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The Achaemenid Persian Empire, at its greatest territorial extent under Darius I (r. 522–486 BCE), held sway over territory stretching from the Indus River Valley to southeastern Europe and from the western Himalayas to northeast Africa. In this book, Matt Waters gives a detailed historical overview of the Achaemenid period while considering the manifold interpretive problems historians face in constructing and understanding its history. This book offers a Persian perspective even when relying on Greek textual sources and archaeological evidence. Waters situates the story of the Achaemenid Persians in the context of their predecessors in the mid-first millennium BCE and through their successors after the Macedonian conquest, constructing a compelling narrative of how the empire retained its vitality for more than two hundred years (c. 550–330 BCE) and left a massive imprint on Middle Eastern as well as Greek and European history.Read more
- Succinct, accessible historical overview of Achaemenid Persia, written for students
- Intersects with ancient Greek history during its most important period (Classical), making this book as important for the student of Ancient Greece as well as Persia
- Written by an author who is a specialist trained in both ancient Near Eastern and Greek history
Reviews & endorsements
"An invaluable new resource for students of the Classical and Near Eastern worlds. Unparalleled in its clear and concise discussion, Ancient Persia draws on rich textual, visual, and archaeological sources to convey a cogent overview of the systems, places, and people who made up the Persian Empire. This tour-de-force is a must-have for scholars and the interested public alike."
Elspeth Dusinberre, University of Colorado, BoulderSee more reviews
"Attractively written, concise, and even-handed, this compact presentation fills a notable gap in the available literature. It will find a warm welcome from students and others who wish to familiarize themselves with a key period in the history of ancient Iran."
David Stronach, University of California, Berkeley
"Matt Waters' book should now be the first stop for those wanting an introduction to the Achaemenids and the study of them. It is a traditional history handbook, a chronological political narrative punctuated with social themes, but a thoroughly enjoyable one: well written and stimulating, the chapters pull the reader along through the book, and while concise it is packed with information and satisfyingly detailed, lucid discussions … this book is a strong synthesis, which will be instrumental in disseminating the gains of the last decades of Achaemenid studies to a broad readership and in encouraging scholarship that transcends the traditional disciplinary boundaries of Classics and Ancient Near Eastern studies. It is not only useful, but a model of engaging scholarly writing, and a good read."
Bryn Mawr Classical Review
"Concise but never superficial, this monograph is destined to become essential reading for anyone interested in ancient Persia … Well written, documented, and illustrated."
W. Kotter, Choice
"Ancient Persia offers a well-written and clear introduction to the Achaemenid Empire by one of the leading contemporary historians of the empire. It is a welcome addition to the growing number of resources for this important era, and it will be of great service to lecturers and students."
Review of Biblical Literature
"With its concise narrative, its basic examinations of aspects of Achaemenid military and administrative practices, ideology, and religion, its sustained effort to locate these in an expansive Near Eastern context, its very clear and detailed maps, and its numerous illustrations, Waters' book provides the best introduction to the history of the Achaemenid Empire."
Stephen Ruzicka, Ancient History Bulletin
"Ancient Persia is, in the best sense of the word, a handbook; Waters’s notes, bibliographical references, and suggestions for further reading hit the right notes and the right works for beginners. … Welcome aids include a full timeline, numerous in-text figures and illustrations, as well as a detailed stemma of the Achaemenid dynasty."
London Review of Books
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- Date Published: January 2014
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9781107009608
- length: 274 pages
- dimensions: 157 x 231 x 20 mm
- weight: 0.64kg
- contains: 31 b/w illus. 6 maps
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: tracking an empire
2. Forerunners of the Achaemenids: the first half of the first millennium BCE
3. Persia rising: a new empire
4. From Cyrus to Darius I: empire in transition
5. Darius the king
6. Mechanics of empire
7. Xerxes, the expander of the realm
8. Anatomy of empire
9. Empire at large: from the death of Xerxes to Darius II
10. Maintaining empire: Artaxerxes II and Artaxerxes III
11. Twilight of the Achaemenids
Appendix A. Timeline
Appendix B. Chronological chart of Achaemenid Persian kings
Appendix C. Lineages (family tree) of the Achaemenid royal family
Appendix D. Further readings.
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