Introducing the Podcast

This is the first home of the History of Iran Podcast. The idea is to eventually house the podcast and this associated weblog at a domain name of its own. However, at this point I think it will be a good idea to tell you a bit about what is coming up.

The point of the podcast is to give a certain amount of freedom to both the podcaster and the listeners. There are so many more things one can say in a podcast, and it is so much easier to do so as well. In a podcast, I can also invite a guest expert to help is with some episodes, and I can also try to answer your questions every now and then. In fact, I think I will include a question and answer episode every now and then, just to achieve this.

I thought it will be good to tell you what the first few episodes will be about. As you can see, I am not going to give you a usual, dynastic based history of Iran (you know, Achaemenids to the present deal!). I am going to keep the dynastic framework as a useful way of organising the narrative, but I am also going to stop at certain points and explain and elaborate on certain points. So, do expect episodes dedicated to a specific point, to a subject of interested, or to a matter of historiography or sources. I will also add episodes on subjects that might come up out of your questions and other discussions. That is the beauty of podcasting: I can add to the episodes, and of course, you are free to skip over what does not interest you! If you don’t like something, wait a little, and something interesting will come up!

Now, here are the episodes as I see them:

Episode 0: the Pilot Episode: Why ‘the History of Iran’?

— in this episode, we will discuss why I am doing a history podcast at all, why a history of Iran, and why Iran? Why not Persia? What is Iran anyway, and what is Persia? You know, all the pesky issues!

Episode 1: the Mesopotamian Prelude

— this will be a quick survey of the Old and Middle periods of the history of Mesopotamia. I believe that the history of Iran really only makes sense in the context of Mesopotamian history. I cannot go through all of that though, so I am only going to bring the story down to about the year 1000 BC.

Episode 2: Peoples and Polities of the Iranian Plateau

— I am here defining a bit of the natural and topological history of Iran, and I will talk about the evidence we have of the people who lived on the Iranian Plateau. Hopefully this will give us some sort of anchor for the future episodes.

Episode 3: Indo-Europeans, Indo-Iranians, and Iranians: Why is this all so confusing?

— this would be the episode to talk about all the ‘Arian/Aryan’ myth you have always heard about! What is that? I will talk about the Indo-European homeland theory, Indo-Iranians and their language family, and where all this fits in history, or does it?

Episode 4: The End of the Mesopotamian World Order

— this episode is about all the ‘neos’: Neo-Elamites, Neo-Assyrians, and the Neo-Babylonians. It will talk about a possible shift, a little bit of political and social change in a world that already had thousands of years of civilisation

Episode 5: Cyrus of Anshan and his Empire

— this is what people have been waiting for, the story of the founding father! Well, prepare to be surprised.

Episode 6: Successors of the Cyrus and the Achaemenids

— here we continue the political history, and how the dynasty of Cyrus became the Achaemenid Dynasty

Episode 7: A Matter of Sources

— in this episode, I am going to take a pause from political history and talk about sources. This will have a lot about what kind of sources we have, and I will elaborate on the issue of inscriptions, cylinders, and other sort of sources that are unconventional to the writing of history

Episode 8: Darius and His Empire

— I think the greatest contribution of the Achaemenid Empire to world history is their administration. So, we shall discuss that here!

Episode 9: Religion from Mesopotamia to the Achaemenids

— I think we have a very exaggerated idea of religion, and tend to be very anachronistic about it. I am going to make another pause and talk about how religion was conceived of in this world. I will probably bring a friend or an expert to help me with this one.

Episode 10: Xerxes? What kind of name is that?

— No, he was not the creator of the Xerox machine, and his name (or its Greek version), is rather unusual. I will talk about who he is, what he did, and if we should only remember him for not managing to conquer Greece… oh wait, he did!


  1. Enjoyable. I know nothing of this history and am intrigued about it after having listened to all of THoR. I have begun to get into THoConstantinople but am glad you seem to be creating your own style of presentation. I’m also glad that you discussed the forms the podcast in episode one and that it will not simply be a linear narrative. I think for western listeners this will be good as there sounds as if there will be a way “in” to understanding what is of course a culture much more dissimilar than the content covered in THoR. I am hoping that my world view will expand with my listening. I actually traveled through the regions you cover in the 70′s and your geographic tour brought memories back. Good luck with your project and I prefer the music in episode 2 much more. Seems to fit

  2. Thank you for the excellent work. My suggestion is to summarize the ebb and flow of events in each podcast in broad geographical terms. For example, “in the podcast we’ll see the dominant influences and power centers shift toward the what is now central Iraq and then back toward the future site of Persepolis in southern iran”. This will help listeners follow the story of the many locations that are introduced. Please keep up the great work.

  3. Hello. Can you tell me if the series is going ahead? I was enjoying it immensely and then it just ceased. Many thanks

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