The Persians originated in the region corresponding to present-day Iran. According to historians, the first Iranian tribes arrived in Persia in the 14th century BC. Ferocious enemies of the Greeks during the “Medical” wars, it is also a refined and religiously tolerant population, far from the image attributed to them and often referred to in films like 300.

The emergence of the Persian Empire was long and difficult. The Persians, a people of Indo-European origin, came from the south of present-day Russia. They belonged to a cultural entity grouping together several peoples called Aryas. These peoples were located between the Caspian Sea and the Aral Sea. Around the second millennium BC they began to migrate to Iran, India, the Near and Middle East. The Persians and another people very close to them, the Medes, settled on the shores of Lake Oumia in the 14th century BC. However, they will have to wait until the 7th century to establish themselves as the major nation of the Middle East. Until the 7th century, the Middle East was shared between several kingdoms. Originating in present-day northern Iraq, the Assyrians extended a vast empire encompassing Syria, northern Turkey, the Gaza Strip and Egypt. The Urateans dominated northern Turkey and Armenia. In southern Iraq were the Babylonians and in the western part of Iran were the Elamites. In the midst of all these powers, dominated by more advanced and better organized peoples, the Persians had a complicated beginning and were quickly subjugated to the Assyrian empire.

Fall of the Assyrian Empire and unification of the Persians

In the 7th century, a major event will strongly serve the rise of the Persians, the fall of the Assyrian kingdom. However, this event will not be their fault. It was the Medes and the Babylonians who, after being defeated many times by the Assyrians, decided to unite in order to defeat this empire. A project that they will complete in 612 BC Following the incursions of the Babylonians and the Medes, the capital of the Assyrian empire Nineveh, which was then one of the largest cities in the world at that time, was destroyed. Assur-Uballit II the Assyrian king fled. he was killed three years later during the siege of Haran in 609 BC The end of the Assyrian empire will leave a great void in Mesopotamia and will allow the Persians to begin to assert themselves. Achaemenes, the legendary Persian king, unified his people, which until then had been made up of multiple principalities, and founded the kingdom of Parsamash around the 7th century BC. If they are unified, the Persians will however remain vassals of the Elamites and then of the Medes. This domination of the Medes will last more than 100 years until the arrival in power of Cyrus II. During this period, the descendants of Achéménès will continue to carry the title of king while remaining under the domination Mèdes.

The Rise of the Persians

As soon as he came to power, in 559 BC, Cyrus II undertook a militaristic policy. He will recruit mercenaries from neighboring tribes. Then, taking advantage of the political tensions that agitated the Mede elites at that time, he overthrew Astyage the Mede king around 550 BC He saved his life but seized Ectabane, the ancient Mede capital and established his own, Pasargadae . At this time and for the first time in their history, the Persians are no longer under foreign domination, they inherit the vast territory of the Medes which had been founded on the ruins of the Assyrian empire. A highlight and which will become a constant of the Persians, they will not persecute the Medes who came like them from the peoples called Arya but incorporate them into their empire. It is this type of process that will make it the first empire with a so-called universal vocation, that is to say that any people could integrate their empire. They will also offer it much later to the Athenians during the Persian Wars, a proposal they will refuse. With his army now worthy of an empire, composed of both Medes and Persians, he quickly submitted Urartu, Cicilia and Eastern Anatolia. The first golden age of the Persians could begin.