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Achaemenids (ăkˌəmĕnˈĭdz), dynasty of ancient Persia. They were descended presumably from one Achaemenes, a minor ruler in a mountainous district of SW Iran. His successors, when Elam declined, spread their power westward. Cyrus the Great established the Persian rule by his conquest of Astyages of Media. The Achaemenids (c.550–330 B.C.) were important for their development of government administration, the appearance of literature written in cuneiform, and the spread of Zoroastrianism; during this period there was also a great flourishing of Persian art and architecture. The Achaemenid rulers after Cyrus were Cambyses II, the impostor Smerdis, Darius I, Xerxes I, Artaxerxes I, Xerxes II, Sogdianus, Darius II, Artaxerxes II (opposed by Cyrus the Younger), Artaxerxes III, Arses, and Darius III. The dynasty ended when Darius III died in his flight from Alexander the Great.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a dynasty of rulers of the ancient Persian state (558–330 B.C.) founded by Achaemenes, leader of a union of Persian tribes. Cyrus II (the Great), a descendant of Achaemenes who ruled in Parsa and Anshan (North Elam) from 558 to 530 B.C., founded a huge empire uniting most of the countries of the Near and Middle East. In 550–549, Medea was seized; the next three years saw the conquest of countries that had formed part of the Medean state. Lydia and the Greek cities of Asia Minor were seized in 546; much of Middle Asia was conquered between 545 and 539, Babylonia in 539, and Egypt in 525; and Thracia, Macedonia, northwest India, and the islands of the Aegean Sea were conquered between 519 and 512.

The rulers after Cyrus II were Cambyses II (530–522), Darius I (522–486), Xerxes I (486–465), Artaxerxes I (465–424), Xerxes II (424), Sogdianus (424–423), Darius II (423–404), Artaxerxes II (404–358), Artaxerxes III (358–338), Arses (338–336), and Darius III (336–330). The capitals of the Achaemenid state were Persepolis, Babylon, Susa, and Ecbatan.

The Achaemenid Empire, an oriental despotocracy, was governed by a complex bureaucratic system formed during the reign of Darius I. The state was divided into 20 military administrative districts (satrapies), each headed by special administrators (satraps); the satraps were obliged to collect from the populace and pay to the Persian king heavy taxes (in money and in kind), which were especially ruinous in areas where the populace had to resort to moneylenders in order to pay them.

In its ethnic composition and social structure, the Achaemenid Empire was heterogeneous. In the cities of Asia Minor, in Babylonia, Phoenicia and Egypt, slave labor was widely used in agriculture and crafts, whereas the backward regions of Thracia, Macedonia, and the nomadic Arab and Scythian tribes were in a stage of disintegration of their tribal structure. The Persian administration preserved the ancient local laws, religions, monetary systems, writing systems, and languages in the conquered countries. The Persians themselves were freed from taxes and forced labor. The Persian kings, their relatives, the satraps, and the nobility had huge estates worked by slave labor.

As the military powers of the Achaemenids weakened, their state began to disintegrate. The Greco-Persian Wars of 500–449 B.C. attested to the decline of the Persian Army. In 330 B.C., under the blows of the army of Alexander of Macedonia, the Achaemenid state ceased to exist.


D’iakonov, M. M. Ocherk istorii drevnego Irana Moscow, 1961.
Dandamaes, M. A. Iran pri pervykh Akhemenidakh Moscow, 1963.
Struve, V. V. Eliudy po istorii Severnogo Prichernomor’ia, Kavkaza, i Srednei Azii Leningrad, 1968.
Olmstead, A. T. History of the Persian Empire Chicago, [1948].
Huart, C, and L. Delaporte. L’Iran antique, Elam et Perse . . . Paris, 1943.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Particularly skillful is how Martin brings out the role of Achaemenid rule in shaping contact between diverse Hellenes and Near Easterners, including Phoenicians, from Darius I through the conquests of Alexander III of Macedon.
Stoneman is forced to use a wide variety of sources, including later Persian texts, Achaemenid inscriptions, and even modern fiction and opera libretti to supplement Greek and Hebrew narrative sources.
In their public statements, NOLA leaders have often referred to the Tehran regime as being a "successor of the Achaemenid movement".
Later Achaemenid used Urartu architecture in Pasargadae, Persepolis, and Susa Apadana.
Over 30,000 pieces of Achaemenid tablets were loaned to the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago for academic studies in 1935 but were not returned to Iran.
His annexation of Babylon was to become the platform upon which the Achaemenid military machine built its later vast imperium.
The story is set at the height of the Persian Empire, and the Persians who populate it have a secure basis in Achaemenid history: King Artaxerxes II (405-359 BCE) is the ruler who figures in Xenophon's Anabasis, whose brother, Cyrus the Younger, rebelled against him and lost his life at the Battle of Cunaxa in 401 BCE; he was the ruler whose health was cared for by Ctesias of Cindus, who worked as a royal physician at the Persian court.
This is a racial conflict dating back to the ancient Achaemenid era, when the Arabs joined the kings of Asia Minor in their struggle against Persia.
NOLA's Mawla claims the "racist nature" of the Tehran regime is "basically Achaemenid", referring to the ancient Persian empire.
STANDARD OPEN NH FLAT RACE (CLASS 6) 2m 110yds 4yo to 6yo pounds 2,055 1LATARADuD 25 (D) K Morgan 4-11-6.......Awedge (7) ACHAEMENID EMPIRE 53TRKinsey 5-11-2..CHuxley (3) 2 bHALTAIR 33 D McCain Jnr 5-11-2...............j Maguire MISTER NEwbY R Phillips 5-11-2...............R johnson 08 SILVER bY CHOICE 15 (P) A Brown 5-11-2 .........................................................Paul Gallagher (3) SNOwALERT 54 J Norton 5-11-2....................PAspell 3 TEkTHELOT 21 (P) E Cooper 5-11-2.............j Farrelly 2 TRACkMATE 31 H Evans 5-11-2 .............I Popham (3) ISHEFORREAL B Ellison 4-10-13.....................D Cook AzEbRA 79 Miss L Siddall 6-10-9 ..................T Siddall Me Bill 4 10 13, D Devereux(5) 13-8 Fav (P Bowen), 10 ran.
Hasaka Antiquities Department's report indicated that the 4-wheel carriage pulled by animals and man's fighting with a lion spread in the 2nd millennium B.C while other religious ceremonies dated back to the Achaemenid period.
And all this might have happened to Nauroz, especially during the Achaemenid era, in which a lot of religio-cultural syncretism took place over a large geographical area.