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What Factors Explain The Persian Empire's Survival For Two Hundred Years?

1281 words - 6 pages

What factors explain the Persian (Archaemenid) empire's survival for two hundred years?Until the sixth century BC, they were a people shrouded in mystery. Living in the area east of the Mesopotamian region, the Persians were a disparate group of Indo-European tribes, some nomadic, some settled, that were developing their own culture and religion unique from that of the great cities to their west. Sometimes history is about ideas, and nothing more clearly emphasizes this aspect of history than the sudden eruption of Persians on to the world stage, or at least the world stage as it centered around Mesopotamia. For the sudden rise of Persian power not only over Mesopotamia, but over the entire ...view middle of the document...

The Persian system of taxation is tailored to each satrapy (the area ruled by a satrap, or provincial governor). At differing times there are between 20 and 30 satrapies in the empire, and each is assessed according to its supposed productivity. It is the responsibility of the satrap to collect the due amount and to send it to the emperor, after deducting his expenses. (The expenses, and the power of deciding precisely how and from whom to raise the money in the province, offer maximum opportunity for rich pickings.)There was no sudden increasing in tax amounts and no sky-high tax amounts. Even though the Persian kings had the same power as a Pharaoh, they did not abuse their power by being unfair in administrating justices. They were fair to everyone.Cyrus' son, Cambyses II, annexed Egypt to the Achaemenid Empire. The empire then reached its greatest extent under Darius I. He led conquering armies into the Indus River valley and into Thrace in Europe. His invasion of Greece was halted at the Battle of Marathon. His son Xerxes I also tried to subdue the Greeks, but his army was defeated at the Battle of Plataea 479 BC.Darius divided his realm into about twenty satrapies (provinces) supervised by satraps, or governors, many of whom had personal ties to the Shah. He instituted a systematic tribute to tax each province. He took the advanced postal system of the Assyrians and expanded it. Also taken from the Assyrians was the usage of secret agents of the king, known as the King's Eyes and Ears, keeping him informed.To improve trade, Darius set up a common set of weights & measures. He also encouraged the use of coins, which the Lydians of Asia Minor had first introduced. Most people continued to be part of the barter economy, exchanging one set of goods or services for another. Coins, however, brought merchants and traders into an early form of a money economy, replacing barter with the exchange of money. By setting up a single Persian coinage, Darius created economic links among his far-flung subjects.The Persian Empire was the largest and most powerful empire the world had yet seen. More importantly, it was well managed and organized. During the Achaemenid period, Zoroastrianism became the religion of the rulers and most of the people of Persia. Its founder Zoroaster had lived around anywhere between 600 BC and 1800 BC, and according to Plato and other Greek sources as early as 7000 BC[citation needed], making him a candidate as the founder of the earliest religion based on revealed scripture. The new religion was a new look at the traditional Aryan gods;...

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