Excavating an Empire

Daryaee, Touraj, Ali Mousavi & Khodadad Rezakhani (eds.). 2014. Excavating an Empire:Achaemenid Persia in Longue Durée. Costa Mesa California: Mazda Publisher.

Study of empires and imperial power within the context of world history is a relatively recent subject within a field which itself is quite young. With the ever present discussions on the issue of globalization and increased contact among modern nation-states, a need to understand the long term trends in human and material interaction, and the means of controlling them, is increasingly felt in academia. Empires, as large units of administration which are often posited to have had an abusive relationship with their peripheries, are deemed viable subjects of study and inquiry in the pre-modern, pre-globalized world. On the other hand, the imposed frame work of modern nation-states on historiography, and the long trend in national, and often nationalistic historiography, similarly has encouraged a study of the empires which are thought to be ancestors of modern nations, from Italy and Rome to China and the Qing Empire. Among these, the Achaemenid Empire which ruled the Near East, and occasionally parts of North Africa, for about two centuries (late sixth to late fourth century BCE) is a curious and commonly neglected case. Often fitted within the national historiography of Iran, it is nonetheless acknowledged to have had a wider impact on the region beyond the borders of the modern nation-state.

The essays presented here are meant as a contribution to the study of the Achaemenid world and are conceptualized within the framework of World History, attempting to assess their two centuries of rule outside the physical and temporal boundaries of their political control. Many other issues, most importantly elaborations on Achaemenid economy as well as various issues of cultural and linguistic importance, will need to be considered for presenting a more complete vision of the Achaemenid world, something that the editors hope will be taken up by subsequent researchers and scholars of ancient history, further enriching our knowledge of this important period of human history.

Table of Contents


Introduction:The Archaeology of the Achaemenid Period: Some Critical Remarks.
T. Daryaee, A. Mousavi and Kh. Rezakhani.


T. Daryaee and Kh. Rezakhani
The Achaemenid Empire in the Context of World History (550-330 BCE).

C. Herrenschmidt
Designation of the Empire and Political Concepts of Darius Ist According to its Record in Old Persian.

M.J. Olbrycht
“An Admirer of Persian Ways”: Alexander the Great’s Reforms in Parthia-Hyrcania and the Iranian Heritage.

M. Waters
Darius the First: The Ninth King.


K. Abdi and M.T. Atayi
The Pre-Imperial Persians at the Land of Anshan: Some Preliminary Observations.

P. Callieri
The Cultural Heritage of Fars Aristocracy During the Hellenistic Period.

A. Gariboldi
The Achaemenid Coinage: Regal and Satrapal Coins.

D.T. Potts
Sailing to Pasargadae.

A. Tourovetz
The Palace Architecture of the Achaemenids Under Scrutiny: an Approach to the Problem of its Origin.

B. Genito
Landscape, Sources and Architecture at the Archaeological Remains of the Achaemenid Time in Sistan (East Iran): Dahan-i Ghulaman.


B. Lincoln
Ancestors, Corpses, Kings, and the Land: Symbolic Constructs in Ancient India and Iran.

A. Panaino
The Achaemenian Power between Tolerance and Authoritarianism: Its possible or impossible Comparison with Modern Phenomena.

J. Rose
Excellent in Soul and Nobly Bred to Grandeur:” Contemporary External Texts Relating to Achaemenid Belief and Practice.


W. Soward
Ancient Persia in Cinema.