Interest and fascination in Achaemenid Persia has burgeoned in recent years. It is time for a major new appraisal of the glorious civilization founded by Cyrus the Great and continued by his successors, the Great Kings Darius I, Xerxes and Artaxerxes I. This volume offers precisely that: a sustained and comprehensive overview of the field of Achaemenid studies by leading scholars and experts. It discusses all aspects of Achaemenid history and archaeology between 550 BCE and 330 BCE, and embraces the whole vast territory of the Persian Empire from North Africa to India and from Central Asia to the Persian Gulf. Topics covered in this title include aspects of Achaemenid religion, administration, material culture, ethnicity, gender and the survival of Achaemenid traditions. The publication of the book is an event: it represents a watershed not only in better appreciation and understanding of the rich and complex cultural heritage established by Cyrus, but also of the lasting significance of the Achaemenid kings and the impact that their remarkable civilization has had on wider Persian and Middle Eastern history.
John Curtis, OBE, FBA, is Keeper of the Middle East Collections at the British Museum. His publications include Forgotten Empire: The World of Ancient Persia (with N. Tallis, 2005), Art and Empire: Treasures from Assyria in the British Museum (with J. E. Reade, 2005) and Ancient Persia (2000). St John Simpson is Assistant Keeper and Curator of Ancient Iran and Arabia, also at the British Museum. He has excavated extensively in the Middle East and Central Asia, including sites of all periods from prehistoric to recent times.