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History of Persia

History of Persia

By Trevor Culley

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 cultures, militaries, religions, successes, and failures of some of the greatest empires of the ancient world.

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64: Fight to the End

History of PersiaFeb 08, 2022

86: Old Enemies, New Friends
Nov 28, 202242:11
85: The Spartan War
Nov 05, 202241:38
84: The 10,000 (aka Armenia III)
Oct 22, 202250:25
Bonus 30 Preview

Bonus 30 Preview

A preview of Bonus episode 30, a review of Persians: Age of the Great Kings on

Oct 20, 202206:39
HoPful Media Announcement (and Greek Coins)
Oct 18, 202232:03
2022 Mehregan Holiday Special!
Oct 01, 202255:50
83: Routine Maintenance
Sep 26, 202248:22
Solidarity with the Iranian People
Sep 24, 202214:36
82: Debrief of the Brothers
Sep 20, 202252:20
81: Cunaxa
Sep 11, 202236:13
80: On the March
Sep 02, 202236:31
79: Cyrus III
Aug 27, 202234:48
78: Robe and Dagger
Aug 17, 202235:21
77: The Yashts
Aug 06, 202258:58
Summer 22 Update + History of Saqartvelo Georgia Episode
Jul 12, 202202:43
Review - King of the World by Matt Waters
Jun 23, 202235:13
76: The Greater Persepolis Area
Jun 09, 202239:34
Merch Announcement! (and Satrap Coins)
Jun 03, 202242:08
75: The Education of Cyrus
May 27, 202239:11
74: The Temple of Yahweh
May 20, 202256:45
73: The Karanos
May 13, 202232:57
72: The Ionian War
May 06, 202232:34
71: New Friends, Old Enemies
Apr 28, 202253:17
70: Darius Do Over, AKA Armenia II
Apr 21, 202239:55
69! Musical Thrones
Apr 09, 202228:24
68: The Other Gods That Are
Apr 02, 202236:00
67: The Empire of Artaxerxes
Mar 26, 202240:32
66: The Syrian Civil War
Mar 12, 202226:28
65: The Peace of Callias
Feb 26, 202231:56
64: Fight to the End
Feb 08, 202234:52
63: The Little Pharaoh That Could(n't)
Jan 13, 202232:40
62: Death In Quick Succession
Dec 10, 202145:01
Elamite Teaser
Nov 25, 202118:23
61: Blood on the Eurymedon
Nov 10, 202140:37
60: Given Against The Demons
Oct 25, 202143:35
59: Holy War
Sep 18, 202141:60
58: Persia's First Family
Sep 04, 202139:50
57: Xerxes at Home
Aug 14, 202132:08
56: Domestic Affairs
Jul 25, 202147:55
55: Still Loud on the Western Front
Jul 10, 202136:54
54: Two By "Sea"
Jun 15, 202130:31
53: One By Land
May 24, 202143:04
Interview: Sean Manning

Interview: Sean Manning

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.

Armed Force in the Teispid-Achaemenid Empire: Past Approaches, Future Prospects
Amazon Link

Recommended Articles:
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> Gadal-iama, English Translation

PhD Dissertation via the University of Innsbruck

Audible Free Trial
The Scythians: Nomad Warriors of the Steppe by Barry Cunliffe

300 Review

In The Words of Zarathustra

Patreon Support Page
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May 10, 202101:01:11
52: The Adventure Continues
Apr 24, 202142:13
51: Defeat from the Jaws of Victory
Apr 08, 202142:29
Interview: Uzume Wijnsma
Mar 21, 202146:46
50! Ask Me Anything
Mar 07, 202101:47:46
Purim: Holiday Special 2021
Feb 25, 202137:52
Episode 49: Breaking Through
Feb 17, 202139:57
Episode 48: What is your profession?
Feb 02, 202135:33
Announcement 2: Darics
Dec 26, 202025:42
Episode 47: Preparing the Way
Dec 20, 202044:37
Episode 46: The Persian Emperor
Dec 07, 202037:30
Episode 45: Xerxes Porphyrogennetos
Nov 10, 202038:34
Episode 44: Also Sprach Zarathustra
Oct 24, 202036:47
Episode 43: Thus Spoke Zarathustra
Oct 20, 202047:55
Episode 42: Darius the Shopkeeper
Sep 22, 202039:33
Episode 41: The Greatest
Aug 23, 202033:07
Episode 40: Heiresses of the Empire
Aug 13, 202045:11
Episode 39: Rise of Achaemeneis
Aug 10, 202046:50
Episode 38: The Last Battle
Jul 18, 202055:55
Episode 37: Greece Awakens
Jul 03, 202033:55
Episode 36: Return of the Tyrannoi
Jun 22, 202025:37
Episode 35: The Empire Strikes Back
Jun 04, 202034:50
Episode 34: A New Fleet
May 22, 202028:55
Interview 1: Dr. Michael Bonner
May 11, 202001:04:60
Episode 33: Revenge of the Persians
Apr 24, 202023:55
Episode 32: Begun, the Greek Wars Have
Apr 10, 202033:42
Episode 31: The Naxos Incident
Mar 27, 202033:40
Achaemenid Nowruz! 2020 Holiday Special
Mar 20, 202027:09
Episode 30: Persia City
Mar 07, 202036:55
Episode 29: The Grand Tour, Part 4
Feb 14, 202029:24
Episode 28: The Grand Tour, Part 3
Feb 14, 202039:38
Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday

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!

Feb 12, 202007:14
Episode 27: The Grand Tour, Part 2
Jan 30, 202041:43
Episode 26: The Grand Tour, Part 1
Jan 17, 202054:35
Holiday Special 2019
Dec 25, 201921:46
Episode 25: Behistun
Dec 13, 201932:14
Episode 24: Darius the Great
Nov 26, 201929:15
Episode 23: The Lyin' Kings
Nov 12, 201928:04
Episode 22: Putting Out Fires
Oct 30, 201941:23
Episode 21: The Faith of the Magi

Episode 21: The Faith of the Magi

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 Zoroastrianism, but also discussing how naming a religion like that for the ancient Persians is harder than it might seem.

Oct 15, 201938:17
Episode 20: The Forgotten King
Oct 02, 201924:28
Episode 19: Three Kings and The Magi
Sep 17, 201946:20
Episode 18: The Tyrant and The Kings
Sep 03, 201927:34
Announcement 01: Croeseids
Aug 28, 201921:16
Episode 17: The Mad King

Episode 17: The Mad King

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 paranoia and acts of terrible violence while he was Egypt. The Greek Historian, as well as the Behistun Inscription, tell how Cambyses II murdered his family members and drove his own empire into open revolt. This episode describes the Persian tragedy of the King of King's fall into madness. 

Aug 20, 201925:09
Episode 16: Pharaoh Cambyses
Aug 06, 201938:40
Episode 15: The Army That Conquered The World

Episode 15: The Army That Conquered The World

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 grew to incorporate every facet of the empire and built on the history of Near Eastern warfare to form a disciplined and organized system.
Jul 23, 201928:32
Episode 14: Princes, Princesses, Kings, and Queens
Jul 09, 201928:19
Episode 13: Kingship 101

Episode 13: Kingship 101

 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 explores them.  

Jun 26, 201928:58
Episode 12: Iranian Religion

Episode 12: Iranian Religion

 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 explores the traditions and gods of the Indo-European steppe peoples as they migrated and became the Iranians, Persians and Medes included. I'll also discuss the reforms and doctrines of the ancient prophet Zoroaster who established a religion centered around a single supreme god, Ahura Mazda.

Jun 11, 201940:23
Episode 11: King of Kings

Episode 11: King of Kings

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 empire, between a collection of important capital cities, founded cities, and constructed monuments. He also conquered. This episode pushes the narrative eastward into the provinces of Iran, Afghanistan, and Central Asia and explores some of the events that happened there. Then it's time to finish the story of Cyrus the Great, with one last campaign on the northeastern frontier.

May 28, 201928:43
Episode 10: Governing An Empire

Episode 10: Governing An Empire

 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 Persian Empire was actually organized and managed during the Teispid Period.  

May 14, 201930:08
Episode 9: Who Are You Again?

Episode 9: Who Are You Again?

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.

Apr 30, 201928:40
Episode 8: Fill in the Titles

Episode 8: Fill in the Titles

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 current events and link Persian history to both Easter and Game of Thrones. Listen and explorer official Persian propaganda, an expanding royal family, the historic and religious legacy of Cyrus, and all the titles of the Persian King. 

Apr 16, 201940:50
Episode 7: The Writing on the Wall

Episode 7: The Writing on the Wall

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 that after a few short battles, the greatest city of the ancient world through open its gates and the Persians won the day. Of course, ancient history is never quite that clean. This time, we explore Cyrus's greatest conquest, and the troubled, but fascinating, reign of Babylon's last king.

Apr 09, 201942:03
Episode 6: Introducing Ionia

Episode 6: Introducing Ionia

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, and possibly brutal conquest of the western coasts of Anatolia, but when they were done the empire was larger, more secure, and ready to keep pushing its boundaries south into the wealthy territory of Babylon. 

Mar 26, 201937:56
Episode 5: Crossing the Halys

Episode 5: Crossing the Halys

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. This time, the Persians were facing Lydia, the fabulously wealthy Anatolian kingdom ruled by King Croesus. This war really had it all. Deceptive strategies, surprising alliances, strange tactics, and wildly confused ancient sources to tell the story, but in the end it was just one achievement for Cyrus. 

Mar 12, 201935:55
Episode 4: Cyrus II, King of Anshan

Episode 4: Cyrus II, King of Anshan

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 called Harpagus and conquered the whole Median Empire in one war. Then, Cyrus declared himself King of Persia, and took his first step on the path to becoming "Great."

Feb 26, 201927:18
Episode 3: Babylonians and Medes

Episode 3: Babylonians and Medes

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 their own empires. After this, I promise there will be some actual Persians on this History of Persia Podcast. 

Feb 12, 201927:50
Episode 2: Indo-Iranians

Episode 2: Indo-Iranians

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 empire was being taken over by the Assyrians. This time, we figure that out as we follow some steppe nomads called the Proto-Indo-Europeans on their 3000-ish year journey to becoming the Persians. 

Feb 12, 201927:24
Episode 1: Assyria and Setting the Stage

Episode 1: Assyria and Setting the Stage

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.

Feb 12, 201927:37
Episode 0: Introduction

Episode 0: Introduction

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 history.

Feb 12, 201912:59