83: Routine Maintenance

The golden tablet of Arsames’ inscription (AsH) found in Hamadan via Wikimedia

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.
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82: Debrief of the Brothers

Parysatis tortures Bagapates by James Ennor, 1899

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.
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81: Cunaxa

The Retreat of the 10,000 by Adrien Guignet, 1842 depicting the charging Greek mercenaries at Cunaxa and the resurgent Persian infantry.

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. 
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74: The Temple of Yahweh

The Aramaic letter formally requesting funds to rebuild the Temple of Yaho in Elephantine

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.
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69! Musical Thrones

The number of mortgages in the Murashu Archive by year, showing a massive escalation in Artaxerxes I year 41 and Darius II year 1 (Stolper 1985, p.112)

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.
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67: The Empire of Artaxerxes

The modern ruins of Artaxerxes Hall of 100 Columns via Wikimedia.

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.
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59: Holy War

An Old Persian copy of the Daiva Inscription discovered at Persepolis, via Livius.org

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.
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58: Persia’s First Family

Xerxes depicted in Guillaume Rouillé’s Promptuarium Iconum Insigniorum, 1553

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.
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56: Domestic Affairs

“The Mishandling of the Wife of Masistes, daughter-in-law of the Persian King Darius” – Print by Jan Luyken, 1699

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.
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Interview: Sean Manning

Armed Force in the Teispid-Achaemenid Empire: Past Approaches, Future Prospects by Sean Manning (Franz Steiner Verlag, 2021).

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.
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