Melissa Benson

Melissa is in the third year of an AHRC-funded (London Arts and Humanities Partnership) PhD degree working on the use of violence in the foundation of the Achaemenid Empire (539-331 BCE). Her thesis examines the Behistun Monument of Darius I, created after a major crisis in the empire and the violent implications of this. Violence is a broad term which encompasses both the use of physical violence, as in warfare and its aftermath, as well as alterations to the landscape and the manipulation of social and political memory.


Supervisor: Eleanor Robson (UCL), Lindsay Allen (KCL)
Working title: 'Violence in the Behistun Monument: Construction and Cohesion of Achaemenid Imperial Rule under Darius I (522-519 BCE)'
Expected completion date: 2018

Conference papers and presentations

  • 'Managing Violence, Creating Order in the Cyrus Cylinder', ASOR and EPHE Symposium, La Sorbonne, Paris, September 2018
  • 'Viewing Achaemenid Violence - Towards a Persian Perspective', Annual Meeting of the Association of Ancient Historians, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg VA, April 2018
  • 'Ctesias on Persian Violence - Plutarch's "Ordeal of the Troughs"', Lyceum Classics Community Seminar, UCL Greek and Latin, March 2018
  • 'Revolt and Reformation in the Persian Empire: The Behistun Monument of Darius the Great', HistoryLab, Institute of Historical Research, June 2017
  • 'Darius's Delegation Strategy and Achaemenid Persian Mutilation Practice', Oxford Postgraduate Conference in Assyriology 2017

Conference organisation

  • Achaemenid Communications Week, summer school delivered at the Institute of Classical Studies in May 2018
  • UCL History postgraduate conference 2016: 'Knowledge: Communication, Communities and Conflict'

Teaching 2018-19 (postgraduate TA)

  • Writing History
  • The Greek World, c.800-386 BC