Tag Archives: Achaemenid History

Darius III: The Last Great King

Safaee, Yazdan. 2016. Darius III: The Last Great King. Tehran: Hamisheh.

In comparison to his Macedonian antagonist, Darius III has attracted less attention. The present work is an analysis of the events leading to his reign.The author also deals with problems Darius was facing before Alexander’s attacks, and then the battles between the two armies which led to the end of the Empire.

Table of contents

Continue reading Darius III: The Last Great King

Scythian messages for Darius the Great

Delpech, François. 2015. Objets sacrées et armes parlantes: Le message des Scythes à Darius entre le mythe d’origine et l’historiographieJournal Asiatique 303 (1),  25–46.

The Elamite version of the Behistun inscription

Aliyari Babolghani, Salman. 2015. The Elamite Version of Darius the Great’s Inscription at Bisotun. Introduction, Grammar of Achaemenid Elamite, Transliteration, Persian Translation, Comparison with other Versions, Notes and Index. Tehran: Nashr-e Markaz.
The monumental inscription of Behistun “‘place where the gods dwell”,  engraved on a cliff about 100 meters off the ground, is located along the road that connected the capitals of Babylonia and Media, Babylon and Ecbatana (modern Hamadan). The relief represent the victory of Darius I. the Great, King of Persia over the usurper Gaumāta and the nine rebels. The scene is surround­ed by a great trilingual inscription in Old Persian, Elamite, and Babylonian.
This Behistun inscription is the most important document of the entire ancient Near East and a major key to understand­ing its languages. It alone made it possible to decipher cuneiform writing and thus to open the door to previously totally unknown ancient civilizations.
The inscription was first studied in 1835-37, 1844, and 1847 by Henry C. Rawlinson was the first scholar who studied the inscription in 1835-37, 1844, and 1847; he edited the Old Persian and Babylonian versions of the text himself, while the Elamite version to Edwin Norris (Norris, Edwin. 1855. Memoir on the scythic version of the Behistun inscription. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 15. 1–213). Up to now, for the Elamite text one still has to rely on Weissbach’s edition and translation of 1911 (Weissbach, Franz Heinrich. 1911. Die Keilinschriften der Achämeniden. Leipzig: J.C. Hinriches’sche Buchhandlung), or the German translation of the original Elamite text (Hinz, Walther. 1974. Die Behistan-Inschrift des Darius in ihrer ursprünglichen Fassung. Archäologische Mitteilungen aus Iran NS. 7. 121–34.), while con­sulting more recent Elamite studies, mostly scattered around in journals. The last edition of the inscription was done by Grillot-Susini/Herrenschmidt/Malbran-Labat  (Grillot-Susini, F., C. Herrenschmidt, & F. Malbran-Labat. 1993. “La version élamite de la trilingue de Behistun: une nouvelle lecture.” Journal Asiatique 281:19-59).
The current book in 268 pages, consists of a transcription of the Elamite version of the inscription together with its Persian translation. It is followed by a chapter on the comparison of the Elamite version with Old Persian,  Babylonian and Aramaic versions of the inscription. A comprehensive chapter on Elamite grammar (Writing System, Phonology, Morphology and Syntax) as well as a Glossary and additional notes and index complete the volume.
About the Author:
Salman Aliyari (PhD) is a Tehran based scholar of Ancient Iranian culture and languages, with special focus on  Achaemenid Elamite language.
In Original:

علی‌یاری بابلقانی، سلمان. ۱۳۹۴. تحریر ایلامی کتیبه‌ی داریوش بزرگ در بیستون. پیش‌گفتار، دستور ایلامی هخامنشی، حرف‌نویسی، ترجمه، مقابله با تحریرهای دیگر، یاداشت و واژه‌نامه. تهران. نشر مرکز.

Alīyārī Babolqāni, Salman. 1394š. Taḥrīr-e ʾīlami-ye katibe-ye dāryuš-e bozorg dar bisotūn. Tehrān: našr-e markaz.

Amélie Kuhrt to deliver the Harold Bailey Lecture 2015

Friday 11th December, 5.30pm at FAMES, Cambridge
Professor Amélie Kuhrt, FBA  – The King Speaks: The Persians and their Empire
The Achaemenid empire was created in the space of less than thirty years and dominated, with considerable success, a region stretching from Central Asia to the Aegean for around 200 years. How did the Persian kings and ruling elite visualise their immense power? How was that vision expressed? In this talk, Amélie Kuhrt, Professor Emeritus at University College London, aims to present an outline of the Persian image of their domain, concentrating on monuments and inscriptions from the royal centres and leaving aside the stories of outsiders, such as Greeks, Romans, Egyptians and Jews. 
The lecture will begin promptly at 5.30pm, followed by a reception.
Admission free. Booking not required.
Venue: Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
Sidgwick Avenue, Cambridge CB3 9DA
Enquiries: info@indiran.org
Tel. 01223 356841

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. Continue reading Excavating an Empire

Babylonian kingship in the Persian period

Waerzeggers, Caroline. 2015. Babylonian Kingship in the Persian Period: Performance and Reception. In J. Stökl & C. Waerzeggers (eds.), Exile and Return: The Babylonian Context, 181-222. Berlin: De Gruyter.

The Persian conquest of Babylon set in motion a chain of events that eventually led to the partial return of Judah’s exilic community and to the rebuilding of the temple of Jerusalem. Despite Cyrus’ prominent role in the biblical narrative  about these events – and despite the historical reality of Yehud’s place within the Persian Empire – the Hebrew Bible constructs the context of the return as a kingless arena which required a profound reworking and re-interpretation of the traditional alignments between the Davidic king and Yahweh.¹ In this paper, I will contextualize these reflections by asking how Babylonian audiences responded to their loss of indigenous kingship following the Persian conquest – for, even  though the institution of ‘King of Babylon’ with its rituals and symbols survived into the Persian period, there is evidence of profound change during the Empire’s two hundred years of existence. After an introduction, the first part of this paper deals with contemporary responses to Persian rule in Babylonia; the second part moves on to a discussion of the reception of Persian period kingship by later generations of Babylonians.

Ethnicity in the ancient world

McInerney, Jeremy (ed.). 2014. A companion to ethnicity in the Ancient Mediterranean. Wiley-Blackwell.

A Companion to Ethnicity in the Ancient Mediterranean presents a comprehensive collection of essays contributed by Classical Studies scholars that explore questions relating to ethnicity in the ancient Mediterranean world.

  • Covers topics of ethnicity in civilizations ranging from ancient Egypt and Israel, to Greece and Rome, and into Late Antiquity
  • Features cutting-edge research on ethnicity relating to Philistine, Etruscan, and Phoenician identities
  • Reveals the explicit relationships between ancient and modern ethnicities
  • Introduces an interpretation of ethnicity as an active component of social identity
  • Represents a fundamental questioning of formally accepted and fixed categories in the field

This volume contains an article by Jennifer Gates-Foster  entitled Achaemenids, royal power, and Persian ethnicity.

The physique and appearance of Achaemenid monarchy

Llewellyn-Jones, Lloyd. 2015. “That My Body is Strong”: The Physique and Appearance of Achaemenid Monarchy. in Dietrich Boschung, Alan Shapiro & Frank Waschek (eds.), Bodies in Transition: Dissolving the Boundaries of Embodied Knowledge. Fink Wilhelm Gmbh. 213-250.

The body of the Persian Great King was carefully and skilfully constructed through text and image as a series of signs to be decoded and read. Placing the Persian royal body within the context of general Near Eastern ideologies of the monarchic body, this chapter explores the codified meanings of, firstly, the royal head because the Great King’s eyes, nose, beard, and hair are rich in cultural and symbolic meaning. But more than anything it is the clothed body of the king that speaks in a uniquely ‘Persian voice’. The chapter explores how the monarch’s clothed body is a site of representation, an emblem of his power, potency, legitimacy, and strength.

Re-establishment of Achaemenid History

Imanpour, Mohammad-Taqi. 2015. Re-establishment of Achaemenid History and its Development in the Nineteenth and Twentieth CenturiesIranian Studies. 48(4), 515-530.

Iranians were aware of Sasanian history through traditional historical writings, but they knew nothing about Achaemenid history. Following European travelers to Persia from the fifteenth century, who were well prepared by reading the classical and biblical texts, Persepolis and Pasargadae were rediscovered and Achaemenid history re-established in the nineteenth century. The rise of Reza Khan to power and his grand emphasis on nationalism and ancient Iran that characterized his reign also left a deeper impact on Achaemenid studies in this period. In this paper the re-establishment of Achaemenid history and its development in nineteenth and twentieth centuries are discussed and reviewed.

Mohammad-Taqi Imanpour is Associate Professor of Ancient History of Iran at Ferdowsi University of Masshad, Iran.

The Relations between the Kingdom of Urartu and the Achaemenid Empire

Dan, Roberto. 2015. From the Armenian Highland to Iran: A Study on the Relations between the Kingdom of Urartu and the Achaemenid Empire, Serie Orientale Roma 4, Roma: Scienze e Lettere.

This work by Roberto Dan, in which he provides a systematic and in depth analysis of the complex question of the possible connections that may have existed between Urartian culture and that of the Achaemenids, is an important achievement in this area of research. The book is divided into two parts, one of which is historical in approach and provides the necessary background to set the scene for the manner and timing of the interactions between these two protagonists (outlining a situation which has diverse implications),  and one that is archaeological, which constitutes the real core
of the work.

Table of contents is available here.