- Slides: 10
The Persian Empire
Rise of the Persian Empire � Persian expansion leads to empire under Cyrus (r. 558 -529 BCE) and successors that control Middle East � Stretched from Egypt to India, encompassed 3550 million people (very diverse!)
Preconditions �Empire began in modern day Iran �Two main groups in the area: Medes and Persians �Persian king, Cyrus II, began to build up his power; united with Babylonians & defeated the Medes in 550 BCE �Formed a united empire – Achaemenid Dynasty �Persian conquests quickly reached from Egypt to India
Methods of Expansion & Rule �Used combination of dominance and hegemony Kings = absolute monarchs, crushed any rebellion BUT, allowed former “kings” to maintain control & respected non-Persian cultural traditions
Imperial Administration �Satraps – Persian governors in each of the empire’s 23 provinces �System of imperial spies serve as “eyes and ears of the King” �Persian bureaucracy serves as model for future regimes Administrators, tax collectors, record keepers, translators, etc.
Height of the Empire � Wealthy! Standardized system of coinage Early version of “Suez Canal”, and “Royal Road” facilitated trade and � communication Predictable taxes levied on each province Built elaborate capital, Persepolis; reflected immense wealth and power
Decline of the Persian Empire �Overexpansion! �Clashes with Greece! �Eventually defeated by Alexander the Great (c. 330 BCE)
Persian Empire Activity �Form a small reading group (no more than 4) �Read the provided selection from Herodotus, “On the Customs of the Persians” �Discuss and take notes on Herodotus’s descriptions of Persian customs �Use the provided note taking guide
Be ready to discuss… �Does Herodotus’s account strike you as being fair and free from bias? Point to examples from the text to support your position. What kind of problem may arise for historians and students of history when primary sources are scarce?
Your Homework �Read pages 134 -139 in chapter 5 of your textbook �Read the provided overview of the Persian Empire and its key leaders Cyrus II (the Great) Cambyses (Hot Mess) Darius (Sketchy rise to power but pretty capable) Xerxes (Nail in coffin) �Prepare your responses to the discussion questions and be ready for a fishbowl during our next class!