Achaemenid-empire

Underside of a green jasper scarab-amulet, depicting a ruler holding a staff before lotus plants, with a crescent moon above.  Thought to be Mesopotamian (either Neo-Babylonian or Achaemenid Persian), but incorporating Egyptian elements (e.g. the was-scepter held by the ruler).  Artist unknown; ca. 600-400 BCE.  Now in the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore.  Photo credit: Walters Art Museum.

“Excavation of Persepolis (Iran): Throne Hall, Southern Wall, West Jamb of Western Doorway: View of Uppermost Register Picturing Enthroned King Giving Audience under the Winged Symbol with Partly Encircled Figure of Ahuramazda”

1923-1928

glass negative from the Ernst Herzfeld Papers

Freer and Sackler Archives

Altdorfer’s The Battle of Alexander at Issus.

Battle of Issus, (333 bce), conflict early in Alexander the Great’s invasion of Asia in which he defeated a Persian army under King Darius III. This was one of the decisive victories by which Alexander conquered the Achaemenian Empire. Issus is a plain on the coast of the Gulf of İskenderun, in present-day southern Turkey.

The Macedonian forces, with an infantry phalanx in the centre and cavalry on the sides, approached the army of Darius, which was drawn up on the opposite bank of the Pinarus River (possibly present-day Yakacık Çayı or Deli Çayı). Alexander led the charge across the river, shattering the Persian left wing before turning against the Greek mercenaries who formed the Persian centre.

His army in confusion, Darius escaped, but his family was captured. Arrian, Alexander’s biographer (2nd century ce), claimed the Macedonians lost only 450 men, with Alexander himself being wounded. Most of the Persians retreated to safety while the Macedonians sacked Darius’s camp.

Graeco-Persian blue chalcedony scaraboid with Pegasus in intaglio, dated to the 4th to 3rd centuries CE. Found on Antiquarium, Ltd. 

“Excavation of Persepolis (Iran): Gate of All Lands, Colossal Sculptures Depicting Man-Bulls: View before Excavation, Looking North-West”

1923-1928

glass negative from the Ernst Herzfeld Papers

Freer and Sackler Galleries

“Excavation of Persepolis (Iran): Gate of All Lands, Trilingual Cuneiform Inscription, XPa, Inscribed on North Jamb of Western Doorway”

1923-1928

glass negative from the Ernst Herzfeld Papers

Freer and Sackler Galleries

“average ancient greek general founded 3 cities named after himself” factoid actualy just statistical error. the median greek general founded 0 cities named after himself. Alexander the Great, who conquered the Achaemenid Persian Empire and founded over 10,000 Alexandrias in his lifetime, was a statistical outlier adn should not have been counted

“Excavation of Persepolis (Iran): Tachara Palace (Palace of Darius), Central Facade of Southern Stairway: Detail View of Relief Picturing Persian Guards”

1923-1928

glass negative from the Ernst Herzfeld Papers

Freer and Sackler Archives

yes i get that the idea of pre-modern Europe being totally what you’d consider ‘white’ by modern standards is false and should be dismantled. i mean we should totally talk about how the Roman Empire was very much a multiethnic civilisation with North African and Middle-Eastern influences and existed with completely different race categories altogether. we should consider how empires we often regard today as non-European like the Islamic caliphates, the Achaemenid Empire (aka Iran) and Ottoman Turkey influenced what we now consider to be ‘Western civilisation’. or consider how Christianity is ultimately a religion of Middle-Eastern origin. we should remember that modern constructs of whiteness are exactly that- modern. they were not perpetual. 

but i can’t completely get on board with the way people often only fixate on US-centric race categories to present Europe as diverse. there are numerous European ethnic minorities who you might consider ‘white’ in the US who have historically faced erasure and genocidal violence at the hands larger and more powerful European countries. diversity in the European context is very much about representing ethnic diversity too. 

by all means, I understand the term POC has some validity if you’re addressing say, a US-based game developer or a US movie studio making a Hollywood movie when they start saying things like ‘premodern europe was all white’. but all the same, the way racism and exclusion has occurred in Europe has very often been about ethnic faultlines. things like antisemitism, a very old European prejudice, just do not fit simply into a white/POC dichotomy. so i can’t help but feel the way the term ‘POC’ gets flung around carelessly in that context is subtle US cultural imperialism, because this is also kind of implicitly predicated on the idea that whiteness as it is understood in the US exists the same way in various European countries.

Detail of a limestone lion attacking s bull from Palace H in Persepolis, attributed to the reign of king Artaxerxes III of Persia (358-338 BCE) and the first Pharaoh Egypt’s the 31st dynasty. Artaxerxes III ruled his vast Achaemenid Empire from Babylon. During his reign, the famous Palace of king Nebuchadnezzar II in Babylon was expanded. Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA. 

Photo by Babylon Chronicle