1350 - 1300 BC. Politically Influential Queen Napir Asu, Elam, Khuzistan
||Wife of King Untash-Napirasha who built many great buildings and temples in the area including, the Choga Zanbil near Sush (Susa). Her well preserved and headless status was discovered at Susa and is currently at the Louvre Museum in Paris. She is dressed in the same outfit as the Elamite goddess Pinikir and very likely served and represented this divinity at the temple of Ninhursag where she was discovered.
Around 580s B.C. Aryenis, Queen Consort of Media
Married to king Astyages of Media she was, according to Herodotus, the daughter of King Alyattes II of Lydia and the sister of King Croesus of Lydia. She was the mother of Mandane (Mandana) of Media and a probable Amytis, married to her nephew Cyrus the Great. She was also mother-in-law of Cambyses I of Anshan and maternal grandmother of Cyrus the Great. She was given in marriage to Astyages (reigned 585-550 BC) to seal a treaty between Cyaxares of Media and Alyattes II of Lydia, following the Battle of the Eclipse. Herodotus identified her as the mother of Mandane, but there is speculation that Mandane (the wife of Cambyses I of Anshan) may have been born to an earlier wife of Astyages.
Around 584 B.C. Mandane (Mandana) of Media
She was a Median princess, daughter of Astyages and later, the Queen consort of Cambyses I of Anshan and mother of Cyrus the Great. She is a central character in legends describing the birth of Cyrus the great. According to Herodotus Astyages had a strange dream where his daughter urinated so much that Asia would flood. He consulted the magi who interpreted the dream as a warning that Mandana's son would overthrow Astyages. He married her off to prince, Cambyses I of Anshan, "a man of good family and quiet habits", whom Astyages considered no threat to the Median throne. The king had a second dream when Mandana became pregnant and a vine grew from her womb and overtook the world. Terrified, he sent his most loyal court retainer, Harpagus, to kill the child. However, Harpagus was loathed to spill royal blood and hid the child, Cyrus II (Cyrus the Great) with a shepherd named Mitridates. According to this legend, Cyrus would defy his grandfather, Astyages, leading to war between them; a war that Cyrus would have lost, but for Harpagus' defection on the battlefield of Pasargadae, leading to the overthrow of Astyages, as the dream had forecast. Xenophon has a different legend with respect to Cyrus's birth in his fictional novel about Cyrus, Cyropedia (The Education of Cyrus). In this story, Mandana and her son travel to Astyages court (most likely as hostages), when Cyrus is in his early teens. Cyrus charms his grandfather, who includes the boy in royal hunts, while Mandana returns to her husband in Anshan. It is when Cyrus concocts a story that his father, Cambyses I, is ill and returns to visit him that Astyages comes after him and the battle is joined. Darius I also had a daughter called Mandana.
Around 550 B.C. Queen Atossa of Achaemenid Persia
Queen consort of Persia, she was born around 550 B.C. She was a daughter of Cyrus the Great and a sister (or half-sister) of Cambyses II. Atossa married Darius I in 522 BC after Darius took over. Xerxes I was one of her children with Darius. She probably died before Xerxes came to power, although Herodotus believed she was still alive during Xerxes' reign. Aeschylus the Greek play writer included her as a central character in his tragedy The Persians. Atossa is also a figure from Zoroastrian scripture.
Around 540s B.C. Queen Cassandane of Achaemenid Persia
Wife of Cyrus the Great, sister of Otanes and daughter of Pharnaspes. She bore four children: Cambyses II, Smerdis, Atossa and an unnamed daughter (see Herodotus, 2.1; 3.2, 3). According to Herodotus (2.1), Cyrus loved her dearly and, when she died, ordered all the subjects of his empire to observe "a great mourning." There is a report in the chronicle of Nabonidus that, when "the king's wife died," there was public mourning in Babylonia lasting from 27 Adar to 3 Nisan, that is, 21-26 March 538; very probably it was the death of Cassandane that was being mourned. Professor Mary Boyce has suggested that she was buried in the tower called Zendaan-e Solaymaan at Pasargadae.
Around 520 B.C., Phaidyme of Achaemenid Persia
Phaidyme was daughter of the Persian noble Otanes one of the seven conspirators who helped Darius the Great to assume the throne. She was the wife of king Smerdis (Bardya) who was allegedly killed and replaced with a false pretender to the throne. She is the first to realize there is something wrong. In bed she feels for the absent ears of her husband while he is making love to her in the dark; and so begins the story about the overthrow of the Magi who pretends to be the king by Darius and the seven aristocrats.
Around 510s - 480s Queen Artystone of Achaemenid Persia
Daughter of Cyrus the Great and sister or half-sister of Atossa. Along with Atossa and her niece Parmys, Artystone was married to king Darius I; by marrying the female offspring of Cyrus, the founder of the empire, the new king, Darius, prevented his rule being contested. She bore Darius at least two sons, Arsames and Gobryas, and a daughter, Artazostre. According to the Greek historian Herodotus Artystone was the favorite wife of Darius. She is also mentioned in the Persepolis Fortification Tablets, an administrative archive from Persepolis. She was very wealthy with her own administration.
Around 510s - 480s Princess Parmys of Achaemenid Persia
Daughter of Cyrus the Great and sister to prince Bardya, like her other sisters she was also married to king Darius I to end any claim against the throne following Darius's assumption of the throne.
Ca. 500 B.C. Queen Tomyris of Massagetai
The legendary Scythian queen who defeated and killed Cyrus the Great in 529 B.C. Tomyris became the leader of the Massegetai upon the death of her husband. Cyrus the Great founder of the Achaemenid Empire wanted her kingdom and offered to marry her for it, but she declined, he attacked her kingdom. Cyrus destroyed the section of Tomyris' army led by her son, who was taken prisoner and committed suicide. Tomyris and her army ranged itself against the Persians and defeated their forces. Cyrus was killed. Herodotus in his "Histories" passages I-201 to I-214 has mentioned the encounter between Cyrus and Queen Tomyris.
Recommend: Queen Tomyris of the Massagetai and the Defeat of the Persians under Cyrus: Ancient History Sourcebook: Herodotus: I-201-I-214
Around 490s B.C., Princess Artazostre of Achaemenid Persia
Daughter of king Darius I (521 BC-485 BC) by Artystone, daughter of Cyrus the Great. According to to the Greek historian Herodotus (VI, 43) Artazostre was given in marriage to Mardonius, young son of the Persian noble Gobryas, not much before he took the command of the Persian army in Thrace and Macedon (c. 493/492 B.C.). Artazostre seems not to be mentioned by name in the Persepolis Fortification Tablets (administrative documents found at Persepolis), but there are references (in tablets dated on the year 498 BC) to a "wife of Mardonius, daughter of the king", who received rations for a trip she made with Gobryas and a woman called Radunamuya or Ardunamuya.
Around 490s B.C., Irdabama, A Successful Business Woman
Irdabama, was a successful landowner who controlled her own wine and grain business at the time of Xerxes. The fortification tablets at Persepolis contain information about her wealth, workshops and hundreds of workers of both sexes. She had her own seal which meant great prestige and power.
Around 480 B.C. Queen Esther, wife of Xerxes I
The tomb of Esther and Mordacai, Hamadan
|Born Hadassah, according to the Hebrew Bible, she was the Jewish wife of Xerxes (Khashayar Shah) and heroine of the Biblical Book of Esther. According to the Biblical account, the king celebrating a major feast at his palace in Susa ordered his wife and queen, Vashti to appear naked before his quests wearing her crown. The queen's refusal led to her execution and replacement by Esther. She was chosen from amongst the many beautiful virgin girls who were brought to the palace from every province. For 12 months each woman underwent beauty treatments in the harem, after which she would go to the King. When the woman's turn came, she was given anything she wanted to take with her from the harem to the King's palace. She would then go to him in the evening, and in the morning return to the harem as a concubine. She would not return to the King unless he was pleased with her and summoned her. King Xerxes chose Esther to be his wife and queen. Both Esther and her adoptive father Mordecai became favourites in the court. Mordecai had saved the king's life by informing him of a plot against his life. The trouble started when a very prominent courtier named Haman became very displeased with Mordecai. The enraged Haman, plotted against the Jews, making a plan to kill and extirpate all Jews throughout the Persian Empire, selecting the date for this genocidal act by the drawing of lots (Book of Esther 3:1-7 and 3:9-11). Haman gained the king's approval.
Mordecai was distressed pointing out that Esther would be killed if she did not do what she could to stop this genocide - by talking to the King. Esther was not permitted to see the King unless he had asked for her, and if she did she could be put to death. Esther was terrified of this (she had not been called to the king in 30 days), so she and her maid-servants fasted and prayed earnestly for three days before she built up the courage to enter the king's presence. The king accepted her visit. Esther told the king of Haman's plan to massacre the Jews in the Persian Empire. The king was enraged and ordered Haman to be hanged on the gallows he had built for Mordecai. The king then appointed Mordecai as his prime minister, and gave the Jews the right to defend themselves against any enemy. The King also issued a second edict allowing the Jews to arm themselves, and this precipitated a series of reprisals by the Jews against their enemies. This fight began on the 13th of Adar, the date the Jews were originally slated to be exterminated. Since then, Jews established an annual feast, the feast of Purim, in memory of their deliverance. There is no historical evidence to back up the Biblical account, however there is a mausoleum of Esther and Mordacai in Hamadan where the oldest Jewish settlements (9th century B.C.) in Iran exist. The current building is dated to 7th century and underneath there are structures that are much older. The tomb is sacred to the Jews and is visited by Jews from all over the world.
Ca. 480 Queen and Admiral Artemisia I of Caria-Halicarnassus (Bodrum Turkey)
Queen of Caria, member of the war council of Xerxes I of Persia; commanded her own naval squadron in the Battle of Salamis (480 B.C.). She was ruler when her kingdom was a satrapy of Persia. As a vassal of Persia, Artemisia was obliged to recruit her own small force when Xerxes invaded Greece - in fact, Artemisia commanded five ships in her own right. Artemisia alone of his commanders advised Xerxes against a naval battle with the Greeks but Xerxes, chose to follow the advice of his male advisors, and met the Greeks on the sea in the channel of Salamis on 20th September 480 B.C. Artemisia was aboard one of her ships, commanding their movements. After the initial confusion, the Persians took the offensive. Though she only had one ship left, Artemisia herself disabled the ship of King Damasithymus of Calynda. At a council, Artmesia spoke her mind - she had opposed the war from the beginning and opposed its continuation. She advised Xerxes to leave his trusted commander Mardonus to pursue the Greeks whilst Xerxes himself returned home, defeated. For her wisdom, Xerxes entrusted Artemisia with the care of his sons, and returned home to a kingdom racked by rebellion and conspiracy, to which he ultimately became a victim. During her reign, her kingdom prospered from her good relations with Persia.