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Persians: Definitive new history of the world’s first superpower published

7 April 2022

Latest book from internationally renowned ancient history expert details largest of the ancient empires

A major new work detailing the world’s first superpower stretching from Libya to the Steppes of Asia, and from Ethiopia to Pakistan is hitting bookshelves.

Professor of Ancient History Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones has researched and written the major work PERSIANS: The Age of the Great Kings, published by Wildfire Books (London) and Basic Books (New York).

At the heart of the famed Persian empire was the fabled palace-city of Persepolis where Cyrus the Great, Darius and Xerxes held court in unparalleled grandeur. From here, the Achaemenid monarchs and their heirs passed laws, raised armies, and governed their multicultural empire of enormous diversity.

But the Achaemenids also proved to be one of the great dysfunctional families of history, with brothers jostling for power, eunuchs and courtiers vying for influence and prestige, and wives and concubines plotting for their progeny.

In his definitive new history of the Persian Empire, the ancient Persian expert deftly interrogates the Great Kings who ruled over the largest Empire of antiquity, examining original Achaemenid sources, from art and inscriptions to recent archaeological discoveries in modern-day Iran to create an authentic history, questioning famed classical Greek histories.

Author and historian Professor Llewellyn-Jones explains:

“Our understanding of the Persian Empire has traditionally come from the histories of Greek writers such as Herodotus - and as such, over many centuries, our perspective has been skewed by ancient political and cultural agendas.

“My agenda in writing this new history is to utilise, as far as possible, ancient Iranian sources. This is the Persian Version of ancient history and it stands in stark contrast to the ancient world as filtered through Greek and Roman sources.“

Director of the Ancient Iran Program for the British Institute of Persian Studies and series editor for Edinburgh University Press (Edinburgh Studies in Ancient Persia), Professor of Ancient History Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones is a regular contributor to major history publications (History TodayWorld History and BBC History Magazine). Broadcast work includes appearances on BBC Four’s Art of Persia series, BBC Radio Four’s In Our Time (Persepolis) and for major podcast series including Persia’s Hidden History (History Hit) and Persepolis Jewel of Persia (Apple).

Book titles also include Designs on the past: how Hollywood created the Ancient World and King and court in Ancient Persia 559-331 BCE (Edinburgh), Aphrodite’s tortoise: the veiled woman of Ancient Greece and Women’s dress in the Ancient Greek world (Classical Press of Wales) and with Routledge Sister-Queens in the high Hellenistic period: Kleopatra Thea and Kleopatra III (with McAuley), The culture of animals in antiquity. A sourcebook with commentaries (with Cleland and Davies). Dress in Ancient Greece and Rome A-Z and Ctesias’ History of Persia: tales of the Orient (with Robson).

Professor Llewellyn-Jones is speaking numerous literary festivals as part of The Persians launch season, beginning at HistFest at The British Library alongside Shaparak Khorsandi and Victoria Princewill (9 April 2022).

The book will be published in a variety of languages, including Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Chinese, and Polish.

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