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.
Matt Waters is Professor of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire. He is the author of A Survey of Neo-Elamite History (2000), and his work has appeared in numerous journals, including Iran, Revue d'Assyriologie and the Journal of the American Oriental Society. Waters is the recipient of fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, Harvard University's Center for Hellenic Studies, the Loeb Classical Library Foundation, and the University of Wisconsin, Madison's Institute for Research in the Humanities. He was awarded the Jonas C. Greenfield Prize from the American Oriental Society in 2006 for the best published article in ancient Near Eastern studies in a three-year period by a scholar under the age of forty.
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; 12. Epilogue; 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.