first post

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!