Persian Empire


The ancient Persian Empire was one of the kingdoms most recognized for its majestic and wonderful structures located in the desert , for its great wealth and for its perfect military prowess ; a place ruled by kings who wielded great power and ambition , and who managed to conquer from North Africa to Asia.  It took immense and extraordinary advances in the area of engineering , not only in the construction of its buildings, but also in the creation of the roads, bridges and canals.


General features

  • When it was founded:  550 BC
  • When it ended:  330 BC
  • Capital:  Susa, Persepolis
  • Religion:  Zoroastrianism
  • Government:  Monarchy

What is the Persian Empire?

The Persian Empire were groups of different dynasties that inhabited a vast territory, where cultures were respected and who were in charge of governing Persia mainly during the Achaemenid Empire with Cyrus II the Great.



The Persian people are of Indo-European origin and were a people subjected by the Medes , an Asian kingdom settled in the rivers of Mesopotamia and who were able to expand their territories thanks to King Cyrus II the Great , belonging to the Achaemenid dynasty , who also liberated from the Medes.


The Persians expanded their territories, thanks to King Cyrus II who helped them achieve independence from the Medes, who made the Persians their subjects. The Persian forces went to Lydia and Ionia , conquering them; they attacked Babylon , and controlled Mesopotamia , Syria and Palestine , releasing, in the same way, the Israelites in captivity. They also conquered Egypt and had the support of the Greeks .

Philip II, King of Macedonia , planned to seize the Persian Empire; peo passed away. However, his son, Alexander , took the throne and completed his father’s mission. He managed to impose Greek rule , in Mesopotamia, Palestine and Egypt, and then they dominated Iran and Central Asia , marking the end of the Empire.

Origin of the Persian Empire

The origins of the Persian Empire date back to 2000 BC when the region was occupied by a series of pastoralist and farming peoples , known at the time as Medes and Persians . These Medes peoples invaded the plateau of Iran and Persians settled to the south – east of the Iranian plateau closest to the Persian Gulf .


The stages of the Persian Empire were:

  • The medical wars:  wars between the Persians and Greeks to be able to dominate the cities of Asia Minor . The end of these wars caused the Persians to expand into Europe .
  • From Xerxes I to Artaxerxes II: it  was a period of expansion and loss of some territories. With the death of Artaxerxes I the capital was moved from Persepolis to Babylon. Aramaic began to be spoken and the solar calendar was introduced.
  • End of the Persian Empire : Bagoas caused Darius III to occupy the throne but he had no experience as a ruler. Alexander the Great entered Egypt and was seen as a deliverer from the Persians

Fall of the Persian Empire

The beginning of the end of the Persians arose with the defeat in the Medical Wars , when they failed to face the army of Greece , and a series of social and cultural factors that threw down the essence of the unification of the empire. After the governments of the last Persian emperor, Artaxerxes I , and Darius II, the political center and peripheral degraded gradually. There were many intrigues and conspiracies between families in search of power and the provinces , little by little they lost the bond that united them.

In the year 330 a. C, Alexander the Great found disjointed and chaotic regions that he could conquer with great ease. Its passage to the east is the end point of an empire in which values ​​such as tolerance and respect for other cultures played a decisive role in good government.


The main characteristics of the Persian Empire were:

  • It was a tolerant civilization with other ethnic groups.
  • The peoples had different cultures and religions .
  • They ruled through satrapies .
  • They made coins to be able to trade with other peoples.
  • Administrative structures were maintained
  • A unified system of weights and measures was created .
  • They focused on fighting crime .


Its founder was Cyrus the Great , who after defeating the Medes, Lydians and Babylonians, extended his dominions throughout the place. However, its true organizer was Darío , who managed to expand the borders with the definitive incorporation of Egypt .

Location of the Persian Empire

The Persians unified various peoples of the Fertile Crescent, and their borders stretched from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean . They inhabited the Plateau of Iran, to the east of Mesopotamia , a semi-arid region, with mountains rich in minerals, deserts and few fertile valleys, with a dry climate, with large temperature fluctuations.


The Persian Empire was the largest the ancient world had ever seen, stretching from Anatolia and Egypt through western Asia to northern India and central Asia . The Persian Empire expanded under the leadership of Cyrus the Great , who used a strategy of religious and cultural tolerance to maintain order.

Political and social organization of the Persian Empire

The society was formed by the king who was considered a god and lived in the capital, the royal family was quite extensive and the king had a harem, so the monarchs had many children ; there was the group of nobles who were the wealthiest families and were the members of the court. The priests were a pillar within society and there were many temples . The soldiers were in charge of protecting the borders, the plebs were a class made up of peasants and artisans and slaves. They came from the wars, they were owned by the state and they were small groups.


The kings of the Persian Empire were: Cyrus II, Cambyses II, Esmeridis, Gaumata, Darius I, Xerxes I, Artaxerxes I, Xerxes II, Sogdiano, Darius II, Artaxerxes III, Artaxerxes IV, Darius III, Artaxerxes V.


It was based on agriculture , irrigating with waters from the mountains, grazing and mineral extraction . They practiced a wide trade thanks to the creation of the coins , this currency was called Darico , and they were minted in gold , which stimulated internal and international trade.

Trade caravan routes passed through Iran from India and China to the Mediterranean Sea. Trade managed to give a major boost to the industry of tissues luxury, jewelry , mosaics and carpets and rugs.

Cultural manifestations

  • Painting : fresco painting and manuscripts were common and in the Islamic period painting was the most important art. They used to paint on a red background , blue and gold tones . His paintings represent individual figures but groups of pilgrims and dervishes were also painted. They made drawings monochromes to ink with light touches of red and gold replaced the brilliant polychrome of the earliest manuscripts .
  • Architecture : they had beautiful palaces built on platforms fifteen meters high with stairways and wooden ceilings. The main palace was that of Darío de Persepolis and the palaces were adorned with winged bulls , with tall, cylindrical columns decorated with leaf shapes.
  • Sculpture : they sculpted winged bulls to adorn temples. They used stone and clay and carved bas-reliefs to represent warriors with spears, bows and arrows, anthropomorphic winged bulls.

Customs and traditions

They accepted foreign customs and for this reason they used the costume of the Medes because they believed that it was more distinguished and they used the Egyptian breastplates for wars. They married several wives and had a higher number of concubines . They taught their children only to ride a horse , shoot a bow, and tell the truth . They considered lying to be the greatest dishonor and incurring debt as shameful. People with leprosy were considered unclean for having committed a crime against the sun and if they were foreigners they were taken out of the country.

They did not have temples or images of  gods because for them they did not have human nature. They made sacrifices and sang hymns to the gods. They celebrated their own birthdays , greeted each other with kisses on the mouth if they were from the same social class or on the cheek. Nor did they do funerals or burials because they considered that they dirtied the earth for this reason they allowed animals and vultures to eat the bodies of the dead.


The religion of the Persian Empire came from the preaching of the Zoroastrian prophet, Zoroastrianism . The sacred book of the Persian religion was known by the name of Avesta and focused on the existence of two spirits: one called Ahura-Mazda , who was the god who represented good, and Angra-Mainyu who represented evil.

They had concepts related to the final judgment in which the spirit of the dead was judged depending on what it had done in life and that would define its future in its new life after death .


The Persians lived mainly on bread , sesame oil , wine, and fish . Their diet improved as time went by thanks to the defeated peoples, and they dedicated themselves to the cultivation of wheat, grapes, walnuts, rice , and others. The meat was eaten by both the poor and the rich.


Perhaps the main contribution of the Persian Empire was the way in which they obtained their income and wealth . They made great inventions , banking and credit systems that were later put into practice by the Greeks and Romans . They left a system of weights and measures , irrigation systems and proper use of water, construction and surveying techniques , we inherited their algebra , geometry , chemistry and physics .

Capitals of the Persian Empire

The capitals of the Persian Empire that were used to rule were:

  • Susa : the oldest city ​​in the world. It was founded by the Elamite peoples , who made it their capital and filled it with palaces and temples . The Assyrian kings destroyed it and when the Persians arrived they made it their main capital , which would be the administrative center of the empire. It was grandiose, luxurious, mythical and the place where some of the most important events in the history of Persia took place.
  • Ecbatana : one of the largest cities of the empire, with a concentric organization organized in rings separated by walls and in the center was the royal palace .
  • Pasargadae : founded by King Cyrus II , and was the ceremonial capital of his empire. This city became famous for having the tomb of Cyrus the Great and for its Los Pairidaeza gardens .
  • Persepolis : the most important Persian capital made of palaces. It was a spring residence, where important festivals were celebrated . The main palace was called the Apadana and it was an audience hall for the Persian kings . The Treasury that kept the wealth of the empire was built.

Importance of the Persian Empire

Thanks to the Persians, the most important empires in the world were created, such as the Roman and Greek empires , etc. They inherited great discoveries such as the existence of underground water , they invented wells, which is even the same one used to extract oil , they invented canals and left ideas of freedom and respect for other cultures.

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