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History of Persia

History of Persia

By 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.

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81: Cunaxa

History of Persia

83: Routine Maintenance
We follow the Spartan general, Clearchus, as he was taken into captivity in Babylon before following the royal court off to the building projects and border disputes of Artaxerxes II's empire. The Alexander Standard -Listen Now! Apple | Google | RSS | Website Patreon | Support Page | STORE Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
September 26, 2022
Solidarity with the Iranian People
In the last 8 days, at time of posting,  the country of Iran has been rocked by a nationwide uprising in response to the brutal murder of Zhina (Mahsa) Amini, a 22 year old Kurdish woman from the city of Saqqez who was living in Tehran. She was beaten into a coma by the Gasht-e Ershad, the Iranian morality police, and died in custody shortly after on September 16, 2022. Her crime? Being in public without a Hijab. This is my small contribution to that. As a platform innately connected to Iran and its history, I want to express the History of Persia Podcast’s unequivocal support for all those resisting oppression and theocracy in Iran. Beyond simply lending my voice to the international chorus cheering them on, I also hope that I can at least provide some exposure for the regime’s violence and the resistance against it by directing my listeners and social media followers toward sources of information. My ongoing Twitter thread The Federation of Anarchism Era Website | Twitter @asranarshism | Twitter @anarshist | Instagram | Facebook Outro music: "Bella Ciao" translated in Farsi by Daniela Sepehri Find her on Facebook | Bella Ciao Video The Revolutions Podcast anarchism episodes: Website | Apple | Spotify
September 24, 2022
82: Debrief of the Brothers
After the battle of Cunaxa, both sides were left to deal with the fallout. In Babylon, Artaxerxes II and his supporters celebrated victory and punished treason. In the detritus of the battlefield, Cyrus the Younger's supporters were left to pick up the pieces and start their long walk home. Tsar Power Podcast - Listen Now! Apple | Spotify | RSS Patreon | Support Page | STORE Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
September 20, 2022
81: Cunaxa
After 6 months on the road, Cyrus the Younger and Artaxerxes II face off to decide who will be King of Kings, deciding the course of Achaemenid History forever after.  Patreon | Support Page | STORE Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
September 11, 2022
80: On the March
In 401 BCE, Cyrus the Younger set out with an army of supporters and mercenaries to defeat his brother, Artaxerxes II, and claim the Persian throne for himself. But first they had to get there. Grand Dukes of the West Apple | Spotify | RSS | Website Merch On Sale Now! Go to Patreon | Support Page | STORE Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
September 02, 2022
79: Cyrus III
Cyrus the Younger returned to Sardis as Karanos in 404 BCE, still nursing dreams of becoming king. Over the next three years he quietly built up an army of mercenaries and prepared his subjects for war, gathering them under false pretenses to march against his brother, King Artaxerxes II. So You Think You Can Rule Persia? - Listen Now! Apple | Spotify | RSS Merch On Sale Now! Go to Patreon | Support Page | STORE Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
August 27, 2022
78: Robe and Dagger
In 404 BCE, Darius II died. The king's death sparked fierce but quiet competition for the throne between the supporters of Cyrus the Younger and Darius's chosen heir, Arsakes. Arsakes did become King Artaxerxes II, but not without having to settle this conflict. Warlords of History Podcast Merch On Sale Now! Go to Patreon | Support Page | STORE Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
August 17, 2022
77: The Yashts
A collection of early Zoroastrian prayers to the various Yazatas, the Yashts are some of the only surviving sources that provide a detailed window into the more polytheistic aspects of ancient Iran. As a bonus, they partially stem from myths and legends as told in the Achaemenid period. Merch On Sale Now! Go to Patreon | Support Page | STORE Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
August 06, 2022
Summer 22 Update + History of Saqartvelo Georgia Episode
A bit of an update on why I said I was back on track and then immediately jumped off the track. History of Saqartvelo Georgia Episode:
July 12, 2022
Review - King of the World by Matt Waters
King of the World: The Life of Cyrus the Great by Matt Waters is a new biography of the first Persian King of Kings from Oxford University Press. I was fortunate enough to receive an advanced PDF copy to review. In short, it's an excellent introduction to both the life of Cyrus and Achaemenid Studies as a field. Almost all shortcomings are more the product of the subject rather than the biographer. For more, give it a listen. Order King of the World from Amazon Listen on Audible Download for Kindle Intelligent Speech Conference 2022! Buy tickets with promo code Persia Merch On Sale Now! Go to Sign Up For The History Buffs at Patreon | Support Page | STORE Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
June 23, 2022
76: The Greater Persepolis Area
The Achaemenid capital city at Persepolis wasn't really much of a city in the traditional sense, but that doesn't mean it was just a palace. A Persepolis Metropolitan Area stretched at least 5km out in every direction, and there have been some exciting finds there as well. We'll also look at the area surrounding the other Persian palace cities. Merch On Sale Now! Go to Intelligent Speech Conference 2022! Buy tickets with promo code Persia Sign Up For The History Buffs at Patreon | Support Page | STORE Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
June 09, 2022
Merch Announcement! (and Satrap Coins)
Breaking News! The History of Persia Podcast now has merch, swag, gear, and other physical items to show off how much you like ancient Persia and this podcast. Plus, there's one last group of coins from the Achaemenid Empire that I want to talk about. Merch On Sale Now! Go to Intelligent Speech Conference 2022!Buy tickets with promo code Persia Sign Up For The History Buffs at Patreon | Support Page | STORE Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
June 03, 2022
75: The Education of Cyrus
Cyrus the Younger obviously graduated early, but what exactly did he learn in ancient Persian school? Hunting, fitness, soldiery, science, and religion amongst many other things in a complex noble educational system. Intelligent Speech Conference 2022! Buy tickets with promo code Persia Patreon | Support Page Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
May 27, 2022
74: The Temple of Yahweh
No, the other one. In Egypt. The best source of information on events Egypt under Darius II comes from the letters of the Jewish diaspora community in southern Egypt and their temple on the island of Elephantine. They also tell the story of a dramatic confrontation between the Jews and their Egyptian neighbors that ended in forced reconciliation. Intelligent Speech Conference 2022! Buy tickets with promo code Persia Sign Up For The History Buffs at Patreon | Support Page Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
May 20, 2022
73: The Karanos
In 408 BCE, Darius II decided the Ionian War called for more drastic, teenage measures. He sent the 16 year old Prince Cyrus to rule western Anatolia as Karanos, a supreme military authority. Cyrus did everything in his power to enable his new Spartan allies' victory against Athens. Sign Up For The History Buffs at Intelligent Speech Conference 2022! Buy tickets with promo code Persia Patreon | Support Page Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
May 13, 2022
72: The Ionian War
Despite their defeat in Sicily, the tales of Athenian demise in 413 BCE were greatly exaggerated. In 411, Athens and Sparta began to clash again and protracted tug-of-war in the Aegean even as Athens itself was seized by political upheavals. Intelligent Speech Conference 2022! Buy tickets with promo code Persia Sign Up For The History Buffs at Patreon | Support Page Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
May 06, 2022
71: New Friends, Old Enemies
Darius II's reign in Anatolia saw the Persian reconquest of Ionia and the Greek cities of west Asia. This was only accomplished with the aid of a surprising ally: Sparta and the Peloponnesian League. Persepolis Reimagined by Intelligent Speech Conference 2022! Buy tickets with promo code Persia Sign Up For The History Buffs at Bonus Episode: Athens Under Artaxerxes on Patreon Bonus Episode: Athenian War Under Artaxerxes on Patreon Patreon | Support Page Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
April 28, 2022
70: Darius Do Over, AKA Armenia II
The reign of Darius II was chaotic. It is impossible to cover everything, everywhere, all at once. So today, we're covering the interior of the empire as it was racked by civil war and rebellion for the better part of 20 years. Sign Up For The History Buffs at Bonus Episode: Armenia I Patreon | Support Page Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
April 21, 2022
69! Musical Thrones
After 41 years on the throne, Artaxerxes I died in December 424 BCE. Much of his family had passed away over the decades, but he probably didn't expect his only legitimate heir to follow close behind him. Nevertheless, two bastard sons saw this as their time to shine. Patreon | Support Page Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
April 09, 2022
68: The Other Gods That Are
Any discussion of Achaemenid religion is bound to be fascinating, but that discussion isn't bound to Zoroastrianism. This one's abut all the other gods worshipped in Persia itself. Patreon | Support Page Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
April 02, 2022
67: The Empire of Artaxerxes
At just over 40 years on the throne, Artaxerxes I was the second-longest reigning Achaemenid king. This is an episode for all of the little things and less detailed stories that played out in that time. From a new status quo in the west to dramatic building projects in the east, Artaxerxes was a busy guy. Patreon | Support Page Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
March 26, 2022
66: The Syrian Civil War
The story of the Megabyzid family conveniently flows from a solid recap of the story so far straight into the next major event in Achaemenid history: the very first satrap's revolt, complete with Greek mercenaries and royal family drama. Patreon | Support Page Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
March 12, 2022
65: The Peace of Callias
The treaty known as the Peace of Callias supposedly ended the second Greco-Persian War with a formal agreement between Athens and Persia. However, its very existence is the topic of intense historical debate. Despite this, hostilities did cease in 449 BCE, so something must have happened, right? Patreon | Support Page Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
February 26, 2022
64: Fight to the End
The city of Memphis spent almost five years under siege from 459-454 BCE, as the rebel Pharaoh Inaros tried to take the Egyptian capital and oust the Persian government with the aid of the Athenians. When Persian reinforcements arrived, the rebellion was swept aside with apparent ease. Inaros was captured and Athens was sent reeling, only to make one final attempt on Persian territory in Cyprus. Patreon | Support Page Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
February 08, 2022
63: The Little Pharaoh That Could(n't)
After Artaxerxes I came to power in 465 BCE, a minor rebellion broke out in western Egypt led by the would-be Pharaoh Inaros II. Inaros quickly came to a stalemate with the local satrap, but in 460 BCE the Egyptian rebel reached out to Athens for aid. The Athenians came in force, broke the stalemate, killed the satrap (and Artaxerxes' uncle), and joined Inaros as he marched on Memphis. Swords, Sorcery, and Socialism Apple | Spotify | RSS | Twitter Patreon | Support Page Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
January 13, 2022
62: Death In Quick Succession
In late 465 BCE, Xerxes I - the King of Kings - was murdered in his sleep by his own captain of the guard, Artabanus the Hyrcanian. Artabanus and a group of highly placed conspirators chose their victim's third son, Artaxerxes to be their puppet on the throne and moved to secure their coup. Unbeknownst to them, Artaxerxes was not easily manipulated. When the conspirators turned on one another, the Achaemenid Empire plunged headfirst into the age of Artaxerxes with a new round of civil wars. The Oldest Stories Website | Spotify | Apple | RSS AskHistorians Podcast Website  | Spotify | Apple | RSS In The Words of Zarathustra Patreon | Support Page Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
December 10, 2021
Elamite Teaser
It completely slipped my mind that the next episode would be due out on Thanksgiving Day. I've got family sleeping in my office this week so that's not happening, but I didn't want to leave you completely hanging. Fortunately, there might be some pre-Persian history that catches your interest over on The Oldest Stories. The Oldest Stories Website | Spotify | Apple | RSS In The Words of Zarathustra Patreon | Support Page Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
November 25, 2021
61: Blood on the Eurymedon
Most of the decade following the first offensive Greek campaigns against Xerxes' forces are lost to us. There are hints at great battles and rapid Athenian expansion, but almost nothing is certain until the Battle of the Eurymedon. In the mid-460s BCE, the Persian fleet had recovered enough to stage a renewed offensive, but the Athenian general Kimon had advanced warning. He commanded a fleet from Athens' Delian League and made a preemptive strike in southern Anatolia, where he destroyed the fleet and routed the Persian army. This battle at the mouth of the Eurymedon River once again changed the direction of Persia's war with Athens, effectively kicking Persian military power out of the Aegean for decades to come. History of Asia Apple | Spotify | RSS | Facebook 300: Rise of An Empire Review Part 1 Part 2 In The Words of Zarathustra Patreon | Support Page Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
November 10, 2021
60: Given Against The Demons
The Vendidad is a strange and unique document. It's one part mythology, one part law code, and one part ritual manual. A collection of phrases and verses from a partly remembered oral tradition were composed at point A, strung together at point B, and written down at point C, all seemingly centuries apart. Dogs are great. Tortoises are not. Otters are the best. Flies are the worst. Strap in, and Do. Not. Hurt. The Water Dogs. Head to for some pictures of my sacred "house dog." 300: Rise of An Empire Review Part 1 Part 2 In The Words of Zarathustra Patreon | Support Page Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
October 25, 2021
59: Holy War
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. Support on Patreon UT Austin Old Iranian Languages 300: Rise of An Empire Review Part 1 Part 2 In The Words of Zarathustra Patreon | Support Page Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
September 18, 2021
58: Persia's First Family
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. Support on Patreon 300: Rise of An Empire Review Part 1 Part 2 In The Words of Zarathustra Patreon | Support Page Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
September 04, 2021
57: Xerxes at Home
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. Join me on The Oldest Stories podcast starting September 8, 2021! Website | Spotify | RSS Arcadia – Support Renewable Energy Energy In The Words of Zarathustra Patreon | Support Page Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
August 14, 2021
56: Domestic Affairs
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. Arcadia – Support Renewable Energy Energy In The Words of Zarathustra Patreon | Support Page Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
July 25, 2021
55: Still Loud on the Western Front
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. The History of Saqartvelo Georgia Apple | Spotify | YouTube | RSS In The Words of Zarathustra Patreon | Support Page Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
July 10, 2021
54: Two By "Sea"
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. Arcadia – Support Renewable Energy Energy In The Words of Zarathustra Patreon | Support Page Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
June 15, 2021
53: One By Land
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. Arcadia – Support Renewable Energy Energy 300 Review In The Words of Zarathustra Patreon | Support Page Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
May 24, 2021
Interview: Sean Manning
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. Armed Force in the Teispid-Achaemenid Empire: Past Approaches, Future Prospects Amazon Link Recommended Articles: > A “Primitive” Battle in Afghanistan > Gadal-iama, English Translation PhD Dissertation via the University of Innsbruck Audible Free Trial The Scythians: Nomad Warriors of the Steppe by Barry Cunliffe 300 Review In The Words of Zarathustra Patreon | Support Page Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
May 10, 2021
52: The Adventure Continues
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. Audible Free Trial The Shahnameh: The Epic of Persian Kings 300 Review In The Words of Zarathustra Patreon | Support Page Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
April 24, 2021
51: Defeat from the Jaws of Victory
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. Pilgrim's Digest Apple | Spotify | Podcast Addict | RSS 300 Review In The Words of Zarathustra Patreon | Support Page Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
April 08, 2021
Interview: Uzume Wijnsma
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. Persia and Babylonia Prosobab: Prosopography of Babylonia Arcadia – Support Renewable Energy Energy 300 Review In The Words of Zarathustra Patreon | Support Page Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
March 21, 2021
50! Ask Me Anything
Thank you all so much! The AMA Episode was a great success and I look forward to the next 50 episodes of the History of Persia. This episode has everything: the ancient world in color, beard fashion, video games, book reviews, time travel, and of course me trying to piece together something to say about provinces we don't actually know much about. Links below in order of appearance: Audible Trial Great Courses: The Persian Empire Literature and History Podcast History of Iran Podcast Khodad Rezakhani @sasanianshah Top Podcasts: The History of Byzantium The Oldest Stories The Hellenistic Age Podcast The History of English The Timur Podcast History in the Bible The Vacation Bible School Podcast Behind the Bastards The Pirate History Podcast History of Aoteroa New Zealand Words For Granted The Heroic Legend of Arslan Creation by Gore Vidal Audio Book The Ancient World Podcast Audacity audio editor Holiday Special 2019 Apadana Treasury Relief Persepolis in Color The War of the Three Gods by Peter Crawford Sasanian Persia by Touraj Daryaee Reign of Arrows: The Rise of the Parthian Empire by Nikolaus Overtoom ReOrienting the Sasanians by Khodad Rezakhani Decline and Fall of the Sasanian Empire by Parvaneh Pourshariati Interview with Michael Bonner Bonus 13: Why is Persia Under-Emphasized Original AskHistorians Question Patreon | Support Twitter | Facebook | Insta
March 07, 2021
Purim: Holiday Special 2021
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. 300 Review In The Words of Zarathustra Patreon | Support Page Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
February 25, 2021
Episode 49: Breaking Through
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.   300 Review In The Words of Zarathustra Patreon | Support Page Twitter | Facebook | Instagram Casting Through Ancient Greece
February 17, 2021
Episode 48: What is your profession?
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. Patreon | Support Page Twitter | Facebook | Instagram History of Africa Podcast Apple | RSS Casting Through Ancient Greece Spartan History Podcast
February 02, 2021
Announcement 2: Darics
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,, 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.
December 26, 2020
Episode 47: Preparing the Way
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. Patreon Casting Through Ancient Greece iTunes | Spotify | RSS | Website Catalog of Nations from Herodotus
December 20, 2020
Episode 46: The Persian Emperor
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. Patreon | Support Page | One-time Contribution Ad:
December 07, 2020
Episode 45: Xerxes Porphyrogennetos
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. Patreon | Lyceum | Support Page | One-time Contribution
November 10, 2020
Episode 44: Also Sprach Zarathustra
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. Zoroastrianism: An Introduction by Jenny Rose Patreon | Support Page Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
October 24, 2020
Episode 43: Thus Spoke Zarathustra
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. Patreon | Support Page Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
October 20, 2020
Episode 42: Darius the Shopkeeper
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. Conquerors Podcast Website | Spotify | Apple | RSS Patreon Support Page
September 22, 2020
Episode 41: The Greatest
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. Patreon Support Page Audible Free Trial Henrietta and Eleanor Ad: Audible
August 23, 2020
Episode 40: Heiresses of the Empire
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. Patreon Support Page
August 13, 2020
Episode 39: Rise of Achaemeneis
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. Patreon Support Page
August 10, 2020
Episode 38: The Last Battle
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. Patreon
July 18, 2020
Episode 37: Greece Awakens
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. Patreon Lyceum A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor An Absolutely Remarkable Thing Ad: Hank Green
July 03, 2020
Episode 36: Return of the Tyrannoi
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. Patreon Support Page Audible Trial Ad: Audible
June 22, 2020
Episode 35: The Empire Strikes Back
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.... Patreon Audible Free Trial Ad: Audible
June 04, 2020
Episode 34: A New Fleet
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. Patreon Support Page
May 22, 2020
Interview 1: Dr. Michael Bonner
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. The Last Empire of Iran by Michael Bonner Patreon Support Page
May 11, 2020
Episode 33: Revenge of the Persians
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. Timur Podcast Apple | Spotify | Stitcher |  RSS Patreon
April 24, 2020
Episode 32: Begun, the Greek Wars Have
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.  Patreon Casting Through Ancient Greece Ancient Persia: A Concise History of the Achaemenid Empire by Matt Waters
April 10, 2020
Episode 31: The Naxos Incident
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. Audible Patreon Support Page Ad: Audbile
March 27, 2020
Achaemenid Nowruz! 2020 Holiday Special
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. Patreon
March 20, 2020
Episode 30: Persia City
This time it's just one episode for a different kind of tour. Explore the early phases of construction at Susa and Persepolis under Darius the Great. The grand Apadana audience halls with their splendid columns. The lavishly decorated palaces built to house Darius throughout the year. The famous works of art and architecture that define the middle Achaemenid period are featured in this episode. Patreon! Support Page! Inscribed Door Handle Old Persian translations
March 07, 2020
Episode 29: The Grand Tour, Part 4
It's the final stage of the tour! Our trip through the Persian Empire wraps up with three central provinces of the empire, located in western Iran. This time it's Susiana, Media, and Parsa itself. We'll traverse everything from rundown ancient kingdoms, hostile mountain tribes, royal capitals, and one of the wonders of the ancient world. For some of them, we won't even have to leave the same city. These are the provinces that ruled and defined the Achaemenid Persian Empire.  Patreon
February 14, 2020
Episode 28: The Grand Tour, Part 3
The tour of the Persian Empire continues. This time I'm going through the empire within the empire to dissect Assyria and Babylonia. Within these two satrapies, there were many important administrative districts and geographic divisions including Judea, Palestine, Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Akkad in addition to Assyria and Babylon themselves. With hindsight's 20/20 this was obviously one the most important parts of the empire, and we'll go through it in detail.  Patreon Oldest Stories Website | Spotify |Google | Anchor | RSS
February 14, 2020
Happy Birthday
Today is the one year anniversary of launching the History of Persia podcast. Thank you all so much for your support and interest this past year!
February 12, 2020
Episode 27: The Grand Tour, Part 2
The tour of the Persian Empire continues, this time covering the western Satrapies. I'm exploring the details and histories of the Persian provinces starting with Armenia and moving counter clockwise, through Anatolia and Europe, over the Mediterranean, North Africa, Arabia, and Assyria. Based on the maps of Ian Mladjov.  Patreon Support Page  Audible Trial Casting Through Ancient Greece The History of Egypt podcast Ad: Audible
January 30, 2020
Episode 26: The Grand Tour, Part 1
With the Persian Empire at its greatest ever extent, it's time to start a tour of the empire. We're travelling east, out of Parsa, and following the excellent maps of Ian Mladjov counter-clockwise through the eastern provinces. From Karmana to India, to the steppe to Parthia and everywhere in between, to examine the little bit of information we have about the Persian east. Patreon Support Page 
January 17, 2020
Holiday Special 2019
Happy Holidays Everyone! In place of a regular episode this week, we have the first annual History of Persia Holiday Special. Regardless of what holidays you're celebrating, or not, I have a surprise topic to cover by audience request this week. Please enjoy! Patreon Interesting topic? Check out Anthrochef's History of Food.
December 25, 2019
Episode 25: Behistun
It's finally time to talk about the famous Behistun Inscription, commissioned by Darius to commemorate his victories over "Gaumata" and the rebel kings he faced from 522 - 518 BCE. It is part propaganda, part epic, part origin story, and part religious creed, declaring Darius' position over his hard-won empire. I go through the inscription step by step and give some of the history of the site beyond Darius.  Patreon Link Support Page Behistun Text
December 13, 2019
Episode 24: Darius the Great
With most of the Persian Empire firmly under his control in 519 BCE, Darius the Great set off to earn that title by conquering surrounding territories and spreading Achaemenid territory to its greatest ever extent. He pushed the boundaries of the known world and established an empire that stretched that spanned nearly 4,000 miles from North Africa to the Indus River Valley. Patreon Link
November 26, 2019
Episode 23: The Lyin' Kings
Picking right back up in the late summer of 521 BCE, I'm talking about the rest of the rebellions against Darius. That's the last three campaigns against the Liar Kings from the Behistun Inscription, the strangely absent rebellion in Egypt, and the other rebels that  were excluded from the famous monument before concluding with personal betrayal for the new King of Kings. Patreon Link The Hellenistic Age: - Website - iTunes - Spotify - SoundCloud
November 12, 2019
Episode 22: Putting Out Fires
No sooner was Bardiya dead, than the newly minted King Darius had to turn his attention on rebellious subjects. One satrapy after the next went into revolt at the end of 522 BCE, and Darius spent most of his first year on the throne directing his armies from place to place to try and hold the empire together. This time, I'm talking about Darius, the calendar, and the rebellious liar kings who sundered the Persian Empire. Patreon Link Audible Link Ad: Audible
October 30, 2019
Episode 21: The Faith of the Magi
After all that business with Gaumata that Magos, I figured we had time to keep talking about magi. This episode explores the religious developments and beliefs in Persia during the Achaemenid period. I'm focusing on Zoroastrianism, but also discussing how naming a religion like that for the ancient Persians is harder than it might seem.
October 15, 2019
Episode 20: The Forgotten King
522 BCE was a crazy year for the Persian Empire. That was the year that Bardiya - or maybe Gaumata - seized power. He overturned his brother and ruled the empire to try and save it. He halted rebellion and made peace with the nobility. However, nobody can usurp the throne or be a reformer without making a few enemies, and Darius became a lethal enemy to Bardiya. Audible Link Ad: Audible
October 02, 2019
Episode 19: Three Kings and The Magi
In 522 BCE, the Persian Empire sat on the edge of Chaos. Between March and September of that year, 3 men sat on the Persian throne, and according to the official royal history one of those kings was actually impersonated by a couple of magi. This episode is the first to really question who the Magi were. This episode also discusses the many theories of what really happened that year.   Patreon Support Audible Link Aspects of History and Epic in Ancient Iran: From Gaumāta to Wahnām Ad: Audible
September 17, 2019
Episode 18: The Tyrant and The Kings
The story of Polykrates, the Tyrant of Samos, intersects repeatedly with the history of the Persian empire during his life. From his rise to power in the vacuum left when Miletus was conquered, to his alliance with Egypt against the Persians, and finally to his death on the orders of a Satrap. His story feeds directly into the history around Oroites, the Satrap of Sparda (the kingdom formerly known as Lydia). Oroites tried to seize some power for himself in events that prepare our narrative for the chaotic years following Cambyses' death. Patreon Support Page
September 03, 2019
Announcement 01: Croeseids
Hello everyone! I've got some announcements, updates, and news about the show for you, and as a little bonus for listening to my fundraising spiel, there's a mini-episode on the history of the world's first coinage at the end. Thank you everybody! Patreon Support Page Twitter Facebook Instagram
August 28, 2019
Episode 17: The Mad King
The story of Cambyses isn't just the conquest of Egypt, but also the dark side of it. According to Herodotus Cambyses was a mad king, driven to paranoia and acts of terrible violence while he was Egypt. The Greek Historian, as well as the Behistun Inscription, tell how Cambyses II murdered his family members and drove his own empire into open revolt. This episode describes the Persian tragedy of the King of King's fall into madness. 
August 20, 2019
Episode 16: Pharaoh Cambyses
In 525 BCE, the Persian army crossed into Egypt, in what seems to have been the culmination of years of antagonism between the the new empire and the last great kingdom of the Near East. To accomplish his task, the new King of Kings, Cambyses, mustered all his resources. He assembled a huge land army, constructed Persia's first navy, and formed alliances from the Greek islands in the Aegean to tribal kings in Arabia. Over the following three years, he established and consolidated Persian rule over the kingdom of the two lands, bringing one of the oldest civilizations in the world under Persian domination. Archaeologists May Have Found 2,500-year-old Persian Military Base in Northern Israel The History of Egypt Podcast Apple Spotify
August 06, 2019
Episode 15: The Army That Conquered The World
In preperation for Cambyses' invasion of Egypt, we're covering the early Persian armies. These are the armies that helped Cyrus the Great conquer the known world. They started as troops levied from Persia and Media, but grew to incorporate every facet of the empire and built on the history of Near Eastern warfare to form a disciplined and organized system.
July 23, 2019
Episode 14: Princes, Princesses, Kings, and Queens
The narrative lurches forward again with a discussion of the new cast, so to speak. Meet Cambyses, Atossa, Bardiya, Artystone, and Roxane, the children of Cyrus the Great, and the new royal family of the Persian Empire. This time I'm breaking down marriage customs, inheritance rights, and political training. Or to put that another way: incest, dividing the empire, and the next round of political power plays. Cyrus the Great is gone, and his empire would never be quite the same again.  r/HistoryPodcasts History Podcasts Discord
July 09, 2019
Episode 13: Kingship 101
 What did it mean to be an early king of Persia? They were divine, but not quite. Warriors and economists. The king of Persia, but also Babylon, Egypt, and many other lands. Legitimacy came in many forms, and this episode explores them.  
June 26, 2019
Episode 12: Iranian Religion
 It's time to introduce religion into the mix, starting with the origins and background of ancient Iranian traditions in general, and then narrowing in on the most famous and significant: Zoroastrianism. This episode explores the traditions and gods of the Indo-European steppe peoples as they migrated and became the Iranians, Persians and Medes included. I'll also discuss the reforms and doctrines of the ancient prophet Zoroaster who established a religion centered around a single supreme god, Ahura Mazda.  
June 11, 2019
Episode 11: King of Kings
Returning to the narrative, it's time to see what Cyrus got up to in the final decade of his rule, after conquering Babylon. He traveled around his empire, between a collection of important capital cities, founded cities, and constructed monuments. He also conquered. This episode pushes the narrative eastward into the provinces of Iran, Afghanistan, and Central Asia and explores some of the events that happened there. Then it's time to finish the story of Cyrus the Great, with one last campaign on the northeastern frontier.
May 28, 2019
Episode 10: Governing An Empire
 What exactly is a Satrap? Is there such a thing as a Satrapy? How did all of these people manage to talk to one another? All this, and more as the History of Persia celebrates double-digits with a break down of how the Persian Empire was actually organized and managed during the Teispid Period.  
May 14, 2019
Episode 9: Who Are You Again?
This time we're taking a break from the narrative for a bit. Now that this show has all of Cyrus's major conquests under its belt, its probably worth getting a sense of what these Persians were actually like. This episode covers art, architecture, clothing, and the major cultural influences of the early Persian period, under the Teispid kings. Let's see what the world around Cyrus the Great might have looked like.
April 30, 2019
Episode 8: Fill in the Titles
Cyrus the Great has finally completed his conquests in our narrative. I break down the Cyrus Cylinder, the official record of what he did next, one section at a time. In this episode, I shamelessly take advantage of current events and link Persian history to both Easter and Game of Thrones. Listen and explorer official Persian propaganda, an expanding royal family, the historic and religious legacy of Cyrus, and all the titles of the Persian King. 
April 16, 2019
Episode 7: The Writing on the Wall
In Babylon, October of 539 BCE began in the 17th year of the reign of Nabonidus, but it ended in the 1st year of Cyrus. In this episode Cyrus the Great carries out his final campaign against Babylon. Our sources tell us that after a few short battles, the greatest city of the ancient world through open its gates and the Persians won the day. Of course, ancient history is never quite that clean. This time, we explore Cyrus's greatest conquest, and the troubled, but fascinating, reign of Babylon's last king.
April 09, 2019
Episode 6: Introducing Ionia
Cyrus's generals take the reins for a bit and the Persian conquerors face their most grueling task yet: subduing the Ionian Greek city states. Persia's first interaction with the Greek speaking world was a drawn out, and possibly brutal conquest of the western coasts of Anatolia, but when they were done the empire was larger, more secure, and ready to keep pushing its boundaries south into the wealthy territory of Babylon. 
March 26, 2019
Episode 5: Crossing the Halys
Just as Cyrus the Great, now officially the King of Persia, was consolidating his hold over the recently conquered Median Empire, a new war started. This time, the Persians were facing Lydia, the fabulously wealthy Anatolian kingdom ruled by King Croesus. This war really had it all. Deceptive strategies, surprising alliances, strange tactics, and wildly confused ancient sources to tell the story, but in the end it was just one achievement for Cyrus. 
March 12, 2019
Episode 4: Cyrus II, King of Anshan
Around 550 BCE, King Cyrus II of Anshan went into revolt against the Median King Astyages. The young Cyrus was aided by a rebellious Median general called Harpagus and conquered the whole Median Empire in one war. Then, Cyrus declared himself King of Persia, and took his first step on the path to becoming "Great."
February 26, 2019
Episode 3: Babylonians and Medes
We're bringing the stories from the last two episodes together now. The Medes and the Babylonians joined forces, beat the Assyrians and the Egyptians, and then divided up the Near East between themselves as they built their own empires. After this, I promise there will be some actual Persians on this History of Persia Podcast. 
February 12, 2019
Episode 2: Indo-Iranians
Last time, we got up to speed on what was going on in the Near East in the centuries before the Persians showed up. What we didn't cover, was who exactly are these "Persians," and what were they doing while their future empire was being taken over by the Assyrians. This time, we figure that out as we follow some steppe nomads called the Proto-Indo-Europeans on their 3000-ish year journey to becoming the Persians. 
February 12, 2019
Episode 1: Assyria and Setting the Stage
Here we go, episode 1! Now, as much as I want to get to Persian history, we should probably know at least a little bit about the world before the Persians got there, so this is you lightspeed tour of the Near East, from about 1200 BCE to 616 BCE. Maps for everything are available on the website.
February 12, 2019
Episode 0: Introduction
Welcome Everyone! This is the introductory episode to the show, just so you can get an idea for the premise for the show, who I am as a host, and a couple of disclaimers before diving into the narrative of Persian history.
February 12, 2019