The Achaemenid Persian empire (ca. 550-330 BCE) was enormous, incorporating thousands of miles and many different cultures within its boundaries. How in the world could a sociopolitical entity this size manage the affairs of governance in an age before rapid transit or instant communication? Thanks to textual, visual, and archaeological materials, we can reconstruct the intricate and sophisticated ways this empire governed its people in the centuries before it was conquered by Alexander the Great. This talk considers archives, palaces, food and alcohol, gender relations, the original Pony Express, and the (literal!) use of smoke and mirrors in its analysis of Ancient Persia.