Achaemenid, 539-330bce Founder: Cyrus "the Shepherd" (r. 558-530bce) Origins: Medes and Persians (SW Iran), pastoral nomads Darius (r. 521-486bce) conquerer and administrator. Xerxes (r. 486-451) got into war with Greeks. Downfall: Greeks, Macedonians
Achaemenid, 539-330bce satraps with overlapping supervision standardization: laws, coins (Croesus), taxes Persian Royal Road and postal couriers; qanat (underground irrigation canals) Herodotus: "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." Zoroastrianism: Zarathustra (7-6c bce). Strong State support, esp. Darius Ahura Mazda v. Angra Mainyu, 12,000 year struggle Moderation: Good words, good thoughts, good deeds."
Alexander’s Empire and the Hellenistic World, c. 323 B.C.E.
Successor States Alexandrian/Seleucid (330-83 bce) Parthian (247 bce-224ce) Sasanid (224-651ce) Varying support for Zoroastrianism (Hostile, Tolerated, Revived) Varying centralization (weak, revived satraps, full Achaeminid) Border Wars with Mediterranean states (esp. Rome) and India Strong trade orientation
Sources Maps from Stearns, et al., World Civilizations: The Global Experience (6e, 2011)