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Monday, January 23, 2017

030 - Herodotus and the Rise of Persia

In this episode, we discuss the life, influences, drawbacks, and positives of the “Father of History”, Herodotus; and the political events of the Near East in the 7th and early 6th centuries BC, including the rise of the Medians and Neo-Babylonians and their destruction of the Assyrian Empire, and culminating with a young vassal king from Anshan, named Cyrus, who overthrew the Medes and elevated the Achaemenid Persians among the other chief powers of the time (the Lydians, the Neo-Babylonians, and the Egyptians)

ca. 1000 BC - The Scythians, Cimmerians, Parthians, Medes, and Persians (as part of the Indo-European migrations) arrive on the Iranian Plateau

ca. 900-612 BC - Assyria dominates the Near East

ca. 725 BC - Sargon II of Assyria receives tribute from the tribes of the Zagros Mountains (included on the list are the Medes)

708-686 BC - The reign of first Median king, Deiokes; Ecbatana becomes the capital

705-675 BC - The reign of first Persian king, Achaemenes; Anshan becomes the capital

686-633 BC - The reign of Median king, Phraortes; the Parthians and Persians come under Median control and become their "vassals"

675-640 BC - The reign of Persian king, Tespis

646 BC - Assyrian king Ashurbanipal destroys the Elamites; the Persians, now under control of the Medes, incorporate the old kingdom of Elam (west of the Zagros along the coast)

640-580 BC - The reign of the Persian king, Cyrus I

633 BC - Median king Phrarotes dies in battle; the Scythians begin to dominate Media

627 BC - The death of the Assyrian king, Ashurbanipal

626 BC - Nabopolassar and Babylon revolt from the Assyrian Empire and establish a new ruling dynasty (known as the Neo-Babylonians)

626-605 BC - The reign of Babylonian king, Nabopolassar

625 BC - Cyaxerxes overthrows Scythians, re-establishes Median control over the Zagros

625-585 BC - The reign of Median king, Cyaxerxes

614 BC - The Medes and the Babylonians march against Assyria and sack the religious capital of Assur; Cyaxerxes' daughter, Amytis, is married to the crowned prince of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar II, uniting the two kingdoms

612 BC - The Medes and the Babylonians capture and destroy the Assyrian political capital of Nineveh, signaling the end of the Assyrian Empire; a balance of power now exists among the four chief nations of the area: Egypt, the Neo-Babylonians, the Medes, and the Lydians

605 BC - Naboplassar dies, succeeded by his son Nebuchadnezzar II to Babylonian throne

605-562 BC - The reign of Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar II

600-585 BC - Cyaxerxes wages war against Urartians and Lydians

585 BC - The Battle of the Halys River in Cappadocia between the Lydians under Alyattes and the Medes under Cyaxerxes ends in a draw due to the total eclipse of the sun (predicted by Thales); the Halys River is established as the boundary between Lydia and Media; shortly after the battle, Cyaxerxes dies and is succeeded by his son, Astyages

585-550 - The reign of Median king, Astyages

580-559 BC - The reign of Persian king, Cambyses I

580 BC - Plagued by visions that his grandson would be his ruin, Astyages marries his daughter, Mandane, to a minor vassal---the Persian king, Cambyses I

576 BC - Mandane gives birth to Cyrus II; Astyages has another vision of his ruin and orders the child to be killed but his general Harpagus choses not to do it himself and delegates the job to a shepherd who instead raises the kid as his own

566 BC - The 10-year-old Cyrus is discovered and sent to live with his real parents

559 BC - Cambyses dies and the 17-year-old Cyrus becomes king of Persia

552 BC - Cyrus leads a revolt against his grandfather, Astyages; at the Battle of Hyrba, while leading the Persian cavalry, he trounces the Median cavalry

551 BC - An indecisive Battle of the Persian Border between forces of Astyages and Cyrus

550 BC - In the Battle of Pasargadae, Cyrus routs Astyages' army and becomes sole ruler of the Iranian Plateau; since Medes and Persians are so closely related, seen as a change in dynasty and the beginning of the Achaemenid Persian Empire

Primary Sources:

Supplementary Resources (Videos, Photos, Other Podcasts)

Video/Herodotus (Overly Sarcastic Productions)


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