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Achaemenid Persian Empire Krzysztof Nawotka

Achaemenid Persian Empire Krzysztof Nawotka. Persian empire

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Page 1: Achaemenid Persian Empire Krzysztof Nawotka. Persian empire

Achaemenid Persian Empire

Krzysztof Nawotka

Page 2: Achaemenid Persian Empire Krzysztof Nawotka. Persian empire

Persian empire

Page 3: Achaemenid Persian Empire Krzysztof Nawotka. Persian empire
Page 4: Achaemenid Persian Empire Krzysztof Nawotka. Persian empire

Rise of Persia 1

• Indoeuropean Aryans formed in stepps to the north of Black Sea and Caspian Sea

• Ca. 2000 BC: conquest of India and Iran

• In Iran:

- nomadic and semi-nomadic society

- 3 classes: priests, warriors, producers (i.e. peasants)

- Clans, tribes and countries (dahyu)

Page 5: Achaemenid Persian Empire Krzysztof Nawotka. Persian empire

Rise of Persia 2

• Various Iranian states: Manna, Medes, Parsua (Zagros and Fars)

• Trade with Babylonia and Assyria (Great Khorasan Road: forrunner of Silk Road)

• From 9th c. BC Assyrian inroads in Zagros

• 7th-mid 6th c. BC Media

• 615-605 Kyaxares (Umakištar/ Huvaχštra) conquest of Assyria

Page 6: Achaemenid Persian Empire Krzysztof Nawotka. Persian empire

Cyrus II (the Great)

• Kurush king of Anshan (Elamite city in Zagros)

• Achaemenian dynasty: Hakhamanich (Achaemenes), Chishpish (Teispes), Kurush I, Kambujiya (Cambyses)

• Allied with Nabonidus of Babylon, defeated and conquered Media 550

• Conquered Lydia 546 (?) or after 539• Conquered Babylon 539

Page 7: Achaemenid Persian Empire Krzysztof Nawotka. Persian empire

Persian empire

• Cambyses II: conquered Egypt 525• Fiscal crisis, rebellion of Gaumata 522• Darius I (the Great):- Persian aristocrat, allegedly from collateral

branch of Achaemenians- Supported by Persian aristocracy and army of

Cyrus the Great- Reconquest of all provinces- Reorganization of empire

Page 8: Achaemenid Persian Empire Krzysztof Nawotka. Persian empire

Persian Empire under Darius I

Page 9: Achaemenid Persian Empire Krzysztof Nawotka. Persian empire

Persian empire (of Darius I the Great)

• First universal empire

• Area: from Thrace to Indus valey

• Population: 30-50 million

• Divided into ca. 26 satrapies

• Four capital cities: Persepolis, Susa, Ecbatana, Babylon

• Itinerant court: tradition of nomadic lifestyle, necessity to feed court and army

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Persia of Darius I: Susa palace

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Great King and his country 1

• Monarchy: Great King, King of Asia

• King: elaborate costume, strict ritual, seclusion

• POWs at Damascus (331 BC): 329 female musicians, 46 wreath makers, 277 cooks, 29 cooking specialists, 13 dairy specialists, 17 drinks specialists, 70 pourers of wine and 40 perfumers

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Great King and his country 2

• King’s banquets:- 1000 animals slaughtered every day- PF: food for 12,000 people• Luxury of King:- to Greeks: unmanly decadence- in fact: demonstration of King’s wealth,

happiness and grace of gods, redistribution of wealth among courtiers and soldiers

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Persepolis - servants of the Great King

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Perisan servant on a Greek vase

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Great King and his country 3

• Roads: King’s Road Susa to Sardis (2400 km), good surface, postal stations, security

• Elaborate administration:- known from Fars (PF, PT), to a lesser degree

from Egypt, Palestine, Bactria- collecting taxes (mostly in kind)- issuing rations to aristocrats, officials,

labourers- gift based economy

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Great King and his country 4

• To Greeks: King/ despot and slaves• To Persians: King and bandaka (vasals)• King: warrior, hunter, builder• Monarchy based on feudal principles of

loyalty and life-long service for land grants• Satraps:- Iranian aristocrats with full power- Imitating King’s court and behaviour

Page 19: Achaemenid Persian Empire Krzysztof Nawotka. Persian empire

Persian army

• 10,000 immortals (companions)• Garrisons in a few major fortresses• Mercenary force: superior Greek infantry,

commanded by Persians, Greek officers incorporated to Persian nobility

• Iranian: military settlers, aristocratic cavalry

• Navy: Phoenician, Cypriot, Greek• War: mostly fought by satraps

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Immortals

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Persepolis – guard soldiers

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Persian religion 1

• Two epochs of Aryan religion : pagan (before Zarathustra) and Zarathushtrian

• Pagan Iranian religion:

- gods: of nature (e.g. Vata – brought rain), of cult (e.g. Fire - Atar, Water - Apo, Haoma)

- Ritual purity- Cult of Fire: yasna with animal sacrifice, zaorta 3 times a

day fuel added to fire• Mithra and Varuna- Hyposthases (personified abstracts) linked with Asha- Two types of obligation: *mithra – covenent, *varuna –

solemn oath

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Persian religion 2

• Asha/aša:- Law of nature: „truth”, righteuosness”- Sustained by prayer and sacrifice- Should guide our behaviour- Virtue: fundament of normal world order- Social virtues: truth, loyalty, courage• Druj (lie) – opposite of asha• People: ashavan (righteous), drujvant

(base, liers)

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Persian religion 3

• Aryan religion reformed by Zaratushtra c. 10th c. BC following revelation by Vohu Manah

• Holy book Avesta (6th c. AD)

• Cosmic conflict between aša (truth) and druj (lie); aim of life: to sustain aša through good thoughts, words and deeds

• Religion of choice and responsibility

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Magi

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Persian religion 4

• Ahura Mazda (Lord Wisdom): creator, god of aša, light, good, assisted by Amesha Spentas ("Bounteous Immortals") and by yazatas

• Cosmic conflict with Angra Mainyu• King by grace of Ahura Mazda• Fire (atar): not god but agent of ritual purity,

worshipped (fire altars and temples)• Priests – magi• Corpses exposed in towers of silence

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Fire worshippers in a relief of Gandhara

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Yazd: fire temple

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Ateshkade-e Ardashir: Sassanian fire temple

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Persian wars

• Rebellion of Greek cities in Asia Minor 499-494 BC

• Invasion of Greece by Xerxes 480-479• Great battles: Thermopylae, Salamis,

Plataea, Mycale• End in 447: Greeks of Asia Minor free• Tradition of Persian barbarity (destruction

of Greek temples) and superior Greek military prowess

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Persian empire of the late 5th-4th c. BC

• Successful Persian envolvement in Peloponnesian and Corinthian Wars: restoring Persian rule in Asia Minor

• Independence of Egypt and great satrap revolt of 1st half of 4th c. BC

• Artaxerxes III (358-338): suppresion of revolt of Phoenicia, pacification of Asia Minor, reconquest of Egypt

Page 33: Achaemenid Persian Empire Krzysztof Nawotka. Persian empire

Iranians in Asia Minor

• Numerous aristocratic families endowed by the Great King with land for their services

• Some gave origin to royal families in Hellenistic times: Pontus, Cappadocia, Commagene

• Military colonists, e.g. in Cappadocia• Iranian cults:- Zaratushtrians well into 3rd c. AD- Iranian deities assimilated with indigenous gods of

Asia Minor, especially Anahita with local goddesses

- Mithra