Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Darius

Persia/Iran civilizations: Achemenide Dynasty (Part 2, February 26, 2009)

            There are no Persian historical accounts of antiquity Achemenide Persia Empire.  Most of the stories are excerpts of biased Greek accounts, mainly of the Greek historian Herodotus, and some chapters in the Old Testament.  Archeology would like to say that tribes in Afghanistan and Central Asia moved to south east Iran around 1000 BC of what is called Fars. The Babylon and Assyrian Empires mentioned the Kingdom of Elam with Capital Suse (Khuzestan by Iraq) that bordered Fars.  Cyrus established his Kingdom “Anshan” in 557 BC that spoke the Elam language and in cuneiform writing.

            Cyrus conquers the Kingdom of Medes (North of the Zagros mountain chains) in 550 and the Kingdom of Croesus in Turkey in 546.  Babylon and the Near East Kingdoms are vanquished in 539 and pursue his military advances toward Bactrian (current Afghanistan and part of Central Asia).  Cyrus allowed the Jews in “captivity” in Babylon to return to Judea; the poorer Jews returned and Cyrus funded the reconstruction of their temple. It was during that period that the Jewish Old Testament was initiated in writing and then completed many centuries later after Christ. Cyrus’ son Cambyse conquers Egypt and Darius I expands toward the Indus River regions.  The north of Greece in Thrace and beyond the Danube River is part of the Achemenide Empire.

            The administration of this huge Empire was very structured and divided into Satraps (about 20 of them) of local elites and Kings.  The governor of Satrap (protector of the power) was administered by the central powers in Suse, Ctesiphone, Ecbatane, and later Persepolis in matter of Imperial Army, finance and taxes. The Imperial decrees were translated into the Aramaic language, the most widely local language outside Persia.  The Persian Emperor moved from one capital to another to satisfy the yearly calendar of rituals of the Ahura Mazda religion.  The Satraps were to meet the Emperor visiting their lands and the population offered what they produced such as milk, cheese, dates, and fruits of the season for sumptuous banquets that lasted 7 days and nights; about 15,000 were invited to share in the banquets.  Every year, during the anniversary of the coronation of the monarch a special banquet is thrown and the monarch offered gifts and perfumed his head.  The custom would not permit any demand or request to be denied.  This custom was adopted by the Satraps and it became a tradition in all courts; Herode could not deny Salome her request for the head of Jean the Baptist.

            When Alexander occupied Damascus after the battle of Issos they inventoried the residence of the Imperial Persian Artaxerxes III; there were 46 braiders of crowns, 14 manufacturers of perfumes, 329 female musicians or royal concubines (pallakai).  The monarchs were to create, design, and plant royal gardens called “paradeis” 

The route of the Imperial caravan was well defined from start to finish and horses were ready at every station.  The Imperial army needed 30 days to cross from Suse to Persepolis and it was a true migration of thousands of people.  When the monarch dies all the fires in Ahura Mazda temples were put out.  The new monarch was enthroned in the town of Pasargades and in the shrine of Goddess Anahista, 60 kilometers off Persepolis.  Meticulous and detailed ceremonials of all sorts are obligated on the monarch.

Alexander of Macedonia subjugated Persia in 331 but he did not change anything in the political structure of this well organized and administrated Empire; he even adopted the luxury and ceremonials of the Persian monarchs which angered the Macedonians soldiers greatly.  Seleucus, one of Alexander officers, finally inherited the Persian Kingdom after many decades of infightings but short of Greece and Egypt.  Pretty soon, the Satraps recovered their autonomies.


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