristagoras first went into revolt, and longer since the Athenians had reneged on their offerings of earth and water, the Persian Army came to take Darius' revenge on Athens. For the first time, a Persian army landed on the Greek mainland. They made their camp on an unremarkable open plain that would soon be seared into Greek history forever: Marathon.

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Episode 37: Greece Awakens

por Trevor Culley

Even once the Ionian cities themselves were defeated, the consequences of their Revolt were ongoing. In 492 BCE, a new general, Mardonius, took to the field to settle matters in the Balkans. Two years later, the Persians turned their sites on Athens and Eretria in retribution for the aid they sent to the Ionians. In 490, Artaphernes and Datis launched the first Persian invasion of mainland Greece.

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Episode 36: Return of the Tyrannoi

por Trevor Culley

Even with Miletus defeated, the other rebel cities in shambles, Cyprus under control, and their armies victorious, the Persians had not heard the last of Ionian resistance. While the Greek rebels were fighting against the Persian Empire, the deposed tyrant Histiaeus was making plans to try and carve out a new niche for himself in Persian territory.

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Episode 35: The Empire Strikes Back

por Trevor Culley

It is a dark time for the Ionian Revolt. Although Sardis has been destroyed, Persian troops have driven the Rebel forces from Aeolis and pursued them across Anatolia.

Facing the renewed Persian Fleet, a group of Greek cities led by Dionysius of Phocaea has established a new plan on the nearby island of Lade.

The Persian satrap Artaphernes, ready to end this rebellion, has dispatched the army and the navy to retake Miletus....

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Episode 34: A New Fleet

por Trevor Culley

While three Persian land armies were spreading out over western Anatolia to contain and defeat the Ionian Greek rebels and their allies, a fourth army was headed to the island of Cyprus. The Cypriot King of Salamis, Onesilos had usurped his brother's throne and incited his neighbors to rebellion. In our first "Battle of Salamis" the Persians retake the strange and strategic island.

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Interview 1: Dr. Michael Bonner

por Trevor Culley

This time I have something a little different. In place of a regular narrative episode this week, I have my recent interview with Dr. Michael Bonner, author of the new book: The Last Empire of Iran. This jumps far ahead of our current point in the narrative story, all the way to the Sassanid Persian Empire of the 4th-8th centuries CE.

Dr. Bonner and I discussed the origins, sources, conflicts, and fall of Iran's last pre-Islamic dynasty.

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Episode 33: Revenge of the Persians

por Trevor Culley

After the shocking attack on Sardis, many more Greek cities joined the Ionian Revolt, despite Persian victory at Ephesus. In 497 BCE, three land campaigns were launched by three Persian generals: Daurises, Hymaies, and Otanes. After a series of lightning victories in early 497, the campaigns began set in to prolonged fighting. Two of the Persian generals were dead by 496, but the Ionians were still losing. Fresh revolts in the Troad and Caria were dealt serious defeats, and Aristagoras of Miletus, once the ringleader of the Ionians, fled into exile.

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Episode 32: Begun, the Greek Wars Have

por Trevor Culley

To prepare ourselves for their role in the coming wars between Persian the Greek city states, I'm explaining the history and politics of Archaic Athens, from their first adoption of oligarchy rather than monarchy, down through the adoption of democracy, the Peisistratid tyrants, and the final restoration of democracy by Cleisthenes. At the end of that long process, the Athenians and their Eretrian allies joined forces with the Ionian Greek cities of Anatolia in their revolt against the Persian Empire. In 498 BCE, the Greek army set out from Ephesus in a lightning raid to attack, and ultimately destroy, the Lydian capital at Sardis. 


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Episode 31: The Naxos Incident

por Trevor Culley

At the end of the 6th century BCE, a group of exiled aristocrats from the island of Naxos inadvertently set off a chain of events that would eventually lead to such famous battles as Marathon, Thermopylae, and Salamis. They asked the Milesian Tyrant, Aristagoras, to help them retake their home island after being kicked out. Aristagoras went to the Satrap of Lydia, who in turn asked Darius the Great. When Darius gave the go ahead, a Persian fleet invaded, and subsequently retreated from Naxos. Out of money and out of options Aristagoras and the rest of the Ionian Greeks in western Anatolia began hatching a plan to launch an Ionian Revolt against the Persian Empire.


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Achaemenid Nowruz! 2020 Holiday Special

por Trevor Culley

To celebrate the Persian New Year's festival of Nowruz, check out the 2nd Sort-of Annual Holiday Special, exploring the New Year's celebrations of the Achaemenid Empire. Called Navasarda at that time, many of the traditions associated with the modern holiday were still developing during the Achaemenid period. The origins and original purpose of the holiday season are hazy and changed and developed as Iranian society evolved over centuries.

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