Persian empire

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The Persian Empire, in antiquity, was the largest geographical empire in its time, at its height stretching from India (at the Ganges and Mula, respectively) all the way into southern Europe and down to Egypt, primarily under Cyrus the Great. It had not known defeat until it was turned back in its efforts to conquer Ancient Greece. It had two capitals: Susa and Persepolis.


The Persian Empire came into being in 539 B.C. with the defeat of the Babylonian Empire and continued under other famous rulers such as Darius and Xerxes until it was conquered and largely absorbed by Alexander the Great in 330 B.C.


The Persian Empire and several of its rulers are discussed in the Bible in the books of Daniel and Esther. Roughly sixty years after the death of Alexander the Pontics, Medes, and Ionian Gallatians revolted and separated themselves from the Seleucid state. These peoples later amalgamated to form part of the Parthian Empire.

The later Persian Empire re-emerged in 226 A.D. and outlived the Western Roman Empire until it was overrun by invading forces from the area around today's Saudi Arabia.

for recent history see History of Iran

Further reading

  • Allen, Lindsay. The Persian Empire (2005)
  • Holland, Tom. Persian Fire: The First World Empire and the Battle for the West (2007) excerpt and text search
  • Kuhrt, Amélie. The Ancient Near East, vol. 2 (1995) ch. 13, excellent brief history of the era
  • Stierlin, Henri. Splendors of The Persian Empire (2006), art abd architecture