Map of the Persian Empire

Map of the Persian Empire Circa 500 B.C.

The Medo-Persian empire is considered the most powerful of the ancient empires. At the height of its power, during the reign of Darius I the Great, the empire controlled more than 2.9 million square miles (7.5 million square kilometers) of land and spanned three continents (Asia, Africa and Europe). Its control extending eastward into India and reached westward to Greece. Its capitals were Persepolis and Susa, with its kings sometimes residing in Babylon.

It is estimated that in 480 B.C. the empire had 50 million people living until its control. This hugh amount was roughly 44% of the world's population at the time, making Persia the largest empire ever in terms by population percentage.

Kings of the Persian Empire

Ruler Dates reigned*
Cyrus the Great 559 - 530  Conquered the Median Empire in 549 B.C. and the Babylonian empire in 539. Cyrus is considered the founder of the empire and its first true ruler.

King Cyrus was known as a "singularly noble and just monarch." One of his first acts, after gaining control of Jews held in Babylonian captivity, was to authorize their return to Jerusalem (as is stated in the book of 2Chronicles 36:22 - 23).
Cambyses II 529 - 522  Son of Cyrus the Great
Bardiya522 Son of Cyrus the Great
Darius I
the Great
521 - 486  Rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem resumes and is completed (Ezra 6:15). Under Darius' reign the empire reaches its peak in power and land controlled.
Xerxes I
the Great
485 - 465   Son of Darius I. Ahasuerus (Xerxes in the Greek), the Persian King named in the book of Esther (Esther 1), was likely Xerxes I.
Artaxerxes I 464 - 424 Son of Xerxes I. Authorized his cupbearer, Nehemiah the prophet, to rebuild Jerusalem's walls.
Xerxes II424 Son of Artaxerxes
Sogdianus424 - 423 Son of Artaxerxes
Darius II Nothius423 - 405  Son of Artaxerxes
Artaxerxes II 404 - 359 Son of Darius II. Considered the longest reigning Persian king.
Artaxerxes III 358 - 338 Son of Artaxerxes II
Artaxerxes IV Arses337 - 336  Son of Artaxerxes III
Darius III 336 - 330  Great-grandson of King Darius II. Last king of the empire. Darius is defeated by Alexander the Great in 331 B.C. at the battle of Arbela near Nineveh. Persia subsequently falls and Alexander captures Babylon.
* Dates for Persian kings adapted from The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings by Edwin R. Thiele.
Additional Study Materials
Kingdoms of
Israel and Judah
Map of Palestine
under King Herod
Was Athens ever
a world power?
Map of Roman Empire at its Peak
List of prophetic
world empires
from Babylon to
the Beast Power!
What are
the greatest
Empires in History?
Alexander the
Great's Conquests
Parthian Empire
at its greatest extent


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