Xerxes I

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Xerxes I
King of Persia and Media
Great King
King of Kings
King of Nations
Pharaoh of Egypt
Xerxes I relief.jpg
Rock relief of Xerxes at his tomb in Naqsh-e Rustam
King of Persia
Reign486–465 BC
Coronation October 486 BC
Predecessor Darius I
Successor Artaxerxes I
Pharaoh of Egypt
Reign486-465 BC
CoronationOctober 486 BC
Predecessor Darius I
Successor Artaxerxes I
Lord of Asia
Reign486-465 BC
CoronationOctober 486 BC
Predecessor Darius I
Successor Artaxerxes I
Born519 BC
Persia
DiedAugust 465 BC (aged 53 or 54)
Persia
Burial
Persia
Spouse Amestris, (disputed: Vashti and Queen Esther)
Issue Darius
Hystaspes
Artaxerxes I
Arsames
Amytis
Dynasty Achaemenid
Father Darius I
Mother Atossa
Religion Zoroastrianism [1]

Xerxes I ( /ˈzɜːrksz/ ; Old Persian : 𐎧𐏁𐎹𐎠𐎼𐏁𐎠 Xšayaṛša ( Loudspeaker.svg Khshāyarsha  ) [2] "ruling over heroes", [3] Greek ΞέρξηςXérxēs [ksérksɛːs] ; 519–465 BC), called Xerxes the Great, was the fifth king of kings of the Achaemenid dynasty of Persia. Like his predecessor Darius I, he ruled the empire at its territorial apex. He ruled from 486 BC until his assassination in 465 BC at the hands of Artabanus, the commander of the royal bodyguard.

Ancient Greek Version of the Greek language used from roughly the 9th century BCE to the 6th century CE

The Ancient Greek language includes the forms of Greek used in Ancient Greece and the ancient world from around the 9th century BCE to the 6th century CE. It is often roughly divided into the Archaic period, Classical period, and Hellenistic period. It is antedated in the second millennium BCE by Mycenaean Greek and succeeded by medieval Greek.

Achaemenid Empire first Persian Empire founded by Cyrus the Great

The Achaemenid Empire, also called the First Persian Empire, was an empire based in Western Asia founded by Cyrus the Great. Ranging at its greatest extent from the Balkans and Eastern Europe proper in the west to the Indus Valley in the east, it was larger than any previous empire in history, spanning 5.5 million square kilometers. Incorporating various peoples of different origins and faiths, it is notable for its successful model of a centralised, bureaucratic administration, for building infrastructure such as road systems and a postal system, the use of an official language across its territories, and the development of civil services and a large professional army. The empire's successes inspired similar systems in later empires.

Contents

Xerxes I is one of the Persian kings identified as Ahasuerus in the biblical Book of Esther. [4] [5] [6] He is also notable in Western history for his failed invasion of Greece in 480 BC. His forces temporarily overran mainland Greece north of the Isthmus of Corinth [7] [8] until the losses at Salamis and Plataea a year later reversed these gains and ended the second invasion decisively. Xerxes also crushed revolts in Egypt and Babylon. Roman Ghirshman says that, "After this he ceased to use the title of 'king of Babylon', calling himself simply 'king of the Persians and the Medes'." [9]

Ahasuerus name of one or more kings of Persia in the Hebrew Bible (Esther, Ezra, Daniel), cognate to the Greek form Xerxes or Artaxerxes

Ahasuerus is a name used several times in the Hebrew Bible, as well as related legends and Apocrypha. This name is applied in the Hebrew Scriptures to three rulers. The same name is also applied uncertainly to a Babylonian official noted in the Book of Tobit.

Book of Esther book

The Book of Esther, also known in Hebrew as "the Scroll" (Megillah), is a book in the third section of the Jewish Tanakh and, for some denominations, in a version with some additions, in the Christian Old Testament. It is one of the five Scrolls (Megillot) in the Hebrew Bible. It relates the story of a Hebrew woman in Persia, born as Hadassah but known as Esther, who becomes queen of Persia and thwarts a genocide of her people. The story forms the core of the Jewish festival of Purim, during which it is read aloud twice: once in the evening and again the following morning. The books of Esther and Song of Songs are the only books in the Hebrew Bible that do not explicitly mention God.

Second Persian invasion of Greece Invasion during the Greco-Persian Wars

The second Persian invasion of Greece occurred during the Greco-Persian Wars, as King Xerxes I of Persia sought to conquer all of Greece. The invasion was a direct, if delayed, response to the defeat of the first Persian invasion of Greece at the Battle of Marathon, which ended Darius I's attempts to subjugate Greece. After Darius's death, his son Xerxes spent several years planning for the second invasion, mustering an enormous army and navy. The Athenians and Spartans led the Greek resistance. About a tenth of the Greek city-states joined the 'Allied' effort; most remained neutral or submitted to Xerxes.

Xerxes oversaw the completion of various construction projects at Susa and Persepolis.

Susa ancient city in Iran

Susa was an ancient city of the Proto-Elamite, Elamite, First Persian Empire, Seleucid, Parthian, and Sasanian empires of Iran, and one of the most important cities of the Ancient Near East. It is located in the lower Zagros Mountains about 250 km (160 mi) east of the Tigris River, between the Karkheh and Dez Rivers. The site now "consists of three gigantic mounds, occupying an area of about one square kilometer, known as the Apadana mound, the Acropolis mound, and the Ville Royale mound."

Persepolis Ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire

Persepolis was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire. It is situated 60 km northeast of the city of Shiraz in Fars Province, Iran. The earliest remains of Persepolis date back to 515 BCE. It exemplifies the Achaemenid style of architecture. UNESCO declared the ruins of Persepolis a World Heritage Site in 1979.

Early life

Rise to power

Xerxes was born to Darius I and Atossa (daughter of Cyrus the Great). Darius and Atossa were both Achaemenids as they were both descendants of Achaemenes. While Darius was preparing for another war against Greece, a revolt spurred in Egypt in 486 BC due to heavy taxes and the deportation of craftsmen to build the royal palaces at Susa and Perseopolis. Under Persian law, the king was required to choose a successor before setting out on dangerous expeditions. When Darius decided to leave (487–486 BC), Darius prepared his tomb at Naqsh-e Rustam (five kilometers from his royal palace at Perseopolis) and appointed Xerxes, his eldest son by Atossa, as his successor. However, Darius could not lead the campaign due to his failing health and died in October 486 BC at the age of 64. [10]

Atossa Persian queen

Atossa was an Achaemenid empress and daughter of Cyrus the Great and Cassandane. She lived from 550 BC to 475 BC and was a sister of the Persian king Cambyses II and wife of Darius I.

Cyrus the Great King and founder of the Achaemenid Empire

Cyrus II of Persia, commonly known as Cyrus the Great, and also called Cyrus the Elder by the Greeks, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire, the first Persian Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Western Asia and much of Central Asia. From the Mediterranean Sea and Hellespont in the west to the Indus River in the east, Cyrus the Great created the largest empire the world had yet seen. Under his successors, the empire eventually stretched at its maximum extent from parts of the Balkans and Eastern Europe proper in the west, to the Indus Valley in the east. His regal titles in full were The Great King, King of Persia, King of Anshan, King of Media, King of Babylon, King of Sumer and Akkad, and King of the Four Corners of the World. The Nabonidus Chronicle notes the change in his title from simply "King of Anshan", a city, to "King of Persia". Assyriologist François Vallat wrote that "When Astyages marched against Cyrus, Cyrus is called ‘King of Anshan’, but when Cyrus crosses the Tigris on his way to Lydia, he is ‘King of Persia’. The coup therefore took place between these two events."

Achaemenes possibly mythical apical ancestor of the Achaemenid dynasty, living in the 7th century BC and possibly a ruler of Parsumash, a vassal state of the Median Empire

Achaemenes was the apical ancestor of the Achaemenid dynasty of rulers of Persia.

Probable depiction of Xerxes I as crown-prince, in the Audience scene of Darius, Persepolis. National Meusem Darafsh 37.JPG
Probable depiction of Xerxes I as crown-prince, in the Audience scene of Darius, Persepolis.
Xerxes I
Xerxes IXerxes IXerxes IXerxes IXerxes IXerxes IXerxes IXerxes I
Xerxes I
Xerxes (Xašayaruša/Ḫašayaruša) [11]
in hieroglyphs
Xerxes I
Xerxes IXerxes IXerxes IXerxes IXerxes IXerxes IXerxes IXerxes I
Xerxes I
Xerxes [12]
in hieroglyphs

Artobazan claimed the crown as the eldest of all the children; while Xerxes, on the other hand, urged that he was sprung from Atossa, the daughter of Cyrus, and that it was Cyrus who had won the Persians their freedom. Xerxes was also helped by a Spartan king in exile who was present in Persia at the time, Eurypontid king Demaratus, who argued that the eldest son does not universally mean they have claim to the crown, as Spartan law states that the first son born while the father is king is the heir to the kingship. [13] Some modern scholars also view the unusual decision of Darius to give the throne to Xerxes to be a result of his consideration of the unique positions that Cyrus the Great and his daughter Atossa enjoyed. [14] Artobazan was born to "Darius the subject", while Xerxes was the eldest son born in the purple after Darius's rise to the throne, and Artobazan's mother was a commoner while Xerxes's mother was the daughter of the founder of the empire. [15]

Demaratus Eurypontid King of Sparta from 515 until 491 BC

Demaratus, or Demaratos, was a king of Sparta from around 510 until 491 BC, 15th of the Eurypontid line, successor to his father Ariston. As king, he is known chiefly for his opposition to the other, co-ruling Spartan king, Cleomenes I. He later migrated to Achaemenid Persia where he was given asylum and land, and fought on the Persian side during the Second Persian invasion of Greece.

Born in the purple

Traditionally, born in the purple was a category of members of royal families born during the reign of their parent. This notion was later loosely expanded to include all children born of prominent or high-ranking parents. The parents must be prominent at the time of the child's birth so that the child is always in the spotlight and destined for a prominent role in life. A child born before the parents become prominent would not be "born in the purple". This color purple came to refer to Tyrian purple, restricted by law, custom, and the expense of creating it to royalty.

Xerxes was crowned and succeeded his father in October–December 486 BC [16] when he was about 36 years old. [17] The transition of power to Xerxes was smooth due again in part to the great authority of Atossa [18] and his accession of royal power was not challenged by any person at court or in the Achaemenian family, or any subject nation. [19]

Almost immediately, Xerxes crushed revolts in Egypt and Babylon that had broken out the year before, and appointed his brother Achaemenes as satrap over Egypt. In 484 BC, he outraged the Babylonians by violently confiscating and melting down [20] the golden statue of Bel (Marduk, Merodach), the hands of which the rightful king of Babylon had to clasp each New Year's Day. This sacrilege led the Babylonians to rebel in 484 BC and 482 BC, so that in contemporary Babylonian documents, Xerxes refused his father's title of King of Babylon, being named rather as King of Persia and Media, Great King, King of Kings (Shahanshah) and King of Nations (i.e., of the world). This comes from the Daiva Inscriptions of Xerxes, lines 6–13. [21]

Campaigns

Invasion of the Greek mainland

The soldiers of Xerxes I, of all ethnicities, on the tomb of Xerxes I, at Naqsh-e Rostam. Xerxes all ethnicities.jpg
The soldiers of Xerxes I, of all ethnicities, on the tomb of Xerxes I, at Naqsh-e Rostam.

Darius died while in the process of preparing a second army to invade the Greek mainland, leaving to his son the task of punishing the Athenians, Naxians, and Eretrians for their interference in the Ionian Revolt, the burning of Sardis, and their victory over the Persians at Marathon. From 483 BC, Xerxes prepared his expedition: The Xerxes Canal was dug through the isthmus of the peninsula of Mount Athos, provisions were stored in the stations on the road through Thrace, and two pontoon bridges later known as Xerxes' Pontoon Bridges were built across the Hellespont. Soldiers of many nationalities served in the armies of Xerxes from all over his multi-ethnic massive Eurasian-sized empire and beyond, including the Assyrians, Phoenicians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Jews, [25] Macedonians, European Thracians, Paeonians, Achaean Greeks, Ionians, Aegean islanders, Aeolians, Greeks from Pontus, Colchians, Indians and many more.

According to the Greek historian Herodotus, Xerxes's first attempt to bridge the Hellespont ended in failure when a storm destroyed the flax and papyrus cables of the bridges. In retaliation, Xerxes ordered the Hellespont (the strait itself) whipped three hundred times, and had fetters thrown into the water. Xerxes's second attempt to bridge the Hellespont was successful. [26] The Carthaginian invasion of Sicily deprived Greece of the support of the powerful monarchs of Syracuse and Agrigentum; ancient sources assume Xerxes was responsible, modern scholarship is skeptical. [27] Many smaller Greek states, moreover, took the side of the Persians, especially Thessaly, Thebes and Argos. Xerxes was victorious during the initial battles.

Xerxes set out in the spring of 480 BC from Sardis with a fleet and army which Herodotus estimated was roughly one million strong along with 10,000 elite warriors named the Persian Immortals. More recent estimates place the Persian force at around 60,000 combatants. [28]

Battle of Thermopylae and destruction of Athens

Achaemenid king killing a Greek hoplite. Impression from a cylinder seal, sculpted circa 500 BC–475 BC, at the time of Xerxes I. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Achaemenid king killing a Greek hoplite.jpg
Achaemenid king killing a Greek hoplite. Impression from a cylinder seal, sculpted circa 500 BC–475 BC, at the time of Xerxes I. Metropolitan Museum of Art.

At the Battle of Thermopylae, a small force of Greek warriors led by King Leonidas of Sparta resisted the much larger Persian forces, but were ultimately defeated. According to Herodotus, the Persians broke the Spartan phalanx after a Greek man called Ephialtes betrayed his country by telling the Persians of another pass around the mountains. At Artemisium, large storms had destroyed ships from the Greek side and so the battle stopped prematurely as the Greeks received news of the defeat at Thermopylae and retreated.

Foundations of the Old Temple of Athena, destroyed by the armies of Xerxes I during the Destruction of Athens in 480 BC. Foundations of the Old Athena Temple (foreground).jpg
Foundations of the Old Temple of Athena, destroyed by the armies of Xerxes I during the Destruction of Athens in 480 BC.

After Thermopylae, Athens was captured. Most of the Athenians had abandoned the city and fled to the island of Salamis before Xerxes arrived. A small group attempted to defend the Athenian Acropolis, but they were defeated. Xerxes ordered the Destruction of Athens and burnt the city, leaving an archaeologically attested destruction layer, known as the Perserschutt. [29] The Persians thus gained control of all of mainland Greece to the north of the Isthmus of Corinth. [8]

Battles of Salamis and Plataea

Xerxes was induced by the message of Themistocles (against the advice of Artemisia of Halicarnassus) to attack the Greek fleet under unfavourable conditions, rather than sending a part of his ships to the Peloponnesus and awaiting the dissolution of the Greek armies. The Battle of Salamis (September, 480 BC) was won by the Greek fleet, after which Xerxes set up a winter camp in Thessaly. [30]

According to Herodotus, fearing that the Greeks might attack the bridges across the Hellespont and trap his army in Europe, Xerxes decided to retreat back to Asia, taking the greater part of the army with him. [31] Another cause of the retreat might have been continued unrest in Babylon, which, being a key province of the Achaemenid Empire, required the king's own attention. [32] He left behind a contingent in Greece to finish the campaign under Mardonius, who according to Herodotus had suggested the retreat in the first place. This force was defeated the following year at Plataea by the combined forces of the Greek city states, ending the Persian offensive on Greece for good.

Construction projects

The rock-cut tomb at Naqsh-e Rustam north of Persepolis, copying that of Darius, is usually assumed to be that of Xerxes. Tomb of Xerxes.JPG
The rock-cut tomb at Naqsh-e Rustam north of Persepolis, copying that of Darius, is usually assumed to be that of Xerxes.

After the military blunders in Greece, Xerxes returned to Persia and oversaw the completion of the many construction projects left unfinished by his father at Susa and Persepolis. He oversaw the building of the Gate of All Nations and the Hall of a Hundred Columns at Persepolis, which are the largest and most imposing structures of the palace. He oversaw the completion of the Apadana, the Palace of Darius and the Treasury, all started by Darius, as well as having his own palace built which was twice the size of his father's. His taste in architecture was similar to that of Darius, though on an even more gigantic scale. [33] He had colorful enameled brick laid on the exterior face of the Apadana. [34] He also maintained the Royal Road built by his father and completed the Susa Gate and built a palace at Susa. [35]

Death

In August 465 BC, Artabanus, the commander of the royal bodyguard and the most powerful official in the Persian court, assassinated Xerxes with the help of a eunuch, Aspamitres. Although Artabanus bore the same name as the famed uncle of Xerxes, a Hyrcanian, his rise to prominence was due to his popularity in religious quarters of the court and harem intrigues. He put his seven sons in key positions and had a plan to dethrone the Achaemenids. [36]

Greek historians give contradicting accounts of events. According to Ctesias (in Persica 20), Artabanus then accused the Crown Prince Darius, Xerxes's eldest son, of the murder and persuaded another of Xerxes's sons, Artaxerxes, to avenge the patricide by killing Darius. But according to Aristotle (in Politics 5.1311b), Artabanus killed Darius first and then killed Xerxes. After Artaxerxes discovered the murder, he killed Artabanus and his sons. [37] Participating in these intrigues was the general Megabyzus, whose decision to switch sides probably saved the Achaemenids from losing their control of the Persian throne. [38]

Government

Religion

Vision in the kings council according to Herodotus

Xerxes I at the Hadish Palace of Xerxes, Persepolis (480-470 BCE). Persepolis, Iran (2471048564).jpg
Xerxes I at the Hadish Palace of Xerxes, Persepolis (480-470 BCE).

In Histories, Herodotus relates that the Persian King invites council of noblemen from Persia, with which he decided to share the following plans. Earlier attacks from Hellenic forces incited a need for recompense. Therefore two out of a handful noblemen were brave enough to cite their advice on the potential warfare coming up. One of which is Mardonius, who with slightly flattering words seemed to spur the king to his decision, and agreed on the matter. When Mardonius finished, it was said that slandering the neighbouring nation is not only hurting the man absent, but also the man deciding on it, implying the words were of no use to his decision. Artabanus, Xerxes uncle and brother of Darius I whose speech was heard made an impression on the king, wherewith the king furiously ascribed his advisor with cowardice. And fittingly disabled him to battle with the army, and stay home with the women. However, remarkably, later that night, he struggled on Artabanus words, and changed his mind. It was said Xerxes received a vision of a tall and handsome man reminding him the unfaithfulness of changing his mind, and emphasizing the decision made, should be pursued. The next day, his uncle was excused, and the Ionian and Dorian people were left in peace. However, that same night again, a vision was given to Xerxes.

Son of Darius, have you then plainly renounced your army's march among the Persians, and made my words of no account, as though you had not heard them? Know for certain that, if you do not lead out your army immediately, this will be the outcome of it: as you became great and mighty in a short time, so in a moment will you be brought low again.

The king, perplexed and confused, did not find the confidence to follow up its implications. Therefore Artabanus was told by the king he, on one term, decided to attack again. Before he made this verdict, he gave his uncle the order to wear his clothes and sleep in his bed, so that he would have that same vision. Darius brother squinted the eyes of disbelief, but determined not much later, to agree. Chapter seven ends. Chapter eight starts with the faring assertive naval armies from Greece. [39]

Artaborus about god

The story of the council above mentions the uncle of Xerxes. In his spoken words, he mentions a god that strikes whoever strives to attain anything above greatness. A god that humbles the people, and does not suffer their pride. From the factual information this seems to imply monotheism, which is in accordance with Zoroastrian beliefs of the time. [39]

Zoroastrian origin

Although Herodotus' report in the Histories has created debate concerning Xerxes's religious beliefs, modern scholars consider him a Zoroastrian. [40]

Children

Xerxes being designated by Darius I. Tripylon, Persepolis. The ethnicities of the Empire are shown supporting the throne. Ahuramazda crowns the scene. Designation of Xerxes I.jpg
Xerxes being designated by Darius I. Tripylon, Persepolis. The ethnicities of the Empire are shown supporting the throne. Ahuramazda crowns the scene.

By queen Amestris :

By unknown wives:

Cultural depictions

Trilingual inscription of Xerxes at Van (present-day Turkey.) Trilingual inscription of Xerxes, Van, 1973.JPG
Trilingual inscription of Xerxes at Van (present-day Turkey.)

Xerxes is the central character of the Aeschylus play "The Persians". Xerxes is the protagonist of the opera Serse by the German-English Baroque composer George Frideric Handel. It was first performed in the King's Theatre London on 15 April 1738. The famous aria "Ombra mai fù" opens the opera. [43]

The murder of Xerxes by Artabanus (Artabano), execution of crown prince Darius (Dario), revolt by Megabyzus (Megabise), and subsequent succession of Artaxerxes I is romanticised by the Italian poet Metastasio in his opera libretto Artaserse , which was first set to music by Leonardo Vinci, and subsequently by other composers such as Johann Adolf Hasse and Johann Christian Bach.[ citation needed ]

Queen Esther, a Jewish queen of Xerxes. Edwin Long, 19th century. Esther haram.jpg
Queen Esther, a Jewish queen of Xerxes. Edwin Long, 19th century.

Later generations' fascination with ancient Sparta, particularly the Battle of Thermopylae, has led to Xerxes' portrayal in works of popular culture. He was played by David Farrar in the fictional film The 300 Spartans (1962), where he is portrayed as a cruel, power-crazed despot and an inept commander. He also features prominently in the graphic novel 300 by Frank Miller, as well as the film adaptation 300 (2007) and its sequel 300: Rise of an Empire (2014), as portrayed by Brazilian actor Rodrigo Santoro, in which he is represented as a giant man with androgynous qualities, who claims to be a god-king. This portrayal has attracted controversy, especially in Iran. [44] Ken Davitian plays Xerxes in Meet the Spartans , a parody of the first 300 movie replete with sophomoric humour and deliberate anachronisms.

Other works dealing with the Persian Empire or the Biblical story of Esther have also featured or alluded to Xerxes, such as the video game Assassin's Creed II and the film One Night with the King (2006), in which Ahasuerus (Xerxes) was portrayed by British actor Luke Goss. He is the leader of the Persian Empire in the video game Civilization II and III (along with Scheherazade), although Civilization IV replaces him with Cyrus the Great and Darius I.[ citation needed ]

Xerxes (Ahasuerus) by Ernest Normand, 1888 (detail). Xerxes by Ernest Normand.jpg
Xerxes (Ahasuerus) by Ernest Normand, 1888 (detail).

Gore Vidal, in his historical fiction novel Creation (1981), describes at length the rise of the Achemenids, especially Darius I, and presents the life and death circumstances of Xerxes. Vidal's version of the Persian Wars, which diverges from the orthodoxy of the Greek histories, is told through the invented character of Cyrus Spitama, a half-Greek, half-Persian, and grandson of the prophet Zoroaster. Thanks to his family connection, Cyrus is brought up in the Persian court after the murder of Zoroaster, becoming the boyhood friend of Xerxes, and later a diplomat who is sent to India, and later to Greece, and who is thereby able to gain privileged access to many leading historical figures of the period. [45]

Xerxes (Ahasuerus) is portrayed by Richard Egan in the 1960 film Esther and the King and by Joel Smallbone in the 2013 film, The Book of Esther . In at least one of these films, the events of the Book of Esther are depicted as taking place upon Xerxes' return from Greece.[ citation needed ]

Xerxes plays an important background role (never making an appearance) in two short works of alternate history taking place generations after his complete victory over Greece. These are: "Counting Potsherds" by Harry Turtledove in his anthology Departures and "The Craft of War" by Lois Tilton in Alternate Generals volume 1 (edited by Turtledove).[ citation needed ]

Etymology and transliteration

Xerxes is the Greek version of the Old Persian name Xšaya-ṛšā, which is today known in New Persian as Khashayar (خشایار).

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Cassandane or Cassandana was an Achaemenian Persian noblewoman and the "dearly loved" wife of Cyrus the Great. She was a daughter of Pharnaspes. She bore four children for Cyrus : Cambyses II, who succeeded his father and conquered Egypt; Smerdis (Bardiya), who also reigned as the king of Persia for a short time; a daughter named Atossa, who later wed Darius the Great; and another daughter named Roxana.

Achaemenid conquest of the Indus Valley

The Achaemenid conquest of the Indus Valley refers to the Achaemenid military conquest and occupation for about two centuries of territories of the North-western regions of the Indian subcontinent. The conquest of the areas as far as the Indus river is often dated to the time of Cyrus the Great, in the period between 550-539 BCE. The first secure epigraphic evidence, given by the Behistun Inscription inscription, gives a date before or about 518 BCE. Achaemenid penetration into the area of the Indian subcontinent occurred in stages, starting from northern parts of the River Indus and moving southward. These areas of the Indus valley became formal Achaemenid satrapies as mentioned in several Achaemenid inscriptions. The Achaemenid occupation of the Indus Valley ended with the Indian campaign of Alexander the Great circa 323 BCE. The Achaemenid occupation, although less successful than that of the later Greeks, Sakas or Kushans, had the effect of acquainting India to the outer world.

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Bibliography

Ancient sources

Modern sources

Xerxes I
Born: 519 BC Died: 465 BC
Preceded by
Darius I
King of Kings of Persia
486 BC – 465 BC
Succeeded by
Artaxerxes I
Pharaoh of Egypt
486 BC – 465 BC