Ancient Persia: Miitary History
Wars, battles, weapons, and warfare history of the ancient Persians
After Kuroush (Cyrus) overthrew Astayges, unifying the Median and Persian tribes, with himself at the helm, he continued to expand his empire. Though Kuroush was immortalized in the bible for his great tolerance, his military genius helped him overcome many enemies in combat. He trained his soldiers through hefty routines to condition them for combat. During his expansion westward Kuroush battled the armies of Croseus, king of Lydia. Babylon was alarmed, but Kuroush in act of pure political savy, assured Babylon that he was not contemplating attacking them. At that time war in mountainous regions was seasonal. Fighting through the summers and taking a break during the harsh long winters. Kuroush decided to attack early in Spring, when the mountain passes had opened, but the Lydians were still unsuspecting. The Lydians had a formidable cavalry. To solve this issue Kuroush set camels up in front of his army. The ghastly smell from the camels terrified the Lydian horses who fled, leaving their masters hopeless. After conquering Lydia, with Babylon pacified for the time-being, Kuroush set his sights on his eastern domain. Attacking tribes in Afghanistan and Central Asia until his empire had expanded into kingdoms such as Bactria and Sogdiana. Prepared for Babylon, Kuroush moved to attack Babylon. Most people were discontent with their king Nabonidus. The battle was short as Nabonidus soon fled.
Achaemenid Imperial Army
The Achaemenian/Achaemenid army is well known through descriptions by Herodotus, Xenophon, and Arrian as well as by illustrations on Persepolitan and Greco-Persian monuments. Of particular importance for the topic are the Greek representations of Persian warriors and the evidence of the so-called Alexander Sarcophagus from Sidon The Persians whom Cyrus united did not possess a professional army: as in days of old, the "people" of a region was represented by its backbone, the "military force," so the two words were used synonymously in one Old Persian term, k�gra (cognate with Lithuaniank�grias/k�gris "war, army," Gothic harjis "army," and German Heer "army," , a sense still retained in the New Persian term kas-o k�gr "relatives and supporters."
Achaemenid Military Equipment
Alexander Defeats the Persians, 331 BC
Alexander began his war against the Persians in 334 BC. At the time the Macedonian leader was twenty-two years old. At his death eleven years later, Alexander ruled the largest empire of the ancient world. His victory at the battle of Gaugamela on the Persian plains was a decisive conquest that insured the defeat of his Persian rival King Darius III.
Battle of Cunaxa 410 B.C.
The Achaemenid King, Darius II died in 404 B.C. and was succeeded by his eldest son, Artaxerxes II. The death of Darius had precipitated a power struggle between Artaxerxes II and his brother, 'Cyrus, the younger', the satrap of Anatolia, which culminated in the battle of Cunaxa 401 B.C. near Babylon. A description of the battle is preserved in detail by Xenophon in his classic Anabasis as well as in Plutarch - Artaxerxes II.
Battle of Mycale
The Battle of Mycale was one of the two major battles that ended the Persian Wars and returned freedom to the Greek city-states. The battle took place on or about August 27, 479 BC outside the Ionian city of Samos. Mycale resulted in the destruction of the main Persian forces in Ionia, as well as their Mediterranean fleet. The Battle of Plataea on the same day on the Greek mainland was a victory as well, and the Persians were forced to leave both Greece and Ionia and retreat inland, thereby ending Persian rule. The battle is known to history through the writings of Herodotus of Halicarnassus.
Battle of Salamis
After the Battle of Thermopylae, Athens was in despair. The Athenians knew that their city would surely be destroyed by the Persians. There was simply no place between the Persians and Athens where the Greeks dared to risk battle. Most of the Athenians fled to the island of Salamis where they watched their city burn and placed their trust in the fleet.
Battles of Cyrus II
Under the leadership of Cyrus II, the Persians revolted against Median rule and defeated the Median King Astages and gained their freedom. The victory was initiated by Harpagus (a Median general) who sought revenge for the death of his son by Astages. Harpagus persauded others in the Median nobility to overthrow the harsh rule of their king in favour of Cyrus. The Median army was defeated after a short battle as many changed sides or fled, Astages was captured. The Medians gained their freedom from Astages but now became the subjects of Persia.
Battles of the Achaemenid Empire Timeline
The Persian wars. 490 - 448 BC
Campaigns of Achaemenid Persia 550 - 330 BC
The Achaemenid Kings and their Satraps were constantly involved in organising campaigns either to expand their empire or to fight in its defence. In doing so they showed themslves to be highly organised and capable of thorough planning in mobilising vast and hetergoneous forces.
Campaigns of Darius I - Ionian Revolt
Ionia, on the central Western coast of Asia Minor and the adjacent islands was settled by the Greeks about 1000 BC. Between the 8th and 6th centuries BC, the Ionian cities of Miletus, Shmos, Ephesus, led the rest of Greece in trade, colonization, and culture. The region was dominated by Lydia from 550 BC and then by Persian rule after Cyrus the Great's conquest in 546 BC. The Ionian revolt against Persian rule in 499 BC was to last for 6 years and end, not only in defeat for the Ionians but with the enslavement of much of its people, economic ruin, subjugation, and the comparative eclipse of a once thriving culture.
First Persian War
Marathon (First Persian War) After the Ionian Revolt of 499 BC, the Persians and their king Darius wanted to conquer Greece more than ever. Persia wanted to extend its territory. Also, the Greeks had helped the Ionians to revolt against the Persians, and had marched to Sardis and burned the city. The Persians condemned the Greeks as invading terrorists.
History of Iran: Achaemenid Army
he Achaemenian/Achaemenid Army is well known through descriptions by Herodotus, Xenophon, and Arrian as well as by illustrations on Persepolitan and Greco-Persian monuments. Of particular importance for the topic are the Greek representations of Persian warriors and the evidence of the so-called Alexander Sarcophagus from Sidon. The Persians whom Cyrus the Great united did not possess a professional army: as in days of old, the "people" of a region was represented by its backbone, the "military force," so the two words were used synonymously in one Old Persian term, kara (cognate with Lithuanian karias/karis "war, army," Gothic harjis "army," and German Heer "army,"), a sense still retained in the New Persian term kas-o kar "relatives and supporters."
History of Iran: Parthian Army
The Greco-Persian wars and Alexander's victories proved that light-armed troops could not stop heavy, well-trained, and brilliantly led infantry of the type of hoplites or phalanx. These could only be encountered with heavily armed and highly professional cavalry causing disorder in the massed ranks and then attacking them on vulnerable points with bowshots capable of piercing armour and lances effective against shields. This lesson went home with the Parthians who in ousting the Seleucids from Iran had ample opportunity to experience the effect of heavily armed professional infantry led by Macedonian kings, and soon came to learn about the armament, tactics, and strategy of the Roman empire as well. So they formed their armies on sound bases, taking into consideration what was needed and what was available to them.
Illustrated Persian Wars
Dr. J's Illustrated Persian Wars.
The Classical Age begins with the monumental Greek victory over the Persians in what have become known to us as the Persian Wars. Pericles makes reference to these wars when he boasts about the previous generation of Athenians' success in "stemming the tide of foreign aggression." The Persian Wars were really a series of Persian versus Greek battles, in which Greek citizens from many city-states fought against the barbarian (as they saw it) invaders. The Persian Wars are said to have been provoked by the gradual rejection of Persian authority by the Greek colonies along the Ionian coast (across the Aegean Sea from Athens, on the shore of the continent of Asia) from 499-494 BC. Living in the shadow of the Persian Empire, and tired of paying tribute, some of the colonies (founded during the Archaic period during the Age of Expansion/Colonization) tried flexing their muscles and were immediately and utterly trounced by the much more formidable Persians. Once the Persians invaded Eretria, one of the big naysayers, and enslaved her population, Athens (Persia's next target) knew that trouble was coming down the pike and prepared as best she could...
In 539 BC, Cyrus the Great made himself the King of Kings, and ruled all of West Asia. Along the coast of Anatolia (modern Turkey), Cyrus conquered first the Lydians and then the Greek cities that had been dependent on Lydia (LIH-dee-uh). The people who lived in these Greek cities in Turkey were called Ionians (eye-OH-nee-anns). Cyrus and the Persians made some changes in Ionia - they charged higher taxes and imposed tyrants who were loyal to the Persians. So the Ionians were not happy.
Persian Mythology, Gods and Goddesses - Part 2
Iran Politics Club: Persian Mythology, Gods & Goddesses Part 2.
Persian Mythology, Gods and Goddesses. A Pictorial Research and Guide
Persian Wars of Conquest
B.C. 550-512. Persian Empire versus Medes, Lydia, Babylon, Egypt and Scythia. The Persian Empire was the great rival of Ancient Greece during its Golden Age. It came to prominence under Cyrus the Great in 550 B.C., and lasted until it was overthrown by the Macedonians under Alexander the Great in 331 B.C.. During this period, Persia was the largest, richest and most powerful empire the world had known, encompassing the formerly great kingdoms of Medes (modern Iran), Babylon (modern Iraq and Syria), Lydia (modern Turkey), and Egypt, and at its peak stretched from Thrace in Europe to India.
Platea - Persian Wars - Battle of Platea
Spartans, Tegeans, and Athenians fought the Persian army that remained in Greece, at the final battle on Greek soil of the Persian Wars, the Battle of Plataea, in 479 B.C. Xerxes and his fleet had returned to Persia, but Persian troops remained in Greece, under Mardonius. They stationed themselves for battle in a place suitable for their horsemen -- the plain. Under the Spartan leader Pausanias, the Greeks stationed themselves advantageously in the foothills of Mt. Cithaeron.
Salamis - Second Persian War
The plan to stop the Persians at Thermopylae hadn't worked, and, in the late summer of 480 BC, the Persian army was marching south towards Athens. The Greeks got together to discuss what to do.
The Battle of Carrhae
It was probably on the third or fourth day after he had quitted the Euphrates that Crassus found himself approaching his enemy. After a hasty and hot march he had approached the banks of the Belik, when his scouts brought him word that they had fallen in with the Parthian army, which was advancing in force and seemingly full of confidence. Abgarus had recently quitted him on the plea of doing him some undefined service, but really to range himself on the side of his real friends, the Parthians. His officers now advised Crassus to encamp upon the river, and defer an engagement till the morrow; but he had no fears; his son, Publius, who had lately joined him with a body of Gallic horse sent by Julius Caesar, was anxious for the fray; and accordingly the Roman commander gave the order to his troops to take some refreshment as they stood, and then to push forward rapidly.
The Battle of Marathon, 490 B.C.
The battle of Marathon is one of history's most famous military engagements. It is also one of the earliest recorded battles. Their victory over the Persian invaders gave the fledgling Greek city states confidence in their ability to defend themselves and belief in their continued existence. The battle is therefore considered a defining moment in the development of European culture. In September of 490 BC a Persian armada of 600 ships disgorged an invasion force of approximately 20,000 infantry and cavalry on Greek soil just north of Athens. Their mission was to crush the Greek states in retaliation for their support of their Ionian cousins who had revolted against Persian rule.
The Early Achaemenid Persian Army
The Persian army was very multicultural in its make up. It consisted of trained regular units of Persian and Median infantry and cavalry supplemented by conscripts from subject nations within the empire and well as hired mercenaries or garrison troops from within or from outside the empire. The full time regular soldiers such as the Immortals were supplied with arms and armour and so are uniformly equipped, many allied contingents supplied their own equipment and fought in their own style. Hordes of lightly armed bow and javelin-man and non fighting camp attendants, wives, concubines and slaves account for the vast numbers that were characteristic of the Persian army.
The Early Achaemenid Persian Army - Equipment
Herodotus described the equipment of the Median and Persian infantry: "They wore soft caps called tiaras, multicoloured sleeved tunics with iron scale armour looking like the scales of fish, and trousers. Instead of aspides they carried gerrha with their bows cases slung below them. They carried short spears, large bows, cane arrows and daggers hanging from their belts beside the right thigh."
The Persian Immortals
Immortals: Greek name for an elite regiment in the ancient Achaemenid empire. In his description of the battle of Thermopylae (480 BCE), the Greek researcher Herodotus mentions a Persian elite corps which he calls the Ten Thousand or the Athanatoi, the 'Immortals'. He describes them as a body of picked Persians under the leadership of Hydarnes, the son of Hydarnes. This corps was known as the Immortals, because it was invariably kept up to strength; if a man was killed or fell sick, the vacancy he left was at once filled, so that the total strength of the corps was never less -and never more- than ten thousand.
The Persian Wars
In the 5th century BC the vast Persian Empire attempted to conquer Greece. If the Persians had succeeded, they would have set up local tyrants, called satraps, to rule Greece and would have crushed the first stirrings of democracy in Europe. The survival of Greek culture and political ideals depended on the ability of the small, disunited Greek city-states to band together and defend themselves against Persia's overwhelming strength. The struggle, known in Western history as the Persian Wars, or Greco-Persian Wars, lasted 20 years--from 499 to 479 BC.
After the Athenians beat the Persians in the First Persian War, at the battle of Marathon, the Persians left the Greeks alone for ten years. The Persians were busy fighting a revolt in Egypt, and their king Darius had died. But as soon as Darius' son Xerxes (ZERK-sees) settled the Egyptian revolt, he began to plan how he would conquer those terrorists in Greece.
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