Persian Empire

The ancient Persian Empire was one of the kingdoms most recognized for its majestic and marvelous structures located in the desert, for its great wealth and for its perfect military skill; a place governed by kings who exercised great power and ambition, and who managed to conquer from North Africa to Asia. Immense and extraordinary advances were needed in the area of engineering, not only in the construction of its buildings, but also in the creation of roads, bridges and canals.

Persian Empire
  • Foundation: 550 B.C.
  • When it ended: 330 B.C.
  • Capital: Susa, Persepolis
  • Religion: Zoroastrianism
  • Government: Monarchy

What is the Persian Empire?

The Persian Empire were groups of different dynasties that inhabited a vast territory, where cultures were respected and who were responsible for governing Persia mainly during the Empire Achaemenid with Cyrus II the Great.


The Persian people is of Indo-European origin and was people subdued by the Medes, an Asian kingdom settled in the rivers of Mesopotamia and who could expand their territories thanks to King Cyrus II the Great, belonging to the Achaemenid dynasty, who also freed them from the Medes.

The Persians expanded their territories, thanks to King Cyrus II who helped them achieve independence from the Medes, who made the Persians their subordinates. The Persian forces went to Lydia and Ionia, conquering them; they attacked Babylon, and controlled Mesopotamia, Syria and Palestine, liberating, in the same way, the Israelites in captivity. They also conquered Egypt and had the support of the Greeks.

Philip II, King of Macedonia, planned to seize the Persian Empire, but died. However, his son, Alexander, took the throne and completed his father’s mission. He achieved Greek dominion over Mesopotamia, Palestine, and Egypt, and then dominated Iran and Central Asia, marking the end of the Empire.

Origin of Persian Empire

The origins of  Persian Empire date back to 2000 B.C. when the region was occupied by a series of pastoral peoples and farmers, known at that time as Medes and Persians. These Medes invaded the Iranian plateau and the Persians settled south-east of the Iranian plateau closest to the Persian Gulf.


The stages of the Persian Empire were:

Fall of the Persian Empire

The beginning of the end of the Persians came with the defeat in the Medical Wars, when they failed to face the Greek army, and a series of social and cultural factors that brought down the essence of the empire’s unification. After the governments of the last Persian emperors, Artaxerxes I and Darius II, central and peripheral politics gradually degraded. There were many intrigues and conspiracies between families in search of power and the provinces, they gradually lost the bond that united them.

In 330 B.C., Alexander the Great found disarticulated and chaotic regions that he could easily conquer. His passage to the East is the end point of an empire in which values such as tolerance and respect for other cultures played a decisive role in good governance.


The main characteristics of the Persian Empire were:


Its founder was Cyrus the Great, who after defeating the Medes, Lydians and Babylonians, extended his dominions all over the place. However, its real organizer was Darius, who managed to expand the borders with the definitive incorporation of Egypt.

Location of the Persian Empire

The Persians unified several peoples of the Fertile Crescent, and their borders stretched from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean. They inhabited the Iranian Plateau, east of Mesopotamia, a semi-arid region, with mineral-rich mountains, deserts and few fertile valleys, a dry climate, with large temperature fluctuations.


The Persian Empire was the largest the ancient world had ever seen, extending from Anatolia and Egypt through western Asia to northern India and central Asia. The Persian Empire expanded under the leadership of Cyrus the Great, who used a strategy of religious and cultural tolerance to maintain order.

Political and social organization of the Persian Empire

The society was formed by the king who was considered a god and lived in the capital, the royal family was quite extensive, and the king had a harem, so the monarchs had many children, there was the group of nobles who were the wealthiest families and were members of the court. Priests were a pillar within society and there were many temples. The soldiers were in charge of protecting the borders, the plebs were a class made up of peasants and artisans and the slaves who came from the wars, were property of the state and were small groups.


The kings of the Persian Empire were: Cyrus II, Cambyses II, Esmeridis, Gaumata, Darius I, Xerxes I, Artaxerxes I, Xerxes II, Sogdian, Darius II, Artaxerxes III, Artaxerxes IV, Darius III, Artaxerxes V. The kings of the Persian Empire were: Cyrus II, Cambyses II, Esmeridis, Gaumata, Darius I, Xerxes I, Artaxerxes I, Xerxes II, Sogdian, Darius II, Artaxerxes III, Artaxerxerxes IV, Darius III, Artaxerxerxes V.


It was based on agriculture, irrigating with water from the mountains, grazing and mineral extraction. They practiced a wide trade thanks to the creation of the coins, this coin was called Daric, and they were minted in gold which stimulated the internal and international trade.

Trade caravan routes passed through Iran from India and China to the Mediterranean Sea. Trade managed to give an important boost to the industry of luxury textiles, jewelry, mosaics and rugs and carpets.

Cultural events

Customs and traditions

They accepted foreign customs and for this reason they wore the Medes costume because they thought it was more distinguished and they also used Egyptian bibs for wars. They married several wives and had a higher number of concubines. They taught their children only to ride horses, shoot bows and tell the truth. They considered that lying was the greatest dishonor and contracting debts was shameful. People suffering from leprosy were considered impure for having committed a crime against the sun and if they were foreigners they were taken out of the country.

They had no temples or images of gods because for them they had no human nature. They made sacrifices and sang hymns to the gods. They celebrated their own birthdays, greeted each other with kisses on the mouth if they were of the same social class or on the cheek. Neither did they make funerals or burials because they considered that they soiled the earth for this reason they let the animals and vultures eat the bodies of the dead.


The religion of the Persian Empire came from sermons of the prophet Zoroaster, the Zoroastrianism. The sacred book of the Persian religion was known by the name of Avesta and focused on the existence of two spirits: one called Ahura-Mazda, which was the god that represented good, and Angra-Mainyu which represented evil.

They had concepts related to the final judgment in which the spirit of the dead was judged depending on what he had done in life and that would define his future in his new life after death.


The Persians fed mainly on bread, sesame oil, wine and fish. Their diet improved as time went by thanks to the defeated peoples, and they dedicated themselves to the cultivation of wheat, grapes, walnuts, rice, and so on. Meat was eaten by both the poor and the rich.


Perhaps the main contribution of the Persian Empire was the way in which they obtained their income and wealth. They made great inventions, banking systems and credits that were later put into practice by the Greeks and Romans. They left a system of weights and measures, irrigation systems and proper use of water, construction techniques and surveying, we inherited their algebra, geometry, chemistry and physics.

Capitals of the Persian Empire

The capitals of the Persian Empire that were used to rule were:

Importance of the Persian Empire

Thanks to the Persians, the most important empires in the world were created, such as the Roman Empire, the Greek Empire, etc. They inherited great discoveries such as the existence of underground water, invented wells that are even the same one used to extract oil, invented canals and left ideas of freedom and respect for other cultures.

Written by Gabriela Briceño V.

How to cite this article?

Briceño V., Gabriela. (2019). Persian Empire. Recovered on 23 February, 2024, de Euston96: https://www.euston96.com/en/persian-empire/

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