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Richard Stoneman

Rock relief of Xerxes being accompanied by two servants, Persepolis, Iran by Nick Taylor. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The monumental city of Persepolis was the pride of the Persian empire until its destruction by fire. Richard Stoneman revisits its builders, Darius and Xerxes, and their role in its construction.

A 15th-century French manuscript illustration showing Alexander in a cage that is lifted into the air by six griffins.

Richard Stoneman investigates the strange but widely held belief in the Middle Ages, that Alexander the Great had conquered more than the land, taking to the air and travelled to the ocean depths.

In Europe Philhellenism – the romantic desire arising from admiration of ancient Greece to further understanding of all things Greek – had its origins in the sixteenth and seventeenth-century.

Queen Zenobia's Last Look Upon Palmyra, by Herbert Gustave Schmalz. Original on exhibit, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.

Running after foreign gods - Richard Stoneman explains how Rome's Syrian rival, the city of Palmyra, and her formidable queen Zenobia influenced the religion and mores of the later Empire - and brought us in the process Christmas Day.