Globalization and the Iranian Longue Durée: Empire and Warfare under the Achaemenids, Argeads, and Seleukids, c. 550–150 BCE

Recorded: April 12, 2023
Event: Achaemenid Workshop 1
Citation: Strootman, Rolf. "Globalization and the Iranian Longue Durée: Empire and Warfare under the Achaemenids, Argeads, and Seleukids, c. 550–150 BCE." Pourdavoud Center: Achaemenid Workshop 1 (April 12, 2023).

by Rolf Strootman (University of Utrecht)

The 400-year period of Persian and then Macedonian domination of the Iranian world (c. 550–150 BCE) coincided with the first great age of “globalization,” as interconnectivity in Afro-Eurasia increased exponentially in conjunction with an increasing interest in the world as a whole (as expressed, for example, by the idea of a universal empire or the “Hellenistic” interest in the geography and ethnography of the world). A number of consequences of empire, such as the spread of an “international” lingua franca (Aramaic, later in addition also Greek), or the empire-wide standardization of weights and currency, enabled the establishment in this period of the long-distance system of cultural and economic exchange popularly known as the Silk Road. Refocusing ancient history’s traditional emphasis on the Mediterranean to the central areas of the Ancient Worlds – India, Central Asia, Iran, and Mesopotamia – this lecture discusses one of the most conspicuous forms of connectivity that world empires instigate: the globalization of warfare. To fight their wars and expand their rule, Persian and Macedonian rulers recruited troops and appropriated resources from areas as far removed from each other as Baktria, Nubia, Arabia, and Greece.

About the Speaker

Rolf Strootman is Associate Professor of History at Utrecht University, where he teaches Ancient History and World History. His research focuses on empire, court culture, and religion in the Mediterranean, Middle East, and Central Asia during the Persian and Hellenistic periods. His research interests also include east-west interactions and the image of the “Orient” in Western culture, as well as the reception of the ancient worlds in modern popular culture (especially cinema and fantasy fiction). He is the author of Courts and Elites in the Hellenistic Empires (Edinburgh University Press 2014) and The Birdcage of the Muses: Patronage of the Arts and Sciences at the Ptolemaic Imperial Court (Peeters 2016), as well as a number of edited volumes, including Persianism in Antiquity (Franz Steiner Verlag 2016, co-edited with M. J. Versluys) and Empires of the Sea: Maritime Power Networks in World History (Brill 2019, co-edited with F. van den Eijnde en R. van Wijk). He is currently writing a book on the relationship between war and identity in European history (from the Battle of Marathon to the war in Ukraine) and preparing two new volumes of the Seleukid empire.