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Classical Societies: Persia. Rise of the Persian Empire The empire of Persia arose in Iran around the 6 th century B.C.E. The Medes and the Persians migrated.

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Presentation on theme: "Classical Societies: Persia. Rise of the Persian Empire The empire of Persia arose in Iran around the 6 th century B.C.E. The Medes and the Persians migrated."— Presentation transcript:

1 Classical Societies: Persia

2 Rise of the Persian Empire The empire of Persia arose in Iran around the 6 th century B.C.E. The Medes and the Persians migrated from central Asia to Persia (SW Iran). For a time, they lived under Babylonian and Assyrian rule.

3 Rise of the Persian Empire The Medes and Persians spoke Indo-European languages. They were part of the larger Indo-European migrations. They shared many traits with distant cousins, the Aryans. They were mostly pastoralists. They were organized into clans rather than states.

4 Rise of the Persian Empire The Medes and Persians had considerable military power. They were expert equestrians like other steppe people. They were expert archers even on horses. They often raided the people of Mesopotamia.

5 Rise of the Persian Empire When the Assyrians and Babylonian empires weakened in the 6 th century B.C.E., the Medes and Persians launched their military campaign.

6 The Achaemenid Empire Cyrus the Achaemenid (558-530 B.C.E.) -from SW Iran -called Cyrus the Shepherd -Established first Persian Empire -Called Achaemenid after Cyrus clan. -king of the Persian tribe located in a mountain fortress near Pasargadae

7 Cyruss Persian Empire Cyrus the Achaemenid (558- 530 B.C.E.) -Initiated a rebellion against Median overlord -By 548 B.C.E., all of Iran was under his control. -He conquered Anatolia (modern-day Turkey), central Asia, and Bactria (modern day Afghanistan). -Within 20 years, his empire stretched from India to the border of Egypt.

8 The Achamenid Empire Cyruss son Cambyses conquered Egypt later and brought its wealth into Persian hands.

9 The Achaemenid Empire Darius the Great (521-486 B.C.E.) Built the largest empire the world had ever seen. He was known for being a great administrator. The Achaemenid Empire had more than 70 different ethnic groups. He established an empire that provided for communication throughout.

10 The Achaemenid Empire Darius the Great (521- 486 B.C.E.) Centralized administration Built capital at Persepolis near Pasargadae –Reception halls –Royal residences –Military quarters –treasury

11 Persepolis: Aerial View

12 Carving of Persian Soldiers at Persepolis

13 Ancient Texts at Persepolis

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15 Persepolis Persepolis was the administrative center and monument to the dynasty. Bustled with ministers, advisors, diplomats, scribes, accountants, translators and bureaucratic officers.

16 Political Structure of Dariuss Empire Balance between strong central power and local administration Governors were appointed to oversee various regions. Twenty-tree administrative and taxation districts governed by satraps Most satraps were Persian but local officials were recruited for some administrative posts.

17 Political Structure of Dariuss Empire Regulated tax levies by standardizing laws. Each satrapy had to pay a set quantity of silver to the imperial court. He standardized coins which encouraged trade. He did not interfere with local laws but he sometimes modified them to make the empire run more smoothly.

18 Persian Royal Road Construction began during the Achaemenid Empire. Parts were paved with stone. Stretched 1600 miles from Aegean Sea to Anatolia, through Mesopotamia to the capital of Persepolis in Iran. It took caravans 90 days to travel this road, lodging at inns along the well-policed route.

19 Persian Royal Road Courier service with 111 postal stations 25 to 30 miles apart on the Royal Road Each station had a supply of horses for couriers. This system facilitated trade with various regions.

20 Fall of the Achaemenid Empire Cyrus and Darius had policies of tolerance. They respected values and beliefs of the people they ruled. Dariuss successor, Xerxes (486- 465 B.C.E.), flaunted his Persian identity and imposed his values on conquered lands. This created ill will, especially in Mesopotamia and Egypt.

21 Fall of the Achaemenid Empire: The Persian Wars (500 – 479 B.C.E.) Ethnic Greeks in Ionian cities in Anatolia resented the Persian governors who oversaw their affairs. They rebelled, expelling or executing their governors. This rebellion launched a series of conflicts known as the Persian Wars.

22 Fall of the Achaemenid Empire: The Persian Wars (500 – 479 B.C.E.) For 150 years, the Persian empire sparred with the Greek cities. The Greek cities were too small and disunited to pose a serious threat to the Persian empire. The standoff ended with the rise of Alexander of Macedon or Alexander the Great.

23 Fall of the Achaemenid Empire: Alexander the Great In 334 B.C.E. Alexander invaded Persia with an experienced army of 48,000 Macedonians. The Macedonians were well- disciplined and carried heavier arms with more sophisticated military tactics. Alexander confiscated the wealth in the treasury at Persepolis, proclaimed himself heir to the Achaemenid rulers and burned the city.

24 Fall of the Achaemenid Empire After Alexanders death: His chief generals divided the empire into three large realms which they divided among themselves: The Seleucids The Parthians The Sasanids

25 The Seleucids The former Achaemenid empire went to Seleucus, a commander in Alexanders army. He retained the Achaemenid system of administration, taxation, imperial roads, and postal service. They founded new cities and attracted Greek colonists to occupy them.

26 The Seleucids The Seleucids had conflicts with native Persians, especially the ruling classes. The Satraps often revolted against Seleucid rule. The Seleucids lost their holdings in northern India. The semi-nomadic Parthians took over Iran during the third century B.C.E.

27 The Parthians Established strong empire in Iran and extended to Mesopotamia. Maintained many of the customs of the nomadic people from steppes of central Asia. Loosely organized into federation of leaders who met in councils. Skilled warriors.

28 The Parthians Improved grazing methods for horses which created stronger horses that could support soldiers with heavy armor. This development enabled them to fight off nomads from the steppes. The Parthians revolted against the Seleucids in the third century B.C.E. and by 155 B.C.E. had taken firm control of Iran to Mesopotamia.

29 The Parthians Followed example of the Achaemenids in running empire. Maintained elements of their own steppe traditions. Government not as centralized. Most authority rested in hands of clan leaders who often served as satraps who worked to build independent bases of power in their regions. For three centuries, Parthians presided over powerful empire between India and Mediterranean.

30 The Sasanids Claimed they were direct descendants of the Achaemenids. Conquered the Parthians in 224 C.E. and ruled until 651 reinstating much of the splendor of the Achaemenid empire. Rebuilt strong system of administration. Refurbished numerous cities. Merchants traded actively with people from east to west. Introduced rice, sugarcane, citrus fruits, eggplant, and cotton. Created buffer states between themselves and Roman empire.

31 Persian Classical Society In the early days of the Achaemenid empire, Persian society reflected its origins on the steppes of central Asia. Family and clan relationships were extremely important in political and social affairs. Male warriors were the head of the clans. The development of a cosmopolitan empire complicated this structure.

32 Persian Classical Society Imperial administration called for a new class of educated bureaucrats. This undermined old warrior elite. Persian cities were home to administrators, tax collectors, record keepers, translators, and high ranking officials. Bureaucrats shared power with warriors and clan leaders.

33 Persian Classical Society Clan Leaders and Bureaucrats Free Classes Artisans Craftsman Merchants Priests and Priestesses Low ranking civil servants Slaves

34 Technological Developments of Persian Society Qanat – underground canals allowed cultivators to distribute water to fields without losing large quantities to evaporation through exposure to the sun and open air. Elaborate qanat system was maintained by slaves and laborers in the countryside.

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36 Economic Developments of Persian Society Agriculture was the foundation. Resources from Mesopotamia, Egypt, Anatolia and northern India helped Persia prosper. Barley and wheat were the most commonly cultivated crops. Peas, lentils, garlic, onions, pomegranates, pears, and apricots supplemented the cereals in diets. Beer and wine were the most common beverage.

37 Economic Developments of Persian Society Long-distance trade grew rapidly. Standardized of coins Availability of good trade routes. Newly constructed highways such as the Persian Royal Road. Sea routes through the Red Sea, Persian Gulf, and Arabian Sea Cities like Babylon were home to banks.

38 Trade in Persia From India: gold, ivory, aromatics From Iran and Central Asia: lapis lazuli, turquoise and other stones From Mesopotamia: textiles, mirrors and jewelry From Anatolia: gold, silver, iron, copper and tin From Arabia: spices and aromatics From Egypt: grain, linen textiles, papyrus writing materials, gold, ebony, ivory From Greece: oil, wine, and ceramics

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40 Early Persian Religion Celebrated natural elements and geographical features, i.e. the sun, the moon, the water, and especially fire. Recognized many of the same gods as the Aryans Priests performed sacrifices similar to those conducted by the brahmins in India. Used hallucinogenic agent called haoma in the same way Aryans used soma

41 Zoroastrianism Attempt to address moral questions in a cosmopolitan world. Zarathustra, priest from aristocratic family, left family at 20 yeas of age to seek wisdom. He experienced visions and became convinced that the supreme god had chosen him as a prophet to spread message.

42 The Gathas Originally transmitted orally by priests or magi. During Seleucid dynasty, magi began to preserve in writing. Hymns composed in honor of the various deities. Treatises on moral themes.

43 Zoroastrian Teachings Not strict monotheists Recognized a supreme deity and creator of all good things. Spoke of six lesser deities. Explored battle between good and evil, as well as judgment, reward, punishment, heavenly paradise, demons, and place of pain and suffering. Encouraged enjoyment of earthly pleasures in moderation.

44 Zoroastrian Attracted large numbers during 6 th century B.C.E. Popular with Persian aristocrats and ruling elites. Wealthy supported the building of temples. Large priesthood emerged and taught Zoroastrian values through oral transmission. Darius and other emperors closely associated themselves with Ahura Mazda, the Zoroastrian deity. Darius did not suppress other religious practices, however.

45 Zoroastrian Attracted large numbers during 6 th century B.C.E. Popular with Persian aristocrats and ruling elites. Wealthy supported the building of temples. Large priesthood emerged and taught Zoroastrian values through oral transmission. Darius and other emperors closely associated themselves with Ahura Mazda, the Zoroastrian deity. Darius did not suppress other religious practices, however.


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