Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the role of the great ‘City of the Persians’ founded by Darius I as the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire that stretched from the Indus Valley to Egypt and the coast of the Black Sea. It was known as the richest city under the sun and was a centre at which the Empire’s subject peoples paid tribute to a succession of Achaemenid leaders, until the arrival of Alexander III of Macedon who destroyed it by fire supposedly in revenge for the burning of the Acropolis in Athens.

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Reading list

  • The Persian Empire: A History
    Lindsay Allen (British Museum Press, 2005) Google Books →
  • Persia and the West
    John Boardman (Thames and Hudson, 2000) Google Books →
  • Forgotten Empire: The World of Ancient Persia
    John Curtis and Nigel Tallis (British Museum Press, 2014) Google Books →
  • Imperial Matter: Ancient Persia and the Archaeology of Empires
    Lori Khatchadourian (University of California Press, 2016) Google Books →
  • King and Court in Ancient Persia 559 to 331 BCE
    Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones (Edinburgh University Press, 2013) Google Books →
  • Persepolis: Discovery and Afterlife of a World Wonder
    Ali Mousavi (De Gruyter, 2012) Google Books →
  • Persian Myths
    Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis (British Museum Press, 1993) Google Books →
  • Persepolis: The Archaeology of Parsa, Seat of the Persian Kings
    Donald N. Wilber (Darwin Press Inc, 1989) Google Books →

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Programme ID: b0b4z075

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Auto-category: 935 (History of ancient Persia)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello, in 520 BC Darius the Great started building on the site of Persepolis, the ceremonial city of the Persians, and for almost two centuries this was the richest place on earth.