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Chapter 4

History Chapter 4 Study Notes!

Course Code
Carol Chin

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Creation of Empire: North Africa and Southwest Asia 1550-330 BCE
6th century BCE- Persian King Darius
King of 23 countries
Presented inscription of how he conquered 9 kings and won many battles;
inscription was in 3 languages- Old Persian, Babylonian, and Mesopotamian
Claimed political and military power gained his throne
EMPIRE: A large political unit that imposes its rule over diverse regions, peoples,
and cultures: empires can take many forms.
Common characteristic ^
Encompasses politics, social, economic, and culture
Rise & Fall of the Assyrian Empire (900-612 BCE)
First to build empire that encompassed Southwest Asia
Organized around demands of warfare
Commissioned engineering projects, built new cities, sponsored the arts, and
influenced cultural developments
Structural weakness its downfall
o War:
o Expanded at first because of defensive reaction to outside threats
(nomads from Syria)
o Wealth with conquest-became more aggressive
o Wanted to seize wealth of Egyptians and Babylonians
Deported conquered people
Would be miles away from home men enlisted in Assyrian armies
Thwarted opposition to Assyrian expansion and rule
Used as a scare tactic as well
o King & Army:
o King was all powerful; authority
o Political, administrative, and military decisions
o Officials had to be in contact with him = slow decision making
o Military tactics superior to most
o 745 BCE and on had professional army
o Dominated by men
Royal Women:
Led privileged lives-wealth
Could shape political affairs
o Imperial Governance
o Indirect rule-centralized around the king
o Territories far away were difficult to deal with, left local king to rule
and demanded obedience and annual contributions
o Rebellions happened often; they would install a pro-Assyrian ruler
Motives for Expansion:
Not interested in ruling but only wealth
Tribute from countries and BOOTY
o City Building:
o Deported people gave manpower to construct awesome cities and
make towns larger
o New cities too big to support- draining of resources!!
Independence Preserved: Phoenicians in the Assyrian Empire:
Inhabitants of Mediterranean port cities
Sidon, Byblos, and Tyre; important hubs of trade
Extensive maritime trade
o Establish settlements overseas
o Collected metals and other valuables and shipped them East
o Established coastal outposts where they could send local goods to
their home
o System of trade well established by 750 BCE
o Benefitted the Assyrians new market
o Phoenician independence maintained their culture like their alphabet
(22 characters)
o Basis of all alphabetic scripts in the world
Culture & Identity in Assyrian Empire:
Cultural assimilation
o Enforced assimilation
o Cities with Assyrian names, public buildings, same god (Assur), but
did not demand people change their life
o As long as they paid their tributes and taxes
o Deportation naturally assimilated- influenced language
Babylonian and Syrian Influence
o Accepted other cultures of conquered territories
o When conquered Babylonia still using cuneiform scripts (best library
ever) epic of Gilgamesh!
o Imitated places they saw in Syria (architecture and craftwork)
o Kept religion but harmonized with Babylonian ideas
Failure of the Assyrian System
o After death of king in 627 BCE Babylonia regained independence =
Neo-Babylonian or Chaldean
o Joined the Medes in an attack on Assyrian heartland
o Destroyed Assyrian capital Nineveh
o Resisted in n. Syria but eventually succumbed
o Failure was to rise to the military challenge
o Centralized on king since there was no king no one stepped forward
o Survival of empire relied on others
o Subjects withheld tribute, empire fell apart
o When Assyria’s military faltered the wealth disappeared
The Neo-Babylonian Empire was its successor!
The Persian Empire 550-330 BCE
Respect was key to their success
Survived 200 years because of their tolerance
Established by Cyrus the Achaemenid who annexed the Neo-Babylonian
Conquered new lands (Egypt too)
The Achaemenids, Seleucids, PARTHIANS* and Sassanid’s maintained
imperial rule over much of SW Asia
Cyrus became king of Babylon and continued local traditions
Darius soon became new king
Imperial Structure:
o Darius undertook a program of reorganization and reform
o 20 provinces called SATRAPIES*
o A uniform system of government over an area of unprecedented size
o Each SATRAPY had a Persian admin SATRAP and was forced to
provide tribute and troops to meet the empires ever-increasing need
for men and resources to control conquered territories
o Exploited skills of subject
o Phoenicians navy, Arabian camel drivers, North African
Greek Resistance:
o Limits to its ability to expand
o Failure to conquer Greece
o Xerxes (successor to Darius) invaded Greece twice
o Greek city-states defeated the Persian army on land and sea
Macedonian Conquest of Persia
o Alexander the Great
o Defeated King Darius III in 3 crucial battles
Administering a Multicultural Empire
o Persepolis (heartland of Persia)
o Darius received great tribute
o Treasuries were so rich that when Macedonian conquerors put their
contents into circulation, value of gold and silver dropped steeply due
to oversupply!
o Tributes were specialties of the land esp.: Bactrian’s camels,
Armenians- gold vessels, etc.
Communication with the Provinces
o Persians developed road system (for communication)
o Connected capital to provinces
o Famous road: Royal Road from Susa in western Iran to Sardis in W.