95: The Holy Trinity

A column base from Hamadan (Ecbatana) where Artaxerxes II invokes Ahura Mazda, Mithra, and Anahita via Livius.org

As we approach the end of Artaxerxes II, it’s time to talk about his gods. All of a sudden, Anahita and Mithra began appearing alongside Ahura Mazda in royal inscriptions, but it turns out it may not have been so sudden after all.

2022 Holiday Special: Mithra and Mehregan

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Elamite Teaser

It completely slipped my mind that the next episode would be due out on Thanksgiving Day. I’ve got family sleeping in my office this week so that’s not happening, but I didn’t want to leave you completely hanging. Fortunately, there might be some pre-Persian history that catches your interest over on The Oldest Stories.

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In The Words of Zarathustra

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Episode 30: Persia City

History of Persia podcast logo, taken from the Apadana north staircase at Persepolis

This time it’s just one episode for a different kind of tour. Explore the early phases of construction at Susa and Persepolis under Darius the Great. The grand Apadana audience halls with their splendid columns. The lavishly decorated palaces built to house Darius throughout the year. The famous works of art and architecture that define the middle Achaemenid period are featured in this episode.

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Inscribed Door Handle
Avesta.org Old Persian translations

Episode 29: The Grand Tour, Part 4

Administrative Divisions of the Achaemenid Empire, 490 BC by Ian Mladjov on Ian Mladjov’s Resources

It’s the final stage of the tour! Our trip through the Persian Empire wraps up with three central provinces of the empire, located in western Iran. This time it’s Susiana, Media, and Parsa itself. We’ll traverse everything from rundown ancient kingdoms, hostile mountain tribes, royal capitals, and one of the wonders of the ancient world. For some of them, we won’t even have to leave the same city. These are the provinces that ruled and defined the Achaemenid Persian Empire.



Legion vs Phalanx
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Episode 23: The Lyin’ Kings

The major figures of the Behistun Inscription, from left to right: The Noblemen; Gobryas and Intaphrenes. The King; Darius. The Rebels; Gaumata (beneath Darius), Assina, Nidintu-Bel, Fravartish, Martiya, Ciçataxma, Vahyazdata, Arakha, Frada, and Skunkha.

Picking right back up in the late summer of 521 BCE, I’m talking about the rest of the rebellions against Darius. That’s the last three campaigns against the Liar Kings from the Behistun Inscription, the strangely absent rebellion in Egypt, and the other rebels that were excluded from the famous monument before concluding with personal betrayal for the new King of Kings.

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The Hellenistic Age:

Episode 9: Who Are You Again?

Gallery of art and architecture described in the episode, click on a picture to see it full size. Left to right: Palace S at Pasargadae, the Seal of Cyrus I sketched, side by side Gate R today and restored sketch. Bottom: Tomb of Cyrus the Great. Captions posted as a comment on each image All images from Wikimedia Commons via Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.

This time we’re taking a break from the narrative for a bit. Now that this show has all of Cyrus’s major conquests under its belt, its probably worth getting a sense of what these Persians were actually like. This episode covers art, architecture, clothing, and the major cultural influences of the early Persian period, under the Teispid kings. Let’s see what the world around Cyrus the Great might have looked like.

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Episode 1: Assyria and Setting the Stage

My homemade map of the Near East between the Bronze Age Collapse and the Neo-Assyrian Empire. Pre-Collapse Map on the “Maps” page.

Here we go, episode 1! Now, as much as I want to get to Persian history, we should probably know at least a little bit about the world before the Persians got there, so this is you lightspeed tour of the Near East, from about 1200 BCE to 616 BCE. Maps for everything are available on the website.
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