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Counting Potsherds

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Counting Potsherds is an alternate history short story first published in Amazing Science Fiction Magazine in March, 1989. It was reprinted in Alternate Empires, edited by Gregory Benford & Martin H. Greenberg in 1989 and in the Harry Turtledove collection Departures in 1993.

The Point of Divergence was in the fifth century BC with the conquest of Greece by Persia. The story takes place several centuries later. Mithredath, a eunuch servant of Khsrish IV, the current King of Kings of Persia, travels to Greece to learn more of the conquest by the original Khsrish (the Conqueror). As part of his mission he explores the ruins of Athens which Khsrish had ordered be razed and left as a wilderness as a warning since the city was the leader in opposing him.

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