SCS-72: Power and Diversity: Centering Achaemenid Persian Imperialism (Joint AIA/SCS Panel)

  In-Person   AIA Session   SCS Session   Panel


Michael Taylor, University at Albany; John Hyland, Christopher Newport University


Michael Taylor, University at Albany


The Achaemenid Persian Empire stretched from the Indus River to the Aegean Sea, and endured for over two centuries from a rapid imperiogenesis in the mid-sixth century to its sudden demise in the fourth BCE. It was, at the time, the largest imperial configuration in human history. The vibrant field of Achaemenid Studies has drawn on scholarly expertise from numerous linguistic and disciplinary backgrounds to generate new understandings of Persia's imperial dynamics and intercultural interactions (e.g. Dusinberre 2013, Henkelman 2017, Hyland 2018, Colburn 2019). Yet more work is required to nudge the Achaemenid world from the margins to a central place in discussions of ancient imperialism within the professional disciplines of Classics and Ancient History, where Rome is the default paradigm. Despite the flourishing of comparative studies examining Roman imperialism in tandem with other imperial models such as those of Han China, the potential for Persian-Roman comparison has not yet been adequately recognized. Although the field of Classics and its allied disciplines are moving in the direction of broader definitions of ancient studies that break from old Eurocentric frameworks and integrate the Middle East and North Africa firmly into ancient narratives, positions dedicated to the study of ancient Persia remain extraordinarily rare in Classics departments. The organizers seek to center Achaemenid imperialism by presenting accessible case studies in current Achaemenid research and generating comparative discussion on Persia's imperial methods and impacts alongside those of Rome and other pre-modern empires.