Timeline Description: The Persian Empire was the most powerful kingdom of the ancient world. Though only in power for a little over 200 years, the Persians conquered lands that covered over 2 million square miles. From the southern portions of Egypt to parts of Greece and then east to parts of India, the Persian Empire was known for its military strength and wise rulers.
|550 B.C.||Cyrus rules (Around 550 B.C.).
Cyrus II, later known as Cyrus the Great, comes to power as king of Ashan in western Persis. Under his control all of Persis is united. He starts the Achaemenid dynasty.
|550 B.C.||Cyrus is attacked.
King Astyages of Media attacks Cyrus. During the fight, some of Astyages' men turn on their leader and Cyrus becomes the victor. He goes on to defeat the Medes and conquers Lydia.
|539 B.C.||Cyrus captures Babylon.
Cyrus continues his conquests and soon even Babylon is under his control.
|536 B.C.||The prophecy about Cyrus (Around 536 B.C.).
Two hundred years before Babylon is conquered, the prophet Isaiah has written of a great ruler named Cyrus who allows the Jews to rebuild their temple. When the scroll is read to Cyrus, he commands that the captive Jews of Babylon be allowed to return to rebuild their holy city.
|533 B.C.||Cyrus conquers more (533 - 529 B.C.).
Cyrus continues to take over more lands. In 533 B.C. he invades India. He later dies in battle in 529 B.C.
|529 B.C.||The family line goes on (529 - 522 B.C.).
After the death of his father, Cambyses II rules. He conquers both Egypt and Cyprus, extending the empire even more. He dies in 522 B.C.
|521 B.C.||Darius I reigns (521 B.C.).
Darius claims the throne, but Bardiya, presumably Cambyses' brother, claims it, too. Bardiya is eventually defeated and Darius becomes king of Persia.
|521 B.C.||Darius' contributions (521 B.C.)
Darius divides the empire into provinces called satrapies, each governed by a satrap. He links the empire by roads and has a common currency throughout. He also allows the Jews to continue rebuilding their temple after disputes from neighboring areas are brought to his attention.
|499 B.C.||Lydia rebels.
Lydia joins Persia after being conquered by Cyrus in 546 B., but they rebel in 499. Darius puts down the rebellion.
|490 B.C.||The Persian Wars (490 - 479 B.C.)
The Greeks and Persians battle for territory for several years. Sometimes the Persians win. Sometimes the Greeks win. In 485 B.C. Darius dies.
|485 B.C.||Xerxes I rules (485 - 465 B.C.).
Xerxes I comes to power after the death of Darius. He continues the war with Greece. The Persians burn Athens in 480, but are defeated at Salamis the following year when the fleet sinks. Xerxes is assassinated in 465.
|465 B.C.||Artaxerxes reigns (465 - 424 B.C.).
Xerxes' son, Artaxerxes, takes over the empire. During his reign he allows his cupbearer Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem to restore the walls to protect the city. In 447 B.C. a satrap from Syria revolts.
|404 B.C.||Artaxerxes comes to power (404 - 359 B.C.).
Artaxerxes comes to the throne in 404 after the reign of Darius II. He rules longer than any other Persian king. During this time, Egypt leads a successful revolt.
|359 B.C.||Artaxerxes III recaptures Egypt (359 - 338 B.C.).
Egypt doesn't stay independent for long. In 343 Persia regains control. Artaxerxes III is assassinated in 338 B.C. Arses takes over, but is assassinated two years later.
|336 B.C.||Darius and Alexander (336 - 330 B.C.).
Darius III takes over. In 334 Alexander the Great of Macedonia invades Central Asia. Darius loses three battles with Alexander and is finally defeated in 331. He is murdered in 330 B.C. The great Persian Empire is no more. The Persian Empire began with conquest and ended with defeat, but it will always be remembered as a powerful force that swept through the continents of Asia, Africa, and Europe.