Ancient Zoroastrians

Under Persia’s Achaemenid dynasty, before Darius, temples had appeared for the first time. Related to the Aryans who had invaded India, or a least having a language closely related to the Aryans, the Persians had gods similar to those found in the sacred Hindu Vedas. Among the Persians were a people called Medes, and a priesthood called the Magi had come to dominate the Medes religion. The major god of the Medes was Zurvan, a god of time and destiny. Another god of the Persians was Mazda, whom Darius adopted in an effort to unify his empire. And in western Persia the god Mithra and goddess Anahita were also worshiped. Continue reading Ancient Zoroastrians

Archaeology Achaemenid Dynasty

The Achaemenids were the ruling dynasty of Cyrus the Great and his family over the Persian empire, from 550-330 BC, when it was conquered by Alexander the Great. Cyrus’s empire included Libya, Ethiopia, Thrace, Macedonia, Afghanistan, and the Punjab and everything in between. Continue reading Archaeology Achaemenid Dynasty

Persian Empire: Timeline and Definition Archaeology

Tomb of Cyrus, Pasargadae (Iran)Tomb of Cyrus, Pasargadae (Iran)

Shirley Schermer (c) 2002


The Persian Empire included all of what is now Iran, and in fact Persia was the official name of Iran until 1935. At its height about 500 BC, the founding dynasty of the empire, the Achaemenids, had conquered Asia as far as the Indus River, Greece, and North Africa including what is now Egypt and Libya. Continue reading Persian Empire: Timeline and Definition Archaeology



By: Michael Weiskopf

Dascylium Metropolis

Picture courtesy of Marco Prins & Jona Lendering (Livius)

Dascylium, Achaemenid satrapy in northwestern Anatolia (Herodotus, 3.120.2; cf. Thucydides 1.129.1: tê`n Daskulitìn satrapeían; OPers. tayaiy drayahyâ; DB 1.15; Kent, Old Persian, p. 117), part of the Persian empire until the 330s B.C.E. The borders varied, extending as far south as the Mysian plain and the southern Troad and east into the land of the Bithynian peoples; some satraps controlled both sides of the Hellespont. The territory of Dascylium encompassed estates, garrisoned fortresses, and cities and villages in which Persians and other groups were mingled. The name Dascylium was also applied to a number of sites within the satrapy, the most important being the satrapal estate located at modern Hisartepe on the southwestern shore of Lake Manyas, near the village of Ergili. Continue reading ACHAEMENID DASCYLIUM

Achaemenid Empire

Achaemenid Empire

Cyrus Cylinder,
The First Charter of Human Rights

By 546 BCE, Cyrus had defeated Croesus, the Lydian king of fabled wealth, and had secured control of the Aegean coast of Asia Minor, Armenia, and the Greek colonies along the Levant. Moving east, he took Parthia (land of the Arsacids, not to be confused with Parsa, which was to the southwest), Chorasmis, and Bactria. He besieged and captured Babylon in 539 and released the Jews who had been held captive there, thus earning his immortalization in the Book of Isaiah. When he died in 529, Cyrus’s kingdom extended as far east as the Hindu Kush in present-day Afghanistan. Continue reading Achaemenid Empire

Achaemenid Army

By: Professor A. Sh. Shahbazi

These life sized “Immortal Guard” in richly ornamental robes wear the twisted headband typical of native Iranians from Susa.

The Achaemenian/Achaemenid Army is well known through descriptions by Herodotus, Xenophon, and Arrian as well as by illustrations on Persepolitan and Greco-Persian monuments. Of particular importance for the topic are the Greek representations of Persian warriors and the evidence of the so-called Alexander Sarcophagus from Sidon. The Persians whom Cyrus the Great united did not possess a professional army: as in days of old, the “people” of a region was represented by its backbone, the “military force,” so the two words were used synonymously in one Old Persian term, kara (cognate with Lithuanian karias/karis “war, army,” Gothic harjis “army,” and German Heer “army,”), a sense still retained in the New Persian term kas-o kar “relatives and supporters.” Continue reading Achaemenid Army