Persia / Achaemenid Dynasty /
Darius 1 the Great
Old Persian: Darayavaush
(558?-486 BCE) King of Persia 522-486 BCE, belonging to the Achaemenid Dynasty.
Darius 1 the Great of Persia.
Darius is noted for having united Persia and some years of disintegration. He completed the process of organizing the empire into 20 satrapies that Cyrus 2 the Great had started. He built highways, established a postal system and helped the economy by having coinage, weights and measures standardized. He sent expeditions to explore travel routes in neighbour countries, and he completed the canal from the Nile to the Red Sea.
He was also a king of great religious tolerance, allowing the practice of different religions, even himself adhering the different gods and cult centres. He even built a temple to the Egyptian god Amon in Kharga Oasis (more info). It is generally assumed that it was Darius 1 who introduced Zoroastrianism as the state religion.
He made great territorial advances, both into the Indus Valley (now Pakistan) and the Caucasus Mountains.
Darius reign is well documented from inscriptions he ordered made into high rock, now called the Behistun Inscription and from historical accounts by Greek historians. But some of this material is clearly legendary.
558? BCE: Born into the Persian royal family, as son of Hystaspes, satrap (provincial governor) of Parthia.
522 September Darius defeats and kills Smerdis (also called Bardiya). According to some sources, this was rather Gaumata who pretended to be Smerdis, and that Smerdis had been murdered by his brother, Cambyses 2 the preceding year. Smerdis had ruled since March, and now Darius could becomes king himself. He marries Smerdis' widow, Atossa, who was the daughter of King Cyrus 2 the Great.
Since there was much dissatisfaction with Darius defeating Bardiya, many provinces revolted against the new king. Darius sets out on a campaign to suppress rebellions all around Persia. The most challenging among these was the one of Babylonia. Other revolting provinces were Susiana, Media, Sagartia, Margiana and Egypt.
521: Darius makes Susa his capital, and has many great structures added to it. A great royal palace was built in Persepolis near his home region.
519: The rebellion of Susiana is finally crushed.
518: Darius takes back control over Egypt, and has the satrap executed.
516: Allows the Jews to rebuild their Temple of Jerusalem.
Sets out on a military campaign against the peoples of the Danube River, but is beaten.
513: Tries to conquer Scythia in Europe, but the Scythians devastated the lands they abandoned, leaving the Persians without supplies.
499: A revolt among the Ionian Greeks in Asia Minor breaks out, and lasts for a few years.
494: The Ionian revolt of Asia Minor is suppressed, but campaigns planned for mainland Greece the following years do not succeed.
490: Darius' army is destroyed at Marathon by the Greeks, trying to invade their country.
486: An insurrection breaks out in Egypt, taking all the attention of Darius.
Dies and is succeeded by his son Xerxes 1.