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Persia Unites Many Lands. Synopsis: The Persian Empire ruled with tolerance and wise government. Tolerance and wise government are characteristics of the most successful methods of rule. The Rise of Persia.

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persia unites many lands

Persia Unites Many Lands

Synopsis: The Persian Empire ruled with tolerance and wise government. Tolerance and wise government are characteristics of the most successful methods of rule.

the rise of persia
The Rise of Persia
  • Persia, a new power, arose east of Mesopotamia, in modern Iran. The area had good farmland.
The Persians joined with other forces to help defeat the Assyrians. About 550 B.C., the Persians began their own conquests.
Their king was Cyrus, and excellent general. His troops rode swift ponies and used short bows that could be fired quickly.
Cyrus was a great warrior.Heled his army to conquer a huge empire. It stretched from the Indus Valley in India all the way through Mesopotamia to Turkey.

Cyrus did not follow the examples of the Assyrians. The Assyrians had destroyed towns and cities.

Cyrus, however, made sure that his army did not harm the people he conquered. Heallowed the people to practice their old religions, too.
persian rule and religion
Persian Rule and Religion

Cyrus died in 530 B.C. The kings who followed him had to decide how to run the vast new empire.


The Battle of Pelusiumin525 B.C.E., was the first major battle between the Persian (Achaemenid) Empire, and Egypt. The Persians won decisively and Cambyses II was able to take the throne of Egypt.


The Egyptians were unwilling to strike the Persians during the battle, because the Persians were carrying shields with the image of Bastet on it. They also threw cats at the Egyptians.


529–522 BC

  • Cambyses executed the Egyptian Pharaoh after he tried to lead a rebellion against him.

As the Pharaoh over Egypt, Cambyses decided to lessen the taxes that the people had to pay to the priests. He told them that they would no longer have to give as much of their livestock for sacrifices.


Cambyses killed the Apis bull. This was a manifestation of the god Ptah and therefore a sacred animal.


Cambyses could be very cruel to those who he felt were corrupt. When he found out that a judge, Sisamnes, had accepted a bribe, he decided to make an example out of him.


Judgment of Cambyses

Cambyses would have the judge arrested and punished. The punishment was far from ordinary.


“King Cambyses slit his throat and flayed off all his skin, and he strung the chair on which Sisamnes had used to sit to deliver his verdicts with these thongs.”

  • From: Herodotus, The Histories V.25 (translation by Robert Waterfield (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 312).

To replace Judge Sisamnes whom he had killed and flayed, Cambyses appointed Sisamnes’s son, Otanes, as the new judge.



Cambyses would continue to have trouble with the Egyptian priests. He decided to send 50,000 soldiers from Thebes to attack the Oasis of Siwa and destroy the oracle at the Temple of Amun.


At some point during their march, the mighty Persian army was said to have been overcome by a sandstorm in the Egyptian desert.

The next king, Darius, proved as able as Cyrus, Darius put down several revolts.
  • He won more land for the empire and created a government for the empire.
Darius divided the land into 20 provinces, each holding a certain group to practice its own religion, speak its own language, and obey many of its own laws.
He also putroyal governors– (satraps) – in place to make sure that the people obeyed his laws.
  • The king had inspectors check on the satraps, they were called eyes and ears.
Darius built theRoyal Road to unite his large empire.
  • This excellent road system ran 1,677 miles.
Royal messengers on horses could travel this distance in about seven days. The Royal Road made communication better within the empire. Transportation became easier too.
Dariusalso hadmetal coinsmade that could be used for business anywhere in the empire. He copied this idea from the Lydians that lived in Turkey (Anatolia).The coins had a standard value.
During the PersianEmpire, a new religion arose in Southwest Asia.
  • AprophetnamedZoroastersaid there were two powerful gods.
One stood for truth (Ahura Mazda) and light. The other represented evil (Ariman) and darkness. Paradise awaited those who followed truth and light, and punishment for those who chose darkness. This was determined by a day of Judgement. Zoroaster wrote down these ideas in a book called the Avesta.
The two gods were in a constant struggle. People needed to choose truth and light to enter paradise.