Earth and Water

Earth and water: symbol of surrender in the ancient Achaemenid empire. The Persian custom to demand "earth and water" from subject people is known from the Histories by the Greek researcher Herodotus of Halicarnassus. It is tempting to think that those who surrendered gave up everything: their land and the liquids they needed. In other words, surrender was unconditional, and the Persian king was able to grant life to his new subjects. After the exchange of earth and water and the acknowledgement of Persian superiority, negotiations could begin about obligations and benefits.

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