If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content
Current time:0:00Total duration:10:22

Video transcript

we're going to do in this video is have an overview of one of the greatest empires and really civilizations of not only the ancient world but of the world and that is Persia and we see a map here this is the extent of the Persian Empire at around 500 BCE under Darius the Great and in future videos we'll talk more about Cyrus the Great and Darius the great and the various Sean Shaw's king of kings of the Persian Empire but you can see it was a massive Empire not only did it contain modern Iran which is really the heart of the Persian Empire but much of the modern Middle East including Turkey you have Egypt here we go into Central Asia and also Afghanistan and even parts of Pakistan but before talking more about how it was established and and who established it I'm going to dig down a little bit into the word Persia because just as the ancient Greeks did not refer to where they lived as Greece that that is a Latin idea of calling it Greece that the Greeks referred to it referred to where they lived as Ellis it turns out that the Persians did not refer to where they live as Persia their terms are actually much closer to ideas around land of the Aryans so there's based on my research ideas like Arianna Vega and Iran Shah and Iran so it actually turns out that the modern the name of the country the modern word Iran is probably more appropriate or in some ways closer to what the region has always called itself what the Iranians or the the Persians have always called themselves and called their there where they lived they referred to themselves as the Aryans or and where they lived as the Arianna Vega or Iran or a Tehran chars or some version of that in the modern version is Iran now with that said you might say well why did the Greeks call it Persia well the Persian Empire what we consider to be the first true Persian Empire is the Achaemenid Empire and we'll talk in a second why why do we call it even the key but the committed Empire emerges from a region of Persia I guess we can say that in this map is referred to as Persis but other names for it are pars and even in modern Iran there is a region called FAR's which coincides very close with it and since the leaders of the Persian Empire and it especially cyrus the great emerge from this region they called them the Persians and it was the Persian Empire that emerges from this region with you might want to call pars FAR's FAR's especially comes from Arabic where they don't have the the P sound but pars or Persis or whatever you want to call it and that's why it was called the Persian Empire now it wasn't the first Empire in that region before the Persian Empire gets established where we associate with the Persian or the the committed Empire of Cyrus the Great much of this region of where we call modern-day Iran was controlled by the medians and you can see media is this region is this region right over here and it was Cyrus the Great that in 549 some accounts say 550 BCE is able to overthrow the median Emperor who happens to be his grandfather and that is the real dawn of the Achaemenid dynasty now the next question and this was established let me write this down this is established by Cyrus the Great Cyrus the Great he was Cyrus the second but he became Cyrus the Great because he's able to break out and overthrow the medians and establish this this massive Empire and the reason why it's called the Achaemenid Empire not the thyroid Empire is that Cyrus claims and to be from the family of the patriarch akima knees and a lot of these names these are come from Greek accounts and so that's why they sound a little bit more Greek but akima knees is a Seminole semi-legendary figure that we're not sure exactly and he lived but the best accounts I could see is near the beginning of the seventh century BCE and Cyrus the Great is from a key money's family and so since they came to power this first really Persian Empire when the people talk about the Persian Empire they're they they don't tend to refer to the median Empire they're really referring to the acute attempt Iyer that's why it's called a key minute now in future videos we'll talk more about what happened in the Achaemenid Empire but you can see the extent of it was pretty significant and it lasts for a little over 200 years until they are conquered by foreigners and the foreigners that conquer them are the Greeks the Philip of Macedon son Alexander the Great is able to on some level unify Greece and Persia it's interesting because a lot of what we learn about ancient Persia its accounts from the Greeks from folks like Herodotus but during the time of classical Greeks it was Greece was really a bit of a sideshow it was really this kind of porn in the side of Persia Persia was really where the power was but as we get to as we get to the mid or the end of the 4th century BCE Persia weakens Greece unifies under Philip of Macedon and Alexander the Great and Alexander the Great is able to conquer the Persian Empire and he is short-lived we have videos on Alexander the Great I encourage you to watch them his life is short lived and his unified Empire short lived but he has this dream of mixing the cultures and really being a unified people but as soon as he dies his empire splits but the Persian Empire for the most part is in the control of the Seleucids and the Seleucid dynasty this is essentially foreign rule because Seleucus who establishes the sulla Seleucid dynasty he is one of Alexander's generals he's fundamentally Greek and so the rulers under Seleucid dynasty are Greek and you don't get back to having Persian rule until 238 BCE and sin 238 BCE that the Parthians emerge to conquer the Empire and so once again you could say well this is back to non foreign rule it's really important to keep in mind because in its day the Achaemenid Empire was if not the dominant one of the very dominant empires of the world at its peak it had a population and this is roughly under diet Darius the great and we'll talk more about him use an interesting character but the Achaemenid Empire at its peak had approximately 50 million people and that's a lot of people at any time in history but especially at that time in history because at that time in history there was only a little over a hundred million people in the world or at least that's our current estimates so this is actually the largest proportion of the world's population that any Empire has ever had in history as far as we can tell so that gives it some claim to being maybe the greatest or one of the greatest empires in world history and then as we get into the Seleucid and especially the Parthian Empire you know in the West we talk a lot about the glory of the Roman Empire but the Parthians were right there beside of them and the they they kind of went back and forth but they were side by side the peak of the Parthian Empire coincides with the peak of the Roman Empire and they gave each other space and they went back and forth especially around the Middle East and you have this Empire from the Parthians you go to the sasanian z-- and eventually in the 7th century CE II you have the aslam comes into the Persian Empire and becomes the dominant religion and so that might make you ask well what was the dominant religion before that and the answer there is Zahra streon ISM Zoroastrianism and it was a streon ism and it was really Cyrus the Great by establishing the Persian Empire who really spreads Zoroastrianism and Zoroastrianism is based on their Prophet Zarathustra and when's our thirst er lived is up for some debate it might be as early as 1500 BCE some people say it might be even right before even coincident with the life of sighs the great so there's some debate on wins are through straw lived but it was a monotheistic religion following their following the one god of Ahura Mazda aura aura Mazda and it was based on these ideas of good thoughts lead to good words and good deeds other big ideas of the Persian Empire is their system of governments of governance they because it was such a vast empire they delegated the emperor the Shah and Shah the King of Kings delegated authority to the regions so each region each Satrapi had its governor called a satrap and as we see over time some of these satraps got more power than maybe was intended and then eventually took over but this was a major Empire in the history of the world they unified people they're famous for their for the Royal Road that connected Sardis all the way all the way to Seuss's you can imagine it might it would have facilitated the transfer of knowledge and the transfer of trade under the Seleucids you had huge Greek influence but it was a two-way street not only did the Greeks influence the Persians but the Persians heavily influenced the Greeks so with that in the next few videos we'll go into even more depth on the Persian Empire and specifically the akima needs
AP® is a registered trademark of the College Board, which has not reviewed this resource.