Darius (duh«RY»uhs), the Persian emperor from 522 B.C. to 486 B.C., faced the task of organizing the large empire. Darius was a successful organizer. He let the different peoples in the empire keep their own customs and also chose local leaders to rule. Darius also completed many projects to improve trade and travel. One of these projects was a canal in Egypt that linked the Red Sea and the Nile River.
The people conquered by the Persians were expected to send tribute, or yearly payments, to the emperor. At Persepolis (per»SEH»puh»luhs), the capital built by Darius, artists left a record in stone of people paying tribute. Babylonians are shown bringing livestock, and Assyrians are shown bringing hides of tanned leather. Indians carry containers of gold dust. Other people offer fine cloth, pottery, horses, and camels.
Darius faced a great problem in ruling his empire. How could he communicate with people a thousand miles from his capital?
To solve this problem, Darius started a pony-express system for delivering messages. Riders called couriers galloped across the Persian Empire, changing horses at stations along the way.
With couriers, information could travel 1,677 miles (2,699 km) in seven days. "There is nothing in the world that travels faster than these Persian couriers," wrote the Greek historian Herodotus about 440 B.C. "Nothing stops these couriers from covering their allotted stage in the quickest possible time neither snow, rain, heat, nor darkness." Words like these are used today by the United States Postal Service to describe its mail carriers.
How did Darius communicate with the different parts of his empire?