All historians must be careful about sources, but Achaemenid Persia arguably presents some of the greatest source challenges any historian will encounter. Reflect on how our sources for Achaemenid history shape the way we interpret the empire. Begin your essay by assessing the overall nature of the evidence for Achaemenid history—including textual, archaeological, numismatic, and other sources. Why do the sources for Achaemenid Persia present us with such challenges? What is at stake for our broader historical understanding of the empire?

Then, examine three specific major historical themes (for example: economic life, the roles and status of women in the empire, the imperial family and succession struggles, cultural exchange between Persians and others in the empire) or events (for example: Darius’ accession, the Greek-Persian Wars, the struggle between Cyrus the Younger and Artaxerxes) of Achaemenid history that we studied this quarter, and show how the sources shape our analysis of these themes or events.