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Intro to Humanities Lecture 1b Civilization before the Greeks: Persia By David Kelsey.

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Presentation on theme: "Intro to Humanities Lecture 1b Civilization before the Greeks: Persia By David Kelsey."— Presentation transcript:

1 Intro to Humanities Lecture 1b Civilization before the Greeks: Persia By David Kelsey

2 The beginning of the Persian Empire The Persians and the Medes: – The Persians lived to the southeast of the Medes. – About 700 B.C. Medes becomes unified under a monarchy – The Persians were made subject to the Medes – Medes joins the Babylonians in attacking the Assyrians – King Cyaxares of Medes establishes the first Median empire Source:

3 The Persian Empire 539-331 B.C. Cyrus the Great (559-530 B.C.) – Under Cyrus the Great the Persians absorbed Medes then the Lydian kingdom ruled by Croesus. – By 550 B.C. Cyrus had established Persian control over the Media – In 547 B.C. Cyrus defeats the Lydian kingdom in western Asia minor the story goes that Croesus consulted the Delphic Oracle who predicted that a Lydian attack would destroy a great army. Unknowingly it was Croesus’ army that was destroyed… – Cyrus then conquers the Greek city states of the Ionian coast of western Asia minor – Conquers Babylon in 539 B.C. – From 538 to 530 B.C. fortified his empire. – In 530 B.C. was killed in battle

4 Persia: the greatest empire the world had ever seen Cyrus’ son Cambyses II conquered Egypt in 525 B.C. Egypt was the only kingdom in the near East not yet under Persian control Defeated the Egyptian army and captured the Pharaoh Egypt was made a province with Memphis its capital Cambyses II was made Pharaoh of Egypt in 525 B.C. The greatest empire the world had ever seen – The Persian Empire: from Greece to the Himalayas and from southern Russia to the Indian Ocean – At its height it consisted of 20 different provinces, each ruled by a governor – The Persians allowed subjugated people to retain their own customs, laws and religion. – Conquered by Alexander the Great in 331 B.C.

5 Cyrus the Great Cyrus: – 600-530 B.C., Ruled 559-530 B.C. – Conquered Media in 549 B.C. – Conquered Lydia and then the Neo Babylonian empire in 539 B.C. – Conquered the Greek inhabited region of Ionia in 547 B.C. – The Achaemenid Empire… – Allowed the peoples he conquered to manage themselves and maintain their culture/customs so long as they paid taxes – Persians called him ‘father’; a ruler who was gentle – Was killed in battle before he could conquer Egypt Source:

6 Darius the Great Darius I, also known as Darius the Great – Lived 550-486 B.C. – Ruled from 521-486 – Codified Egyptian law & built a canal linking the Red Sea to the Mediterranean – Led invasions into Egypt, the Indus Valley and Greece – Began a conflict with Greece that lasted 150 years. – Wanted to Punish Athens for helping the Ionians revolt. In 498 B.C. the Athenians and Ionians burned the regional Persian capital Sardis to the ground – Invaded Greece in 492 B.C. – Defeated by Greece in the famous battle of Marathon in 490 B.C. Source:

7 Xerxes Xerxes: – Lived 519-465 B.C. & ruled 486-465 B.C. – Son of Darius the Great – In 480 B.C. invaded Greece in which the Persians captured Athens and burned the Acropolis. – The battle of Thermopylae: a small force of Greek warriors led by King Leonidas of Sparta resisted the much larger Persian forces, but were ultimately defeated… – The Persian naval fleet was crushed though at the battle of Salamis. – In 479 BC the Greeks won a decisive battle at Plataea, which assured Greek independence. – Xerxes was assassinated in 465 B.C. Source:

8 The Expansion of the Persian Empire from 559 B.C. to 525 B.C. Source:

9 The Expansion of the Persian Empire from Cyrus (530 B.C.) to Darius (500 B.C.) Source:

10 The Persian and Greek empires (560-490 B.C.) Source:

11 Map of the Persian Empire at the time of Xerxes (486-465 B.C.) Source:

12 The Royal Road The Royal Road: – a major Persian achievement was an elaborate network of imperial roads. – This was the best highway system prior to the Roman empire. – The Royal road extended 1600 miles from the Persian Gulf to Asia Minor – Connected Susa to Sardis – the king’s messengers could travel the entire Royal Road in a week.

13 The Royal Road

14 Zoroastrianism Zoroastrianism: – the Persian religion An ethical monotheistic religion which was originally a personal religion – No place for rituals, priests or temples – Emphasis on practical moral living – Dedicated to the realization of a just society – Looked forward to the coming of a savior who would resurrect the dead for judgment. – The righteous would pass to the House of Song and the wicked to the House of Lie

15 Zoraster Zoraster: – Born around 660 B.C. – The prophet, is said to have experienced revelations – The Zend Avesta is the sacred book – In it Zoraster declares Ahuramazda the creator and holy spirit Ahuramazda: – Creator of all life – Existed before the world was born – Gave humans free will and the power to choose between right and wrong – The good person chooses the right way of Ahuramazda – Possessed qualities that Persians should aspire to: good thought, rightness and piety Ahriman the Evil One – An evil twin of the holy spirit – All life is a contest between good and evil, truth and error, light and darkness – But the conflict between good and evil will end with Ahuramazda overcoming Ahriman – Judgment comes at the end of the world: the soul of a good person would achieve paradise & the soul of a bad person an abyss of torment

16 Zoroastrianism changes Over time Zoroastrianism changed. – Emphasis was placed on sacrifice, ritual and meditation. – Ishtar, the Mesopotamian fertility goddess returned to the pantheon where she joined Mithra, Persian god of light. – Became Polytheistic with Ahuramazda the chief of a number of Gods – Practiced still today in India…

17 Ahuramazda The investiture relief of Ardashir I (226-242 B.C.) Found in an ancient temple near the ancient Persian city of Persepolis Image of the founder of the Sassanid empire being handed the ring of kingship by Ahuramazda: Source: Image of Ahuramazda: Source:

18 Art from ancient Persia Persian Art: – The largest collection of metalwork is known as the Oxus treasure – 180 surviving pieces – Originally more than 1500 coins were found – Found by the Oxus river in 1877 – The metalwork dates between the 6 th and 4 th centuries B.C. – The British museum in London has nearly all the surviving metalwork Images: bracelet and gold metal chariot from the Oxus treasure Source of images:

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