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Cyrus the Great

Darius I

Xerxes I

Remnants of the Persian Empire

Cyrus the Great

In the 6th century bc Cyrus the Great established the Persian Empire as the most powerful state in the world.

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Darius I

This stone carving depicts Darius I, right, also known as Darius the Great, and his son and successor Xerxes I. Darius I ruled the Persian Empire from 522 to 486 bc. He secured the outer borders of the empire and reformed its internal organization, built highways, encouraged commerce, and organized a postal system. Darius allowed freedom of worship among the many different ethnic groups contained within the empire’s vast borders, earning their respect and goodwill.

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THE BETTMANN ARCHIVE

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Xerxes I

Persian king Xerxes I inherited his throne after the death of his father Darius I. His ambitious plans to expand the Persian empire into Europe never materialized. The huge naval fleet he assembled for the invasion lost a decisive battle at the bay of Salamís in 480 bc, forcing Xerxes to retreat.

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Remnants of the Persian Empire

Persian king Cyrus the Great founded the Persian Empire in 550 bc. Its capital was Persepolis, which is located in the mountainous region of southwestern Iran. The high, dry climate has preserved much of the architecture, and archaeologists have uncovered and restored many of the ruins.

 

 

Ali Issari

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The Iranian plateau was settled about 1500 bc by Aryan tribes, the most important of which were the Medes, who occupied the northwestern portion, and the Persians, who emigrated from Parsua, a land west of Lake Urmia, into the southern region of the plateau, which they named Parsamash or Parsumash. The first prominent leader of the Persians was the warrior chief Hakhamanish, or Achaemenes, who lived about 681 bc. The Persians were dominated by the Medes until the accession to the Persian throne in 550 bc of Cyrus the Great. He overthrew the Median rulers, conquered the kingdom of Lydia in about 546 bc and that of Babylonia in 539 bc and established the Persian Empire as the preeminent power of the world. His son and successor, Cambyses II, extended the Persian realm even further by conquering the Egyptians in 525 bc. Darius I, who ascended the throne in 522 bc, pushed the Persian borders as far eastward as the Indus River, had a canal constructed from the Nile to the Red Sea, and reorganized the entire empire, earning the title Darius the Great. From 499 to 494 bc he engaged in crushing a revolt of the Ionian Greeks living under Persian rule in Asia, and then launched a punitive campaign against the European Greeks for supporting the rebels. His forces were disastrously defeated by the Greeks at the historic Battle of Marathon in 490 bc. Darius died while preparing a new expedition against the Greeks; his son and successor, Xerxes I, attempted to fulfill his plan but met defeat in the great sea engagement the Battle of Salamís in 480 bc and in two successive land battles in the following year

Persepolis, 480 BC

 

The forays of Xerxes were the last notable attempt at expansion of the Persian Empire. During the reign of Artaxerxes I, the second son of Xerxes, the Egyptians revolted, aided by the Greeks; although the revolt was finally suppressed in 446 bc, it signaled the first major assault against, and the beginning of the decline of, the Persian Empire

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