This is the list of my major sources for the whole show. I’ll be updating it with more information as we go. I’ll be listing all of the significant primary sources (those from ancient times) first. I can provide links to many of these, as most are public domain or published online somewhere. These are separated into those that originate in the Near East, and those written by Greek or Roman authors (the Romans usually drawing on Greek sources).

Below that are my major secondary sources (those written by modern authors). I’ve divided those into sources primarily focused on ancient Persia, and those that are relevant, but focused on other times and places. I have divided those into subsections too. Persian sources are split between “General” sources that cover the whole history of the empire and “Topical / Biographical” sources that cover a specific aspect or individual within Achaemenid history.

If all of the text is a link, it will take you to a free online version. If only the title is a link, it’s an Amazon affiliate link that will support the show if you purchase the book.

As always please contact me if you have any questions or want some recommendations.

Primary Sources

Near Eastern Documents

The Avesta by “Zarathustra/Zoroaster” and Others

The Babylonian Chronicle, Nabonidus-Nabopolassar via

Babylonica by Berossus

The Behisutn Inscription

The Cyrus Cylinder

The Jewish Study Bible, The Jewish Publication Society Tanakh Translation

The naophorus of Wedjahor-Resne via

New Revised Standard Version Bible

The Persian Verse Account of Nabonidus

The Persian Empire: A Corpus of Sources from the Achaemenid Period by Amelie Kuhrt (London: Routledge, 2008). – Rather than a single source, this is a vast collection of sources with modern commentary.

Greek and Roman Documents

Anabasis Alexandri by Arrian

Cyropaedia by Xenophon

Epitome of Pompeius Trogus’ Phillipic Histories by Justinus

Geographica by Strabo

The Histories  by Herodotus of Halicarnassus

The Library of History by Diodorus Siculus

Lives by Plutarch

Persica by Ctesias of Cnidus

Stratagems by Polyaenus

Histories by Polybius

Major Secondary Sources – Persian


Encyclopaedia Iranica by Dr. Khodad Rezakhani

In Print
Ancient Persia: A Concise History of the Achaemenid Empire, 550-330 BCE, by Matt Waters (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014).

The Cambridge History of Iran edited by Ilya Gershevitch (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985).

The Culture and Social Institutions of Ancient Iran by Muhammad A. Dandamaev and Vladmir G. Lukonin, trans. Philip L. Kohl with D.J. Dadson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989).

From Cyrus to Alexander: A History of the Persian Empire, by Pierre Briant, trans. Peter T.
Daniels, (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns 2002).

History of the Persian Empire, by A.T. Olmstead (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1948).

Kings, Countries, Peoples: Selected Studies on the Achaemenid Empire, by Pierre Briant, trans. Amlie Kuhrt (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2017).

The Persian Empire, by J.M Cook (New York: Schocken Books, 1983).

The Persians, by Maria Brosius (New York: Routledge, 2006).

A Political History of the Achaemenid Empire by M. A. Dandamaev, trans. W.J. Vogelsang, (Leiden: Brill, 1989).

Topical / Biographies

Aspects of History and Epic in Ancient Iran: From Gaumāta to Wahnām by M. Rahim Shayegan (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012).

Cyrus the Great: Life and Lore, edited by M. Rahim Shayegan, (Boston: Ilex Foundation 2018).

Happiness for All Mankind: Achaemenian Religion and the Imperial Project by Lincoln Bruce (Leuven: Peeters, 2012).

A History of Zoroastrianism. Vols. 1-2 by Mary Boyce (Leiden: E.J. Brill 1982).
Volume 1 Affiliate Link

The King and Kingship in Achaemenid Art: Essays on the Creation of an Iconography of Empire by Margaret Cool Root, (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1979).

The Spirit of Zoroastrianism by Prods Oktor Skjærvø (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011).

When Zarathustra Spoke: The Reformation Of Neolithic Culture And Religion by Mary Settegast (Costa Mesa: Mazda Publishers Inc. 2005).

The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Zoroastrianism edited by Mihcael Stausber, Yuhan Sohrab-Nishaw Vevaina, and Anna Tessman (West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, 2015).

Zarathustra and Zoroastrianism by Michael Stausberg (Sheffield: Equinox Publishing, 2008).

Zoroastrianism: An Introduction by Jenny Rose (London: I.B. Tuaris, 2011).

Zoroastrianism: Its Antiquity and Constant Vigour by Mar Boyce (Costa Mesa: Mazda Publishers, 1992).

Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices by Mary Boyce (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979).

Major Secondary Sources – Non-Persian

The Bronze Age and Pre-Persian Near East

1177 BC The Year Civilization Collapsedby Eric H. Cline, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014).

The Blackwell Companion to Hinduism, edited by Gavin Flood, (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing ltd, 2003).

The Elamite World, edited by Javier Alvarez-Mon, Gian Pietro Basello, and Yasmina Wicks (London: Routlege, 2018).

History of the Ancient Near East, by Marc Van De Mieroop, (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2004).

A History of Babylon, 2200 BC – AD 75 by Paul-Alain Beaulieu (West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, 2018).

The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders From the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World, by David W. Anthony (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007).

The Twilight of Ancient Egypt: 1st Millennium B.C. by Karol Mysliwiec, trans. David Lorton, (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2000).

The Ancient Near East, c. 3000-330 BC by Amelie Kurht (London: Routledge, 1997).

The Ugaritic Baal Cycle: Introduction With Text, Translation and Commentary by Mark Smith (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994).

A Short History of The Phoenicians by Mark Woolmer (New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2017).


A Companion to Archaic Greece, edited by Kurt A. Raaflaub and Hans van Wees (West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009).

A Companion to the Classical Greek World, edited by Konrad H. Kinzl (West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, 2006).

Creators, Conquerors, and Citizens: A History of Ancient Greece by Robin Waterfield (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018).

Introducing the Ancient Greeks: From Bronze Age Seafarers to Navigators of the Western Mind, by Edith Hall (New York: Random House, 2015).