Thursday, February 19, 2009

Looking for a Persian History podcast

My habit of listening to many different podcasts, one after the other and in doing so, mixing up all sorts of lecture series, in stead of going through them in isolation, usually causes more confusion than insight. Recently however, I had a very nice experience of a bridge between subjects, when listening to installments of three different lecture series, one after the other.

The first two podcasts covered exactly the same subject. Both Michael Satlow's highly recommended podcast Israelite to Jew, as well as the Yale Open Course about the Hebrew Bible, was paying attention to the first post-exilic period in general and specifically about the prophet Ezra. The third was another Yale Open Course, the one about Greek Civilization, that had just arrived at the Greek-Persian wars. The bridge between these two subjects, apart from the fact that they are in the same era (hardly two decades in between Ezra and the first Persian War with the Greeks), is that the global power in the background is the Persian empire. The same empire is the benevolent one in the Ezra story and the evil threat in Greek history. And I realized I hardly knew anything about it.

So what podcast pays attention to the Persians? About a later period are those that go into the conquests of Alexander the Great (Dan Carlin's Hardcore History, The Biography Show, Bob Packett). Also In Our Time's chapters about the Arabian Conquests and about the Sassanian Empire address a much later period. Besides, the perspective is from outside, apart from the last. What remains is to rerun the beginning of an old lecture series at Berkeley History 4A - The Ancient Mediterranean World. Are there any other suggestions? I'll post this call on The Podcast Parlor as well.

More reviews:
Yale: Hebrew Bible
Yale: Ancient Greek history.

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