Fall of the Sasanians

A long essay that I recently wrote on the various views of the fall of the Sasanian Empire and the coming of Islam was recently featured on the Mizan Project website. You can read the first part here, and the second part here.

A gold coin from Lydia

Episode 12: One more on Cyrus and the Origins of His Empire

Episode 12 is out… download it from here, or subscribe to the History of Iran Podcast via your favourite podcast catcher. Here is the feed for it.

… and here are some pictures and maps to help with visualisation. Also, look at this Achaemenid Daric (Achaemenid gold coin) which is very close to the Lydian prototype.

A (bit fanciful) map of the conquests of Cyrus.

A (bit fanciful) map of the conquests of Cyrus.

A famous vase showing Croesus on his "suicide" pyre...

A famous vase showing Croesus on his “suicide” pyre…

A Lydian coin... notice that the reverse is just a hollow blank.

A Lydian coin… notice that the reverse is just a hollow blank.

View of a part of Pasargadae

View of a part of Pasargadae

Tol-e Takht, the old citadel of Pasargadae

Tol-e Takht, the old citadel of Pasargadae

Ruins of one of the palaces in Pasargadae

Ruins of one of the palaces in Pasargadae

Cyrus the Great on Livius

Nice, short article on Cyrus. Livius is generally a good site and I would trust most of its contents.

cyrus_carpet

Episode 11: The Kingdom of Anshan and Cyrus the Great

You can download Episode 11 from here… you can also check out the feed or try your favourite podcast index.

This episode will explain the local (mainly Anshanite) context for the rise of Cyrus, as well as telling a bit about the version of the story of the birth of Cyrus told by Herodotus.

1- Cyrus’ genealogy:

  • Cyrus’ name is written as Kurush (II) son of Kambujia (Cambyses I) son of Kurush (I) son of Chish-pish (Tespes).
  • He is said to be the son of Mandane (daughter of Astyages of Media) by Herodotus.

2- Here is a useful article on the site of Malyan/Malian (ancient Anshan) and the archaeological excavations of it.

3- Another article on the description of Cyrus as presented in Herodotus’ History.

Map showing the extent of the Achaemenid Empire, with the region of Persis showing in dark green,

Map showing the extent of the Achaemenid Empire, with the region of Persis showing in dark green,

Drawing of the archaeological site of Malyan (Anshan)

Drawing of the archaeological site of Malyan (Anshan)

Arial view of Malyan

Arial view of Malyan

This, often presented as

This, often presented as “portrait of Cyrus” is nothing but a fanciful drawing, based loosely on…

... this relief at Pasargadae. This is known as the Winged Guardian and is actually a composite image.

… this relief at Pasargadae. This is known as the Winged Guardian and is actually a composite image.

Bibliographia Iranica

The new episodes of the podcast are on their way. In the meantime, I invite the readers to check out the blog of my friend and colleague Arash Zeini, now a collective effort of him and several other friends, which is dedicated to introducing the new publications in Iranian Studies. The blog is a great resource and I will use it from here on as a resource for the podcast and for the History Page. Check it out here!

Achaemenid seal

Episode 10: the World that Cyrus Conquered

Finally we arrive at the tale of Cyrus, what you have all been waiting for. Get the episode from here

This is the introduction to the history of Cyrus, looking at the world in which he started his career. I go from the Mediterranean to China and back to Mesopotamia, surveying the Eurasian world in 550 BCE or so, as well as making some preliminary remarks about Cyrus himself.

Check out the Bibliography for items added for this subject.

The world in the sixth century BCE (a bit idealistic, but gives you some ideas)

The world in the sixth century BCE (a bit idealistic, but gives you some ideas)

Map of the Neo-Babylonian (Chaldean) Empire

Map of the Neo-Babylonian (Chaldean) Empire

Cylinder of Nabonidus

Cylinder of Nabonidus

A gold coin from Lydia

A gold coin from Lydia

Episode 9, the Disappearing Kingdom: Medes and the Median Empire

You can download the new episode form this link

As usual, the feed is here.

Names of the characters mentioned

Dioces: the “founder” of the Median Empire according to Herodotus (possibly inspired by the Mannean Diakku, mentioned in Assyrian annales)

Phraortes: his son, possibly the chief Kashtariti mentioned in the chronicle of Essarhaddon

Cyaxares: the greatest of the Median kings, according to Herodotus, and the “conqueror” of Assyria. Possibly Umakishtar who is mentioned in the Gadd Chronicle and said by the Babylonian chronicles to be the person who sacked Assur/Ashur.

Astyages: the last of the Median Emperors, possibly Ishtumigu of the Babylonian chronicles.

median_empire_map chaldeamap

Modern, Artist's imagination of the "Hanging Gardens of Babylon"

Modern, Artist’s imagination of the “Hanging Gardens of Babylon”

Elamite names “galore”

One of the dear readers of this weblog, and listeners to the podcast, suggested that I make a list of the names I so much enjoy pronouncing. I think it is a good idea, except someone has already done it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_rulers_of_Elam (for the chaps mentioned this week, scroll down to the Neo-Elamite period).

You should notice that pronunciation occasionally vary. Some of the Elamite pronunciations are being perfected. Temti-Human-Inshushinak now seems to be more like Tepti-Humban-Inshushinak (which is the way I say it). Some are better known (if you can say that about anything Elamite) by their Akkadian names. Shutruk-Nahunte is sometimes written Shutruk-nakhunte or Shutruk-Nahhunte. These are attempts at rendering Elamite in English. The sound /h/ in his name is a laryngeal sound which does not exist in English, similar to Arabic ح. 

Apart from these Elamites, I mentioned a few Assyrians and some Babylonians. Sargon II, Esarhaddon, Sennacherib, and Ashurbanipal are the Assyrian ones. Merodach-Baladan the Chaldean was really the only “Babylonian” I mentioned. 

I will post a similar list from the next episode on. 

Episode 8: the Neo-Elamite Kingdom

Well, here it is FINALLY! I got things to work, and meanwhile everything has changed (the feed is still the same)

This episode goes back to the Elamites and their adventures with the Neo-Assyrians, and their murky last century.

Here are a couple of more readings, one on the chronology of the Neo-Elamite period based on newer finds, and the second on Neo-Elamite “acculturation.”

A book on the Arjan Tomb, an important late Elamite discovery (you can read a condensed version with detailed interpretations here)

A map of Mesopotamia in the first century BCE

A map of Mesopotamia in the first century BCE

Seal of Humban-Kitin, son of Shutruk-Nahhunte II

Seal of Humban-Kitin, son of Shutruk-Nahhunte II

Eshkaft-e Salman in Izeh/Malamir

Eshkaft-e Salman in Izeh/Malamir

Hani, the "eastern" Elamite ruler, along with his wife and child, Eshkaft-e Salman, Izeh

Hani, the “eastern” Elamite ruler, along with his wife and child, Eshkaft-e Salman, Izeh

Neo-Elamite beaker, probably from Susa

Neo-Elamite beaker, probably from Susa

Assyrian victory relief of Ashirbanipal, showing Elamites being deported

Assyrian victory relief of Ashirbanipal, showing Elamites being deported

the bowl from the Arjan Tomb

the bowl from the Arjan Tomb