Showing posts from 2013

TAW Wrap Party & Mike Duncan Interview

I just got clued into this recent Mike Duncan interview on Podcast 411, where he (very accurately!) relates the story of how The Ancient World podcast got started. Enjoy!

And here’s the scoop on the TAW Wrap Party: There’s a bar right down the street, where my wife and I (and maybe a few friends) plan to plant ourselves for a few hours, in the hopes of sharing a few drinks, stories, and seasons greetings with any TAW listeners who’d like to swing by. If you’re coming from out of town, and want to make a truly “historic” weekend of it, I’d certainly recommend a visit to two of San Francisco’s best museums: The Asian Art Museum, and the Legion of Honor, both of which have permanent exhibitions with plenty of amazing ancient art. Oh, and the statue of Ashurbanipal is located right outside the Asian Art Museum, so don’t miss that! And then of course there are also the million other …

Episode 36 - And Then What Happened?

A little time-travel, a quick world tour, and plenty of thanks all around!

Episode 35 - On The Verge

“Rome was not a monarchy, but a free City, and they had made up their minds to open their gates even to an enemy sooner than to a king. It was the universal wish that whatever put an end to liberty in the City should put an end to the City itself.” – Livy, The History of Rome, Book 2

Publius Valerius Poplicola overcame Roman distrust and Etruscan aggression to set the young Republic onto firm foundations.Aristagoras’ failed attempt to capture the island of Naxos led to open warfare between Greece and Persia.

Episode 34 - Democracy and Republic, Part 2

“The Athenians, when ruled by tyrants, were no better in war than their neighbors, but freed from tyrants they were far superior.This shows that when they were constrained they let themselves be defeated, since they were working for an overlord, but when they were freed each one was keen to do the deed for himself.” - Herodotus

Delivered from Spartan destruction, the Athenians were forced to defend their new democracy against the Thebans and Chalsidians.Shocked by a horrific crime, the Romans followed the guidance of Brutus, exiled Tarquin the Proud and declared their first Republic.

Episode 33 - Democracy and Republic, Part 1

“He added the Athenian people, who had formally not been in the center of things, to his own party, changed the names of the tribes and increased their number.He made ten tribal commanders instead of four and distributed demes into the tribes ten at a time.Once he had got the people on his side he had the upper hand over his rivals.” – Herodotus on Cleisthenes

Darius enlisted Greek tyrants in his Scythian campaign, then extended Persia’s dominion to the foot of Mount Olympus.Spartan intervention put an end to Hippias’ oppressive rule.Inspired by Cleisthenes’ bold ideas, the Athenians rejected both tyranny and foreign domination, and restructured their polis into the world’s first democracy.

Episode 32 - Things Fixed, Things Moving

“Black is your path, Agni, changeless, with glittering waves!When like a bull you rush eager to the trees.
With teeth of flame, wind-driven, through the wood he speeds, triumphant like a bull among the herd of cows,
With bright strength roaming to the everlasting air: things fixed, things moving quake before him as he flies.”-Rigvedas, Book 1, Hymn LVIII
Darius retraced Cyrus’s footsteps to expand Persian control of Vedic India.  Hipparchus met a bloody end at the hands of a jealous rival.Tarquin kept Rome’s military and infrastructure sound while alienating both rich and poor.,_Things_Moving.mp3

Episode 31 - Land of Imposters

“After I became king, I fought nineteen battles in a single year and, by the grace of Ahura Mazda, I overthrew nine kings and I made them captive…As to these provinces which revolted, lies made them revolt, so that they deceived the people.Then Ahura Mazda delivered them into my hand; and I did unto them according to my will.” – Darius I, Behistun Inscription

Darius spent years reconquering the rebellious territories of the Persian Empire.Peisistratos was successful in passing his Athenian tyranny down to his sons, Hippias and Hipparchus.Cleomenes set his sights on Spartan domination of the Greek mainland.

Upcoming Reddit IAMA!

A few weeks ago, I was invited to do an IAMA (“I am _____, ask me anything”) thread on many TAW listeners probably know, Reddit is a major web community, with roughly 20 million users.As an extra bonus, recent Reddit IAMAs have been done by Mike Duncan of The History of Rome and Lars Brownworth of 12 Byzantine Rulers and Norman Centuries (both of whom were major inspirations for my creating The Ancient World) as well as a number of other great history podcasters.

I’m happy to announce that my TAW IAMA will happen this Tuesday June 25th at 6:30PM EST, and will run for a few hours.On the day of the IAMA, you should be able to access the thread by going to:
From what I’ve been told, it should be easy to find from there.Please feel free to stop by, say hi, and ask any questions you’ve been meaning to ask, about the podcast or anything else.
Thanks again for listening! Scott C.

Episode 30 - The Lost Army

"So Darius son of Hystaspes was made king, and the whole of Asia, which Cyrus first and Cambyses after him had conquered, was subject to him...and everything was full of his power. First he made and set up a carved stone, upon which was cut the figure of a horseman, with this inscription: 'Darius son of Hystaspes, aided by the excellence of his horse, and of Oebares his groom, got possession of the kingdom of Persia.'" - Herodotus

Cambyses successfully conquered Egypt, but forays beyond its frontiers met with frustration and disaster.The promise of Lydian gold lured Polycrates to a gruesome death in Sardis.Bardiya briefly wrestled the Persian Empire from his brother, only to lose it to a conspiracy of nobles led by Darius.

Episode 29 - A More Perfect Empire

“Remember this lesson well:Whenever you can, act as a liberator.Freedom, dignity, and wealth—these three together constitute the great happiness of humanity.If you bequeath all three to your people, their love for you will never die.” – Cyrus the Great (quoted by Xenophon)
Servius Tullius laid the foundation for the Roman Republic, but his dubious claim to the throne led to his violent overthrow by Tarquin the Proud.Cyrus the Great governed his vast empire with wisdom and temperance before meeting his end along Persia’s volatile eastern frontier.Cambyses II’s Egyptian designs were aided by a high-level betrayal in the court of Ahmose II.

Episode 28 - When the Mede Came

“In winter, as you lie on a soft couch by the fire,
Full of good food, munching on nuts and drinking sweet wine, Then you must ask questions such as these: ‘Where do you come from?Tell me, what is your age? How old were you when the Mede came?’” – Xenophanes of Colophon The return of Harpagus to Anatolia signaled the end of Ionian Greek freedom.After securing his third tyranny, Peisistratos brought stability and prosperity to Athens.Fresh from a series of Eastern conquests, Cyrus II used propaganda and military might to overthrow Nabonidus and claim his third Near Eastern empire.

Episode 27 - Count No Man Happy

“But in every matter it behooves us to mark well the end: for oftentimes God gives men a gleam of happiness, and then plunges them into ruin." – Solon of Athens

Peisistratos’ first two attempts at tyranny were thwarted by the Athenian eupatridae.The Spartans cultivated a reputation as the most fearsome warriors in Greece.Prophesied to destroy a mighty empire, King Croesus of Lydia led Anatolian forces against the Persians and Medes, but the unconventional strategies of Cyrus brought him to a bitter end.

Episode 26 - The Last Kings of Babylon

“So it was that the Persians, who had once been the slaves of the Medes, became their masters.“ – Heroditus

Nebuchadnezzar II turned Babylon into the most magnificent city of the ancient world, but the Chaldean line dissipated in his wake.Nabonidus’ fervent devotion to the moon god, Sin, served to spark a war and drive the Babylonian king into self-imposed Arabian exile.The military and political skills of Cyrus, and a high-level Median betrayal, enabled the Persians to win the empire of Astyages.

Episode 25 - The Voyage of Solon

“Ahmose became a lover of the Hellenes; and besides other proofs of friendship which he gave to several among them, he also granted the city of Naucratis for those of them who came to Egypt to dwell in; and to those who did not desire to stay, but who made voyages thither, he granted portions of land to set up altars and make sacred enclosures for their gods. Their greatest enclosure and that one which has most name and is most frequented is called the Hellenion, and this was established by the following cities in common: --of the Ionians Chios, Teos, Phocaia, Clazomenai, of the Dorians Rhodes, Cnidos, Halicarnassos, Phaselis, and of the Aiolians Mytilene alone.“ – Heroditus

After his overthrow of Apries, the pharaoh Ahmose II increased Egyptian prosperity by centralizing and facilitating Greek trade at Naucratis.  King Alyattes used Lydia’s vast mineral wealth to maintain a powerful army and mint the world’s first coins.  Thales and the philosophers of the Milesian school introduced …

Quick (One-Question) Listener Poll

(Also anonymous, and all that)

With the current series ending over the next few months, I wanted to gauge how many (local?) listeners might be interested in attending some sort of informal wrap-party in SF.  Let me know what you think:

Scott C.

Anniversary and Milestones

Greetings TAW listeners!April 4, 2013 will mark the one year anniversary since this podcast was first launched, and what an amazing year it’s been.I wanted to thank you all - not only for your kind words, wonderful iTunes reviews, and lovely Facebook posts - but also for helping me, and the series, reach the following, rather mind-boggling, set of milestones:

250 Facebook “Likes” (OK, that’s not mind-boggling, but it is fun)5,000 regular subscribers, and (wait for it…)250,000 episode downloads!!!
Episode 25 (the Silver Anniversary episode!) is coming up next and, in yet another nod to reality, I’ll officially be changing the subtitle of TAW from “around 20 episodes” to “around 30 episodes.” A few thousand years in the bank, less than a century left to go – but trust me, there are a lot of amazing developments crammed into that last century.Thanks again for listening, and keep spreading the word!

Scott C.

Episode 24 - A Wolf Among Hounds

“I freed those here who suffered unseemly enslavement and feared the tempers of their masters.I did this by harnessing force and justice together with power, and I carried through my promises.I wrote statues alike for those of high and of low social status, fitting straight justice for each.If someone other than I had taken the goad, some ill-intentioned and greedy man, he would not have been able to control the people.For had I been willing to do what pleased the opposing party then, or what the others planned for them, this city would have lost many men.That is why I made a stout defense all round, turning like a wolf among many hounds.”- Solon of Athens

The leaders of Rome, Carthage and Greece relied on strength, wisdom and cunning to navigate the turbulent political waters of the early 6th century Mediterranean.The delicate balance struck by Solon allowed Athens to prosper, while also unleashing the popular forces that would define the city’s future.…

Episode 23 - Captives of Babylon

“So they took the king and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah in the land of Hamath, and he pronounced judgment on him.Then the king of Babylon killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes. And he killed all the princes of Judah in Riblah.He also put out the eyes of Zedekiah; and the king of Babylon bound him in bronze fetters, took him to Babylon, and put him in prison till the day of his death.” – Jeremiah 52 

After eliminating the last Assyrian holdouts, King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon warred against Egypt over control of the Levant.Repeated Judean defiance resulted in the sacking of Jerusalem.Cyaxares of Medea found his Anatolian designs curtailed by the powerful kingdom of Lydia.

Episode 22 - The Fifth Generation

“But when earth had covered this generation also, Zeus the son of Cronos made yet another, the fourth, upon the fruitful earth, which was nobler and more righteous, a god-like race of hero-men who are called demi-gods, the race before our own, throughout the boundless earth.Grim war and dread battle destroyed a part of them, some in the land of Cadmus at seven- gated Thebe when they fought for the flocks of Oedipus, and some, when it had brought them in ships over the great sea gulf to Troy for rich-haired Helen's sake: there death's end enshrouded a part of them.But to the others father Zeus the son of Cronos gave a living and an abode apart from men, and made them dwell at the ends of earth. And they live untouched by sorrow in the islands of the blessed along the shore of deep swirling Ocean, happy heroes for whom the grain-giving earth bears honey-sweet fruit flourishing thrice a year, far from the deathless gods…” – Hesiod, Works and Days

During the 8th and 7th centuries B…

Episode 21 - For the Sake of Distant Days

“Nineveh is laid waste: who will bemoan her?Whence shall I seek comforters for thee?” – Nahum 3:7

Ashurbanipal spent the end of his reign establishing a library of Mesopotamian knowledge and culture. Twenty years after his death, internal discord and powerful enemies combined to seal the fate of the Neo-Assyrian Empire.

Blogger and iTunes

I just found out that the first few episodes of TAW are no longer showing up on iTunes, which is obviously an issue for new subscribers.  I'm working to address the issue, but in the meantime, if any listeners have any advice on making Blogger and iTunes play nice (via Feedburner) please let me know.  Thanks!  Scott C. 

UPDATE:Oh Happy Day!!!All TAW episodes are once again present and accounted for in the iTunes feed.Thanks to TAW listener Marwan for the heads-up, to our old friend Mike Duncan for ID-ing the problem, and to listener Amberlee for giving me the fix.You guys are awesome!Thanks again, Scott C.

Episode 20 – The House of Succession

In the mid-7th century BC, Nubia and Assyria struggled for control over Egypt before the kingdom regained independence under the pharaoh Psamtik I.King Gyges of Lydia drove the Cimmerians from western Anatolia and sent Greek mercenaries to reinforce the pharaoh’s armies.Ashurbanipal spent decades warring against the Empire’s enemies, including his older brother in Babylon, but his total destruction of the ancient kingdom of Elam sowed the seeds of Assyria’s downfall.

Episode 19 - The Destruction of Sennacherib

“The city and its houses, from its foundations to its walls, I destroyed, I devastated, I burned with fire.The wall and outer wall, temple-tower of brick and earth, temples and gods, and many as there were, I razed and dumped into the Arahtu-Canal.Through the midst of the city I dug canals, flooded its site with water, and the very foundations thereof I destroyed.I made its destruction more complete than by a flood.That, in days to come, the site of the city, its temples and gods, might not be remembered, I completely blotted it out with floods of water, and made it like a meadow.” – Sennacherib of Assyria

In the early 7th century BC, Sennacherib wrestled with Judean defiance, Urartian resurgence, and Elamite invasion, but his destruction of the ancient city of Babylon led to his demise.His son, Esarhaddon, warred against the Nubian pharaoh Taharqa to extend Assyrian domination into Lower Egypt.