The Persian Empire
The Persian Empire was one of the largest in history, at its height it spread from Egypt to the Indus River. Indo-Europeans began settling in the land east of the Fertile Crescent around 1000 B.C.E. In 550 B.C.E., a Persian king named Cyrus began conquering kingdoms. Over time, his empire had grown from Anatolia (Turkey) in the west to the Indus River in the east. The way that Cyrus ruled his empire was very special for that time. He was tolerant of the people he conquered by allowing them to keep their local customs, religion, and language.
The Persian Empire was able to control such a large empire by a well-developed imperial bureaucracy. The empire was divided into various provinces and each province was ruled by a governor called a satrap. In this way the emperor was able to effectively govern such a large empire. This system of bureaucracy has been copied in modern day governments and its influence can be seen in modern American government.
The Persians were also great engineers and built royal roads that connected the empire. These roads encouraged trade, communication, and allowed the military to move quickly. As the Persian Empire spread, it came in contact with Central Asian, Mesopotamian, Arabic, and Egyptian cultures. All of these earlier civilizations contributed to the Persian culture and also allowed it to become the largest empire in the world at that time.
A Persian prophet named Zoroaster lived around 600 B.C.E. and taught that there are two opposite forces in the universe, good and evil. Because of this, humans are involved in an endless battle and are expected to participate. The religion believed in one god, Ahura Mazda. They believed that Ahura Mazda would judge people based on how well they fought for the good. Zoroaster’s religious teachings became the basis for Zoroastrianism, and it was the main religion of the Persian empire. Zoroastrianism is still practiced today in parts of Iran, India, Pakistan, and other small areas of the world. This religion has also influenced other religions such as Christianity and Islam.