The Persian empire was enormous and the largest seen in the world to date It

The persian empire was enormous and the largest seen

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under Alexander the Great in 330 BC. The Persian empire was enormous and the largest seen in the world to date. It spanned from Egypt in the west to the Indus River in the east. Its northern boundary bordered on the Caucasus Mountains, and the Black, Caspian, and Aral seas. Its southern boundary bordered on the Arabian Desert, the Persian Gulf, and the Arabian Sea. The Persians governed their empire very differently from their Assyrian predecessors. While the Assyrians were cruel rulers who governed with the threat of force, the Persians were moderate, merciful rulers. The Persians rarely interfered with the traditions and values of the peoples that they ruled. King Cyrus was known for his mercy rather than his cruelty. He and his successors cooperated with local rulers and interfered as little as possible in matters that did not directly relate to their rule. They respected local traditions and even adopted some of their subjects' religious practices for themselves. Rather than destroy local economies for their own selfish gain, the Persians worked to increase trade throughout their kingdom. They standardized weights, developed official coinage, and implemented universal laws. The Persians divided their empire into 20 provinces that were managed by governors, called satraps , who were loyal to the king. Each province was relatively independent with two main obligations: to provide soldiers for the empire and to pay taxes. The Persians developed a model for imperial administration that later empires adopted and expanded. The key to this imperial model lay in the law. Laws were carried out fairly and evenly among all of the empire's subjects. The Persians developed a religion called Zoroastrianism, which was very different from many earlier religions. Earlier religions often practiced polytheism, while Zoroastrianism was monotheistic. Zoroastrianism was founded by the prophet Zoroaster (628 – 551 BC), also called Zarathustra in old Iranian. Many of his ideas were collected in a series of poems called the Gathas, which became part of the religion's most sacred book, the Avesta. Zoroaster believed that people were training for a future life. He taught that the earthly world was torn by a constant struggle between good and evil. Humans would have to choose between the two in preparation for a final judgment, when good would triumph over evil. When this happened, all earthly existence would disappear. The Zoroastrian god, Ahura Mazda, embodied goodness and wisdom. Besides being monotheistic, Zoroastrianism was different from earlier religions in that it was a universal religion. Zoroaster said all peoples, regardless of their cultural background, could belong. Zoroastrianism also encouraged believers to live ethically, and to fight evil by being good themselves. The Emperor Darius helped spread Zoroastrianism by building public monuments to Ahura Mazda. Darius claimed that his rule had divine approval from Ahura Mazda. Zoroastrianism was not a particularly widespread or long-lasting religious tradition. Yet many scholars believe that Zoroaster's teachings influenced the development
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