When researching the ancient West Asian regions, we see a new group of people from the north invading the land about 1200 BC. Called the Persians and the Medes, they belonged to an Indo-European culture that was distantly linked to the Hittites, the Greeks, and the Romans. Following the same lines as the Scythians, the Persians and the Medes were nomadic people, traveling from place to place, including throughout Siberia, where they brought their horses and cattle to graze on the fields full of grass. For the most part, this way of life suited them well.
However, there was one element that would pose quite a problem for the nomadic people and that was the weather. Sometimes, it would get pretty bad and the Medes and Persians found it difficult to locate things to eat. This is why they probably traveled south into West Asia , in search of better opportunities. Perhaps they caught word that the Dark Ages had settled in that region and they felt they were strong enough to take over. Others believe that they went into West Asia because the climate was warmer in the south.
After they reached West Asia, they set up camp in what is now known as Iran. From that time, they do not appear in many recorded histories until around 600 BC. It was at this time that we learn that they decided to make their move against the Assyrians. By 600 BC, the Assyrians were weakening in their power. During this time period, the Medes and the Persians were combined into one group that was guided by one king.
In the beginning, the Medes assumed power, but this didn’t last too long, as by the time 559 BC rolled around, Cyus (a Persian) declared himself king. The Persians would continue to lead over the Medes for the rest of their time together. Cyrus would catapult the Persians into acclaim, as he is responsible for conquering the rest of West Asia, which included the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Jews, the Phoenicians, Syrians, and the Lydians. He even took over the Greeks living in modern Turkey.
Cyrus made a great name for himself and gained the reputation as a decent ruler. He was also successful in unifying the many different cultures of people that he encountered , despite the various languages and religions that they possessed. At the same time, he would allow each culture to still practice their own religion. Researchers find this move quite a shock because he had recently made the switch to Zoroastrianism and felt quite strongly about his new belief system.
With the death of Cyrus in 530 BC, his son Cambyses followed in his kingly footsteps. As king, Cambyses added Egypt to the Persian Empire after conquering an Egyptian army that had a great deal of Greek soldiers fighting on their side. Sadly, Cambyses did not live out his reign in happy times. According to Herodotus, he was plagued by mental illness during the later years of his life and in the end, his own people took his life.