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Facts About the Persian/Achaemenid Empire

By Yona Williams    3/21/11

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Thanks to Darius, the Persian Empire grew to become the largest of its time. Ancient maps show that the region under his rule started in North Africa and continued on to India. He also ruled the lands from the Aral Sea to the Persian Gulf. In this article, you will learn more about the early times of the empire, as well as facts pertaining to the Achaemenid time period.

The region associated with the Persian Empire covered 2,900,000 square miles, which was in line with the sizes of the Roman Empire and the Chinese Han Empire.

The Persian Empire was comprised of many different ethnicities and cultures. In addition to Persians, some of the people that called the empire their home included Egyptians, Greeks, Scythians, Babylonians, Bactrians, Indians, and the Medes.

The empire also had provinces that were called satrapies. Represented the king, people were put in place to govern the provinces. They were called a satrap and their main duties were to gather tribute. Their efforts were presented to the king. Stone reliefs found at Persepolis show people supporting the king's throne and other actions of acknowledging their ruler's power.

Under the rule of Darius, royal inscriptions reveal the Old Persian language, which was written in a uniquely adapted version of cuneiform.

The Achaemenid Empire was known for including many different cultures that a great deal of languages were used by the administration and the people. Archeologists have noted variations in inscriptions because of this. An example is seen in the Behistun Inscription, which is repeated in several different languages.  

There were three primary languages associated with the Achaemenids. Old Persian was the language of the rulers. Achaemenid rulers also developed a script unique only to Old Persian. The original people who dwelled in central Iraq spoke Elamite. Akkadian was an ancient language that belonged to the Assyrians and Babylonians. Elamite and Akkadian were typically written in cuneiform.

The Achaemenids are given credit for building the Royal Road, which was a major intercontinental method of travel that granted access to the cities they won in their many conquests. The road started in Susa and continued on to Sardis. The road also included the Mediterranean coast at Ephesus. Many sections of the road were made up of cobble pavements.

During the Achaemenid Empire, the architectural styles made use of distinctive columned buildings referred to as apadanas. They also created a great deal of stone reliefs and were known for their extensive rock carvings. Another delightful feature of their architecture was climbing staircases.

Bracelets depicting animal heads and pieces made with polychrome inlay were some of the jewelry pieces associated with the Achaemenid Empire. Another symbol of luxury has been found in bowls made out of gold and silver.

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