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THE PERSIANS THE HEIGHT OF SOUTHWEST ASIA’S CLASSICAL SOCIETIES.

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Presentation on theme: "THE PERSIANS THE HEIGHT OF SOUTHWEST ASIA’S CLASSICAL SOCIETIES."— Presentation transcript:

1 THE PERSIANS THE HEIGHT OF SOUTHWEST ASIA’S CLASSICAL SOCIETIES

2 THE ACHAEMENID EMPIRE Persians and Medes are Iranians, related to Indo-Europeans Persians and Medes are Iranians, related to Indo-Europeans The Medes The Medes –Migrated from central Asia to Persia before 1000 B.C.E. –Indo-European speakers, sharing cultural traits with the Aryans –Persians were one of the tribes of Medes Cyrus the Great (reigned B.C.E.) Cyrus the Great (reigned B.C.E.) –A tough, wily leader, military strategist –Became the king of the Persians in 558 B.C.E., all Medes in 548 BCE –Conquered Lydia, Chaldean Empires –Established vast empire stretching from India to Mediterranean –Viewed favorably in the Old Testament: allowed Jews to return home Cambyses, son of Cyrus (re B.C.E.) Cambyses, son of Cyrus (re B.C.E.) –Conquered Egypt in 525 Darius (re B.C.E.) Darius (re B.C.E.) –A young kinsman of Cyrus –Built the largest empire in world history: conquered Indus Valley –Ruled more than 70 ethnic groups –Built new capital at Persepolis, 520 B.C.E.

3 ADMINISTRATION Divided the empire into 23 satrapies Divided the empire into 23 satrapies –Satraps (governors)  Appointed by the central government  Local officials were drawn from local peoples  Local policies included self-government, toleration –Satraps' power  Represent Emperor, maintain defense, collect taxes  Checked by military officers and "imperial spies“  Checked by Zoroastrianism, codes of honor, fear of Emperor Replaced irregular tribute payments with formal taxes Replaced irregular tribute payments with formal taxes Military: largest in history until Romans, Chinese Military: largest in history until Romans, Chinese –Common levies from each province –Persian cavalry; Persian Immortals: elite shock troops –Mercenaries included Greeks Standardization of coins and laws Standardization of coins and laws Communication systems Communication systems –Persian Royal Road links Susa (Asia Minor, Lydia to Susa, in Persia) –Postal stations with postal relay riders

4 THE PERSIAN EMPIRE

5 PERSEPOLIS

6 THE WARS WITH GREECE The Persian Wars ( B.C.E.) The Persian Wars ( B.C.E.) –Ionian Greeks rebelled –Greek free city states sent aid to rebels –Persian rulers put down rebellion Darius invaded Greece to punish Greeks Darius invaded Greece to punish Greeks –Won battle of Thermopolyae –Did not live long enough to finish job Xerxes (reigned B.C.E.) Xerxes (reigned B.C.E.) –Retreated from the policy of cultural toleration –Caused ill will and rebellions among subject peoples –Lost both land and sea battles to Greeks  Battles of Marathon  Battle of Salamis

7 ALEXANDER AND HIS HEIRS Alexander of Macedon Alexander of Macedon –Invaded Persia in 334 B.C.E. –Battle of Gaugamela, ended Achaemenid empire, 331 B.C.E. –Alexander burned the city of Persepolis, conquered whole empire The Diadoche The Diadoche –Successor states to Alexander –Divided his empire between them The Seleucids The Seleucids –Inherited the largest part of the former Achaemenid empire –Retained the Achaemenid system of administration –Met opposition from native Persians –Lost control over northern India and Iran

8 SUCCESSORS TO PERSIA The Parthians The Parthians –Overthrew Selecuids in 238 BCE  Based in Iran, extended to Mesopotamia  Retained some traditions of nomadic people  Formidable power of Parthian heavy cavalry because of alfalfa diet of horses  Established a mighty empire through East SW Asia by conquests –Portrayed themselves as restorers of the Persian tradition  Followed the example of the Achaemenids in administration  Clan leaders as satraps: potential threats for central government –Opposed expanding Roman empire, 1st century C.E. –Internal rebellion brought it down in the early 3rd century C.E. The Sasanids The Sasanids –From Persia, claimed direct descent from the Achaemenids –Toppled the Parthians in 224 C.E., new capital at Ctesiphon –Government stronger, better organized, more absolute than Parthian –Traded throughout Arabia, SW Asia, Indian Ocean, Central Asia –Devout Zoroastrians much opposed to early spread of Christianity –Battled the Kushan Empire in the east –Battled the Roman and Byzantine empires in the west, 3rd century C.E. –In 651 C.E., the empire conquered by Arabs

9 IMPERIAL SOCIETY, ECONOMY Social Development in Classical Persia Social Development in Classical Persia –Nomadic character of early Persian society  Similar to the Aryans in India  Importance of family and clan relationships –Imperial bureaucrats  Needed educated bureaucrats  Shared power with warriors and clan leaders –Free classes  In the city: artisans, craftsmen, merchants, civil servants  In the countryside: peasants - building underground canals (qanat)  Slaves in both cities and countryside Economic Foundations of Classical Persia Economic Foundations of Classical Persia –Agriculture was the economic foundation  Main crops: Barley and wheat  Supplemental crops: peas, lentils, mustard, garlic, onions, cucumber  Large agricultural surplus –Trade  Commercial zone from India to Egypt  Political stability promoted growth of trade  Standardized coins (Gold Darics were first in world), good trade routes  Specialization of production in different regions

10 PERSIAN RELIGION Zarathustra and his faith Zarathustra and his faith –Earliest Persian religion resembled that of the Aryans –Zoroastrianism, emerged from teachings of Zarathustra The Gathas The Gathas –Zoroastrian teachings, transmitted orally, many perished –Preserved later in writing, by magi –Compilation of the holy scriptures, Zend Avesta, under Sasanid dynasty –Zarathustra's own writing survived, known as Gathas Zoroastrian teachings Zoroastrian teachings –Ahura Mazda as a supreme deity, with six lesser deities –Cosmic conflict between Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu (Ahriman, Shaitan) –Heavenly paradise and hellish realm as reward and punishment –The material world as a blessing –Moral formula: good words, good thoughts, good deeds Popularity of Zoroastrianism Popularity of Zoroastrianism –Attracted Persian aristocrats and ruling elites –Darius regarded Ahura Mazda as supreme God –The faith was most popular in Iran –Sizable followings in Mesopotamia, Anatolia, Egypt, and other regions

11 RELIGIONS OF SALVATION Zoroastrian community suffered during Alexander's invasion Zoroastrian community suffered during Alexander's invasion Zoroastrianism was the official religion during Sasanid rule Zoroastrianism was the official religion during Sasanid rule The Zoroastrians' difficulties The Zoroastrians' difficulties –Extreme rivalries with Christianity (Orthodox, Monophysites) –Arabs conquered Sasanid empire, seventh century C.E. –Some Zoroastrians fled to India –Remaining Zoroastrians converted to Islam –Few faithful Zoroastrians still exist in modern day Iran Other faiths: Buddhism, Christianity, and Manichaeism Other faiths: Buddhism, Christianity, and Manichaeism Influence of Zoroastrians Influence of Zoroastrians –Influence on Jewish religion: belief in future reward and punishment –Influence on Christianity: concepts of heaven and hell –Later influenced Islam; one of Muhammad’s protected faiths


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