Achaemenid Empire

c. 550–330 BC Iranian (Persian) empire

The Achaemenid Empire, or Persian Empire,[3] (550–330 BC) was the first Persian Empire to rule over significant portions of Greater Persia (or Iran). It followed the Median Empire as the second great empire of the Iranian peoples.[4] At the height of its power, the Achaemenid Empire had about 7.5 million square kilometres and was territorially the largest empire of classical antiquity.

Achaemenid Empire
شاهنشاهی هخامنشی ایران
550-330 BCE
Flag of Achaemenid Empire
The vexilloid of the Achaemenid Empire was a gold falcon on a field of crimson.[1][2]
Achaemenid Empire.
Achaemenid Empire.


Recognised regional languagesPersian, Elamite, Aramaic, Hebrew
• first King
Cyrus II, the Great
• last King
Darius III Codomannus
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Median Empire

The empire was forged by Cyrus the Great. It spanned three continents, including parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan; parts of Central Asia, Asia Minor, Thrace; much of the Black Sea coastal regions; Iraq, northern Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon and Syria; and all of the significant population centres of ancient Egypt as far west as Libya. The empire was the foe of the Greek city-states of the Greco-Persian Wars. It freed the Israelites from their Babylonian captivity and instituted Aramaic as the its official language. Because of the empire's vast extent and long endurance, Persian influence upon the language, religion, architecture, philosophy, law, and government of nations around the world has lasted ever since.



The empire began as a tributary state of the Medes but ended up conquering and enlarging them and including Egypt and Asia Minor. Under Xerxes, it came very close to conquering Ancient Greece. The Achaemenids were overthrown by Alexander the Great, who conquered it in 330 BCE.

The world, c. 500 BCE, showing the Achaemenid Empire (in brown) relative to the rest of the world at the time.

Kings and leaders

Provinces of the Achaemenid empire



  1. "Vexilloid of the Achaemenid Empire". Archived from the original on 2008-08-19. Retrieved 2008-07-27.
  2. "Flags of Persian History". Archived from the original on 2005-05-28. Retrieved 2008-07-27.
  3. Persian: هخامنشیان IPA: [haχɒmaneʃijɒn]
  4. The Iranian peoples spoke Indo-European languages such as Old Persian and Avestan.


  • Stronach, David "Darius at Pasargadae: a neglected source for the history of early Persia," Topoi
  • Stronach, David "Anshan and Parsa: early Achaemenid history, art and architecture on the Iranian Plateau". In: John Curtis, ed., Mesopotamia and Iran in the Persian period: conquest and imperialism 539–331, 35–53. London: British Museum Press, 1997.

Further reading


Other websites