Achaemenian dynasty


Achaemenian dynasty
(559–330 BC) Early Persian dynasty.

It derives its name from Achaemenes, who is thought to have lived in the early 7th century BC. From his son Teispes were descended two lines of kings. The older line included Cyrus I, Cambyses I, Cyrus II (the Great), and Cambyses II; the junior line began with Darius I and ended with the death of Darius III after his defeat by Alexander the Great (330 BC). Its greatest rulers were Cyrus II (r. 559–с 529 BC), who actually established the Persian empire and from whose reign it is dated; Darius I, who secured the borders from external threats; and Xerxes I, who completed many of Darius's public works. At its height, the Achaemenian Empire reached from Macedonia to northern India and from the Caucasus Mountains to the Persian Gulf. The ruins of one of its capitals, Persepolis, survive from its golden age.

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▪ Iranian dynasty
also called  Achaemenid,  Persian  Hakhamanishiya 

      (559–330 BC), ancient Iranian dynasty whose kings founded and ruled the Achaemenian Empire. Achaemenes (Persian Hakhamanish), the Achaemenians' eponymous ancestor, is presumed to have lived early in the 7th century BC, but little is known of his life. From his son Teispes two lines of kings descended. The kings of the older line were Cyrus I, Cambyses I, Cyrus II (the Great), and Cambyses II. After the death of Cambyses II (522 BC) the junior line came to the throne with Darius I. The dynasty became extinct with the death of Darius III, following his defeat (330 BC) by Alexander the Great.

      Probably the greatest of the Achaemenian rulers were Cyrus II (reigned 559–c. 529 BC), who actually established the empire and from whose reign it is dated; Darius I (522–486), who excelled as an administrator and secured the borders from external threats; and Xerxes I (486–465), who completed many of the buildings begun by Darius. During the time of Darius I and Xerxes I, the empire extended as far west as Macedonia and Libya and as far east as the Hyphasis (Beās) River; it stretched to the Caucasus Mountains and the Aral Sea in the north and to the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Desert in the south.

      The Achaemenian rule of conquered peoples was generally liberal; the empire itself was divided into provinces (satrapies), each administered by a satrap who underwent frequent inspections by officials reporting directly to the king.

      Royal inscriptions were usually trilingual, in Old Persian, Elamite, and Akkadian; Aramaic, however, was employed for imperial administration and diplomatic correspondence.

      Building activity was extensive during the height of the empire, and of the several Achaemenian capitals, the ruins at Pasargadae and at Persepolis are probably the most outstanding. Achaemenian sculptured reliefs and a great number of smaller art objects present a remarkably unified style for the period. Metalwork, especially in gold, was highly developed, and a variety of carefully executed examples survive.

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Universalium. 2010.

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