Chapter 6 –
The Persian
Development of Empire
• Approximately 1000 BCE, Indo-European
tribes from Central Asia migrate to Iranian
• Iran translates as
“land of Aryans”
• Two Subgroups:
Medes – Zargos
Mountain Region
• Persians – Central
Plain Farsi Region
Environmental Trade-offs
• Unlike other early cultures, Persia did (does)
not have large rivers
• Arid and desert
• Small rivers
• Nomads herded grazing animals to Plateau
• Migrants came from northern steppes – area
of great grazing, but often invaded
• Persia offered protection from invasion –
surrounded by mountain ranges and deserts
Zagros Mountains
Northwestern Persia
Nisaean Plain
Qanat Irrigation System
Digging a Qanat
Inside a Qanat
End of a
View of
View of
Spread of Qanat System
A Modern
Qanat –
Still Used
Persian Ruling Family –
• Intermarried with Medes to
establish power and
legitimize bloodline for rule
• Cyrus the Great (child of the
Persian/Mede union)
• 550 BCE captured king (his
father-in-law) and united
Persians and Medes
Cyrus’ Military Conquests
Defeated Medes, united Persia
Greek city-states in Anatolia
From Aegean Sea in west to Hindu Kush
mountains in east
Aryan Script
The Cyrus Cylinder
539 BCE
Questions of Empire
• How to rule and administer far-flung empire?
• How to treat and maintain control of peoples from
various cultures?
• Different forms of power?
• Different ways to gain allegiance from various
• Can various peoples maintain their own cultures
when under the rule of someone else?
• Why would various peoples submit to imperial rule?
Principles Established by Cyrus the Great:
Rule through persuasion and
compromise rather than force
and humiliation
Treated conquered people with
kindness – allowed deported
people to return to their
Permitted defeated people to
retain their own religion and
cultural practices, and offered
partnership in Persian empire
Standardized taxes and
Fostered commercial and
cultural networks in empire
(Royal Road)
Cyrus the Great Cylinder
Tomb of Cyrus the Great
Site contains: Tomb of Cyrus, a monumental
Satellite Map of Site
gatehouse, two palaces, a royal garden, an
enigmatic stone tower (the Zendan-i Suleiman),
two hollow limestone plinths, and an
impressive stone platform jutting from the
western side of a low hill or "throne hill."
Empire in Disarray – Rise of Darius
No clear ruler after Cyrus’
son died
Darius claimed throne,
married Cyrus’ son’s wife
and Cyrus’ daughter
Claimed divine support
Waited a brief period
before expanding kingdom
First conquests in East into
Pressed into Northern
Europe – Danube River by
512 BCE
One of the building inscriptions at
Persepolis, known as DPa. "Darius,
the great king, king of kings, king of
countries, Hystapeses’ son, an
Achaemenid, built this palace".
Darius (Continued)
• Chose Strong Central Rule – emphasized Authority
• Divided empire into twenty provinces (satrapies)
• Governor – Satrap (Note the importance of the Satrap, p. 142
• Established system of royal judges to ensure local laws
• Authorized compilation and codification of Persian laws
See the Video Link for Persepolis in Blackboard
Darius’ Seal of Office
The cuneiform inscription in Old Persian, Elamite and Babylonian reads:
‘I [am] Darius, great king’ (the word ‘great’ only occurs in Babylonian).
Persian Satrapies
Satrap Receiving Visitors
Darius’ Royal Road
Royal Road Today (in Turkey)
Archaeology Along Royal Road
Royal Road Bridge
at Pol-e Dokhtar, Iran
Royal Road Bridge at Pol-e Dokhtar
Satellite Map
Darius’ Behistun Inscription
• Behistun – Large rock
along Royal Road
between different
Persian capitals –
many travelers passed
by site
• Logical place for
Darius to proclaim his
• Satellite map of site
Behistun Inscription
Inscription tells of Darius’ victories (symbolized by 10 subject
peoples), overseen by the god Ahuramazda – 3 versions of text in
Old Persian, Babylonian, and Elamite
Achaemenid Dynasty
Sites and Artifacts
• CAIS link to sites and artifacts
• info on different Persian sites
Zoroastrianism as a Religion
• “Good thoughts, good words, • Religion is dualistic – a
and good deeds”
constant struggle between
the two deities for mankind
(humata, hukhta, huvarshta)
and the world (good vs. evil)
Saoshyant – Savior Figure at
• Ahura Mazda – chief deity
the End of Time that will
(“Wise Lord”)
• Angra Mainyo (or Ahriman) –
Antagonist of Ahura Mazda
• Final Judgment of Fire,
Ahura Mazda controls this
Features of Zoroastrianism
Ethics – morality as ideal and achievement
Eschatology – expectation of a world to come
Personification of Evil (protagaonist/antagonist)
Fire as a central part of worship (symbol of divine presence)
Standard Prayer for Zoroastrian ceremonies is a prayer for
health, long life and good fortune – called the Tan Dorosti
(Healthy Body)
BBC ‘Story of God’ video links: Part One (animism, cave art)
Confrontation with Greece
• 546 BCE
conquered Lydia
and Western
– Greeks were forced to
submit, but resentment
built over differences in
culture and
• 499 BCE Ionian
Revolt (City-states
revolted against
Persian Rule)
B. Darius and the Ionian Revolt
• 494 BCE Darius sent ambassadors to Greek mainland to
suppress rebellions and force dominance of Aegean
• Athens and Sparta killed his messengers and offended Persia
• 492 BCE Battle of Marathon (at Marathon Bay)
Youtube link for History Channel Battle of Marathon Part 1
(Try to watch part 1, 2 and 3)
After the Persians were defeated at Marathon, Darius was positive he must
forcefully conquer Greece
Related flashcards

Ethnic groups in Syria

19 cards

Ethnic groups in Sudan

32 cards

Create Flashcards