The exploits of the Persian kings are famous, but who has heard of Irdabama, a formidable landowner who controlled a huge workforce and ran her own wine and grain business? This book is the first to examine the economic and political importance of women in the first Persian empire (559-331 BC). Governed by Achaemenid kings and their satraps, this vast realm stretched from Asia Minor to India. Ancient Greek writers on Persian history give us a glimpse of the influential role played by some individual women at these courts, but these are sporadic and hardly reliable accounts of a few colourful femme fatales in the royal family, designed to show up the scandalous machinations of barbarian women gaining political control and causing the decline and effeminacy of the Persian kings. This book is the first to demonstrate the true importance of not only royal but non-royal women in Persia, with the benefit of contemporary Persian and Babylonian sources. By approaching the subject from a Near Eastern perspective, and thoroughly re-examining the Greek sources, the author brings to life a rich and much more detailed picture of the role of women in ancient Persia.