An Introduction to the Ancient Middle East

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Part 5: Persians

The last of the great ancient Middle Eastern empires (and the largest) was Persia, with its capital of Persepolis.

Cyrus the Great was the first great Persian ruler. He ruled from 559 to 530 B.C. and conquered Asia Minor and Mesopotamia. King Darius I, called Darius the Great, extended the empire as far east as the Indus River in India. Darius divided his empire into 20 provinces, and the ruler of each province was called a satrap.

The Persians had a vast empire, and they built roads to connect the different parts. Like the Roman roads, Persian roads allowed traders and troops to move more quickly from one part of the empire to another. One road, the Royal Road, stretched more than 1,600 miles, from Sardis in Asia Minor to Susa, near the Persian Gulf. They also built a canal to connect the Nile River to the Red Sea.

Three kings named Darius ruled the Persian Empire. Two of them did battle with Alexander the Great. The third fought against the Greeks in the Persian Wars. Another Persian ruler, Xerxes, also invaded Greece but was forced to retreat as well.

To avenge the loss of many Greeks during the Persian Wars, Alexander the Great invaded and, finally, conquered the Persian Empire, in 330 B.C.

First page > The Sumerians > Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

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