Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones is a senior lecturer in Ancient History at the University of Edinburgh and a specialist in the history and culture of ancient Iran, Greece, and Egypt. His research focuses on the history, culture, and society of Achaemenid Iran and of ancient Greek perceptions of Persia. Llewellyn-Jones’s interests reach into the royal court, monarchy and the Great King, royal women, the ancient Persian body, and the role of dress in Persian culture.
He received his PhD and MA from the University of Wales and his BA from the University of Hull. His current research focuses on the image of the body of the Great King of Persia in Greek and Near Eastern sources, and on the role and semiotics of dress in the Persian Empire.
He has co-authored a volume entitled, Ctesias’ History of Persia: Tales of the Orient (2010) as well as a publication named King and Court in Ancient Persia (2013), a study of Persian court society and the role of monarchy in ancient Near Eastern cultures.
Now Egypt is a very politically important land to hold, because it’s enormously wealthy. Egypt was traditionally the bread basket of antiquity; the Nile flows through it making it one of the most fertile lands. More importantly ideologically it was vital for the Achaemenids because Egypt was such an ancient society and we suddenly see these new Persian rulers integrating themselves into very ancient Pharaonic traditions as well.
Ancient Gods in Egypt and Iran
Just as we see Cyrus being the heir of Mardoc in Babylon so Darius is content to be the heir of Amon Ra in Egypt and the chosen one of Ahuramazda in Iran so there’s this really amazing adaptability according to place and locale and people that they’re playing to.
Alexander the Great
So why did the Persian Empire fall to Alexander? I think it’s just down to different kinds of military tactics that Alexander was able to bring in to his wars against the Persian Empire; new fighting styles, new kinds of lances and weaponry, new kinds of cavalry which the Persian Achaemenids were just not up on at all. Really it’s just the military genius of Alexander that brought about the fall of the Persian Empire but certainly it wasn’t in some kind of defunct desperate state at the time of its fall when Alexander conquered it in 331 B.C.E.