Achaemenid Empire

The Achaemenid Empire or Achaemenian Empire[20] (/əˈkmənɪd/; Old Persian: 𐎧𐏁𐏂, Xšāça, lit. 'The Empire'[21] or 'The Kingdom'[22]), was the ancient Iranian empire founded by Cyrus the Great in 550 BC; the First Persian Empire.[23] Based in Western Asia, it was the largest empire the world had ever seen at its time, spanning a total of 5.5 million square kilometres (2.1 million square miles) from the Balkans and Egypt in the west to Central Asia and the Indus Valley in the east.[16][17]

Achaemenid Empire
550 BC–330 BC
Flag of Persia
The Achaemenid Empire at its greatest territorial extent, under the rule of Darius I (522 BC–486 BC)
The Achaemenid Empire at its greatest territorial extent, under the rule of Darius I (522 BC–486 BC)[6][7][8][9]
Persepolis (ceremonial)
Common languagesOld Persian (official)[a]
Aramaic (official, lingua franca)[b]
See: Languages
Zoroastrianism (official)
Mesopotamian religion[15]
Vedic Hinduism
Egyptian religion
Greek religion
See: Religion
Kings[lower-alpha 2] or
King of Kings[lower-alpha 3]
 559–530 BC
Cyrus the Great
 530–522 BC
Cambyses II
 522–522 BC
 522–486 BC
Darius I
 486–465 BC
Xerxes I
 465–424 BC
Artaxerxes I
 424–424 BC
Xerxes II
 424–423 BC
 423–405 BC
Darius II
 405–358 BC
Artaxerxes II
 358–338 BC
Artaxerxes III
 338–336 BC
 336–330 BC
Darius III
Historical eraClassical antiquity
550 BC
547 BC
539 BC
525 BC
499–449 BC
395–387 BC
343 BC
330 BC
500 BC[16][17]5,500,000 km2 (2,100,000 sq mi)
17 million to 35 million
CurrencyDaric, siglos
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Median Empire
Neo-Babylonian Empire
Twenty-sixth Dynasty of Egypt
Empire of Alexander the Great
Twenty-eighth Dynasty of Egypt

Around the 7th century BC, the region of Persis in the southwestern portion of the Iranian plateau was settled by the Persians.[24] From Persis, Cyrus rose and defeated the Median Empire as well as Lydia and the Neo-Babylonian Empire, marking the formal establishment of a new imperial polity under the Achaemenid dynasty.

In the modern era, the Achaemenid Empire has been recognized for its imposition of a successful model of centralized, bureaucratic administration; its multicultural policy; building complex infrastructure, such as road systems and an organized postal system; the use of official languages across its territories; and the development of civil services, including its possession of a large, professional army. Its advancements inspired the implementation of similar styles of governance by a variety of later empires.[25]

By 330 BC, the Achaemenid Empire was conquered by Alexander the Great, an ardent admirer of Cyrus the Great; the conquest marked a key achievement in the then-ongoing campaign of his Macedonian Empire.[26][27] As Alexander's death triggered the beginning of the Hellenistic period, most of the territory of the fallen Achaemenid Empire came under the rule of the Ptolemaic Kingdom and the Seleucid Empire, both of which had emerged as successors to the Macedonian Empire following the Partition of Triparadisus in 321 BC. Hellenistic rule remained in place for almost a century before the Iranian elites of the central plateau reclaimed power under the Parthian Empire.[24]

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