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CYRUS THE GREAT

People List

BORN

PERSIS (FARS REGION) / SOUTHWEST IRAN

LIVED

590 - 529 BC


The lands between the Mediterranean Sea and the Caspian Sea were populated by many races fighting to control large parts of that vast region. As early as 1900 BC, the Hittites took control of northern and central Turkey. They also eventually captured the areas of Syria and Lebanon. It was at that time the battles with Egypt began. These battles put a great strain on the world’s two mightiest empires at that time.

The Hittite and Egyptian empires both eventually fell to the Assyrians. The Assyrian capital was Nineveh in northern Iraq. By 1200 BC, they had defeated the Hittites and went on to take control of the lands of Turkey, Syria, Palestine, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and parts of Iran.

By 612 BC, the Medes from Iran, the Babylon’s from Southern Iraq and the Lydian’s from Turkey had defeated the Assyrians and divided their empire into three regions.

By 587 BC, the Babylonians had taken control of Israel and exiled many of the Israelite people.

Cyrus the Great was born in the province of Persis (now Fars in Southern Iran) 590 BC. It is believed he was the grandson of Astyages, king of the Medes. Some say Astyages tried to have Cyrus killed as he thought the child could become a threat to his rule in years to come.

The people entrusted to kill the child gave him to a herdsman and his wife to raise as their own. It is unclear if this is true or if Cyrus made the story up so he could gain the support he needed to begin his rise to fame as he founded the Archaemenian Dynasty.

Cyrus the Great image

Cyrus the Great


Cyrus first conquered the Medians where he captured Astyages. He went on to conquer the Babylonians then the Lidians, uniting most of the ancient Middle East, making him the ruler of the largest empire at that time, Ancient Persia. That empire eventually consisted of Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Northern India, southern parts of Russia, Cyprus and Egypt.

In 536 BC, Cyrus the Great freed the Israel people that had been exiled from Israel to Babylon allowing them to return to Israel.

Cyrus was unusual at that time, as he would not allow slavery or the destruction of cities he captured. He would even leave the defeated leaders that were popular among their own people to continue in their own positions. Most invasions before Cyrus, and after him, normally ended with the cities being destroyed, the treasures stolen and any survivors taken as slaves. The reason for this being, the city would then be unable to raise an army at a later date that the conqueror would have to return and defeat again.

Cyrus the Great was killed in a battle against the Massagatae people who lived on the shores of the Caspian Sea. His body was taken back to Pasargad, the first capital of the Archaemenian Empire in the Fars region of Southwest Iran. He was buried in a great limestone tomb raised on a plateau above the ground.

Cyrus the Great tomb image

Tomb at Pasargad


It is thought the son of Cyrus the Great, Cambyses II, had his brother Smerdis murdered so he would be unchallenged to succeed Cyrus as king of Persia. Cambyses was credited with adding Phoenicia (Lebanon), Cyprus and Egypt to the Persian Empire.

Cambyses reign was short as he is thought to have committed suicide after only seven years as king, due to the pressures of being challenged by an imposter claiming to be his dead brother Smerdis. The imposter, Gaumata, ruled for only eight months before being overthrown and slain by Dariush I.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyrus_the_Great People List