1. The Persian Empire. JM Cook  1983 Book Club Associates.
2. World Faiths, SA Nigosian, Victoria College, Toronto, 1994.
3. Lecture at the British Museum




Two Aryan groups the Medes and Persians settled in Iran in two waves, the first in 1400 BCE and again in 1000 BCE from southern Russia, Indoeuropean homeland. Mostly before 1000 BCE coming down east sideof Caspian sea. Language more European (Latin), not semetic. These people bury their dead in cemeteries, not under the house like natives. Red burnished pottery with shinny black surface – big spouted vessels.3

In 9th cent BC – inscriptions of Assyrian Kings mention warlike Medes.

In the 8th century Medes conquered native peoples, Urartu in the north. The Hittites did the same in the west and the Assyrians in the south.

612 BC Assyrian Empire collaspes. Medes as well as Babylonians responsible. Medes also moved into Anatolia then they merged with the Persians under Cyrus.

In the 6th century the Persians overthrow the Medes. 539 – the fall of Babylon – returned to city’s statues taken away by Babylonian kings, let peoples return to their homelands, ie Jews to Jerusalem.


Cyrus the Great                        560-530
Cambyses                                530-522
Bardiya (Smerdis)                     522
Darius I                                    522-486
Xerxes I                                   486-465
7 more
Darius III (Kodomannos)            336-330


Notes from a Lecture at the British Museum

In 550 BC Cyrus the Great overthrew Astyages, the Medes King. He then conquered wetern Anatolia and next the Neo Babylonian Empire. Babylon fell to him in 539. He is the  “Ruler of the World.” The capital is at Pasargadae. Cyrus killed up by NE of the Aral Sea. Next Cambyses, died campaigning in Egypt while on return to Iran to deal with a dispute. Darius I comes out of the revolt. First coins. Perceplus is the capital along with palace at Suia?. Reliefs of immortals with gods, delegations bringing stuff to Persian Kings.

Medes wear trouser shorts, helmets that cover ears. Persians long pleated dress, feathered head dress.

Cylinder Seals, saw one of Darius’ personal seals.

Zoroasterism? Horamasder is the God whom they worshipped but did they follow Zoroaster the prophet?

Persian Silver – top middle inscription: old persian cuneform dates to Xexces. Persian cuneform different from Assyrian cuneform.

Oxus Treasure – most from 5-4th cent. Rich temples from North bank of river Oxus in Bactria (N of Afghanistan) found btw 1877 by villagers sold to 3 merchants from N Africa? To sell in NW India, held up in Kabul – to the hills servant escaped and found a British military camp – the solidiers found the cave and the bandits and got most of the treasure.

Temple of Takhi-i Kuwad

Gold placks – further indications of Zoroasterianism. Mostly men in Median dress

Votive, to be left behind in the temple

Objects: presents to the temple, a gold chariot

Scarab – different scenes in a lion hut

Loads of coins – 1500 around the world, 30/40 in BM

Latest date Euthredemus 190BC, most reasure before 300BC but probably burned or sealed in 190.

Last Persian king: Darius III – he fled, but was murdered – Akadian Empire ends with Alexander the Great in the last battle – becomes Selecuid Empire

end lecture notes