Achaemenid Empire Timeline

Achaemenid Empire Timeline

  • c. 7200 BCE

    Elamite community of Chogha Bonut established.

  • 4395 BCE

    City of Susa founded in region of ancient Persia.

  • c. 3000 BCE

    Aryan tribes of Indo-Iranians migrate to the region, among them are Persians.

  • c. 1500 BCE - c. 1000 BCE

    Development of the religion of Zoroastrianism in region of ancient Persia.

  • c. 1000 BCE

    Scythians migrate from Persia into the Asian steppes.

  • 850 BCE

    Medes migrate into Iran from Asia.

  • 750 BCE

    Persians migrate into Iran from Asia.

  • 727 BCE - 675 BCE

    Medes unite during the reign of their king Dayukku (aka Deioces).

  • 675 BCE - 640 BCE

    Persians settle in Persis during the reign of their king Thiepes.

  • 628 BCE - 551 BCE

    Life of Zoroaster, according to Pahlavi sources.

  • 553 BCE

    Cyrus the Great successfully rebels against the Medes and establishes the Achaemenid Empire of Persia.

  • c. 550 BCE

    Cyrus the Great of Persia founds the Achaemenid Empire.

  • c. 550 BCE - 330 BCE

    The Persian Achaemenid Empire reigns over Central Asia, Mesopotamia, Anatolia, and Egypt.

  • 547 BCE

    Phrygia becomes a Satrapy of the Persian empire.

  • 547 BCE

    Anatolia conquered by the Persians. Ephesos remains neutral.

  • 546 BCE

    The Persians occupy Cyprus, being invited by Cypriot leaders.

  • 539 BCE

    Fall of Babylon, conquered by Cyrus of Persia. Return of the Jews.

  • c. 539 BCE

    Cyrus the Great conquers Babylon; the Fertile Crescent is controlled by the Achaemenid Empire (The First Persian Empire).

  • 530 BCE

    Persia conquers the Indus Valley.

  • 530 BCE - 522 BCE

  • 525 BCE - 404 BCE

    Persia conquers Egypt.

  • 522 BCE

    Darius I (Darius the Great) succeeds to the throne of Persia after the death of Cambyses II.

  • 522 BCE

    The Persian satrapy of Armenia briefly cedes from the Achaemenid Empire but is brought under control by Darius I.

  • 520 BCE

    Darius I of Persia fights the Scythians (not very successfully).

  • c. 520 BCE - c. 325 CE

    Achaemenid rule in the Gandhara region.

  • c. 515 BCE

    Darius I moves the capital of Persia from Pasargadae to Persepolis.

  • c. 513 BCE - c. 512 BCE

    Darius I of Persia campaigns against Scythians into European Scythia, past the Danube River, Scythians refuse to fight and Darius is forced to abandon the campaign due to lack of provisions.

  • 499 BCE - 494 BCE

    Ionian cities rebel against Persian rule.

  • c. 499 BCE

    Naxos is attacked by Darius' Persian forces.

  • c. 498 BCE

    Ionians and Greek allies invade and burn Sardis (capital of Lydia).

  • 492 BCE

    Darius I of Persia invades Greece.

  • 490 BCE

    Naxos is attacked for a second time by Persian forces.

  • 490 BCE

    Rhodes comes under Persian rule.

  • 11 Sep 490 BCE

    A combined force of Greek hoplites defeat the Persians at Marathon.

  • 486 BCE

    Xerxes succeeds to the throne of Persia after the death of Darius I.

  • 485 BCE

    Babylon is destroyed by Xerxes, King of Persia.

  • 485 BCE - 465 BCE

    Reign of Xerxes I (the Great) of Persia.

  • 480 BCE

    Sack of Athens by the Persians under Xerxes. The Agora is destroyed.

  • 480 BCE

    Persian forces attack the sanctuary of Delphi.

  • 480 BCE

    Persians destroy the sanctuary at Sounion.

  • Jul 480 BCE

    Xerxes I makes extensive preparations to invade mainland Greece by building depots, canals and a boat bridge across the Hellespont.

  • Aug 480 BCE

    Battle of Thermopylae. 300 Spartans under King Leonidas and other Greek allies hold back the Persians led by Xerxes I for three days but are defeated.

  • Aug 480 BCE

    The indecisive battle of Artemision between the Greek and Persian fleets of Xerxes I. The Greeks withdraw to Salamis.

  • Sep 480 BCE

    Battle of Salamis where the Greek naval fleet led by Themistocles defeats the invading armada of Xerxes I of Persia.

  • 479 BCE

    Xerxes' Persian forces are defeated by Greek forces at Plataea effectively ending Persia's imperial ambitions in Greece.

  • 478 BCE

    Sparta withdraws from alliance against Persia.

  • c. 478 BCE

    Xerxes I builds the Gate of All Nations, the Hall of 100 Columns and the grand Palace of Xerxes.

  • c. 449 BCE

    Ionian cities become independent from Persia under the Peace of Callias.

  • c. 449 BCE

    Peace is agreed on by Athens and Persia, sometimes referred to as the Peace of Callias.

  • 412 BCE

    Sparta allies with Persia.

  • 401 BCE

    Retreat from Persia of Xenophon and the ten thousand mercenaries.

  • c. 380 BCE - 330 BCE

    Life of Darius III of Persia.

  • 341 BCE

    The Persians complete conquest of Egypt.

  • c. 336 BCE

    Artaxerxes III builds the Hall of 32 Columns, the Palace of Artaxerxes and the Unfinished Gate.

  • May 334 BCE

    Alexander invades the Persian empire.

  • 5 Nov 333 BCE

    Battle of Issus. Alexander is victorious against Darius III of Persia.

  • 331 BCE

    Egypt is conquered by Alexander the Great without resistance.

  • 1 Oct 331 BCE

    Battle of Gaugamela. Alexander calls himself "King of Asia."

  • 330 BCE

    Death of Darius III and end of the Achaemenid Empire of Persia.

  • 330 BCE

  • May 330 BCE

    Persepolis is burned and looted by Alexander the Great.

  • Jan 329 BCE - May 327 BCE

    Alexander conquers Bactria and Sogdiana.

  • 312 BCE - 63 BCE

  • 247 BCE - 224 CE

    Empire of the Parthians.

  • 247 BCE - 224 BCE

    Parthia replaces the Seleucid Empire.

  • 63 BCE

    The Roman general Pompey defeats the Seleucid Antiochus XIII and incorporates Syria as a province of the Roman empire.

  • 224 CE

    Zoroastrianism becomes Persian state religion under the Sassanian Empire.

  • 224 CE

    Sasanians overthrow the Parthians.

  • 224 CE - 651 CE

  • 240 CE - 270 CE

    Reign of Shapur I, who first brought the Sassanian empire to its peak.

  • 260 CE

    Shapur I captures the Roman emperor Valerian at Edessa.

  • 607 CE - 627 CE

  • 651 CE

    Sassanian Empire conquered during the Muslim Arab invasion of the 7th century CE.

History of Uzbekistan

The Uzbek ethnic group proved to be one of the oldest on our planet. The distinctive culture of Uzbekistan has begun to develop at the dawn of civilizations and has undergone significant changes over millennia.

The territory of Uzbekistan is located in the centre of the Central Asia between the two rivers Syr Darya and Amu Darya. Unsurprisingly, an oasis in the middle of the desert has always attracted the brave and ambitious merchants, warriors, adventurers and travelers.

The Achaemenid Empire (the First Persian Empire) prospered here in the VI-IV centuries BC. The Empire dissolved, when Alexander the Great had invaded the territory. The Hellenistic era began. At that time, trade began to develop, large cities began to grow, and the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom began to rule.

In the middle of the 2nd century BC the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom collapsed and a new part of history set in. The nomadic Kushan tribe founded the Kushan state. At this time, trade, movement of people and interethnic communication began to develop.

Due to the advantageous territorial location of cities, the route of the Great Silk Road passed through the territory of modern Uzbekistan. Large trade cities such as Andijan, Kokand, Rishtan, Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, and Tashkent appeared and grew along this route.

Then such countries as the Parthian Empire, Kangju, the Hephthalites Empire, and the Turkic Khaganate prospered and developed here. In the VII century AD the Arabs conquered the territory. The territory began to be called Mawarannahr.

In the XII century, Genghis Khan conquered this territory and founded the Chagatai ulus here. However, the heyday of this territory began in the XIV century, when Amir Temur came to power. Samarkand became the capital of the state, economic and cultural centre. After Samarkand was conquered by the nomadic tribes Dasht-I-Kipchak. The new state of the Shaybanids dynasty was founded. From the VI century and to the middle of the XIX century the Khiva, Kokand khanates and the Bukhara Emirate ruled on this territory.

After of the invasion of the Russian Empire in the 60s of the XIX century, the Governor-General of Turkestan was founded here. In 1924, Uzbekistan became the Soviet Republic. During the soviet period, there was a massive migration of various nationalities from numerous republics. On August 31, 1991, Uzbekistan gained its independence. The republic became a member of the UN, a democratic form of government and a market economy began to develop.

Due to its rich history, the movement of a large number of different nationalities across the territory, Uzbekistan combining eastern and western civilizations became a country with a rich culture and interethnic harmony.

Ancient Sumer: 10 Major Facts about the Cradle of Human Civilization

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Fortification of the empire

Having restored internal order in the empire, Darius undertook a number of campaigns for the purpose of strengthening his frontiers and checking the incursions of nomadic tribes. In 519 bc he attacked the Scythians east of the Caspian Sea and a few years later conquered the Indus Valley. In 513, after subduing eastern Thrace and the Getae, he crossed the Danube River into European Scythia, but the Scythian nomads devastated the country as they retreated from him, and he was forced, for lack of supplies, to abandon the campaign. The satraps of Asia Minor completed the subjugation of Thrace, secured the submission of Macedonia, and captured the Aegean islands of Lemnos and Imbros. Thus, the approaches to Greece were in Persian hands, as was control of the Black Sea grain trade through the straits, the latter being of major importance to the Greek economy. The conquest of Greece was a logical step to protect Persian rule over the Greeks of Asia Minor from interference by their European kinsmen. According to Herodotus, Darius, before the Scythian campaign, had sent ships to explore the Greek coasts, but he took no military action until 499 bc , when Athens and Eretria supported an Ionian revolt against Persian rule. After the suppression of this rebellion, Mardonius, Darius’ son-in-law, was given charge of an expedition against Athens and Eretria, but the loss of his fleet in a storm off Mount Athos (492 bc ) forced him to abandon the operation. In 490 bc another force under Datis, a Mede, destroyed Eretria and enslaved its inhabitants but was defeated by the Athenians at Marathon. Preparations for a third expedition were delayed by an insurrection in Egypt, and Darius died in 486 bc before they were completed.

Ancient Persia. A Concise History of the Achaemenid Empire, 550–330 BCE

Literature on the Achaemenid Persian Empire has flourished in the last half century and continues to gather pace in a way that almost echoes the rapid expansion of the Empire itself. Much of the most recent material consists of specialist papers in edited conference volumes, which while valuable can be difficult for beginners to penetrate and for teachers to use as class set texts. 1 J.M. Cook’s 1983 The Persian Empire (London) is out of date and while Pierre Briant’s 1996 Histoire de l’Empire perse (Paris) remains essential, it is more encyclopaedic than introductory. Newer books by Lindsay Allen, Maria Brosius, Joseph Wiesehöfer and Amélie Kuhrt are more wieldy and all good, but cover slightly different ground: Allen’s is a highly readable overview, strong on art and archaeology and especially on the historiography and Greek representations of Persia. Brosius’ and Wiesehöfer’s books cover more abbreviated parts of and extend beyond the Achaemenid period, and Kuhrt’s collects essential textual sources with important commentary. 2

Matt Waters’s book should now be the first stop for those wanting an introduction to the Achaemenids and the study of them. It is a traditional history handbook, a chronological political narrative punctuated with social themes, but a thoroughly enjoyable one: well written and stimulating, the chapters pull the reader along through the book, and while concise it is packed with information and satisfyingly detailed, lucid discussions. A few typos aside, the copy is clean and well-illustrated with images and good maps. 3 It shares with the books mentioned above the approach of the ‘New Achaemenid History’, wherein biases in the preponderance of Greek literary sources are made explicit and balanced with the different quality of information available from Near Eastern sources. 4 Waters’s book is a great success in these terms. The author displays equal control over the Greek and the myriad of non-Greek sources, which range from trilingual monumental royal inscriptions, clay tablets, Babylonian chronicles and the Bible to inscriptions and private letters from Egypt. From these he deftly weaves the story of this first Persian Empire, from their origins in the early Iron Age groups of Iran through to the take over of their vast territory by Alexander the Great, integrating into it the character of the sources.

A particular strength is Waters’s expertise in the pre- and early Achaemenid periods, situating the rise of the Achaemenids within a rich, if obscure history of kingdoms in western Iran, particularly the Elamites. The Achaemenid trajectory is thereby portrayed as both grounded and extraordinary. The book will make a good companion to handbooks on archaic and classical Greek history as it covers the activities of the Greeks in Asia Minor and the Eastern Mediterranean from a Persian perspective. Of course not everything can be covered in a concise history Waters is strong on texts, briefer on (although not inattentive to) the archaeology. The only real deficiency, though, is the limited secondary references. The endnotes contain a wealth of valuable references, but they are few in number and can feel arbitrary (e.g. a note for discussion of ‘Medizing’, p. 122, but not for debates about army estimates, p. 121). An overburden of endnotes might be deemed undesirable for an introductory handbook, but the selectivity here limits readers’ ability to pursue scholarly debates flagged by the author.

The book is split into twelve succinct chapters of roughly 15–20 pages each. The front matter includes explanation of textual sources, and relevant volumes and internet sites through which they can be consulted (xv–xvii). After a brief sketch of geography and terminology (‘Persian’, for instance), Chapter 1 further characterizes the Near Eastern and Greek textual sources, with an excursus on issues surrounding use of the latter. Chapter 2 follows with discussion of Early Iron Age Iran, including the migration of Iranian-language speakers into the area and the major powers: Elam, Assyria, Babylonia and various Anatolian kingdoms. The Medes, whose empire the Persians subjugated according to Herodotus, get their own sub-section. Here marriage of story and sources is not as crisp as elsewhere, some details skimmed over. For instance, it is only at the end that one learns about Babylonian and Biblical traditions of the Medes as a major power. Explanation of how these compare with the scarce Assyrian allusions to them as a collection of fortress-based, dynast-led groups rather than an empire (a la Herodotus) would be helpful.

Any fears that skimming may be a consistent feature of such a concise book are quickly vanquished through the following chapters. Chapter 3 deals with the emergence of Cyrus and the early Empire. This is a particularly obscure area, but Waters’s expertise in the Near Eastern sources allows him to balance Greek tradition with what can be understood of the Iranian context, flagging areas such as the role of Anshan in Elam and the importance of hostage princes at Assyrian courts for knowledge transfer. Chapter 4 covers the death of Cyrus, the reign of Cambyses, the extensive problems surrounding his death and the accession of Darius I, with much discussion of Darius’ Bisitun Inscriptions and Herodotus. 5 Waters shows Near Eastern precedents for the rhetorical formulas employed at Bisitun and proposes that later adjustments to add Darius’ Scythian campaign may have been felt so important because this was the (general) region in which Cyrus died in battle.

The next four chapters (5 through 8) alternate the reigns of Darius and Xerxes with social institutions: first Darius’ triumphs over rebellions, his rhetoric (Bisitun again) and campaigns next the ‘mechanics’ of empire (the court, administration, payment of tribute, satrapies, army and roads) then the accession of Xerxes through to his invasion of Greece and following that the ‘anatomy’ of empire (capitals, ideology, religion). ‘Court’ gives welcome consideration to gender (women and eunuchs), but discussion of court and capitals could have been brought together in the same chapter for a more holistic discussion of urbanism and the architecture of court, both material and social. Limited space means some skimming here too: one would like a bit more detail on the remains of some of the capitals (Susa, for instance). 6 Concerning the economy, Waters explains how clay accounts tablets from Persepolis are helping to clarify this, but the lack of resolution in understanding payment systems in the western satrapies and how coinage relates to this could be flagged more strongly. Such issues do not disturb the overall achievement of the book, however. The structure allows the author to introduce themes then picked up in subsequent chapters in a way that conveys diachronic development. Religion, for instance, is considered further in the royal inscriptions of a number of rulers, where new gods are introduced. The initial discussion of Achaemenid religion handles the primary issue of whether it can be called ‘Zoroastrian’, with specific attention to Zoroaster, as well as the contradictions in sources about whether the Achaemenids were laissez-faire about allowing worship of other gods. One matter that might be considered further, and aside from the Zoroastrian question, is the conceptualisation of Ahuramazda.

The next three chapters, 9 through 11, run through the reigns of the subsequent seven Achaemenid Kings, who ruled from the 460s to the 330s BC: Artaxerxes I, Xerxes II and Darius II (Ochus) (Chapter 9) Artaxerxes II (Arses) and Artaxerxes III (Ochus) (Chapter 10) and Artaxerxes IV and Darius III (Chapter 11). Court intrigues surrounding accession were a popular subject in Greek literature, and Waters weighs these judiciously against Near Eastern evidence. Of the numerous things covered in these chapters, the traditions surrounding various rebellions through the empire are examined perspicaciously, including ongoing affairs in the northwest of the Empire, the Aegean and Mediterranean. Waters offers lucid, critical discussion of such issues as the Peace of Kallias, the Persian role in the Peloponnesian War and continuing fourth century conflicts of the Greeks, who frequently appealed to the rulers of Western Anatolia for alliances and aid. Chapter 11 ends with the rise of Macedonia and Alexander’s conquest of the Achaemenid Empire. He places Alexander’s incursions into Asia in the context of Philip’s campaigns in Hellespontine Phrygia, a region with close connections to Thrace and Macedonia. Here, as with the earlier Greco-Persian wars, Waters highlights New Achaemenid History’s revisions of old-fashioned, Hellenocentric ideas of Persian impetuousness and weakness. For instance, Darius’ retaliation following the Ionian Revolt fits well into Near Eastern traditions of punishing recalcitrant subjects, already made abundantly clear at Bisitun (Waters reminds us that an Athenian embassy had at one point given earth and water to the King). Xerxes’ larger campaign implies he was set on expansion, which also fits traditional Near Eastern ideologies of a ruler’s duties. In the fourth century BC, what seem like constant rebellions attested in Greek sources are not necessarily an indication of an empire in decline, but a more or less continuous feature of such a large empire. Hence, Alexander’s conquest was down to continued military successes rather than because the Empire was on the brink of collapse. At the end of Chapter 11 and in a short epilogue (Chapter 12), Waters also makes clear the difficulties Alexander faced in stepping into the role of the King as a peripheral foreigner.

The book closes with four appendices: a useful reference timeline a chronological list of Kings a genealogical chart of the Kings and further readings. As noted earlier, endnotes are limited. The further reading list is also select, with readings listed under general headings rather than according to the book’s chapter and section headings, which would be a more useful reference tool. This aside, this book is a strong synthesis, which will be instrumental in disseminating the gains of the last decades of Achaemenid studies to a broad readership and in encouraging scholarship that transcends the traditional disciplinary boundaries of Classics and Ancient Near Eastern studies. It is not only useful, but a model of engaging scholarly writing, and a good read.

1. Many are referenced either in the further reading or endnotes. Some from the last five years that are not: Lanfranchi, G.B. and Rollinger, R. (eds) 2010: Concepts of Kingship in Antiquity: Proceedings of the European Science Foundation Exploratory Workshop held in Padova, November 28th–December 1st, 2007 (Padova) Summerer, L., von Kienlin, A., and Ivantchik, A. (eds) 2011: Kelainai–Apameia Kibotos: Stadtentwicklung im anatolischen Kontext. Akten des Kolloquiums, München 2 April–4 April 2009 (Bordeaux), BMCR 2012.05.45 Ro, J.U. (ed.), 2012: From Judah to Judea: Socio-economic Structures and Processes in the Persian Period (Sheffield) Rollinger, R. and Schnegg, K. (eds) 2014: Kulturkontakte in antiken Welten: vom Denkmodell zum Fallbeispiel. Proceedings des internationalen Kolloquiums aus Anlass des 60. Geburtstages von Christoph Ulf, Innsbruck, 26. bis 30. Januar 2009 (Leuven) Frevel, C., Pyschny, K., and Cornelius, I. (eds) 2014: A ‘Religious Revolution’ in Yehûd? The Material Culture of the Persian Period as a Test Case (Fribourg).

2. Allen, L. 2005: The Persian Empire: A History (London) Brosius, M. 2000: The Persian Empire from Cyrus II to Artaxerxes I (London) Brosius, M. 2006: The Persians: An Introduction (London), BMCR 2007.10.10 Wiesehöfer, J. 2001: Ancient Persia: from 550 BC to 650 AD, 2nd English ed., trans. by A. Azodi (London) (=1993: Das antike Persien von 550 v. Chr. bis 650 n. Chr. [Zürich]) Kuhrt, A.I. 2007: The Persian Empire: A Corpus of Sources from the Achaemenid Period, (London).

3. For 487/86 on p. 165 read 387/86. In further reading list, p. 227, Ruzcka should be Ruzicka (see BMCR 2013.03.21).

4. For recent overviews, more explicit on postcolonial approaches: Colburn, H.P. 2011: ‘Orientalism, Postcolonialism, and the Achaemenid Empire: Meditations on Bruce Lincoln’s Religion, Empire, and Torture’. Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 54, 87–103 McCaskie, T.C. 2012: ‘“As on a Darkling Plain”: Practitioners, Publics, Propagandists, and Ancient Historiography’. Comparative Studies in Society and History 54, 145–73.

5. J.M. Balcer’s 1987 Herodotus and Bisitun: Problems in Ancient Persian Historiography (Stuttgart) is not referenced.

6. More detail in Allen (see n. 2, above). Now on Susa Perrot, J. 2013: The Palace of Darius at Susa: The Great Royal Residence of Achaemenid Persia (London). ​

Persian Empire

Persian Empire, also known as the Achaemenid Empire, was one of the most important civilizations of the history who ruled between 6th and 4th centuries BC. It was the successor state of the Median Empire and founded by Cyrus the Great around 550 BC. The official language of the empire was Aramaic, and their capital cities were Persepolis, Susa, Pasargadae, and Ecbatana. The empire was divided into several satrapies, forming a successful model for centralized administration who worked to the profit of all its people.

Besides capturing Babylonia, Phoenicia and Armenia, Persians expanded their empire towards west to Hellas and entered in Asia Minor around 546 BC when Cyrus defeated the Lydian king Croesus in Sardis, the capital of Lydia. After this victory, Persians ruled in Asia Minor for about 200 years until the arrival of Alexander the Great around 334 BC. During their rule, Asia Minor was divided into small states and a satrap was appointed to each of these states. These satraps were rappresentatives of the Persian king and they ruled their states with tollerance and benevolence , collected taxes, built the infrastructure, and so on. Persians had two important satrapy centers in Asia Minor: Sardis in Lydia and Daskyleion in the southeast of Manyas lake.

Persians built the "Great Royal Road", which was connecting East to the West. The road started from Ephesus, passed through Sardis, then from Gordion and Ankara, over Kizilirmak river and from Cappadocia to Cilicia, passing from Euphrates and Tigris rivers, and finally from Assyria to Susa, the capital of Persia. The voyage took about 3 months. There were places to overnight along the route and also several post stations. At each post station horses and postmen have changed so they could pass the message from one station to the other one.

After capturing Sardis and the rest of Anatolia, Persians advanced towards Hellas and destroyed Athens, but they lost the naval battle of Salamis in 480 BC and the Platea war in 479 BC so they had to retreat back to Asia Minor again.

Finally, Alexander the Great crossed Dardanelles in 334 BC and defeated Darius III, putting an end to the Persian Empire.

Some of the Important Persian Kings

Cyrus the Great: Also known as Cyrus II or Keyhusrev the Great. He defeated the Median king Astyages around 550 BC and made it the capital of the new Persian Empire under the Achaemenid Empire, and united two separate Persian states, reigning between 550 - 530 BC. In 546 BC he defeated Lydian king Croesus and captured western Anatolia, including smaller Greek city-states in Asia Minor. In 539 BC he captured Babylonia and Palestine, controlling a great part of the Middle East. He created the first Declaration of Human Rights in the history (around 538 BC) which was known as the "Cyrus Cylinder". The Cyrus Cylinder is a 23 centimeters long and 11 centimeters wide cylinder made of clay. It was written in Accadian cuneiform writing with more than 40 lines, where the king mentions about the rights and freedom of Babillonian slaves, about his victories and merciful laws, and his royal ancestors. The cylinder was discovered in 1879 in the modern-day Iraq and is on display at the British Museum in London. A copy of this cylinder is at the United Nations headquarters in New York, USA.

Darius the Great: Known as Darius I, he was the third Achaemenian King and reigned between 521 - 486 BC. He extended his empire in all directions, from Indus valley in the east to Thrace and Macedonia to the west, and towards Saka tribes in the north, becoming one of the greatest powers in the world of his times. He also centralized administration of his empire, made legal reforms, issued code of laws, developed juridical systems, favored cultural and artistic activity and so on.

Xerxes the Great: Known as Xerxes I, the son of Darius I the Great. He ruled between 486 - 465 BC. In 484 BC his army crossed Hellespont from Asia to Europe on a pontoon bridge made of wooden boats during his campagin against Greeks. Herodotus mentiones that he had over two million soldiers in his army with at least 10,000 elite warriors who were called as the "Immortal Band".

Cyrus the Great

This is what remains of the splendid capital city of Pasargadae (and the palace) of the reign of Cyrus the Great photo credit OnTheOtherSide

Cyrus the Great (c. 600 - 530 bce) was the real creator of the Ancient Persian Empire (Achaemenid dynasty). An extremely powerful leader. Cyrus was a great conqueror and led his armies in a series of campaigns over the years against the Medes, Lydia and Babylon, creating an empire that spanned the Near East and that has been considered the first "world" empire, spanning a distance of almost two thousand miles.

Cyrus was known as generous to those he conquered, as well as very tolerant. He showed respect for the religious beliefs of others, even those he had conquered. Rather than completely destroying the political structure of the lands he conquered, and rebuilding them from the ground up, he would leave intact their basic framework of government, their institutions and their customs. One of his main goals in conquering other nations was to bring peace to mankind.

His philosophy is evident from the writings on the Cyrus cylinder, which has been called the first Human Rights Charter by some scholars. The cylinder contains a decree/manifesto promulgated by Cyrus in 539 bce upon the Persian conquest of Babylon. You will evaluate for yourself the main features of the decree, but it is clear that the Cyrus decree had very practical implications for establishing Persian control of the newly-conquered Babylonian territory.

Ancient Persia

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  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Online publication date: June 2014
  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online ISBN: 9780511841880
  • DOI:
  • Subjects: Ancient History, Classical Studies

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Book description

The Achaemenid Persian Empire, at its greatest territorial extent under Darius I (r.522–486 BCE), held sway over territory stretching from the Indus River Valley to southeastern Europe and from the western Himalayas to northeast Africa. In this book, Matt Waters gives a detailed historical overview of the Achaemenid period while considering the manifold interpretive problems historians face in constructing and understanding its history. This book offers a Persian perspective even when relying on Greek textual sources and archaeological evidence. Waters situates the story of the Achaemenid Persians in the context of their predecessors in the mid-first millennium BCE and through their successors after the Macedonian conquest, constructing a compelling narrative of how the empire retained its vitality for more than two hundred years (c.550–330 BCE) and left a massive imprint on Middle Eastern as well as Greek and European history.


'An invaluable new resource for students of the Classical and Near Eastern worlds. Unparalleled in its clear and concise discussion, Ancient Persia draws on rich textual, visual, and archaeological sources to convey a cogent overview of the systems, places, and people who made up the Persian Empire. This tour-de-force is a must-have for scholars and the interested public alike.'

Elspeth Dusinberre - University of Colorado, Boulder

'Attractively written, concise, and even-handed, this compact presentation fills a notable gap in the available literature. It will find a warm welcome from students and others who wish to familiarize themselves with a key period in the history of ancient Iran.'

David Stronach - University of California, Berkeley

'Matt Waters’ book should now be the first stop for those wanting an introduction to the Achaemenids and the study of them. It is a traditional history handbook, a chronological political narrative punctuated with social themes, but a thoroughly enjoyable one: well written and stimulating, the chapters pull the reader along through the book, and while concise it is packed with information and satisfyingly detailed, lucid discussions … this book is a strong synthesis, which will be instrumental in disseminating the gains of the last decades of Achaemenid studies to a broad readership and in encouraging scholarship that transcends the traditional disciplinary boundaries of Classics and Ancient Near Eastern studies. It is not only useful, but a model of engaging scholarly writing, and a good read.'

Source: Bryn Mawr Classical Review

'Concise but never superficial, this monograph is destined to become essential reading for anyone interested in ancient Persia … Well written, documented, and illustrated.'

'Ancient Persia offers a well-written and clear introduction to the Achaemenid Empire by one of the leading contemporary historians of the empire. It is a welcome addition to the growing number of resources for this important era, and it will be of great service to lecturers and students.'

Source: Review of Biblical Literature

'With its concise narrative, its basic examinations of aspects of Achaemenid military and administrative practices, ideology, and religion, its sustained effort to locate these in an expansive Near Eastern context, its very clear and detailed maps, and its numerous illustrations, Waters’ book provides the best introduction to the history of the Achaemenid Empire.'

Stephen Ruzicka Source: Ancient History Bulletin

'Ancient Persia is, in the best sense of the word, a handbook Waters’s notes, bibliographical references, and suggestions for further reading hit the right notes and the right works for beginners. … Welcome aids include a full timeline, numerous in-text figures and illustrations, as well as a detailed stemma of the Achaemenid dynasty.'

Achaemenid Empire Timeline - History

Excluding any reference to business enterprises, when we talk about an empire we allude to a monarch, the emperor, or an oligarchy (from the Greek oligarkhia, which roughly translates as “few in command”) consolidating a group of states under his or her or their rule. For you to have an empire you must have political and military control over different communities with different cultures and ethnicities.

Next there is a list of the biggest empires the world has seen. Longevity and extent was taken into account:

There were four Islamic caliphates and this was the second. In charge of the Umayyad dynasty from Mecca, this empire covered approximately fifteen million square kilometers (the biggest up to this point in universal history). It was established after the death of Muhammad in 632.

8. Achaemenid Empire (Persian Empire)

Cyrus “the great” created the Persian Empire (550 – 330 BC) unifying the entirety of Central Asia. It was the largest empire in ancient history, it is said that around 480 BC 44% of the world’s population lived in the Persian Empire.

Cyrus’ tomb in Iran bares the inscription:

“O man, whoever thou art, from wheresoever thou cometh, for I know you shall come, I am Cyrus, who founded the empire of the Persians.

Grudge me not, therefore, this little earth that covers my body”

The surviving part of the Roman Empire during the middle ages. It lasted over a thousand years after the western part of the Roman Empire collapsed in 476 AD. The Ottoman Empire attacked Constantinople in 1453 (to the left) and the Byzantine Empire tumbled. During its lifetime the empire generated an important tradition of art and literature among many other influences for today’s culture.

The Han Dynasty is seen as a golden period in Chinese history and the term “Han people” comes from this era, as opposed to “Ch’in people” which is the English term derived from the previous dynasty (the Qin Dynasty). (Emperor Guangwu on the right)

The British empire came to control over a quarter of the earth’s land area and a quarter of the earth’s entire population.

The sentence “the empire on which the sun never sets” was mainly used for the Spanish Empire and the British Empire

It is important to note that the influence of the Holy Roman Empire remains strong to the present day in European history.

“The largest contiguous empire in world’s history”

During the period 6000 BC and 2000 BC, late Neolithic culture and the start of the Bronze Age was taking shape in the Indus Valley of Ancient India.

The Neolithic era Edit

About 7000 years before, by 5100 BC, early Neolithic culture had developed in ancient Pakistan. People had learned farming. They tended goats, lived in houses build of mud, and had learned to make baskets. Potteries were also made.

  • 7000 BC Agricultural and farming started in Baluchistan, N.W.F.P. and Punjab areas
  • 2600 BC Indus river Valley Civilisation started in Kot Diji, Mohenjo-daro and Harappa areas.
  • 1700 BC Indus river Valley Civilisation ended as Aryans the rough cattle breeders invaded their cities. Aryans followed strict caste system which later became Hinduism. They wrote the first Hindu scripture as "Rig Veda" Book.
  • 600 BC People get frustrated by Hinduism's caste system, as Buddha son of a Kashatriya king started to preach equality among the humans which was accepted by people of Northern sub-continent. Gandhara became major power in the region, with its city "Pushkalavati" (present Charsada) and "Taxila" center of civilisation and culture.

Persian and Greek invasion Edit

Around the 5th century BC, north-western parts of India faced invasion by the Achaemenid Empire and the Greeks of Alexander's army. Persian way of thinking, administration and lifestyle came to India. This influence became bigger during the Mauryan dynasty.

Achaemenid Empire Edit

From around 520 BC, Achaemenid Empire’s Darius I ruled large part of northwestern parts of the Indian subcontinent. Then Alexander conquered these areas. Herodotus, a historian of that time has written that these areas were the richest areas of Alexander’s Empire. Achaemenid rule lasted about 186 years. In modern times, there are still traces of this Greek heritage to be found in parts of northwestern India.

Greco-Buddhist period Edit

Greco-Buddhism (also spelt as Græco-Buddhism) is a combination of culture of Greece and Buddhism. This mixture of cultures continued to develop for 800 long years, from 4th century BC until the 5th century AD. The area where it happened is modern day’s Afghanistan and Pakistan. This mixture of cultures influenced Mahayana Buddhism and spread of Buddhism to China, Korea, Japan and Tibet.

  • 327 BC Alexander the Great invaded sub-continent through Khyber Pass.
  • 323 BC Alexander the Great died in Iraq.
  • 321 BC Chandragubta Maurya member of royal family of Magadha captured Punjab and formed Mauryan Empire.
  • 297 BC Chandragubta Maurya succeeded in adding Deccan to Mauryan Empire with the help of his son Bindusara. After Bindusara, his son Ashoka ruled Mauryan Empire with great compassionately, and he spread Buddhism throughout sub-continent by building Buddhist monasteries and stupas.
  • 195 BC Demetrius the great king of Bactria conquered Kabul river Valley. He rebuild Taxila and Pushkalavati (present Charsada) as capitals of Gandhara
  • 75 BC Scythians the Persian nomads from central Asia followed Demetrius to capture sub-continent.
  • 53 BC Parthians defeated Greeks and ruled northern Pakistan, They promoted art and religion and Gandhara school of art developed.
  • 64 AD The kushana king, Kujula rular of nomad tribes from central Asia overthrew Parthians and took over Gandhara. The Kushans further extended their rule from Bay of Bengal to Bahawalpur, and up to Kashgar the Chinese frontier. They made Purushapura city of flowers (Peshawar) the capital.
  • 128 AD Kanishka greatest of Kushans rules. Jewelry, perfumes, spices, textiles, medicine trade with Romans flourished during his rule. Thousands of stupas and monasteries were build, and Gandhara school of art produced the best sculpture.
  • 151 AD Kanishka rule ended as he was killed during sleep.
  • 300 AD Kushan Empire was eroded by Sassanian from North, and Gupta Empire from South. Then Kushan Empire was reduced to a new dynasty of Kidar (Little) Kushans with Purushapura as capital and center.
  • 400 AD The White Hunes (horse-riding nomads from China) came from Central Asia, and invaded Gandhara. The sun and fire worshiping Hunes took the glory of school of art and Buddhism gradually disappeared from Northern Pakistan.
  • 565 AD Sassanians and Turksdefeated Hunes, and the area was mostly left for small Hindu kingdoms with the Turki Shahi rulars controlling the area. Buddhism declined as more people were converted into Brahman Hindus.
  • 870 AD Overthrowing Turki Shahis the central Asian Hindu Shahis established their rule. Their capital was Hund on Indus, and Kingdom extended from Jalalabad to Multan, and up to Northern Kashmir.
  • 1008 AD Hindu Shahis rule ended.

Arrival of Islam Edit

16th July 622 Hijri calendar is considered to be started as Muhammad migrated to Madina.

  • 712 AD Muhammad Bin Qasim arrived in Sindh through Daibal.
  • 1097 AD Shaikh Ab-al-NajibSuhrawardi founder of Suhrawardi Order born
  • 1162 AD Shaikh Ab-al-Najib Suhrawardi died
  • 1182 AD Sheikh Baha-ud-din Zakariya of Multan who introduced Suhrawardi order into Muslim India born.
  • 1191-92 AD Muhammad Ghauri defeated Prithvi Raj Chauhan at the battles of Taraori.
  • 1194 AD After the second battle Muhammad Ghauri returned to Ghazni.
  • 1238 AD Sheikh Nizamuddin Auliya who was appointed Khalifa by Baba Farid of Chishtiya order born
  • 1206 AD Qutbuddin Aibak took controlof the Sub-Continent after the death of Muizuddin Muhammad Ghauri, and laid the foundations of Sultanate of Delhi, first Islamic Empire of sub-continent. The Ilbari (or slaves from Turkish origin.) were the first ruling dynasty of Sultanate of Delhi.
  • 1217 AD Shamsuddin Iltumish was real founder of Sultanate as he defeated his rivals, and saved his kingdom from Mongol invasions in 1217 AD.
  • 1265 AD Ghiasuddin Balban of Turkish nobles seized the throne after invasions from Mongols in Northern Punjab in 1230.
  • 1267-68 AD Sheikh Baha-ud-din Zakariya died
  • 1286 AD Ilbari dynasty ended as Ghiasuddin Balban died, who dealt severely with Turkish nobility and gave a centralized system of administration.
  • 1290 AD Khaljis were the second dynasty of Sultanate of Delhi, also of Turkish origin, took control.
  • 1320 AD The third dynasty of Sultanate of Delhi, Tughluqs also Turkish, came.
  • 1325 AD Sheikh Nizamuddin Auliya died
  • 1414 AD Saiyads, fourth dynasty of Sultanate of Delhi came.
  • 1451 AD The Lodihs of Afghan origin ruled sub-continent as fifth dynasty of Sultanate of Delhi.
  • 1526 AD The Lodhis were defeated by Zahiruddin Babur at the battle of Panipat in April 1526, this was the beginning of Mughal Empire.

16 March 1527 Kanwaha battle took place between forces of Babur and Rana Songa of Mewar, a Rajput prince. Babur forces defeated Rajput in this decisive battle.

  • 1528 AD Babur captures Chanderi from Rajput chief Medini Rao.
  • 1529 AD Babur forces continued by defeating Afghan chiefs under Mahmud Lodhi at the battle of Ghagra in Bihar state.
  • 26 December 1530 Zaheeruddin Babur died at Agra.
  • 1530 AD Humayun eldest son of Babur took control of Mughal Empire.
  • 1540 AD Sher Shah Suri defeated Mughals in the battles of Chausa and Kanauj, and for nearly 15 years, Mughal king Humayun had to stay in exile. This was a setback to the great Mughal Empire by Sher Shah Suri.
  • 1545 AD Sher Shah Suri died. Hasan Shah Sur his son continued the Suri dynasty after his death.
  • 1555 AD Humayun regain the power.
  • 1556 AD The real foundations of great Mughal Empire were laid by Akbar after the death of Humayun this year. Akbar was only 13 years old at that time but thanks to his guardian Bairam Khan who helped him to established great Mughal Empire through series of conquests, and area of Mughal Empire increased.

26 June 1564 Sheikh Ahmad was born who joined Naqshbandya Silsilah under the decipline of Khawaja Baqi Billah. He gave the philosophy of Wahdat-ul Wujud and Wahdat-ush Shuhud in his dedication to Islam.

  • 1572 AD Akbar conquired Gujrat and renamed it Fatehpur. He build Jamia Masjid with impressive gateway of red stone known as Buland Darwaza in this new capital.
  • 1581 AD Akbar introduced Din-i-Ilahi, which gave a great threat to Islam at that time.
  • 1583 AD British arrived in Sub-continent for the first time as traders which Queen Elizabeth sent in ship Tygar to exploit opportunities of trade with sub-continent.
  • 1605 AD Jehangir's reign began after Akbar. Jehangir was Akbar's son and his original name was Salim. During his reign, Mughal Rule reached its climax through transition between two grand phases of architecture, phase of Akbar and the phase of his son Shah Jehan. The major feature of this period of Mughal architecture was that of substitution of red stone with white marble and great gardens including Shalimar Garden in Lahore and numerous other gardens around sub-continent. Mughal painting also reached its peak during Jehangir's reign which lost much of its glamour after his death.
  • 1614 AD British East India Company opened its first office in Bombay.
  • 1628 AD After Jehangir's death, his son Khurram took the name of Shah Jehan and further extended his Empire to Kandahar and conquered much of southern India, it was during Shah Jehan's reign when Mughal Empire was in its golden period. The Mughal architecture moved farther in this period and major feature was white marble, this include Dewan-e-Aam in Agra, Moti Masjid, Shish Mahal and Dewan-e-Khas in Lahore Fort.
  • 1631 AD The exquisite concept of mausoleum of Shah Jehan's wife Arjumand Banu Begum, Taj Mahal was started.
  • 1653 AD One of the wonders of World, Taj Mahal was completed showing all the glory of Mughal architecture.
  • 1658 AD Auranzeb Alamgir's reign started after death of Shah Jehan. The largest mosque in the world of its time, Badshahi Mosque was a great achievement during Aurangzeb's reign. Despite this Aurangzeb gave many grants to Hindus by appointing them in commanding positions in government and allowing them to restore temples. Mughal Empire start declining after this period.

21 February 1703 Shah Wali Ullah son of Shah Abdul Rehman born

  • 1707 AD Aurangzeb's death, and Mughal Empire started declining. Although Bahadur Shah Zafar son of Auranzeb took control, Marahattas power increased and they became invincible ruler of Deccan. In Punjab, Sikh power under Guru Gowind Singh also became a force. These power centers continually increased until 1857. Shah Wali Ullah reform movement also started at that time, which lasted until 1762 AD.
  • 1738-39 AD The weakening of Mughal Empire invited Nadir Shah a Persian king. Afghans of Rohilkhand and Jats became other threats to Mughal Empire.
  • 1757 AD East India Company became deeply enmeshed with politics of India, and after the battle of Plassey this year British begane the systematic conquest of sub-continent.
  • 1830 AD Haji Shariatullah started Faraizi Movement in East Bengal.
  • 1835 AD English was declared as official language of sub-continent by British.
  • 1840 AD Haji Shariatullah of Faraizi Movement died. His son Muhammad Mohsin known as Dadhu Mian made this movement stronger after his death.
  • 1845 AD British Empire grown from Bengal to Sindh, excluding Punjab which was ruled by Sikhs.
  • 1848 AD After the second Sikh War, British took control of Punjab and Indus Valley.
  • 1857, November 1st AD Pakistan becomes part of the foreign coloinal imperialistic romanic empire of British India as part of British Raj.
  • 1860 AD Muhammad Mohsin (Dadhu Mian) died.

Indus Valley civilization Edit

The Indus Valley Civilization flourished from about 2600 BCE to 1900 BCE. It marked the beginning of the urban civilization on the subcontinent. It was centred on the Indus River and its tributaries, which is in present-day Pakistan. It is thought that a gradual deforestation caused by geological disturbances and climate change caused the fall of the civilization.

The civilization is famous for its cities that were built of brick, had a road-side drainage system and multi-storied houses.