Ancient Persian Society Sample Answers

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Society
Kings Reigns
Cyrus: 560-530 BC
Darius: 522-486 BC
Xerxes: 486-465 BC
Artaxerxes: 465-425 BC

What was Susa?
Susa was originally the capital of Elam, located in a fertile agricultural area. Darius I is credited with transforming the city into the administrative capital for the Persian kings. It was accessible to Babylon, Ecbatana and the eastern parts of the empire.

Identify three Royal Palaces in this period
Susa, Pasargadae and Persepolis

Who or what was Bel Marduk?
Bel Marduk was the principal Babylonian God at the time of the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus the Great. Bel Marduk is honored in Babylon for bringing order to the cosmos, creating humankind and defending all other Gods against a usurper.

What is meant by ‘Immortals’?
The immortals were an elite force of Persian soldiers who performed the dual roles of imperial guard and standing army during wars. These elite groups were chosen from among Elamites as well as Persians & Medes and commanded by the Hazrapat. This supreme army was referred to as “The Immortals” as the number of men never dipped below 10,000.

Who were the Magi?
The Magi were a caste of Medes traditionally assigned the role of Priests. They were fundamental to the Zoroastrian religion as they carried out the religious rites for the state, such as the fire ceremony.

Outline the main features of the Behistan inscription
The Behistan inscription is a multilingual inscription incorporating Old Persian, Elamite and Babylonian cuneiform script. It was written by Darius between 522-486 BC and is located on a site on the route between Babylon and Ecbatana. Darius chose this site to display a permanent image and detailed account of his succession to the throne. This inscription was engraved on a cliff about 100m above the ground so it could be seen but not easily accessed and focused on two issues: Darius’ right to rule and his victories over rebels. The inscription is accompanied by a bas-relief of Darius with Ahuramazda above him, showing his religious hereditary sanction.

Name two provinces of the Persian empire
A province was a tribute paying area controlled and governed by Persia. Two such areas or provinces were Media and Assyria.

What is a satrapy?
A satrapy was a geographical division of the empire that helped to facilitate its legal and military administration. It is a region or province that is governed by a Satrap who were directly responsible to the king. The most important satrapies such as Babylon, Egypt and Lydia were often given to royal Princes.

Who or what is Ahuramazda?
Ahuramazda is the supreme deity of the Zoroastrian religion. It is represented as a winged disc with or without a human form. It is given the central position in royal inscriptions and often depicted above Persian kings on seals and reliefs. It is believe that Ahuramazda created man and earth and that he bestowed kingship onto the Achaemenids.

What was the Royal Road?
Darius constructed the Royal road which ran more than 2000 Km from imperial residence at Susa to the old Lydian capital at Sardis. It’s aim was to improve communication and facilitate trade throughout the empire. Along it were rest stations so that royal messengers could pass letters onto fresh messengers which ensured swift communication. Persepolis tablets refer to a system of horse changing on the royal road. Herodotus describes this as “so skillfully” being invented by the Persians so that nothing “accomplishes a journey with more speed than these messengers”. During his reign, Xerxes continued to expand the road to Persepolis.

Queens
Atossa, Artystone, Parasatys

Neighboring powers
Greece, Scythians, -- Babylon, Egypt

Different satrapies
Lydia
Babylon and the lands beyond the river
Bactria
Sogdia
Egypt

Different nationalities
Greeks
Syrians
Babylonians
Egyptians
Indians

Name two Persian sites
The Behistan Rock, Naqsh-i-Rushtam

Outline the role of foreign workers
A foreign...
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