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History of Persia

90 EpisodesProduced by Trevor CulleyWebsite

A podcast dedicated to the history of Persia, and the great empires that ruled there beginning with the Achaemenid Empire of Cyrus the Great and the foundation of an imperial legacy that directly impacted ancient civilizations from Rome to China, and everywhere in between. Join me as we explore the … read more

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Review - King of the World by Matt Waters

June 23rd, 2022


King of the World: The Life of Cyrus the Great by Matt Waters is a new biography of the first Persian King of Kings from Oxford University Press. I was fortunate enough to receive an advanced PDF copy to review. In …

76: The Greater Persepolis Area

June 9th, 2022


The Achaemenid capital city at Persepolis wasn't really much of a city in the traditional sense, but that doesn't mean it was just a palace. A …

Merch Announcement! (and Satrap Coins)

June 3rd, 2022


Breaking News! The History of Persia Podcast now has merch, swag, gear, and other physical items to show off how much you like ancient Persia and this podcast.

Plus, there's one last group of coins from the Achaemenid …

75: The Education of Cyrus

May 27th, 2022


Cyrus the Younger obviously graduated early, but what exactly did he learn in ancient Persian school? Hunting, fitness, soldiery, science, and …

74: The Temple of Yahweh

May 20th, 2022


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 …

73: The Karanos

May 13th, 2022


In 408 BCE, Darius II decided the Ionian War called for more drastic, teenage measures. He sent the 16 year old Prince Cyrus to rule western Anatolia …

72: The Ionian War

May 6th, 2022


Despite their defeat in Sicily, the tales of Athenian demise in 413 BCE were greatly exaggerated. In 411, Athens and Sparta began to clash again and protracted tug-of-war in the Aegean even as Athens itself was seized …

71: New Friends, Old Enemies

April 28th, 2022


Darius II's reign in Anatolia saw the Persian reconquest of Ionia and the Greek cities of west Asia. This was only accomplished with the aid of a …

Intelligent Speech Announcement!

April 25th, 2022


Hey Everyone! I'm speaking at this year's Intelligent Speech Conference! You can buy tickets at with promo code: Persia

Do it now to get the early bird ticket price!

70: Darius Do Over, AKA Armenia II

April 21st, 2022


The reign of Darius II was chaotic. It is impossible to cover everything, everywhere, all at once. So today, we're covering the interior of the empire as it was racked by civil war and rebellion for the better part of …

69! Musical Thrones

April 9th, 2022


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 …

68: The Other Gods That Are

April 2nd, 2022


Any discussion of Achaemenid religion is bound to be fascinating, but that discussion isn't bound to Zoroastrianism. This one's abut all the other gods worshipped in Persia itself.

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67: The Empire of Artaxerxes

March 26th, 2022


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 …

66: The Syrian Civil War

March 12th, 2022


The story of the Megabyzid family conveniently flows from a solid recap of the story so far straight into the next major event in Achaemenid history: …

65: The Peace of Callias

February 26th, 2022


The treaty known as the Peace of Callias supposedly ended the second Greco-Persian War with a formal agreement between Athens and Persia. However, its very existence is the topic of intense historical debate. Despite …

64: Fight to the End

February 8th, 2022


The city of Memphis spent almost five years under siege from 459-454 BCE, as the rebel Pharaoh Inaros tried to take the Egyptian capital and oust the Persian government with the aid of the Athenians. When Persian …

63: The Little Pharaoh That Could(n't)

January 13th, 2022


After Artaxerxes I came to power in 465 BCE, a minor rebellion broke out in western Egypt led by the would-be Pharaoh Inaros II. Inaros quickly came …

62: Death In Quick Succession

December 10th, 2021


In late 465 BCE, Xerxes I - the King of Kings - was murdered in his sleep by his own captain of the guard, Artabanus the Hyrcanian. Artabanus and a group of highly placed conspirators chose their victim's third son, …

Elamite Teaser

November 25th, 2021


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 …

61: Blood on the Eurymedon

November 10th, 2021


Most of the decade following the first offensive Greek campaigns against Xerxes' forces are lost to us. There are hints at great battles and rapid …

60: Given Against The Demons

October 25th, 2021


The Vendidad is a strange and unique document. It's one part mythology, one part law code, and one part ritual manual. A collection of phrases and …

59: Holy War

September 18th, 2021


Early in Xerxes' reign, an infamous and dramatic story of religious conflict was inscribed at Persepolis. When Xerxes became king he put down a …

58: Persia's First Family

September 4th, 2021


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 …

57: Xerxes at Home

August 14th, 2021


It's time to return to the imperial heartland and tour the "city" that Xerxes' built. The foundations may have been laid by Darius, but Xerxes was …

56: Domestic Affairs

July 25th, 2021


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, …

55: Still Loud on the Western Front

July 10th, 2021


After the Persian defeat at Mycale, the stories of the Greco-Persian war get less dramatic, but the war itself did not come to an end. Late 479 BCE saw the beginning of Greek offensives in Persian territory, which …

54: Two By "Sea"

June 15th, 2021


Supposedly on the same day as the Battle of Plataea, another battle was unfolding at the foot of Mount Mycale (modern Mount Dilek). The Greek fleet …

53: One By Land

May 24th, 2021


After a year of relative success, the Persian occupation of northern Greece received its second massive defeat. For the first time, the Hellenic …

Interview: Sean Manning

May 10th, 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 …

52: The Adventure Continues

April 24th, 2021


At the end of 480 BCE, there was a lull in the conflict between the Greeks and Persians, but not a stop. The Peloponnesians went home. The Athenians …

51: Defeat from the Jaws of Victory

April 8th, 2021


September 480 BCE marked the high point for the Persian army in Greece. Athens was the smoldering campfire at the heart of the Persian army's camp. …

Interview: Uzume Wijnsma

March 21st, 2021


I sat down with an interview with Uzume Wijnsma, a researcher and PhD candidate at the University of Leiden, whose research has proved invaluable to the podcast on a few occasions. Her research focuses on Egyptian and …

50! Ask Me Anything

March 7th, 2021


Thank you all so much! The AMA Episode was a great success and I look forward to the next 50 episodes of the History of Persia. This episode has …

Purim: Holiday Special 2021

February 25th, 2021


It's that somewhat random time of year again, where I set aside a bit of time to celebrate a holiday that intersects with our narrative. This year …

Episode 49: Breaking Through

February 17th, 2021


Late in the summer of 480 BCE, the Persian invasion force under King Xerxes came to blows with the Greek Allies for the first time. The famous twin battles at Thermopylae and Artemisium played out surrounded by a series …

Episode 48: What is your profession?

February 2nd, 2021


Before launching into the actual warfare between the Persian Empire and Greek city states, it's worth examining how the Greeks prepared for war. Athens prepared by building a navy, everyone prepared by planning to …

Announcement 2: Darics

December 26th, 2020


Season's Greetings, Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Shab-e Yalda Mubarak, or a pleasant solstice festival of your choice. This is not a holiday …

Episode 47: Preparing the Way

December 20th, 2020


From 484-481 BCE, Xerxes directed his subjects to prepare for war in Greece. This didn't just mean assembling soldiers and ships, but also preparing …

Episode 46: The Persian Emperor

December 7th, 2020


In 486 BCE, Darius the Great died while Egypt was in revolt. Over the following years, Xerxes put his empire back in order. First in Egypt, then …

Episode 45: Xerxes Porphyrogennetos

November 10th, 2020


In 486 BCE, Darius the Great died and passed the Persian Empire on to his son, Xerxes. With plans to invade Greece in development, and Egypt in open …

Episode 44: Also Sprach Zarathustra

October 24th, 2020


This is the second part of the two-part discussion on the life and times of Zoroaster. This time, I discuss the Zoroastrian conception of reality and how it is portrayed in the Gathas as well as the legacy of …

Episode 43: Thus Spoke Zarathustra

October 20th, 2020


By audience demand, we're headed back in time. Before wrapping up the reign of Darius, it's time to look back to the bronze age and talk about Zarathustra Spitama, the prophet more often known in the west as Zoroaster. …

Episode 42: Darius the Shopkeeper

September 22nd, 2020


Darius the Great is one of Persia's most infamous kings for many reasons. An illegitimate heir who reunified the empire. The king of the first war with Greece. Conqueror of territory at the far reaches of Persian …

Episode 41: The Greatest

August 23rd, 2020


To round out our series on Darius' royal family, it's only fair to talk about the men of the family. After all, like it or not, the narrative will …

Episode 40: Heiresses of the Empire

August 13th, 2020


There were many Duksis (royal women) in Darius' household, and there would be many more in future generations of the Achaemenid family, but three …

Episode 39: Rise of Achaemeneis

August 10th, 2020


Our sources for Achaemenid history are clearly biased towards the stories of men in the ancient world, but we actually know a lot about Achaemenid …

Episode 38: The Last Battle

July 18th, 2020


Nearly a decade after Aristagoras first went into revolt, and longer since the Athenians had reneged on their offerings of earth and water, the …

Episode 37: Greece Awakens

July 3rd, 2020


Even once the Ionian cities themselves were defeated, the consequences of their Revolt were ongoing. In 492 BCE, a new general, Mardonius, took to …

Episode 36: Return of the Tyrannoi

June 22nd, 2020


Even with Miletus defeated, the other rebel cities in shambles, Cyprus under control, and their armies victorious, the Persians had not heard the …

Episode 35: The Empire Strikes Back

June 4th, 2020


It is a dark time for the Ionian Revolt. Although Sardis has been destroyed, Persian troops have driven the Rebel forces from Aeolis and pursued them …

Episode 34: A New Fleet

May 22nd, 2020


While three Persian land armies were spreading out over western Anatolia to contain and defeat the Ionian Greek rebels and their allies, a fourth …

Interview 1: Dr. Michael Bonner

May 11th, 2020


This time I have something a little different. In place of a regular narrative episode this week, I have my recent interview with Dr. Michael Bonner, …

Episode 33: Revenge of the Persians

April 24th, 2020


After the shocking attack on Sardis, many more Greek cities joined the Ionian Revolt, despite Persian victory at Ephesus. In 497 BCE, three land …

Episode 32: Begun, the Greek Wars Have

April 10th, 2020


To prepare ourselves for their role in the coming wars between Persian the Greek city states, I'm explaining the history and politics of Archaic …

Episode 31: The Naxos Incident

March 27th, 2020


At the end of the 6th century BCE, a group of exiled aristocrats from the island of Naxos inadvertently set off a chain of events that would …

Achaemenid Nowruz! 2020 Holiday Special

March 20th, 2020


To celebrate the Persian New Year's festival of Nowruz, check out the 2nd Sort-of Annual Holiday Special, exploring the New Year's celebrations of …

Episode 30: Persia City

March 7th, 2020


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. …

Episode 29: The Grand Tour, Part 4

February 14th, 2020


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 …

Episode 28: The Grand Tour, Part 3

February 14th, 2020


The tour of the Persian Empire continues. This time I'm going through the empire within the empire to dissect Assyria and Babylonia. Within these two satrapies, there were many important administrative districts and …

Happy Birthday

February 12th, 2020


Today is the one year anniversary of launching the History of Persia podcast. Thank you all so much for your support and interest this past year!

--- Support this podcast:

Episode 27: The Grand Tour, Part 2

January 30th, 2020


The tour of the Persian Empire continues, this time covering the western Satrapies. I'm exploring the details and histories of the Persian provinces …

Episode 26: The Grand Tour, Part 1

January 17th, 2020


With the Persian Empire at its greatest ever extent, it's time to start a tour of the empire. We're travelling east, out of Parsa, and following the …

Holiday Special 2019

December 25th, 2019


Happy Holidays Everyone! In place of a regular episode this week, we have the first annual History of Persia Holiday Special. Regardless of what …

Episode 25: Behistun

December 13th, 2019


It's finally time to talk about the famous Behistun Inscription, commissioned by Darius to commemorate his victories over "Gaumata" and the rebel kings he faced from 522 - 518 BCE. It is part propaganda, part epic, part …

Episode 24: Darius the Great

November 26th, 2019


With most of the Persian Empire firmly under his control in 519 BCE, Darius the Great set off to earn that title by conquering surrounding …

Episode 23: The Lyin' Kings

November 12th, 2019


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 …

Episode 22: Putting Out Fires

October 30th, 2019


No sooner was Bardiya dead, than the newly minted King Darius had to turn his attention on rebellious subjects. One satrapy after the next went into …

Episode 21: The Faith of the Magi

October 15th, 2019


After all that business with Gaumata that Magos, I figured we had time to keep talking about magi. This episode explores the religious developments and beliefs in Persia during the Achaemenid period. I'm focusing on …

Episode 20: The Forgotten King

October 2nd, 2019


522 BCE was a crazy year for the Persian Empire. That was the year that Bardiya - or maybe Gaumata - seized power. He overturned his brother and …

Episode 19: Three Kings and The Magi

September 17th, 2019


In 522 BCE, the Persian Empire sat on the edge of Chaos. Between March and September of that year, 3 men sat on the Persian throne, and according to the official royal history one of those kings was actually …

Episode 18: The Tyrant and The Kings

September 3rd, 2019


The story of Polykrates, the Tyrant of Samos, intersects repeatedly with the history of the Persian empire during his life. From his rise to power in …

Announcement 01: Croeseids

August 28th, 2019


Hello everyone! I've got some announcements, updates, and news about the show for you, and as a little bonus for listening to my fundraising spiel, there's a mini-episode on the history of the world's first coinage at …

Episode 17: The Mad King

August 20th, 2019


The story of Cambyses isn't just the conquest of Egypt, but also the dark side of it. According to Herodotus Cambyses was a mad king, driven to …

Episode 16: Pharaoh Cambyses

August 6th, 2019


In 525 BCE, the Persian army crossed into Egypt, in what seems to have been the culmination of years of antagonism between the the new empire and the …

Episode 15: The Army That Conquered The World

July 23rd, 2019


In preperation for Cambyses' invasion of Egypt, we're covering the early Persian armies. These are the armies that helped Cyrus the Great conquer the known world. They started as troops levied from Persia and Media, but …

Episode 14: Princes, Princesses, Kings, and Queens

July 9th, 2019


The narrative lurches forward again with a discussion of the new cast, so to speak. Meet Cambyses, Atossa, Bardiya, Artystone, and Roxane, the children of Cyrus the Great, and the new royal family of the Persian Empire. …

Episode 13: Kingship 101

June 26th, 2019


 What did it mean to be an early king of Persia? They were divine, but not quite. Warriors and economists. The king of Persia, but also Babylon, Egypt, and many other lands. Legitimacy came in many forms, and this …

Episode 12: Iranian Religion

June 11th, 2019


 It's time to introduce religion into the mix, starting with the origins and background of ancient Iranian traditions in general, and then narrowing in on the most famous and significant: Zoroastrianism. This episode …

Episode 11: King of Kings

May 28th, 2019


Returning to the narrative, it's time to see what Cyrus got up to in the final decade of his rule, after conquering Babylon. He traveled around his …

Episode 10: Governing An Empire

May 14th, 2019


 What exactly is a Satrap? Is there such a thing as a Satrapy? How did all of these people manage to talk to one another? All this, and more as the History of Persia celebrates double-digits with a break down of how the …

Episode 9: Who Are You Again?

April 30th, 2019


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 8: Fill in the Titles

April 16th, 2019


Cyrus the Great has finally completed his conquests in our narrative. I break down the Cyrus Cylinder, the official record of what he did next, one section at a time. In this episode, I shamelessly take advantage of …

Episode 7: The Writing on the Wall

April 9th, 2019


In Babylon, October of 539 BCE began in the 17th year of the reign of Nabonidus, but it ended in the 1st year of Cyrus. In this episode Cyrus the Great carries out his final campaign against Babylon. Our sources tell us …

Episode 6: Introducing Ionia

March 26th, 2019


Cyrus's generals take the reins for a bit and the Persian conquerors face their most grueling task yet: subduing the Ionian Greek city states. Persia's first interaction with the Greek speaking world was a drawn out, …

Episode 5: Crossing the Halys

March 12th, 2019


Just as Cyrus the Great, now officially the King of Persia, was consolidating his hold over the recently conquered Median Empire, a new war started. …

Episode 4: Cyrus II, King of Anshan

February 26th, 2019


Around 550 BCE, King Cyrus II of Anshan went into revolt against the Median King Astyages. The young Cyrus was aided by a rebellious Median general …

Episode 3: Babylonians and Medes

February 12th, 2019


We're bringing the stories from the last two episodes together now. The Medes and the Babylonians joined forces, beat the Assyrians and the Egyptians, and then divided up the Near East between themselves as they built …

Episode 2: Indo-Iranians

February 12th, 2019


Last time, we got up to speed on what was going on in the Near East in the centuries before the Persians showed up. What we didn't cover, was who exactly are these "Persians," and what were they doing while their future …

Episode 1: Assyria and Setting the Stage

February 12th, 2019


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 …

Episode 0: Introduction

February 12th, 2019


Welcome Everyone! This is the introductory episode to the show, just so you can get an idea for the premise for the show, who I am as a host, and a couple of disclaimers before diving into the narrative of Persian …

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