Tag Archives: Achaemenid Empire

First alabastron with Aramaic inscription in Persian period

Qahéri, Sépideh & Kevin Trehuedic. 2017. Premier alabastron d’époque perse à inscription araméenne (MNI 218/9). Arta 2017.002.

The History of the Argeads

Müllerm Sabine, Timothy Howe, Hugh Bowden & Robert Rollinger (eds.). 2017. The History of the Argeads. New Perspectives. (classica et orientalia 19), Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

The Macedonian Argead Empire had an interesting and fascinating history already before its rise under its most famous rulers Philip II and his son Alexander III. Furthermore, the history of their predecessors provides a context for understanding their activities.
This volume, based on a conference on Argead Macedonia in 2015, offers an account of the place of Argead Macedonia in the wider ancient world from the sixth century BC to the second century AD and beyond. Argead Macedonia is explored in the context of its regal, structural, historical, courtly and military traditions. Its alliances and enmities, its political networks and environment are scrutinized – particularly in regard to Persia, but also to Greece. In order to look at Argead Macedonia from a wider angle, going beyond ancient literary topoi and views on Macedonia in isolation, the authors analyze in which ways the Argead monarchy was integrated into the wider Eastern Mediterranean and Near Eastern world, influenced by it and having an impact upon it. The volume is divided into four sections. Different aspects such as Macedonia’s relationship with Achaemenid Persia, political and military matters, Argead coinage, dynastic profile and reception of the Argeads are examined.

The introduction and the table of contents are available here.

Persian Interventions

Hyland, John. 2017. Persian interventions: The Achaemenid Empire, Athens, and Sparta, 450−386 BCE. Johns Hopkins University Press.

In Persian Interventions, John O. Hyland challenges earlier studies that assume Persia played Athens against Sparta in a defensive balancing act. He argues instead for a new interpretation of Persian imperialism, one involving long-term efforts to extend diplomatic and economic patronage over Greek clients beyond the northwestern frontier. Achaemenid kings, he asserts, were less interested in Ionia for its own sake than in the accumulation of influence over Athens, Sparta, or both, which allowed them to advertise Persia’s claim to universal power while limiting the necessity of direct military commitment. The slow pace of intervention resulted from logistical constraints and occasional diplomatic blunders, rather than long-term plans to balance and undermine dangerous allies.

John O. Hyland is an associate professor of history at Christopher Newport University.

The book is scheduled to be published in December 2017.

Herodotus and the Persian Empire

The latest issue of Phoenix, the journal of the society Ex Oriente Lux, has been just published. Here is R.J. (Bert) van der Spek‘s summary of this special issue, ‘Herodotus en het Perzische Rijk’, Phoenix 63.2 (2017):

Focus is on Near Eastern information that puts Herodotus in a more balanced perspective. Wouter Henkelman presents Egyptological (and other) information on the famous story of Cambyses and the Apis (III 27-9; 33; 64). He shows how early researchers of the Apis burials were deceived by taking Herodotus’ story at face value. It is better not to, rather to consider Herodotus’ agenda of defamation of Cambyses, which Henkelman defines as ‘character assassination’. He places the story in an Egyptian tradition of defamation of foreigners, of ‘Chaosbeschreibung’. Olaf Kaper discusses the excavations in the Dakhlah oasis, which was once a settlement of revolting king Petubastis IV. The mysterious story of an army sent by Cambyses to the Ammonians, that disappeared in the desert (III 25), might well simply reflect an annihilation by that army by Petubastis, followed by a damnatio memoriae by the Persians. CAROLINE WAERZEGGERS discusses the modern prejudices on Xerxes, exemplified by the film ‘300’. Western knowledge and interpretation of Xerxes is based on Herodotus, who has a very biased picture of Xerxes. Herodotus suggests to have visited Babylon, but who is not very reliable. He does not know anything about an important revolt in the second year of Xerxes’ reign, i.e. about the year of birth of Herodotus. Karel van der Toorn discusses ‘the long arm of Artaxerxes II’ by recognizing the Jewish community in Elephantine in Egypt, which caused tensions. In the fifth century, the time of Herodotus, this setting apart of the Jewish community was not yet so much clear, so that for Herodotus the Jews (in Elephantine and in Palestine” simply counted as “Syrians” (all spoke Aramaic).


Darius I and Divinity

Greater Glory: Darius I and Divinity in Achaemenid Royal Ideology

A lecture by Matthew Waters (University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire)
Organised by the Pourdavoud Center

For more information, click on the photo above or follow this link.

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Frederick E. Brenk on Plutarch, Religious Thinker and Biographer

Lanzillotta, Lautaro Roig with the collaboration of Luisa Lesage (eds.). 2017. Frederick E. Brenk on Plutarch, Religious Thinker and Biographer. Leiden: Brill.

Household and Family Religion in Persian-Period Judah

Gallarreta, Jose E. Balcells. 2017. Household and Family Religion in Persian-Period Judah: An Archaeological Approach (Ancient Near East Monographs 18), SBL Press.

Balcells Gallarreta investigates the ritual artifacts from Persian period Tell en-Nasbeh in their original contexts, as a case study that provides a deeper understanding of the religious ideas and practices of households in Persian period Judah. Unlike previous scholarship that focused on official or state religion, he utilizes archaeology of religion and domestic contexts to reveal the existence of household religion and rituals in Persian period Tell en-Nasbeh, along with other contemporary sites in Yehud. Archaeological data from Tell en-Nasbeh and other sites in the Shephelah region of Yehud demonstrate that family and household rituals and religion were practiced in Persian period Judah.

José E. Balcells Gallarreta is Assistant Professor at Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico, where he focuses on Hebrew Bible and Near Eastern archaeology.

Achaemenid Anatolia

International Symposium
Achaemenid Anatolia: Persian Presence and Influence in the Western Satrapies 546–330 BC
7–8 September 2017
The Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul,

The symposium explores the political, cultural, social, religious and scientific developments in Anatolia during the Achaemenid period. Anatolia was incorporated into the Persian Achaemenid Empire in the middle of the 6th century BC as a result of Cyrus the Great’s conquests and the region was under Persian rule until the end of the Empire, in 330. The period is characterized by a lively exchange between Persians, Greeks and other peoples in areas such as trade, art, architecture, science and religion. Anatolia also served as an important mediator of eastern culture, philosophy and teachings to Athens, a process that was crucial for the continuity in culture development in antiquity.
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Stone Vessels in the Near East during the Iron Age and the Persian Period

Squitieri, Andrea . 2017. Stone Vessels in the Near East during the Iron Age and the Persian Period. (Archaeopress Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology 2). Oxford: Archaeopress.

This book focuses on the characteristics and the development of the stone vessel industry in the Near East during the Iron Age and the Persian period (c. 1200 – 330 BCE). Three main aspects of this industry are investigated. First, the technology behind the manufacture of stone vessels, the tools and techniques, and how these changed across time. Second, the mechanisms of exchange of stone vessels and how these were affected by the changing political landscape through time. Third, the consumption patterns of stone vessels in both elite and non-elite contexts, and how these patterns changed through time. The aim is to evaluate how the formation of new regional states, occurred in the Iron Age I-II, and their subsequent inclusion within large-scale empires, in the Iron Age III and Persian period, transformed the Near Eastern societies by exploring how the stone vessel industry was affected by these transformations. For the period and area under analysis, such a comprehensive study of stone vessels, covering a wide area and connecting this industry to the broader socioeconomic and political landscapes, has never been attempted before.

Regional History and the Coin Finds from Assur: From the Achaemenids to the Nineteenth Century

Butcher, Kevin & Heidemann, Stefan. 2017. Regional History and the Coin Finds from Assur: From the Achaemenids to the Nineteenth Century. (Wissenschaftliche Veröffentlichungen der Deutschen Orient-Gesellschaft 148). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

In July 1914, the excavation of one of the most significant capitals in human history, Assur, ended successfully. After a division of finds, the objects were dispatched to Berlin on the eve of the First World War. Assur is currently the most important reference site for coin finds in northern Iraq. They constitute an independent source for the history of the settlement, the Tigris region, and for coin circulation after the fall of the Assyrian empire in 614 BC, from the Achaemenid to the late Ottoman empire. These coin finds fill an important gap in the history of Assur, whose name in the post-Assyrian period is hardly attested to. For the Arsacid period, the coin finds highlight the surprising permeability of the border from the Roman provinces to Arsacid north-eastern Mesopotamia.

With the Sasanian conquest in about 240/1, life in Assur apparently stopped. For the following 1,600 years we can distinguish at least three separate settlement phases, and almost each phase corresponds to changing names for the city. While we do not know what the settlement between the 7th and 8th century was called, in the 12th and 14th centuries it was referred to as al-‘Aqr. For this period, we have more literary references to its history, at least compared with the preceding 1,800 years. The coin finds, together with the textual references, allow for an insight into the political and economic development of “a large village”. For the 17th and 18th centuries, the coins point to a revived settlement, now under the name of Qal’at Shirqat.