Persia Dynasty - Middle East History for AP World History
Persia 500BCE – 500 AD
Major Accomplishments: United China, increased size of Great Wall
The Q'in Dynasty is important because it is the first dynasty to unite multiple parts of geographic China into one coherant nation.
The Persian Empire Begins
The Persian dynasty was established in 550 BC by Cyrus the Great in Western Asia and it ended in 336 BC. The Persians Empire started out not very big and grew to over 8 million square kilometers, the biggest empire the world had seen at the time. It spanned from the Indus River Valley to the northeast border of Greece and down to Egypt and included about 50 million people or about 44% of the world’s population lived within the borders of the great Persian Empire. The Empire was located below the Black and Caspian Sea, above Africa, above the Arabian Sea, and along the top of the Arabian Peninsula in the Middle East.
With such a large and vast empire the Persians needed a way to get from one side of the empire to the other. The Persians had an extensive road system called the Persian Royal Road. With such a great road system and the biggest empire of the time, Persia had a very vast culture. It ranged from the Egyptian cultures to some European culture and even to the Indian Culture. They also established a spoken language across their empire.
Persia began when Cyrus the Great united two original tribes, the Medes and the Persians. First, Cyrus founded a government for his newly found empire which incorporated both Median and Persian officials. He had done this to rebel against his grandfather, who was the Mede King, and he did this because he didn’t appreciate his grandfather or the way he ruled his empire. The result of this was the Persian Empire that Cyrus had made with the joining of the two Iranian tribes. He greatly expanded the empire and conquered many empires. Cyrus the Great was very liked among the people because he tolerated different cultures and religions. His son, Cambyses II, conquered Egypt and Babylon. Later, Darius the Great fought hard against Greece and almost conquered them but failed. This eventually led to their decline. The decline started when Alexander the Great conquered Persia. It caused chaos across the empire and after his death the empire was split and could no longer flourish.
Persian Empire Economy and Infrastructure
The Persian Empire was the largest empire of the time and contained almost half of the world’s population within its borders and had an extensive road system. When Cyrus the great conquered the Median empire he expanded the empire vastly. He conquered Asia Minor and Egypt. He created the largest empire of the time. The empire contained 44% of the known world population at the time. At one time 50 million people lived in the Persian Empire. It was a huge empire. With such a large empire they needed a road system. Darius the Great reorganized and rebuilt the old Persian roads and created the Persian Royal Road. It helped him rapidly communicate with all parts of the empire. The Persian couriers could travel 1,677 miles in a week. The economy Darius had created involved silver and gold coins, and it was very sustainable and heavily regulated. He had also made a very strict tax system which was different for each layer of the caste system. Cyrus had started the Government and tax systems but Darius had added onto them and evolved them. Also, the trade was very extensive and it was very efficient. The Persians expected their commoners to pay taxes along with providing goods for trade. At first the Persians thought traders were traders and liars and they were greedy, and that is the conquered people who mainly traded.
The Persian alphabet consisted of 32 letters that were derived from 18 shapes and it was written from right to left. The Persians mostly wrote on Cuneiform scripts and those principles form the basis of the modern western European alphabet. Which the Persians did not just make up their own alphabet, they incorporated a couple of different alphabets including the Arabian alphabet. There is a depiction of a Persian King sitting on a chariot and he is shooting arrows at lions. This piece of art proved to us that the Persians had the wheel. The Persians did not only have the wheel for transportation, but also a water wheel. They used this water wheel to raise the water from the Nile River. The water wheel greatly improved their agricultural output in certain regions. With wheels you need something to travel on. And thus became the roads that the wheels could travel on. The roads allowed Darius to communicate with some distant parts of the empire. The roads along with the wheels allowed for more efficient communication and travel.
Due to such a vast empire with so many people it had a vast culture ranging from Egyptian to Indian, they only required for you to speak their language, they didn't require worship of their own religion. Cyrus the Great was very tolerant of other cultures and religions. When Persia conquered Egypt and India they allowed them to worship the same Gods and practice their cultural practices. They were only required to speak the Persian language. This united the cultures and helped to keep the empire together. It also made it easier to communicate with all parts of the empire. The main religion of Persia was Zoroastrianism. Cyrus didn't make his people convert to Zoroastrianism but due to the vast amount of Zoroastrianism the religion spread very quickly. Most of Persia had the same religion but the government didn't require for the people to convert.
Persians and the Hebrew People
Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon and he let the Hebrews, who were held captive by the Babylonians, return to Jerusalem. Cyrus did it by conquering Babylon to find that the Babylonians were holding the Jews captive. Cyrus freed the Hebrews because he believed in the freedom to pick and choose you religion, and all religions were equal. After he sent them to Jerusalem they began to build their temple.
The End of the Great Persian Empire
Alexander III the Great put an end to the Persian dreams of expanding their own Empire and went through conquering the empire. After he conquered the Persians he became an inspiration to other conquerors such as Hannibal the Carthaginian. When he conquered the Persians, he occupied some Persian fleets with the intention to deprive them of contact from other cities. This was the end of the Persian Empire.