The End of Empires

Gehler, Michael, Robert Rollinger & Philipp Strobl (eds.). The End of Empires. Wiesbaden: Springer.

The articles of this comprehensive edited volume offer a multidisciplinary, global and comparative approach to the history of empires. They analyze their ends over a long spectrum of humankind’s history, ranging from Ancient History through Modern Times. As the main guiding question, every author of this volume scrutinizes the reasons for the decline, the erosion, and the implosion of individual empires.

All contributions locate and highlight different factors that triggered or at least supported the ending or the implosion of empires. This overall question makes all the contributions to this volume comparable and allows to detect similarities, differences as well as inconsistencies of historical processes.

Several contributions tackle with the problems of the end of ancient Iranian empires:


Looking at Persians

Stuttard, David (Ed.). 2023. Looking at Persians. London: Bloomsbury.

Aeschylus’ Persians is unique in being the only extant Greek tragedy on an historical subject: Greece’s victory in 480 BC over the great Persian King, Xerxes, eight years before the play was written and first performed in 472 BC. Looking at Persians examines how Aeschylus responded to such a turning point in Athenian history and how his audience may have reacted to his play. As well as considering the play’s relationship with earlier lost tragedies and discussing its central themes, including war, nature and the value of human life, the volume considers how Persians may have been staged in fifth-century Athens and how it has been performed today.

The twelve essays presented here are written by prominent international academics and offer insightful analyses of the play from the perspectives of performance, history and society. Intended for readers ranging from school students and undergraduates to teachers and those interested in drama (including practitioners), this volume also includes an accurate, accessible and performance-friendly English translation of Persians by David Stuttard.

Table of Contents

Introduction – Persians in Context (David Stuttard, Goodenough College, UK)

  1. Persians on Stage (Paul Cartledge, University of Cambridge, UK)
  2. Athens and Persia, 472 BCE (Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones, Cardiff University, UK)
  3. Persians’ First Audience (Robert Garland, Colgate University, USA)
  4. Imperial Stirrings in Aeschylus’ Persians (Sophie Mills, University of North Carolina at Asheville, USA)
  5. Homeric Echoes on the Battlefield of Persians (Laura Swift, The Open University, UK)
  6. Individual and Collective in Persians (Michael Carroll, University of St Andrews, UK)
  7. Land, Sea and Freedom: The Force of Nature in Aeschylus’ Persians (Rush Rehm, Stanford University, USA)
  8. The Persians Love Their Children Too: Common Humanity in Persians (Alan Sommerstein, University of Nottingham, UK)
  9. Atossa (Hanna Roisman, Colby College, Maine, USA)
  10. Theatrical Ghosts in Persians and Elsewhere (Anna Uhlig, University of California, USA)
  11. Words and Pictures (Carmel McCallum-Barry, formerly of University College, Ireland)
  12. National Theatre Wales, The Persians (2010) (Mike Pearson, University of Aberystwyth, UK)

Aeschylus Persians, translated by David Stuttard (Goodenough College, UK)



Military Diasporas

Christ, G., P. Sänger & M.Carr (Eds.). 2022. Military Diasporas: Building of Empire in the Middle East and Europe (550 BCE-1500 CE). London: Routledge.

Military Diasporas proposes a new research approach to analyse the role of foreign military personnel as composite and partly imagined para-ethnic groups.

Two chapters contribute to ancient Iranian history:


Persia’s Lycian Work Force and the Satrap of Sardis

Hyland, John. 2022. Persia’s Lycian Work Force and the Satrap of Sardis. Arta 2022. 002.

New journal entries from the Persepolis Fortification Archive present a hitherto unknown subgroup of laborers known as marataš, many of whom appear in contexts of group travel from the Lycian borderlands of southwest Anatolia to Iran. This paper proposes an etymology for the marataš, and discusses the implications for the origins of Lycian workers in Persis, the administrative relationship between Lycia and the Sardis satrapy, and the role of deportation within the larger Achaemenid labor system.


Xenophon’s Anabasis: A Socratic History

Brennan, Shane. 2022. Xenophon’s Anabasis: A Socratic History. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Xenophon’s Anabasis has engaged and entertained readers from antiquity to the present day. Through his telling of the story of Cyrus the Younger’s attempt on the Persian throne and its aftermath, Xenophon integrates many of the prominent themes and concerns in his writings, including leadership, panhellenism, Sparta and apologia.

Adopting an interdisciplinary perspective, Brennan offers a fresh reading of the text which originates in a broad-ranging consideration of Xenophon’s aims in writing the book some thirty years after the event. The central argument brings the presence of Socrates into relief and demonstrates how the author, representing himself in the story as a model pupil of the philosopher, perpetuates Socratic teachings and values through ‘Xenophon’s’ leadership. Ultimately, Anabasis is revealed to be a ‘Socratic history’, a narrative rooted in a historical event or period and in which the author embeds a reflection of the philosopher and his values.


They went to Tamukkan

Potts, Daniel T. 2022. ‘They went to Tamukkan:’ Some Observations on Bushehr, Borazjan and Overland Travel between the Persian Gulf and the Achaemenid Capitals. Motaleat-e Bastanshenasi-e Parseh 19: 14-38.

Fig. 1. Map of principal halts on the route between Bushehr and Shiraz, showing Persepolis and Pasargadae (courtesy Dr. Andrea Squitieri, Munich).

In recent years the Achaemenid sites in the Borazjan area have attracted a great deal of attention and their identification with Elamite Tamukkan/Greek Taocê has been widely accepted. Aside from the architectural interest of these sites, however, their location along what later became an important route linking the Persian Gulf and the Iranian plateau is significant. Whether travelling between the Persian Gulf coast and Shiraz, or the earlier Achaemenid capitals (Pasargadae and Persepolis), Borazjan represents the first stage for travellers moving along this route. This study examines some of the logistical aspects of travel between Borazjan and the highlands, as well as the climatic extremes experienced by travellers during much of the year. The difficulties of traversing the route are illustrated with selections from 19th and early 20th century travellers accounts. The advantages of commencing or ending the journey at Shif, as opposed to Bushehr, are discussed with reference to numerous examples. The importance of mules as pack animals along the route is emphasized. Finally, the implications of the evidence marshaled for the burgeoning field of sensory studies are underscored.


Greek Historians, Persika and the Persian Empire

Thomas, Rosalind. 2022. Greek Historians, Persika and the Persian Empire (late 5th.c. – 4th.c.). In: Efi Papadodima (ed.), Ancient Greek Literature and the Foreign: Athenian Dialogues II, 119-138. Berlin: De Gruyter.

The chapter discusses the ways in which various Greek writers en-gaged with the complexities of the Persian Empire, especially Herodotus, Xenophon, Aristotle, and some fourth-century writers (fragmentary) of Persika. It examines the tension between Greek hostility towards Persia and the conventional stereotypes, and their need to understand more about the Empire in a new form of ethnography. New insights into the Persian Empire (and new evidence) encourage returning to the Greek writers afresh and examining them from different angles: the chapter argues that amidst the clichés, there was also a seriousness and urgency in the fourth century about trying to understand the Persian Empire and its monarchy.


God is in the Detail

Henkelman, Wouter. F.M. 2022. God is in the Detail: The Divine Determinative and the Expression of Animacy in Elamite with an Appendix on the Achaemenid Calendar. In: Eva Cancik-Kirschbaum & Ingo Schrakamp (eds.), Transfer, Adaption und Neukonfiguration von Schrift- und Sprachwissen im Alten Orient (Episteme, 25), 405-477. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

Instead of giving an abstract of the above-cited paper, a detailed table of its contents will follow:

1. Introduction

1.1. Of Aryan dictators and Elamite Tape Recorders

1.2. Iranian Elamite

2. Redefining the Divine?

3. Months as Divine or Numinous Beings

4. Semantic Animacy in Middle and Neo-Elamite

4.1. Semantic Animacy Expressed by Determinatives

4.2. Expression of Semantic Animacy by Primary Nominal Suffixes

4.3. Expression of Semantic Animacy by Animate Concord

4.4. Animacy in Elam: An Interim Summary

5. The Months of Achaemenid Pārsa

5.1. Cultural Preferences from Persepolis to the Fahliyān

5.2. Continuity and Change

5.3. The Importance of the Old Iranian Month Names

6. Appendix: the Achaemenid Calendar

6.1. A Multilingual Calendar

6.2. A Calendar for the Empire


Making Peace in the Ancient World

Lanfranchi, Giovanni B., Simonetta Ponchia and Robert Rollinger (eds.). 2022. Making Peace in the Ancient World: Proceedings of the 7th Melammu Workshop, Padova, 5–7 November 2018 (Melammu Workshops and Monographs 5). Münster: Zaphon.

Table of Contents

Giovanni B. Lanfranchi / Simonetta Ponchia / Robert Rollinger: Introduction

Antonio Daniele: Saluto dell’Accademia Galileiana di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti in Padova

I Key Note Lectures

Paolo Matthiae: The Destruction of Cultural Heritage in Syria and Iraq and the Perspective of a Rebirth

Marc Van De Mieroop: Making Peace in the Ancient Near East

Kurt A. Raaflaub: Making and Experiencing Peace in the Ancient World

II Ancient Near East and Egypt

Manfred Bietak: The Antagonism between Animosity and Peace-making in Ancient Egypt: Between Ideology and Practical Foreign Policy: An Extended Synopsis

Seth Richardson: Raiders, Neighbours, and Night-time: “Hybrid Peace” in Babylonia

Stefano de Martino: Making Peace in the Hittite Kingdom

Salvatore Gaspa: Making Peace in the Ancient Near East of the First Millennium BCE: The Case of the Assyrian Empire

Martti Nissinen: Peace and Peacemaking in the Hebrew Bible

Ann C. Gunter: Commemorating the End of Conflict in the Ancient Near East: Material Perspectives

Matthew Waters: Peace in Pieces: Making Peace in Elam

Josef Wiesehöfer: Peace and Views of Peace in Achaemenid Iran

III The Mediterranean Worlds and Beyond

Christoph Schäfer: Making Peace in the Hellenistic World

Wolfgang Spickermann: Problems of Making Peace in the Roman Republic: The Case of Appius Claudius Caecus and King Pyrrhus

Sven Günther: Frames of Making Peace and Treaties in the Roman Empire

Umberto Roberto: Making Peace with the Goths and the Burial of Athanaric in Constantinople (January 381): A Note on Jordanes, Getica 28, 142–145

Johannes Preiser-Kapeller: Many Eyes of the World? Making Peace between Byzantium and Other Empires, 600–1200 CE



The Idea of Marathon

Nevin, Sonya. 2022. The Idea of Marathon: Battle and Culture. London: Bloomsbury.

The Battle of Marathon changed the course of history in ancient Greece. To many, the impossible seemed to have been achieved – the mighty Persian Empire halted in its advance. What happened that day, why was the battle fought, and how did people make sense of it? This bold new history of the battle examines how the conflict unfolded and the ideas attached to it in antiquity and beyond. Many thought the battle offered lessons in how people should behave, with heroism to be emulated and faults to be avoided. While the battle itself was fought in one day, the battle for the idea of Marathon has lasted ever since. After immersing you in the battle, this work will help you to explore how the ancient Athenians used the battle in their relations between themselves and others, and how the battle continued to be used to express ideas about gods, empire, and morality in the age of Alexander and his successors, at Rome and in Greece under the Roman Empire, and in the ages after antiquity, even in our own era, in which Marathon plays a remarkable role in sport, film, and children’s literature with each retelling a re-imagining of the battle and its meaning. A clash of weapons, gods, and principles, this is Marathon as you’ve never seen it before!

Table of Contents

  1. Athenians at a Turning Point
  2. The Greek World
  3. Persia
  4. Revolt in Ionia
  5. The Plain of Marathon
  6. The Fight
  7. Surviving Marathon
  8. Events after Marathon
  9. Memories of Marathon in Fifth-Century Art and Literature
  10. Marathon beyond the Fifth-Century
  11. Marathon under Rome
  12. Marathon after Antiquity