How did Archaemenid Persia manage to conquer such a massive empire in such a short period of time?

Jun 2019
13
London
I’ve been wondering about this question and decided to make this topic my first thread on this forum. I do a lot of reading on ancient near eastern empires, specially Assyriain the new Assyrian period. When compared the Achaemenid empire was much larger than that of the Assyrian empire at its peak, and it had taken the Assyrians well over 200 years to get that size. The Archamenids largest extent was under Darius I whose reign ended in 486 BC. So in what 64 years? the Archaemenids were able to rule over an empire larger than what had taken the Assyrians well over 200 years to build and much larger than all the other near eastern dynasties (Babylon, Egypt etc). How were they able to expand so fast?
 
Oct 2019
4
USA
Well, as Herodotus (contemporary to the Achaemenids) said, the Persians only taught their children three things, and two of them were how to ride and draw a bow.

The early Persians had, at their core, a nomadic, equestrian culture. In fact, even the later Parthians were strictly horsemen. We will see true Persian cities arise, but we should not envision the early Persians as urban folk with the typical military weaknesses of such. The Mongols, Huns, Scythians, and Turks all show that it was relatively easy for equestrian armies to sweep through urbanized lands and create large empires quickly.
 
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Oct 2016
1,174
Merryland
Yahweh used Persia to chastise Babylon
and used Cyrus to return the Hebrews to Israel

Isa 45:1-3 "Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut; I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron:
And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel."

Cyrus conceded divine assistance
2 Chron 36:23 "Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The LORD his God be with him, and let him go up."
 
Jun 2019
13
London
Well, as Herodotus (contemporary to the Achaemenids) said, the Persians only taught their children three things, and two of them were how to ride and draw a bow.

The early Persians had, at their core, a nomadic, equestrian culture. In fact, even the later Parthians were strictly horsemen. We will see true Persian cities arise, but we should not envision the early Persians as urban folk with the typical military weaknesses of such. The Mongols, Huns, Scythians, and Turks all show that it was relatively easy for equestrian armies to sweep through urbanized lands and create large empires quickly.
Interesting. I guess in terms of building a massive empire quickly the Mongols would be a good comparison in this regard. It’s just crazy how massive the Archaemenid empire was compared to others that came before it and how quickly it was able to build it. Ive read that the early Persian armies didn’t use chariots until they employed scythed chariots again the Greeks and relied on cavalry. When I look at the Archaemenids it seems they might have been one of the earliest if not the earliest army to employ cavalry as their main head without dependence on chariots unlike the Babylonians and Assyrians (although I think the latter were weaning away from chariots in their latter years). I’m wondering if that wouldn’t have given them an advantage against the more traditional Babylonians who if I recall correctly still employed chariots as a significant wing of their army?
 
Oct 2016
1,174
Merryland
IIRC the 'Wise Men' (Magi) of the Christmas story were Medes

I think the Medes were to the Persians as Britain to the USA, or the Greeks to the Romans, sort of respected older brothers.
 
Jun 2019
13
London
Ahhhh it's all coming back to me now. The most I'd read about Archaemenid history was in Tom Holland's Persian fire. I do remember reading about Cyrus rebelling successfully. So essentially Cyrus was able to rebel and take over a massive Kingdom and with this new powerbase conquer a massive empire with ridiculous speed, conquests which would be added to by his Son and eventually Darius I.

Thanks for the animation!
 
Mar 2013
1,040
Breakdancing on the Moon.
1) Taking over the Median infrastructure helped massively.
2) Co-opting the existing elites and infrastructure in new subject territories.