The Persian Empire (538 BC - 331 BC) caused the demise of both Babylon and Egypt

Peter Myers, November 25, 2008; typing correction May 8, 2009.

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The Persian Empire (538 BC - 331 BC) caused the demise of both Babylon and Egypt.

It initially tolerated the traditional religions of Babylon and Ancient Egypt, but, after uprisings, later suppressed them; they never regained their former independence. With Alexander's takeover of the Persian Empire (331 BC), they became part of the Hellenistic world.

After Alexander, the empire split into three. The Seleucid emperor Seleucus founded the city of Seleucia between 307 and 300; mass emigrations begin to depopulate nearly Babylon.

In 38 AD the Latin author Strabo reported that Seleucia was much larger than Babylon, the latter now for the most part empty and desolate.

About 190 AD the Greek author Lucian of Samosata wrote, "But there is Babylon, the well-towered city, with its enormous wall; before long it will be as hard to find as Nineveh".

Eastern Greece (Ionia in Asia Minor) was in the Persian Empire, as was Western India; both Greek and Indian soldiers served in the Persian army. Travel between Greece and India was facilitated by the Royal Highway, a project begun by Assyria and continued by Persia.

(1) Cyrus captures Babylon (538 BC); Darius retakes Babylon (521 BC) after a revolt (2) Cyrus tolerates Babylon religion (538 BC), but Xerxes suppresses it (476 BC) (3) Darius calls himself "a Persian, son of a Persian, an Aryan, having Aryan lineage" (4) Xerxes' religious policy, with relation to Egypt and Babylon

(1) Cyrus captures Babylon (538 BC); Darius retakes Babylon (521 BC) after a revolt

Persian and Seleucid Rulers of Babylon

Achæmenid Dynasty (Persian; religion: Native (polytheism); captials Pasargadæ and Persepolis)*

(Achæmenid rulers previous to Cyrus' conquering Babylon: Achæmenes Teispes Cyrus Cambyses)

(104) Cyrus (II) "The Great" 559-530

Captures Babylon during the regency of Bel-?ar-usur (Belshazzar) in 538 b.c.e.

Persian Satraps of the Province of Babylon:

Gubaru 538-525

(105) Cambyses II 529-522

(Satrap) U?tani 524 (?) - 516 Smerdis 522

(106) Darius I 522-486 (distant cousin of Cyrus)

makes Susa administrative capital, Persepolis royal residence

(107) Nidintu-Bel claims to be Nabonidus' son, takes name Nabu-kudurri-usur (III), "King of Babylon"

Darius retakes Babylon on 18 December, 521 b.c.e.

(108) Arahu claims to be Nabonidus' son, takes name Nabu-kudurri-usur (IV), "King of Babylon" in 521 b.c.e.

Darius retakes rebel city on 27 November, 521 b.c.e.

(Satrap 3 (?)) Zopyrus (unknown dates, see Herodotus III. 159)

(Satrap 4 (?)) Tritantaichmes (unknown dates, see Herodotus I. 192)

(Satrap 5 (?)) "Huta[.....], son of Pagakânna" ? - 486 (see tablet BM 74554)

(109) Xerxes I 485-465

Three Rebel Kings of Babylon between 482 and 476 b.c.e.:

(110) Bel-?imanni 482 (111)?ama?-erba 480 (?) (112) U?hu?i-kû?ti (?) 478-476 (?)

Xerxes sacks Babylon in 476, burns Esagila and Etemenanki, removes Marduk from temple (possibly returned by Alexander the Great)

(The following Persian Kings did not call themselves "King of Babylon," possibly because Marduk, who legitimated rulers, was gone):

Artaxerxes I 464-425 Xerxes II 424 Sogdianus 424 Darius II 423-405 Artaxerxes II 404-359 Artaxerxes III 358-338 Arses 337-336 Darius III 335-330

Alexander The Great conquers Babylon, Susa and Persepolis, 331 b.c.e.; commands rebuilding of Esagila

(113) Alexander 330-323

dies in Babylon, 323 Diadochi (successors of Alexander in the Satrapy of Babylonia) 323-312 Archon (Satrap) 323

114. Philippos Arrhidaios, King of Babylon 323-316 b.c.e.

(Seleucid Satraps) Dochimos 323-321

Seleucus (Satrap) 321-316 (later becomes King, 312 b.c.e.)

Begins rebuilding Esagila complex; Eumenes (rebel) occupies part of Babylon from 318-316, forces Seleucus to flee to Egypt, 316

Peithon (Satrap) 316-312

(115) Alexander IV, son of Alexander The Great (nominal King of Babylon, 316-307)

(Alexander IV probably assassinated with his mother Roxane in 310 b.c.e.)

(116) Seleucus Nikator (the Victor) 312-310

regains Babylon from Eumenes 312, general rejoicing in Babylon; Seleucid Era begins this year, used until 384 S.E. (72-73 c.e.) in extant cuneiform inscriptions)

Demetrios (son of Antigonus)

takes Babylon during 310-309, while Seleucus absent

Seleucus regains Babylon in 308 (?)

Seleucus founds Seleucia sometime between 307 and 300; mass emigrations begin to depopulate Babylon

Antigonus takes Babylon sometime during 302-301

Seleucus again master of Babylon, 301

Seleucid DynastyÝ (religion Greek, capital Seleucia)

116. Seleucus I (Nikator) 311-281 117. Antiochus I (Soter) 281-261 118. Antiochus II (Theos) 261-246 119. Seleucus II (Callinicus) 246-226 120. Seleucus III (Soter) 225-223 121. Antiochus III (The Great) 222-187 122. Seleucus IV (Philopator) 187-175 123. Antiochus IV (Epiphanes) 175-164 124. Antiochus V (Eupator) 164-162 125. Demetrius I (Soter) 162-150

126. Timarchos (Satrap of Media) proclaims himself King of Babylon 161-160; caught and executed by Demetrius in 160 b.c.e. 127. Alexander Balas 150-145 128. Demetrius II (Nikator) 145-139 129. Antiochus VI (Epiphanes) 145-142

Mithridates I (Arsacid Dynasty) takes Babylon 141-140, although probably not made King 130. Demetrius II (2nd time) 140

Mithridates I (Arsacid Dynasty) 2nd time, 139-136 131. Antiochus VII Sidites (Euergetes) 136-129

regains territory from Arsacids

Antiochus King of Babylon 130-129 b.c.e. 132. Hyspaosines (Satrap of Characene appointed by Antiochus VII) 129-126; King of Babylon 127-126133. Himeros (Arsacid General)

has Babylon 126-122 (called himself King and issued coins at least 124-123 b.c.e.)

Himeros is the last recorded person to be called "King of Babylon" Arsacid Dynasty ("Parthian" - founded 256; religion Zoroastrian, captial Ctesiphon)ý

Arsacid Dynasty prior to conquest of Babylon: Arsaces I 250-248 b.c.e. Arsaces II (Tiridates I) 248-211 Artabanus I 211-191 Priapatius 191-176 Phraates I 176-171 Mithridates I 171-138 Phraates II 138-128 Artaban II 128-124

1. Mithridates II 124-88 b.c.e.

captures Babylon from Himeros, 122 b.c.e.

Esagila's last recorded service, 93 b.c.e. 2. Gorarzes I 91-81 3. Orodes I 80-76 4. Sanatrokes 76/5-70/69 4. Phraates III &0/69-58/57

Latin author Diodorus Siculus reports that Babylon is only partially inhabited, and the temples are in ruins; most of the space withing the walls is arable land (II,7-10) 5. Mithridates III 58/57-55 6. Orodes II 57-37/36 7. Pacorus I 38 c.e.

Latin author Strabo reports that Seleucia is much larger than Babylon, the latter now for the most part empty and desolate; Etemenanki is still visible (XVI.1,5)8. Phraates IV 38/37-3/2 b.c.e. 9.Tiridates II 30-25 10. Phraataces 3/2 b.c.e. - 2/3 c.e. 11. Orodes III 4-6/7 12. Vonones I 7-11/12 13. Artaban III 12-38

14. Tiridates III 36

15. Cinnamus 37

16. Gotarzes II 38-51

17.Vardanes 39-4718. Vonones II 51 19. Vologases I 51-77

Last dated cuneiform text - an astromical compendium for calendrical use containing also predictions of planetary positions, provenance Babylon (Seleucid Era 385=74/75 c.e.)20. Pacorus II 78-109

21. Artaban IV 79-8022. Osroes 109-128

23. Parthamaspates 117

Romans control Babylonia shortly during 117 24. Vologases II 105-147 25. Mithridates IV 128-147 26. Vologases III 148-192

Greek author Lucian of Samosata writes "But there is Babylon, the well-towered city, with its enormous wall; before long it will be as hard to find as Nineveh" (XII, 23)27. Vologases IV 190/91-207

Roman Emperor Septimus Severus captures Babylon and Ctesiphon, 198 c.e.28. Vologases V 207-222 29. Artaban V 213-228 30. Artavasdes 228-?

The Sassanian conquest of 224 appears to have allowed the last Arsacids Vologases V and Artavasdes some autonomy up to at least 228

Sassanian Dynasty (2nd Persian or "New Persian" Dynasty, founded by Sassan (two generations earlier, son Papak), religion Zoroastrianism)§ 1. Arda?ir (Artaxerxes) I 224-241 2. ?apur (Sapor) I 241-272

makes Ctesiphon western capital of Sassanian Empire 3. Hormizd (Hormisdas) I 272-273 4. Varahran (Bahram) I 273-276 5. Varahran (Bahram) II 276-293 6. Varahran (Bahram) III 293 7. Narses 293-302 8. Hormizd (Hormisdas) II 302-309 9. ?apur (Sapor) II 309-379

Roman Emperor Julian ("The Apostate") breaks down part of the wall of Babylon, which was then being used by the Sassanians as a Royal Game Preserve, in order to free the wild game and wreak havoc on the countryside (Zosimus, "New History" III,23) 10. Arda?ir (Artaxerxes) II 379-383 11. ?apur (Sapor) III 383-388 12. Varahran (Bahram) IV 388-399 13. Isdigerd (Yazdegerd) I 399-420 14. Varahan (Bahram) V 420-438 15. Isdigerd (Yazdegerd) II 438-457 16. Hormizd (Hormisdas) III 457-459 17. Perozes (Firuz) 457-484 18. Bala? 484-488 19. Kavadh (Kobad) I 488-496 20. Zamasp (Jamasp) 496-499 21. Kavadh (Kobad) I (2nd Time) 499-531 22. Chosroes I 531-579 23. Hormizd (Hormisdas) IV 579-590 24. Chosroes II 590-628

25. Varahran (Bahram) VI 590-591

26. Bistam 591-596

27.Kavadh (Kobad) II 627-62828. Arda?ir (Artaxerxes) III 628-630 29. Purandokht (Princess) 629-631 30. ?ahrbaraz (Princess) 630 31. Hormizd (Hormisdas) V 631-632 32. Chosroes III 632-633 33. Isdigerd (Yazdegerd) III 633-651

The Moslem conquest of Mesopotamia in 632-633 allowed the Sassanid Dynasty to expire peacefully.


(2) Cyrus tolerates Babylon religion (538 BC), but Xerxes suppresses it (476 BC)

Cylinder seal and inscription of Cyrus the Great from Babylon

I am Cyrus, king of the world, great king, mighty king, king of Babylon, king of the land of Sumer and Akkad, king of the four quarters, son of Cambyses, great king, king of Anshan, grandson of Cyrus, great king, king of Anshan, descendant of Teispes, great king, king of Anshan, progeny of an unending royal line, whose rule Bel and Nabu cherish, whose kingship they desire for their hearts' pleasures. When I, well-disposed, entered Babylon, I established the seat of government in the royal palace amidst jubilation and rejoicing. Marduk, the great God, caused the big-hearted inhabitants of Babylon I sought daily to worship him. My numerous troops moved about undisturbed in the midst of Babylon. I did not allow any to terrorize the land of Sumer and Akkad. I kept in view the needs of Babylon and all its sanctuaries to promote their well being. The citizens of Babylon... I lifted their unbecoming yoke. Their dilapidated dwellings I restored. I put an end to their misfortunes. At my deeds Marduk, the great Lord, rejoiced, and to me, Cyrus, the king who worshipped, and to Cambyses, my son, the offspring of my loins, and to all my troops, he graciously gave his blessing, and in good spirit is before him we/glorified/exceedingly his high divinity....



Author: Grote, George

Persepolis Old Persian KHSHAYARSHA, by name XERXES THE GREAT Persian king (486-465 BC), the son and successor of Darius I. He is best known for his massive invasion of Greece from across the Hellespont (480 BC), a campaign marked by the battles of Thermopylae, Salamis, and Plataea. His ultimate defeat spelled the beginning of the decline of the Achaemenid Empire. Accession to the throne.

Xerxes was the son of Darius I and Atossa, daughter of Cyrus; he was the first son born to Darius after his accession to the throne. Xerxes was designated heir apparent by his father in preference to his elder brother Artabazanes. A bas-relief on the southern portico of a courtyard in the treasury of Persepolis, as well as the bas-reliefs on the east door of the tripylon (an ornamental stairway) depicts him as the heir apparent, standing behind his father, who is seated on the throne. When his father died, in 486 BC, Xerxes was about 35 years old and had already governed Babylonia for a dozen years.

One of his first concerns upon his accession was to pacify Egypt, where a usurper had been governing for two years. But he was forced to use much stronger methods than had Darius: in 484 BC he ravaged the Delta and chastised the Egyptians. Xerxes then learned of the revolt of Babylon, where two nationalist pretenders had appeared in swift succession. The second, Shamash-eriba, was conquered by Xerxes' son-in-law, and violent repression ensued: Babylon's fortresses were torn down, its temples pillaged, and the statue of Marduk destroyed; this latter act had great political significance: Xerxes was no longer able to "take the hand of" (receive the patronage of) the Babylonian god. Whereas Darius had treated Egypt and Babylonia as kingdoms personally united to the Persian Empire (though administered as satrapies), Xerxes acted with a new intransigence. Having rejected the fiction of personal union, he then abandoned the titles of king of Babylonia and king of Egypt, making himself simply "king of the Persians and the Medes.Ó It was probably the revolt of Babylon, although some authors say it was troubles in Bactria, to which Xerxes alluded in an inscription that proclaimed: And among these countries (in rebellion) there was one where, previously, daevas had been worshipped. Afterward, through Ahura Mazda's favour, I destroyed this sanctuary of daevas and proclaimed, "Let daevas not be worshipped!" There, where daevas had been worshipped before, I worshipped Ahura Mazda.

Xerxes thus declared himself the adversary of the daevas, the ancient pre-Zoroastrian gods, and doubtlessly identified the Babylonian gods with these fallen gods of the Aryan religion. The questions arise of whether the destruction of Marduk's statue should be linked with this text proclaiming the destruction of the daeva sanctuaries, of whether Xerxes was a more zealous supporter of Zoroastrianism than was his father, and, indeed, of whether he himself was a Zoroastrian. The problem of the relationship between the Achaemenid religion and Zoroastrianism is a difficult one, and some scholars, such as M. Molé, have even thought that this is an improper posing of the question, that there were, rather, three different states of religion: a religion of strict observance, a royal religion as attested by the Achaemenid inscriptions, and the popular religion as described by the Greek historian Herodotus.

(3) Darius calls himself "a Persian, son of a Persian, an Aryan, having Aryan lineage"

Achaemenid Royal Inscriptions: DNa

In ca.521, the Persian king Darius I the Great ordered that a new alphabet, the Aryan script, was to be developed. This was used for a small corpus of inscriptions, known as the Achaemenid Royal Inscriptions. An overview of all inscriptions can be found here.

Darius was buried at Naqs-i Rustam, where he left two inscriptions.

DNa, in the upper register, can be regarded as his political autobiography. It can be read below.

DNb as a theological and moral testament. It is in the central register of the tomb

{quote - DNa} A great god is Ahuramazda, who created this earth, who created yonder sky, who created man, who created happiness for man, who made Darius king, one king of many, one lord of many.

I am Darius the great king, king of kings, king of countries containing all kinds of men, king in this great earth far and wide, son of Hystaspes, an Achaemenid, a Persian, son of a Persian, an Aryan, having Aryan lineage.

King Darius says: By the favor of Ahuramazda these are the countries which I seized outside of Persia; I ruled over them; they bore tribute to me; they did what was said to them by me; they held my law firmly; Media, Elam, Parthia, Aria, Bactria, Sogdia, Chorasmia, Drangiana, Arachosia, Sattagydia, Gandara, India, the haoma-drinking Scythians, the Scythians with pointed caps, Babylonia, Assyria, Arabia, Egypt, Armenia, Cappadocia, Lydia, the Greeks, the Scythians across the sea, Thrace, the sun hat-wearing Greeks, the Libyans, the Nubians, the men of Maka and the Carians.

King Darius says: Ahuramazda, when he saw this earth in commotion, thereafter bestowed it upon me, made me king; I am king. By the favor of Ahuramazda I put it down in its place; what I said to them, that they did, as was my desire.

If now you shall think that "How many are the countries which King Darius held?" look at the sculptures [of those] who bear the throne, then shall you know, then shall it become known to you: the spear of a Persian man has gone forth far; then shall it become known to you: a Persian man has delivered battle far indeed from Persia. Darius the King says: This which has been done, all that by the will of Ahuramazda I did. Ahuramazda bore me aid, until I did the work. May Ahuramazda protect me from harm, and my royal house, and this land: this I pray of Ahuramazda, this may Ahuramazda give to me!

O man, that which is the command of Ahuramazda, let this not seem repugnant to you; do not leave the right path; do not rise in rebellion!

{end DNa}

{quote - DNb} A great god is Ahuramazda, who created this excellent thing which is seen, who created happiness for man, who set wisdom and capability down upon King Darius.

King Darius says: By the grace of Ahuramazda I am of such a sort, I am a friend of the right, of wrong I am not a friend. It is not my wish that the weak should have harm done him by the strong, nor is it my wish that the strong should have harm done him by the weak.

The right, that is my desire. To the man who is a follower of the lie I am no friend. I am not hot-tempered. What things develop in my anger, I hold firmly under control by my thinking power. I am firmly ruling over my own impulses.

The man who is cooperative, according to his cooperation thus I reward him. Who does harm, him according to the harm I punish. It is not my wish that a man should do harm; nor indeed is it my wish that if he does harm he should not be punished.

What a man says against a man, that does not convince me, until I hear the sworn statements of both.

What a man does or performs, according to his ability, by that I become satisfied with him, and it is much to my desire, and I am well pleased, and I give much to loyal men.

Of such a sort are my understanding and my judgment: if what has been done by me you see or hear of, both in in the palace and in the expeditionary camp, this is my capability over will and understanding.

This indeed my capability: that my body is strong. As a fighter of battles I am a good fighter of battles. When ever with my judgment in a place I determine whether I behold or do not behold an enemy, both with understanding and with judgment, then I think prior to panic, when I see an enemy as when I do not see one.

I am skilled both in hands and in feet. As a horseman, I am a good horseman. As a bowman, I am a good bowman, both on foot and on horseback. As a spearman, I am a good spearman, both on foot and on horseback.

These skills that Ahuramazda set down upon me, and which I am strong enough to bear, by the will of Ahuramazda, what was done by me, with these skills I did, which Ahuramazda set down upon me.

O man, vigorously make you known of what sort I am, and of what sort my skillfulnesses, and of what sort my superiority. Let not that seem false to you, which has been heard by your ears. Listen to what is said to you.

O man, let that not be made to seem false to you, which has been done by me. That do you behold, which has been inscribed. Let not the laws be disobeyed by you. Let not anyone be untrained in obedience. [The last line is unintelligible]

{end DNb}

{endquote} zoroastrianism.html

(4) Xerxes' religious policy, with relation to Egypt and Babylon

Xerxes' religious policy, with relation to Egypt and Babylon ...

Vestigia Vetustatis Place for all the history buffs to discuss the full spectrum of history.

Scorch July 15, 2007, 08:36 PM / Xerxes' religious policy, with relation to Egypt and Babylon ... #1

We're told by Herodotus that Xerxes treated the Egyptians and Babylonians harshly because of their revolt shortly after he took the throne. However I'm also told that there's no evidence to suggest this at all. I'm quite curious, what do you guys think?

Xerxes surely lacked the tolerance that Darius showed in dealing with the religion of his subjects, and it's likely that he was more wary of appearing as a representative of the gods of the subject people, but I'm not quite sure that he would have treated them harshly because of the revolts. Helios Issue 29: Feel the power! Feel it! Patronized by Ozymandias, Patron of Lucius Julius, Scar Face, Ibn Rushd and Thanatos. rez July 16, 2007, 08:20 AM / Re: Xerxes' religious policy, with relation to Egypt and Babylon ... #2 Running time! Interesting question Scorch.

From the outset we know that Xerxes was a far greater devotee to Ahuramazda than Darius ever was due to the Daiva inscription which details his retribution inflicted on a shrine to the Daivas (demons/false Gods).

Following on from this we have Xerxes's burning of the Acropolis and the melting down of the statues of Marduk in Babylon. His behaviour in Egypt was of a more obviously political nature in tying the Egyptian populace back into serfdom to cow their pride.

The previous examples however are more to do with political reasons than with religious ones. The burning of the Acropolis was revenge for the burning of Sardis which devastated not only the city but a great many temples.

The Melting down of the statues in Babylon was only a secondary punitive measure after the great walls of Babylon were apparently torn down. However the melting down of statues came at the time of Xerxes's monumental preparations for his invasion of Greece. As such I believe Xerxes would have been motivated more by the need of gold rather than for religious reasons. In effect he was killing two birds with one stone by punishing the Babylonians and appropriating a large amount of gold bullion.

The religious retribution of the Daiva inscription took place in Iran and as such does nothing to take away from the Persian policy to meddle as little as possible with their subjects culture.

In dealing with how other nations were treated in Xerxes's early years it is critical to remember that he was on the eve of launching the greatest expedition ever attempted. This required the king, the seat of all political power, to leave the empire with the vast majority of its military personnel. As such it was imperative that he make sure no one had any ideas above their station before he left. So in the end his hand was forced in order to preserve the empire for his return.

Apologies for the lack of citations but these are the holidays and my books are few and far between.