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RA 6A: The Persians in the Black Sea region

The Persian King Dareios attempted to conquer the western and northern sectors of the Black Sea region (514/3 BC), but he did not succeed in overcoming the Nomad's partisan fighting tactics. It is, however, discussed whether the Achaemenid Empire reached as far as the southern Caucasus.

Herodotos mentions that the inhabitants in Kolchis paid tribute to the Persian king (3.93), and in particular in this area, the elite culture was largely dependent on Achaemenid culture. Not just ceremonial vessels and jewellery, but also official architecture as well as the cults reveal a strong Achaemenid influence. Persian culture also pervaded the aristocratic culture of the Thracians. The Iranian influence was, however, even more encompassing. The northern and eastern Nomadic tribes were of Indo-Iranian origin, and the same was true of the kings of the Pontic Kingdom that eventually in the 1st century BC expanded to rule the entire Black Sea region. Accordingly, there was a strong orientation towards the Orient, not just as a result of the expansion of the Achaemenid Empire, but also as part of local culture.

This aspect has played a marginal role in the studies of the Black Sea region. It is a severe research bias, which has been caused by a lack of understanding of the Achaemenid Empire, which is not least due to the fact that the Indo-European Persian Empire lies between the traditional disciplines of Ancient Near Eastern and Classical studies, but also by the general Hellenocentric overemphasis on the Greek component of western cultures. The Centre wants to remedy this by engaging into research on the Black Sea region as a Persian zone of influence through an integrated investigation of the Persian period material in the entire Black Sea region.

Responsible: Jens Nieling


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