Friday, April 20, 2007

Engineering an Empire: The Persians

In this intriguingly IranianINSTALMEN of ‘Engineering an Empire’, we chart the history of the ancient Persian Empire through its scientific and technological achievements.
Under theACHAENI king, Cyrus the Great, Persia’s empire was consolidated in what is now modern-day Iran. Cyrus overthrew the empire ofMEDES, going on to conquer the entire Middle East, including the territories of the Babylonians, the Phoenicians and the Lydians.
Cyrus also created a policy of religious and cultural tolerance that became the hallmark of Persian rule; the empire that he left behind expanded to India and Greece under the reign of Darius I, who built the grandiose capital of PERSEPOLIS.
The Persian Empire masterminded some remarkable scientific schemes. An innovative system of water management was accomplished using simple tools, while a cross-continent paved roadway stretching 1500 miles made travel safe and facilitated communication.
Persian engineers also constructed a canal linking the Nile to the Red Sea, which was a forerunner of the modern Suez Canal. Perhaps most astoundingly, Persian architects hold responsibility for creating the creation one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the MausoleumofMAUSSOLLOS.
We outline the deadly rivalry which arose between the soaring Persian Empire and the Greek city-states, led by Athens. Although Greek involvement with Persia began when Cyrus (II) the Great conquered the Greek cities of western Asia Minor, two Persian invasions of mainland Greece in 490 BC and 480–79 BC officially unleashed the bloody ‘Persian Wars’. This thirty year long series of conflicts would result in bloody defeat for this empire of exceptional engineers, marking the end of Persian domination of the ancient world and the beginning of Greek supremacy.


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