The Persian Empire also known as the Achaemenid Empire rose to power in 525 BCE. The Persian Empire reached its height around the sixth century so it makes sense that little is known about the empire itself prior to the sixth century. At the height of its power the Persian Empire stretched from Macedonia to Egypt through Turkey. The Persian Empire was the first to orchestrate a trade of over 3,000 miles which stretched from Egean to the Himalayas. The Persian Empire is located in present day Iran. The Empire rose to power without a name with the help of Cyrus who overthrew his grandfather and then in 546 conquered the Lydian Empire. Cyrus divided up the empire into provinces. Many of the military was from the Eastern province. The eastern province's conquests were influenced by Cyrus' aspirations for a stabler frontier against the Scythians. The military consisted of the Navy, and the king’s guard also known as the “immortals”. The size is estimated at 10,000 and it is said that if one person died there
was another to immediately take his place so as to keep a consistent number of soldiers fighting at a time. With this
efficient style of fighting it is no wonder that the Persians were successful in many conquests such as the taking of
Babylon in 539 and Egypt by Cambeses the son of Cyrus.(Achaemenid Persian)(A History of the Persian Empire)


The Persians themselves were extremely open to adopting customs and tools that were integral parts of the countries and kingdoms they conquered. They wore Median clothing, used Egyptian armor, they even borrowed other kingdoms languages to form their own, Old Persian. Old Persian is a cuneiform script adopted from the Babylonians and the Elamites. The empire's "casual" language was Aramiac, a alphabetical Semitic language closely related to Hebrew. The Persians even borrowed this language from the Assyrians, who borrowed it from the Aramaeans.
Persian peoples valued sons highly. An example of this obsession with men is that boy children spent the first five years of their life out of sight from their father. They did this because supposedly to lose a son after seeing him would be an unbearable loss for the father of the child.
Persians were also polygynous. This meant that Persian men were allowed to take more than one wife. As in various other cases, Achaemenid kings possessed up to 250 concubines and had many, many children.
Another interesting cultural value is that fact that they were allowed to pursue sexual relationships within their extended family. Scholars still debate to what extend they took their next of kin-of-marriages. Some scholars believe that the Persian people actually allowed brother-sister, mother-son, father-daughter marriages, while other scholars believe that only classificatory relative relationships were allowed.
The entire nation of Persia were followers of Zoroastrianism. The priest or Magi of this religion sacrificed a variety of animals(except dogs) with their bare hands. These Magi also tended sacred fires in temples dedicated to the Sun, Moon, and the elements of nature (earth, wind, water and especially fire). Perhaps the most controversial aspect of Zoroastrianism is how they treat thier deceased. They believe that the bodies of departed ones should be left in the open to be devoured by dogs and birds of prey.

Duing the fall of the Achaemenid Empire the current ruler never stayed in power for a long period of time, many leaders in a short amount of time is deffinitaely a recipe for failure. The end of the empire went like this. Due to a long rebellion by the Egyptians Xerxes I had been murdered, then Xerxes II took over but after a short rule of only 45 days he was killed by his half brother, who took over but was then overthrown by his half brother Darius II. When Darius II there was a rebellion of Cyrus the Younger vs. Artaxerxes II, the rebellion ended with the death of Cyrus in the battle of Cunaxa. Signs of decay were starting to be exposed. Artaxerxes II took over but in 405 BC the Egyptians gained their independence from them and fought against the army of Artaxerxes in his attempt to regain control over Egypt which ultimately failed. Then Artaxerxes III took over after he killed the family of his own brother, but his reign lasted a short time before he was killed by his counselor who happened to be a eunuch. Shortly after Darius III murdered the eunuch and took control. The Achaemenid Empire was brought to an end after Darius III was defeated in the battle of Gaugemala by Alexander the Great.

Briant, P. From Cyrus to Alexander: A History of the Persian Empire. Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2002; Dandamaev, M. A. Political History of the Achaemenid Empire (Ancient Near East). Leiden: Brill, 1997; Dusinberre, E. R. M. Aspects of Empire in Achaemenid Sardis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.


West, Barbara A. "Achaemenid Persians." Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania, vol. 2. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2009. Ancient and Medieval History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?
ItemID=WE49&iPin=EPAOii0100&SingleRecord=True (accessed April 1, 2010).