'Cyrus' in Old Persian cuneiform, 'King Seleucus' in Greek, 'Kingdom of the Aryans ' in Sassanid Pahlavi script .

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Before the Persian empires:

Elam and the Indo-European

Tribes 4,000 ~ 639 B.C.


Elamite priest and Indo-European horseman


3 major horse riding, Indo-European groups entered the Iranian around 2,000 BC. They encountered the more advanced Elamite civilization...more



video on Elamite ziggurat at Chogha Zanbil


In search of the Indo-Europeans

Language, Archaeology, and Myth

The Median Empire

650 - 550 B.C.


Assyrian and Median soldiers


The Medes originally settled in northwestern Iran and were themselves a vassal state of the Assyrian Empire until the mid 7th century B.C. By by the 6th century BC, the Medes were able to establish an empire that stretched from the middle of present day Turkey to Afghanistan...more



video on Zoroastrianism the religion of the Median and Achaemenid Empire


A History of Iran: Empire of the Mind


Xenophon's Cyrus the Great:

The Arts of Leadership and War


The Achaemenid Empire

550 - 330 B.C.

Persian royal guard, Persepolis


Cyrus the great overthrew the Median empire, establishing the largest empire in the world up to that date . At its height this Persian Empire would stretch from India to Libya and hold an est. 70,000,000 people . Under Darius I , the Persians came into conflict with the Greeks, leading to such battles as Marathon, Thermopylae and Salamis ...more



video showing what Persepolis

looked like in its heyday


video on Cyrus the Great


Persian Fire: The First World Empire and the Battle for the West by the author of Rubicon




The Seleucid Empire

323 - 60 B.C



The Seleucid empire was named after Seleucus, a Macedonian officer of Alexander the Great. In the wars of the Diadochi that took place after Alexander's death, Seleucus established Seleucid Empire after  battle of Ipsus in 301 B.C. The Seleucids built hundreds of Greek style towns with amphitheatres and other architecture of Greek civilization ...more


Battle of Magnesia 190 BC

Roman army of 50,000 defeats Selucid army of 70,000 in modern day eastern Turkey. The Romans were led by consul Lucius Cornelius Scipio and his brother, the famed general Scipio Africanus. The Selucids were led by Antiochus III the Great, who promoted himself as a latter day Alexander.


The defeat forced the Selucids to abandon their European holdings and was the last chance to hold back the Romans. Even though the Romans were outnumbered, the Roman army was a professionally trained army which could outmaneuver the Greek phalanx. The Continued civil war, Jewish revolt and Parthian expansion led to the further dimise of the Selucid Empire. In 83 BC the Armenian king Tigranes the Great, invaded what was left of the Selucid Empire which comprised little more than Antioch and some Syrian cities, effectively ending the Selucid Empire.


 The Cambridge History of Iran, Volume 3: The Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanid Periods


  Hannibal at the court of   Antiochus III

The Parthian Empire

63 B.C. - 226 A.D.


statue of Parthian prince, Hatra



video on Parthian

vs Roman Empire


For nearly five centuries, from the middle of the third century B.C., the Parthian Empire ruled Persia

.For most of this long period it was the leading power of the Middle East and the rival of the Roman Empire. Parthian grew rich from duties on east - west trade, esp. silk. Their greatest victory over the Romans was at Carrhae in 53 B.C. , when with the when a new breed of horse was developed than was stronger and could support heavy armor - the cataphract...more



The Age of the Parthians

Sassanid Empire

226 - 651 A.D.


Philip the Arab surrendering to Shapur I



video on Sassanid Empire


The Sassanids saw themselves as heirs of the Persian Achaemenid Empire . During its 400 year rule the Sassanid kingdom became rich and the loose administration of the Parthians was replaced with a stronger Achaemenid style system. Under Shapur I, the Sassanid empire stretched from Euphrates to the west, Merv in the north and Punjab in the east, Briefly under Khosrau II it conquered Egypt. Zoroastrianism, which had fallen into disuse under the Parthians, was revived and made a powerful state religion .Town planning and irrigation works were carried out on a grand scale . Sculpture, textiles and metal work reached new heights during the Sassanid reign. After exhaustive wars with the Byzantine empire, the weakened Sassanids fell to the armies of the Islamic Umayyd Caliphs from Arabia in 637...more



The Sasanian Era






 Recent News of the Persian empires


 Islamic State carves path of destruction

 through archaeological treasures in 2015


Ancient Persian water system studied to help modern droughts


Sassanids may have used poison gas against Romans


 'Red Snake' wall, second only to the Great Wall


Parthian capital of Nisa opening to tourist


Iran to excavate Persepolis suburb


The Baghdad Battery:

from the Parthian era.



Old Persian Was Probably More Commonly Used Than Previously Thought



Train near Naqsh-e Rostam



Nisa Added To UN's Cultural Heritage List








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