updated on March 12th, 2019
In the Iron Age, Persia (Modern Iran) was inhabited by the Aryan communities. One branch of them, known as the Medes, settled in the western part of the country. Another branch occupied the southern and eastern parts and was called the Persians. The Medes built up a powerful kingdom covering a vast area of Iran. At first, the Persians also had to acknowledge the supremacy of the Medes. One of the Persian kings, Cyrus, united the Persians in 550 BC. He built a powerful army and successfully conquered Babylon, Assyria and Asia Minor.
The Persian emperors were able administrators. They divided their empire into provinces, each governed by a Satrap or Governor. The Persians were good soldiers with strong cavalry, navy and had iron weapons. Though the Persians were defeated by Alexander the Great in 331 BC, their
Like the Indo-Aryans, the early Persians worshipped the forces of nature. They believed in the sun god, sky god and other gods. They considered fire to be a symbol of holiness. They also performed fire rites and practised animal sacrifices. Later, a religious preacher Zoroaster found the religion called Zoroastrianism. He taught them about Ahura-Mazda, the Lord of Heaven and Light, who gives men strength and energy. According to Zoroaster, life was a constant struggle between good (light) and evil (darkness). The holy scripture of the Persians is called Zend – Avesta.
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