13 VI. The Empire of the Persian Kings (ca. 1000–464 B.C.E.) A.Introduction 1.The Persians were part of the Iranian people that migrated into the land between the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf, utilizing force when necessary but diplomacy by preference to create an empire that was culturally diverse. 2.Persia (modern day Iran)was a land of mountains and deserts, with a large central plateau. 3.Persia’s geographic position explains its role as the highway between East and West. B.The Coming of the Medes and Persians 1.The Iranians were Indo-European nomads who arrived in present-day Iran around 1000 B.C.E. 2.Gradually the Iranians coalesced into two large groups: the Persians and the Medes. 3.The Medes were the first of the two to rise in power, around 710 B.C.E., and they rose even further when they allied with the Babylonians and Chaldeans in 612 B.C.E. to overthrow the Assyrians. a.Chaldeans dominated Fertile Crescent in 6th c. B.C.E. b.Nebuchadnezzar defeated Hebrews, rebuilt Babylon c.Hanging Gardens of Babylon (roof gardens) called one of the seven wonders of the ancient world C.The Creation of the Persian Empire (550–464 B.C.E.) 1.Persians under Cyrus the Great(r. 559-530 B.C.E.) conquered Near East 2.Cyrus the Great created the largest empire yet to exist in the Near East when he unified the Medes and Persians under Persian leadership. 3.After uniting Persia, Cyrus set out to accomplish two goals: to win control of the lands to the west as far as Lydia and to secure eastern Persia from the threat of nomadic invaders. 4.Cyrus had an enlightened view of empire, practiced religious tolerance, and allowed the subject peoples of his empire great autonomy. a.The Lydian king Croesus had his life spared by Cyrus, and he went on to be a trusted adviser, as well as friend, of the King of Kings. b.Cyrus demonstrated the Persian ruling custom of allowing local values to be officially tolerated, such as the Greek ideas in the western lands and the Jewish ideas in Jerusalem after he ended the Babylonian Captivity and helped them rebuild their temple. 5.Persian Government a.An improved version of Assyrian government b.Empire divided into 20 satrapies (provinces), each ruled by satrap(governor) c.Effective government: inspection system, good communications, 1600-mile Royal Road d.Liberal policy toward subjugated people who paid taxes and kept the peace e.