Achamenid Empire: Persian & Xerxes

Persia: Achaemenid Empire

This essay developed from an interest in the movie 300 and an interest in the way the Persians set-up their armies.  

From modern day Turkey, down to the Sahara in Africa, all the way across to modern day India in Asia, the Achaemenid Empire ruled. This empire was the biggest the world had seen at this time (6th century BC). This essay is going to have a look at the rise and fall of the empire and assess the key features of the reign of the god king Xerxes.

In the 6th century BC the Persians were a subject people of the Median Empire. In 550 BC the Persians had successfully revolted against the Medes and Cyrus II (the Great) became the first king of the Achaemenid Empire, Achaemenes being the founder of the dynasty.

The reign of Cyrus II lasted around 30 years, exact dates are unknown. In three decades Cyrus II conquered firstly the Median Empire, then the Lydian Empire and the neo-Babylonian. Cyrus II lead campaigns into central Asia and was later killed in battle when fighting the Massagetae in modern day Uzbekistan. In the three decades of his rule Cyrus II had forged the largest empire the world had ever seen from the borders of Egypt in the west into modern day India & ruled over most of central Asia. Cyrus II was arguably the greatest Achaemenid king, he played the major role in the rise of the empire. Cyrus II was succeeded by his son Cambyses II who conquered Egypt, Nubia and Cyrenaica. Cambyses main goal was to conquer Egypt, which he had little success at, once the Egyptians were conquered there were many revolts, mainly due to the mistreatment of the Egyptians. Legend has it that Cambyses sent an army of 50’000 men to threaten the Oracle of Amun at the Siwa Oasis (Egypt), as the army was crossing the desert a sandstorm rose and buried the army alive. Many modern archaeologist and historians have passed this off as a myth but recent petroleum digs have found remains, which they believe are of the lost army. Cambyses...