Achaemenid Empire

The Achaemenid Empire (/əˈkmənɪd/; Old Persian: 𐎧𐏁𐏂, romanized: Xšāça, lit. 'The Empire'[19] or 'The Kingdom'[20]), also called the First Persian Empire,[21] was an ancient Iranian empire based in Western Asia that was founded by Cyrus the Great in 550 BC. It reached its greatest extent under Xerxes I, who conquered most of northern and central ancient Greece. At its greatest territorial extent, the Achaemenid Empire stretched from the Balkans and Eastern Europe in the west to the Indus Valley in the east. The empire was larger than any previous empire in history, spanning a total of 5.5 million square kilometres (2.1 million square miles).[15][16]

Achaemenid Empire
𐎧𐏁𐏂
Xšāça
550 BC–330 BC
The Achaemenid Empire at its greatest territorial extent under the rule of Darius I (522 BC–486 BC)[6][7][8][9]
StatusEmpire
Capital
Common languages
Religion
GovernmentMonarchy
Kings[lower-alpha 2] or
King of Kings[lower-alpha 3]
 
 559–530 BC
Cyrus the Great
 530–522 BC
Cambyses II
 522–486 BC
Darius I
 486–465 BC
Xerxes I
 465–424 BC
Artaxerxes I
 424–424 BC
Xerxes II
 424–423 BC
Sogdianus
 423–405 BC
Darius II
 405–358 BC
Artaxerxes II
 358–338 BC
Artaxerxes III
 338–336 BC
Arses
 336–330 BC
Darius III
Historical eraClassical antiquity
550 BC
547 BC
539 BC
525 BC
499–449 BC
395–387 BC
343 BC
330 BC
Area
500 BC[15][16]5,500,000 km2 (2,100,000 sq mi)
Population
 500 BC[17]
17 million to 35 million
CurrencyDaric, siglos
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Median Empire
Neo-Babylonian Empire
Lydia
Twenty-sixth Dynasty of Egypt
Gandhara
Sogdia
Massagetae
Empire of Alexander the Great
Twenty-eighth Dynasty of Egypt

The empire had its beginnings in the 7th century BC, when the Persians settled in the southwestern portion of the Iranian Plateau, in the region of Persis.[22] From this region, Cyrus rose and defeated the Median Empire—of which he had previously been king—as well as Lydia and the Neo-Babylonian Empire, following which he formally established the Achaemenid Empire.

The Achaemenid Empire is known for imposing a successful model of centralized, bureaucratic administration via the use of satraps; its multicultural policy; building infrastructure, such as road systems and a postal system; the use of an official language across its territories; and the development of civil services, including its possession of a large, professional army. The empire's successes inspired the usage of similar systems in later empires.[23]

The Macedonian king Alexander the Great, himself an ardent admirer of Cyrus the Great,[24] conquered most of the Achaemenid Empire by 330 BC.[25] Upon Alexander's death, most of the former territory of the empire fell to the rule of the Hellenistic Ptolemaic Kingdom and Seleucid Empire after the partition of Alexander’s empire, until the Iranian elites of the central plateau finally reclaimed power under the Parthian Empire by the 2nd century BC.[22]


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