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Peoples of the Bible: Achaemenid Persia

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1 Peoples of the Bible: Achaemenid Persia
Nick Noppinger

2 Who were the Achaemenid Persian’s
An Indo-European Western Iranian peoples.

3 Iranian Empires List of dynasties described as a Persian Empire
Median Empire ( BC) Achaemenid Empire (550–330 BC) Seleucid Empire (312–63 BC) (Remnant of Alexander) Parthian Empire (247 BC–224 AD), also called the "Arsacid Empire" Sasanian Empire (224–651), also called the "Empire of Empires" Muslim conquest of Persia (633–654)

4 Indo-European Invasions
Triggered by Flooding of Black Sea 5600 B.C. (Conjectural)

5 Indo-European Invasions

6 Indo-Europeans Indo-Europeans (Aryan language) Nomadic tribes
From Steppes of Asia Herders and Grazers Warfare using horses Swept into Old Europe, Middle East, India starting about 5,000 BC Hittites

7 Indo-European Conquerors
Aryans in India Hittites and Mittani in the Fertile Crescent Luwians in Anatolia (Turkey) Kurgans in eastern Europe Battle-Axe People Achaeans, Dorians in Greece Iranians to Caspian Region

8 Diffusion of Indo-European Languages

9 Language Family Tree


11 Ancient Near East



14 Elamite Empire Proto-Elamite: c – c BC (Proto-Elamite script in Susa) Old Elamite period: c – c BC (earliest documents until the Eparti dynasty) Middle Elamite period: c – c BC (Anzanite dynasty until the Babylonian invasion of Susa) Neo-Elamite period: c – 540 BC (characterized Assyrian and Median influence. 539 BC marks the beginning of the Achaemenid period.)

15 Elamite Empire

16 Elamite Empire Elamite is a language isolate List of Kings
Archaeology lacking Most of what we do have is from the time when Elam was dominated by Assyria. 1st Capital Anshan near Persepolis then Susa

17 Elamite Empire Ziggurat- Chogha Zanbil

18 Median Empire Most of what we know comes from Greek sources, but does not always seem to align with royal records. No Median documentary evidence

19 Median Empire Very little “Median” archaeology
Ecbatana (modern day Hamadan) What we do know They along with the Babylonians, and others defeated Assyria Medes and Persians are related-both Iranian languages Medes were absorbed into Persian Empire Medized is synonymous with Persia. Persian royal line, may have had Mede blood.

20 Median Empire Religion- Zoroastrianism? Possible worship of Mithras.
An Empire or coalition?

21 Others

22 Sources Archaeology Royal-government-business inscriptions
Bible- 74 verses deal with Persia Persian, other than above, written sources The Greeks and Romans*********

23 The Greeks Aelian Aeschylus Arrian Berossus Ctesias Diodorus Siculus
Herodotus Justin Manetho Plutarch Quintus Curtius Rufus Strabo Thucydides Xenophon

24 Problems with Greek Sources
Often fragmentary Biased- if you were not Greek you were barbarians To a Greek the Persians were effeminate barbarians Persian invades Greece twice Aeschylus Epitaph Aeschylus, Euphorion’s son of Athens, lies under this stone dead in Gela among the white wheatlands; a man at need good in fight —witness the hallowed field of Marathon, witness the long-haired Mede.

25 The Greeks How much was embellishment?

26 Sources 1st mention of Persians, as a distinct group is in Assyrian inscriptions in the 9th Century BC (800’s) Persian sources are not historical records in the modern or even Greek use of the term. Usually an account to the God they worshipped or something that we would call a propaganda piece. Business records tend to be more accurate but often lack description Lineages of Kings often have major discrepancies

27 Sources Why Achaemenid Persia?
After the alleged dynastic founder Achaemenes First mentioned by Darius 1 Archaeology is problematic

28 Persian Empire Multi-ethnic

29 Persian Classes

30 Kings and Family Autocratic rule Generally tolerant of non-Persians
All Royal positions owed themselves ultimately to the King Many wives, but one would be prominent Women could be landholders Greeks portrayed royal court as ruled by women and eunuchs

31 Government Offices such as Royal Secretary Royal Treasurers
Head of Warehouses and Granaries Priestly hierarchy Military hierarchy Fully functioning government bureaucracy down to local levels Paid by King

32 The Empire Divided into Satrapies ruled by Satrap.
Satrap could be a local ruler, but was often a member of the royal family

33 Satrapy System Developed from Cyrus to Darius 1
Satrapies often stayed within the same family Great autonomy in things except foreign affairs Satrap Secretary- Royal Watchdog on Satrap Satrap Garrison Commander answered to King Paid taxes to central treasury Royal Road

34 Society Stayed at the station or level in which you were born.
Possible but difficult to move up through the classes Many records are on Treasury Tablets called Kurtashes One talks of work at Persepolis in the reign of Darius 1 and mentions workers of Arab, Bactrian, Babylonian, Egyptians, Elamite, Ionian Greeks, and Thracians among the workers along with rates of pay in food.

35 Persian Empire Politics: “King of Kings” & satraps
Economics: trade, tribute, taxes Religion: Zoroastrianism Often seen through Greek eyes….

36 Persian Empire (ancient)

37 “King of Kings” Cyrus (559-530 BC) Cambyses (530-525 BC)
Darius ( BC) Xerxes ( BC) King Darius

38 “King of Kings”


40 Persian Empire 5 Capitals Persepolis Susa Pasargadae Ecbatana Babylon
Seasonal Rotation

41 Persepolis Main Capital- Administrative Center- tombs of Kings
Except Cyrus Destroyed by Alexander

42 Susa Possible Winter capital

43 Pasargadae Tomb of Cyrus and possibly Cambyses

44 Ecbatana Summer capital

45 Babylon

46 Zoroastrianism 600 BC?? Dualistic cosmology Ahura Mazda- asha
Angra Mainyu- ruj Avesta- Gathas (poems)- Yasna (scripture) Humata, Hukhta, Huvarshta, which mean: Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds. There is only one path and that is the path of Truth. Do the right thing because it is the right thing to do, and then all beneficial rewards will come to you also.

47 Zoroaster Magus Magi There are some very strong suggestions that Cyrus was NOT a follower. The earliest royalist inscriptions that show a possibility is under Darius 1 (names of relatives with Zoroastrians names).

48 Astyages Dream Daughter Mandane- urination that flooded Asia- dream was interpreted that her son would depose him and rule. Refused to marry her to a Mede, had her marry the minor Persian noble Cambyses Once pregnant with Cyrus she was summoned back to Ecbatana for the baby to be killed. Royal Councilor Hapargus delegated the task to a shepherd named Mithradates. Mithradates substituted own stillborn son and raised Cyrus At age 10 Cyrus, during a game, had the son of a nobleman beaten. Cyrus summoned to court for the infraction, along with Mithradates Astyages realizes Cyrus is his grandson.

49 Astyages Dream Astyages sends Cyrus to his daughter.
Summons the son of Hapargus, and has him butchered. Unknowingly, from Hapargus point of view, served to Hapargus at a great feast. At the end Astyages has his son’s head, hands and feet brought out on a platter revealing that Hapargus had engaged in cannibalism. Cyrus does rebel with the help of Hapargus.

50 Cyrus the Great 559 to 530BC Statesman Human rights General
Ideal multi-ethnic empire influence

51 Cyrus 1st mentioned in Babylonian Chronicles dated to late reign of Nabonidas. Conquers Media 553 or 550 BC Conquers Asia Minor sometime around 546 BC. By 540 he had captured Elam

52 540 BC

53 Conquest of Babylonia Nabonidus, his son and regent Belshazzar, had ordered cult statues from outlying Babylonian cities to be brought into the capital, suggesting that the conflict had begun possibly in the winter of 540 BC Battle of Opis- late September/early October ? 539 October 29? 539 BC Cyrus enters Babylon and captures Nabonidus

54 Cyrus Cylinder

55 Cyrus Cylinder I am Cyrus, king of the universe, the great king, the powerful king, king of Babylon, king of Sumer and Akkad, king of the four quarters of the world, son of Cambyses, the great king,, king of the city of Anshan, grandson of Cyrus, the great king, ki[ng of the ci]ty of Anshan, descendant of Teispes, the great king, king of Anshan, the perpetual seed of kingship, whose reign Bel and Nabu love, and with whose kingship, to their joy, they concern themselves.

56 Cyrus the Great From [Babylon] to Aššur and (from) Susa, Agade, Ešnunna, Zamban, Me-Turnu, Der, as far as the region of Gutium, the sacred centers on the other side of the Tigris, whose sanctuaries had been abandoned for a long time, I returned the images of the gods, who had resided there, to their places and I let them dwell in eternal abodes. I gathered all their inhabitants and returned to them their dwellings. In addition, at the command of Marduk, the great lord, I settled in their habitations, in pleasing abodes, the gods of Sumer and Akkad, whom Nabonidus, to the anger of the lord of the gods, had brought into Babylon.

57 Persia and the Bible Isaiah 45
Cyrus, God's Instrument 45 Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus,     whose right hand I have grasped, to subdue nations before him     and to loose the belts of kings, to open doors before him     that gates may not be closed: 2 “I will go before you     and level the exalted places,[a] I will break in pieces the doors of bronze     and cut through the bars of iron, 3 I will give you the treasures of darkness     and the hoards in secret places,

58 Ezra 1 The Proclamation of Cyrus
1 In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing: 2 “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. 3 Whoever is among you of all his people, may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel—he is the God who is in Jerusalem. 4 And let each survivor, in whatever place he sojourns, be assisted by the men of his place with silver and gold, with goods and with beasts, besides freewill offerings for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.”

59 Persia 74 verses that mention Persia 40 that mention Cyrus
Esther- possibly Xerxes or Artaxerxes Book of Daniel- Babylonian and Persian periods

60 Death of Cyrus BC in battle against the Massagetae (modern Uzbekistan)

61 Expansion of the Persian Empire

62 Persian Army Infantry Immortals, Sparabara, Takabara, later the Cardaces Most linen armor with a wicker shield Immortals and possibly Cardaces wore scale armor Sparabara were levies with some to no training Takabara seems to have been lightly armored garrison troops???? Or probably peltasts





67 Persian Cavalry Chariots- falling out of favor Horse archers
Camel Cavalry-Dromedarii Elephant Cavalry Persian Army, as typical of Eastern Armies, was much more lightly equipped than European Armies.







74 Darius the Great 522 to 486 BC Born of Hystaspes, an officer and possible Satrap under Cyrus High officer in Cambyses Army and son in law Cambyses brother, or Magi imposter named Gaumata, deposed him, Cambyses dies under dubious circumstances on the march to fight Bardiya. Darius deposed and killed Gaumata-Bardiya.

75 Darius the Great Moves into Indus Valley 515
Moves into modern Bulgaria 514 Major Babylonian rebellion 513 BC

76 Ionian Revolt and involvement in Greece

77 Hoplite Warfare/Heavy Infantry
Hoplon- gear Shield- hoplon or aspis Doru/Dori-spear Xiphos-sword Cult of symmetry Disdain for missile Equipment provided by individual Most experienced in front and rear

78 Men wear their helmets and their breastplates for their own needs, but they carry shields for the men of the entire line. Plutarch Moralia

79 Hoplite Warfare Greek Military Revolution Battle environment
The pushing match

80 Greeks

81 Xerxes the Great 486 to 465BC Darius dies 486 BC
Xerxes oldest son of Atossos (daughter of Cambyses) Took up fathers plans to invade Greece Murdered by top military commander Artabanus

82 Darius III 336 to 330 BC


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