عنوان مقاله [English]
Although the terms psychological warfare and propaganda are relatively new, the concepts are very old indeed. Both have a lengthy history in the ancient Near East where they were practiced for thousands of years before the Persians arrived on the scene. One of the tools for the stability of ancient ideological systems was propaganda. The Neo- Assyrian and Achaemenid Empires also used propaganda to advance their ideology and maintain their power and authority. How the kings of Neo- Assyria and the Achaemenids portrayed or described themselves and liked how other lands or people saw or understood them shows using propaganda in their written and visual documents and evidence. Undoubtedly, in the royal contexts of Neo-Assyria and the Achaemenids, they did not depict or write all the facts so that their ideology would not be harmed and their power, authority, and legitimacy to rule over the vast people and territories of their Empires would not be compromised. They portrayed or described a self-image that frightened the subject people and lead to their submission, or impressed them by showing and describing the glory and greatness, and the universal order and dominance of Empire. This research using written and visual sources and evidence of the royal contexts of Neo-Assyria and Achaemenid examines the tools and goals of propaganda, their intended audiences, as well as propaganda methods and strategies, especially in inscriptions and architectural reliefs, and identifies similarities and differences. The fundamental differences between Neo-Assyrian and Achaemenid propaganda is the emphasis on violence in the royal ideology of the Assyrians Empire.Tools such as royal reliefs, steles, seals, coins (Achaemenid period), and inscriptions were ancient media that communicated with their specific and universal audiences and directed their thoughts and minds, and Assyrians and Achaemenids were aware of their influence and used them in their propaganda.
Keywords: Neo-Assyria, Achaemenian, Power, Ideology, Propaganda.
Propaganda has a lengthy history in the ancient Near East where it was practiced for thousands of years before the Persians. Some of their predecessors, for example, the Assyrians, advanced the use of propaganda and psychological warfare to an art form and there is every reason to believe that the Persians took up right where the Assyrians left off. Ancient Near Eastern propaganda operated not only in the medium of texts but also mediated through architecture (so-called public buildings), infrastructures - and pictures (from miniature to monumental art). There are fundamental differences in the strategies and methods of propaganda of Neo- Assyria and the Achaemenids, one of the most important of which is the visual and verbal violence of the Assyrians. They probably depicted or described violent scenes to impress the audience and visitors to their palaces. The strategy of the Achaemenids is not to depict or describe violent and war scenes, especially in their reliefs and royal inscriptions, except for Bistun monument, especially its inscription which speaks of violence and violent confrontation with the insurgents and their severe punishment. The propagandistic nature of Bistun monument is not obscured. The Assyrians and the Achaemenids used propaganda concerning legitimacy and boasting in their texts and images to highlight their claim of supremacy and dominance, although propaganda in the Achaemenid period was accompanied by a kind of relatively voluntarily and freely integration, participation, and cooperation of the subject people and lands of the Empire which can be clearly seen in the inscriptions and especially the reliefs of Persepolis (gift-bearers or tributary (?) and throne-bearers scenes). How did the kings of Neo- Assyria and the Achaemenids see themselves and their monarchy, and how did others (courtiers, internal and local elites, subject people, etc.) want to be seen and perceived them? What were the propaganda methods and strategies? What were their propaganda tools? Who was their propagandistic audience? To what extent did they depict or describe real facts and events? And whether it can be recognized from their written and visual evidence or not? What was their imagination of the subject people and lands? All of these are questions that this research tries to answer by examining and analyzing the written and visual sources and evidence of the royal contexts of Neo-Assyria and Achaemenid, but each of these questions requires independent research, and this research has only answered these questions in general.
The Neo- Assyria and Achaemenid Empires, using tools and media such as inscriptions, reliefs, steles, seals, and coins (Achaemenid period), propagated the discourse of the monarchy and used them to impress their public and specific audiences. With their propaganda tools, they sought to present an ideal rather than a real image of the king and their monarchy to internal and external audiences, an image of a mighty, powerful king and a vast and powerful Empire with people and lands who different languages and cultures, to somehow neutralize any rebellion and conspiracy on their behalf, and to show that no force will be able to withstand these powerful Empires. To achieve these goals, each has somehow dealt with distortion of reality. The reliefs and inscriptions of the royal context of Neo- Assyria are full of illustrations and descriptions of scenes of violence, killing, torture and persecution, the siege of cities, slaughter, beheading, and so on. Undoubtedly, such images and descriptions affected the audience and terrified them in the direction of psychological warfare. However, for example, Assyrian reliefs did not tell many facts, they portrayed the outcome of the war, and have hidden their failures and mistakes and have not shown them. The Assyrians have always been depicted victorious in the reliefs of their palaces, inscriptions, and royal annals. Of course, few inscriptions have pointed to the difficulties and hardships of war and the stubbornness of the enemies. The strategy and practice of the Achaemenids in this regard is different from that of the Assyrians and is perspicaciously and Intelligently; They generally did not depict or describe scenes of violence or war. For example, Achaemenid reliefs in Persepolis, instead of showing such scenes, show reliefs that evoke calm, peace, order, cooperation, and participation of different people and ethnic groups of the Empire.
The purposeful propaganda of Achaemenids (Unlike Assyrians) ignored the humiliating motifs of subjugation and humiliation of the subjugated lands and used motifs in which there was no trace of fear, and what is shown is peace and respect for the different cultures. The potential audience of propaganda tools cannot be said with certainty because so little evidence has been obtained, and this is more true of the Achaemenid Empire. However, it is possible that the audience of the royal inscriptions (especially the Assyrian ones), because they had to be read and were more complex to decipher, was mostly elite and literate, and the reliefs of the palaces had a more audiences because it was easier to decode. Of course, citing Bistun inscription found in Babylon and Elephantine in Egypt, and Herodotus, who confirms the writing of multilingual inscriptions in the Achaemenid periphery, it may be possible that the Achaemenid inscriptions were also targeted for more audiences. Among the propaganda tools, seals and coins were intended for the general public, probably because they were circulating in a wider area of the Achaemenid Empire, although the extent of the seals’ influence in the Neo- Assyria period was probably intended for specific propaganda purposes.