Achaemenid Empire

Achaemenid Empire
550 BC–330 BC
Flag of Persia
The Achaemenid Empire at its greatest territorial extent under the rule of Darius I (522 BC–486 BC)[2][3][4][5]
The Achaemenid Empire at its greatest territorial extent under the rule of Darius I (522 BC–486 BC)[2][3][4][5]
Common languages
Kings[b] or
King of Kings[c]
• 559–530 BC
Cyrus the Great
• 530–522 BC
Cambyses II
• 522–486 BC
Darius I
• 486–465 BC
Xerxes I
• 465–424 BC
Artaxerxes I
• 424–424 BC
Xerxes II
• 424–423 BC
• 423–405 BC
Darius II
• 405–358 BC
Artaxerxes II
• 358–338 BC
Artaxerxes III
• 338–336 BC
• 336–330 BC
Darius III
Historical eraClassical antiquity
550 BC
547 BC
539 BC
525 BC
499–449 BC
395–387 BC
343 BC
330 BC
500 BC[11][12]5,500,000 km2 (2,100,000 sq mi)
• 500 BC[13]
17 million to 35 million
CurrencyDaric, siglos
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Median Empire
Neo-Babylonian Empire
Twenty-sixth Dynasty of Egypt
Empire of Alexander the Great
Twenty-eighth Dynasty of Egypt

The Achaemenid Empire (/əˈkmənɪd/; Old Persian: 𐎧𐏁𐏂, romanized: Xšāça, lit. 'The Empire'[15] or 'The Kingdom'[16]), also called the First Persian Empire,[17] was an ancient Iranian empire based in Western Asia that was founded by Cyrus the Great in 550 BC. It reached its greatest extent under Xerxes I, who conquered most of northern and central ancient Greece. At its greatest territorial extent, the Achaemenid Empire stretched from the Balkans and Eastern Europe in the west to the Indus Valley in the east. The empire was larger than any previous empire in history, spanning a total of 5.5 million square kilometres (2.1 million square miles).[11][12]

The empire had its beginnings in the 7th century BC, when the Persians settled in the southwestern portion of the Iranian Plateau, in the region of Persis.[18] From this region, Cyrus rose and defeated the Median Empire—of which he had previously been king—as well as Lydia and the Neo-Babylonian Empire, following which he formally established the Achaemenid Empire.

The Achaemenid Empire is known for imposing a successful model of centralized, bureaucratic administration via the use of satraps; its multicultural policy; building infrastructure, such as road systems and a postal system; the use of an official language across its territories; and the development of civil services, including its possession of a large, professional army. The empire's successes inspired the usage of similar systems in later empires.[19]

The Macedonian king Alexander the Great, himself an ardent admirer of Cyrus the Great,[20] conquered most of the Achaemenid Empire by 330 BC.[21] Upon Alexander's death, most of the former territory of the empire fell to the rule of the Hellenistic Ptolemaic Kingdom and Seleucid Empire after the partition of Alexander’s empire, until the Iranian elites of the central plateau finally reclaimed power under the Parthian Empire by the 2nd century BC.[18]

  1. ^ "DERAFŠ". Encyclopædia Iranica. Encyclopædia Iranica Foundation. 21 November 2011. Retrieved 7 April 2019.
  2. ^ 2002 Oxford Atlas of World History p.42 (West portion of the Achaemenid Empire) and p.43 (East portion of the Achaemenid Empire).
  3. ^ O'Brien, Patrick Karl (2002). Atlas of World History. Oxford University Press. pp. 42–43. ISBN 9780195219210.
  4. ^ Visible online: Philip's Atlas of World History (1999)
  5. ^ The Times Atlas of World History, p.79 (1989): Barraclough, Geoffrey (1997). The Times Atlas of World History. Times Books. ISBN 978-0-7230-0906-1.
  6. ^ Yarshater, Ehsan (1993). The Cambridge History of Iran, Volume 3. Cambridge University Press. p. 482. ISBN 978-0-521-20092-9. Of the four residences of the Achaemenids named by HerodotusEcbatana, Pasargadae or Persepolis, Susa and Babylon—the last [situated in Iraq] was maintained as their most important capital, the fixed winter quarters, the central office of bureaucracy, exchanged only in the heat of summer for some cool spot in the highlands. Under the Seleucids and the Parthians the site of the Mesopotamian capital moved slightly to the north on the Tigris—to Seleucia and Ctesiphon. It is indeed symbolic that these new foundations were built from the bricks of ancient Babylon, just as later Baghdad, a little further upstream, was built out of the ruins of the Sassanian double city of Seleucia-Ctesiphon.
  7. ^ Kittel, Harald; Frank, Armin Paul; House, Juliane; Greiner, Norbert; Schultze, Brigitte; Koller, Werner (2007). Traduction: encyclopédie internationale de la recherche sur la traduction. Walter de Gruyter. pp. 1194–95. ISBN 978-3-11-017145-7.
  8. ^ Tucker, Elizabeth (2001). "Greek and Iranian". In Christidis, Anastasios-Phoivos (ed.). A History of Ancient Greek: From the Beginnings to Late Antiquity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-83307-3.
  9. ^ Windfuhr, Gernot. "Iran vii. Non-Iranian Languages (3) Elamite". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  10. ^ Boiy, T. (2004). Late Achaemenid and Hellenistic Babylon. Leuven: Peeters Publishers. p. 101. ISBN 978-90-429-1449-0.
  11. ^ a b Turchin, Peter; Adams, Jonathan M.; Hall, Thomas D (December 2006). "East-West Orientation of Historical Empires". Journal of World-Systems Research. 12 (2): 223. ISSN 1076-156X. Retrieved 12 September 2016.
  12. ^ a b Taagepera, Rein (1979). "Size and Duration of Empires: Growth-Decline Curves, 600 B.C. to 600 A.D". Social Science History. 3 (3/4): 121. doi:10.2307/1170959. JSTOR 1170959.
  13. ^ Morris, Ian; Scheidel, Walter (2009). The Dynamics of Ancient Empires: State Power from Assyria to Byzantium. Oxford University Press. p. 77. ISBN 978-0-19-975834-0.
  14. ^ Wiesehöfer 2001, p. 119.
  15. ^ Shahbazi, A. Shapour (2012). "The Achaemenid Persian Empire (550–330 bce)". In Daryaee, Touraj (ed.). The Oxford handbook of Iranian history. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 131. ISBN 978-0-19-973215-9. Although the Persians and Medes shared domination and others were placed in important positions, the Achaemenids did not – could not – provide a name for their multinational state. Nevertheless, they referred to it as Khshassa, "the Empire".
  16. ^ Kent, Roland G. (1954). Old Persian: grammar, texts, lexicon. American Oriental Society. p. 181. ISBN 978-0-940490-33-8.
  17. ^ Brosius 2021, p. 1.
  18. ^ a b Sacks, David; Murray, Oswyn; Brody, Lisa (2005). Encyclopedia of the Ancient Greek World. Infobase Publishing. p. 256. ISBN 978-0-8160-5722-1.
  19. ^ Schmitt, Rüdiger (21 July 2011). "Achaemenid Dynasty". Encyclopædia Iranica. Archived from the original on 29 April 2011. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  20. ^ Ulrich Wilcken (1967). Alexander the Great. W.W. Norton & Company. p. 146. ISBN 978-0-393-00381-9.
  21. ^ Taagepera, Rein (1979). "Size and Duration of Empires: Growth-Decline Curves, 600 B.C. to 600 A.D". Social Science History. 3 (3/4): 123. doi:10.2307/1170959. JSTOR 1170959. A superimposition of the maps of Achaemenid and Alexander's empires shows a 90% match, except that Alexander's realm never reached the peak size of the Achaemenid realm.

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