Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Persian Empire & Cyrus, the Empire Builder

The Persian Empire
Some of the Aryans migrated to lands west of India and settled in what is now the country of Iran around 900 B.C. The name Iran may have come from the word Aryan. The Aryan people of Iran came to be known as Persians.

Cyrus, the Empire Builder
The Persians of long ago lived on the Plateau of Iran, a large area stretching from India to the Zagros Mountains. From the plateau the Persians spread out in all directions. They conquered the Babylonians in 539 B.C. and the Egyptians in 525 B.C. Over the years, they formed the largest empire the world had seen.

The Persian army was huge. Its size and advanced war technology overwhelmed its enemies. Persian footsoldiers were well protected by bronze helmets and shields. This protection often made them the winners in hand-to-hand combat. The Persians also fought well at sea.

The Persians used cavalry, soldiers who rode horses and camels, to make swift attacks. Horses were also used to pull Persian war chariots, which had sharp knives attached to the wheels. In less than 20 years, the Persian army conquered lands from northern India to North Africa.

The leader who built the Persian Empire was Cyrus the Great. Cyrus was born between 590 B.C. and 580 B.C. The only battle he ever lost was his last. In that battle he led his army to fight people who lived near the Caspian Sea. Their ruler was Queen Tomyris (tuh»MY»ruhs). She led her smaller army against Cyrus's fighting force. One historian, Herodotus (hih»RAH»duh»tuhs) of Greece, later described the battle this way:

First the two armies stood apart and shot their arrows at each other. Then, when their quivers were empty, they closed and fought hand-to-hand with lances and daggers. And thus they continued fighting for a length of time, neither choosing to give ground.
In the end most of the Persians were killed, including Cyrus the Great. Persia's time of great growth had ended.

Who created the Persian Empire?

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