Satrapal Power and Royal Policy – The Transformation of Inner Political Forces in the Achaemenid Empire

Recorded: July 5, 2023
Event: Achaemenid Workshop 2
Citation: Klinkott, Hilmar. "Satrapal Power and Royal Policy - The Transformation of Inner Political Forces in the Achaemenid Empire." Pourdavoud Institute: Achaemenid Workshop 2 (July 5, 2023).

by Hilmar Klinkott (University of Kiel)

After a first phase of dynamic expansion the Great Kings changed into a kind of ‘diplomatic policy’, particularly known from the western edge of the Achaemenid empire. Since Xerxes I they tried to use new methods for foreign policy, inter-state connections and indirect influence. This assumes a new understanding of the empire (with acceptance of fixed? borders) and of the royal ideology and representation. In consequence, the satraps gained importance as political representatives of the royal interests. Therefore, their function of their position seems to change from an originally focus on the administration of the regional, inner- Achaemenid conditions to a ‘diplomatic key figure’ at the border zone of the empire. But their new political, military and economic competences also strengthened their position towards the Great King. So, the increase of satrapal power seems to change the relationship to the Great King and the inner-political conditions. Obviously, the results are a tension of particularism at end of the 5th and in the 4th century BC and – in reaction to it – a regulation and modification of satrapal power by the Great King. This development, in which the imperium/the imperial territory shifted its importance in relation to the center, illustrates and characterizes the process of transformation to a ‘long-term empire’ the Achaemenid Great Kings were faced to manage.

About the Speaker

Hilmar Klinkott studied Ancient History, (Classical) Archaeology and Latin at the Ruprecht Carls University Heidelberg. As fellow of the DFG Graduate School (Graduiertenkolleg) “Anatolien und seine Nachbarn” at Tübingen University he wrote his PhD supervised by Prof. Frank Kolb (Tübingen) and Prof. Josef Wiesehöfer (Kiel) published in 2005 (“H. Klinkott, Der Satrap. Ein achaimenidischer Amtsträger und seine Handlungsspielräume (Oikumene 1), Frankfurt a. Main 2005”). From 2002 he was Assistant Professor (Wissenschaftlicher Assistent) at the Seminar für Alte Geschichte/Tübingen, where he finished his habilitation (“Zwischen Macht und Massenwahn. Zur politischen Bedeutung des Akklamationswesens im Westen des Römischen Reichs vom 3. Jahrhundert v.Chr. bis 96 n.Chr.”) in 2009. From 2012 until 2015 he was “Akademischer Rat” at the Seminar für Alte Geschichte und Epigraphik of the Ruprecht Karls-Universität Heidelberg. Since October 2016 he is appointed Full Professor at the Institut für Klassische Altertumskunde of the Christian Albrechts University. Hilmar Klinkott is the author of the article on “Satrapies of the Persian Empire in Asia Minor” in the Oxford History of the Ancient Near East V, and a recent book on Xerxes in Greece. For publication list see: