1. How did geography and the environment impact the Persians? The harsh terrain in the area of modern Iran made it very difficult for humans to survive and find water sources. The arid climate meant more work for agriculture and agricultural surplus was very rare. Organizing the building of underground irrigation channels for agriculture required a strong central government. The connection between royal authority and prosperity can be seen in the ideology of the first Persian Empire. (p. 100, 102).
2. How did Persia rise from nomadic roots to become the largest land empire the world had ever seen? Persia’s rise to power began with the marriage between a Persian and a Median. Cyrus, the son of a powerful Persian chief, married a Median princess. The Medes had been the first to achieve a complex political organization in Central Asia near western Iran. The Persians eventually overthrew the Median monarch but maintained the framework of the Median government. In Persian society the warrior was dominant. Over the course of two decades the Persian rulers and their armies redrew the map of western Asia from Anatolia to Mesopotamia and as far as the Indus region. Cyrus and his successors used the traditions of the local people and the creation of a new organizational structure to maintain control of their empire. (103-104)
3. Describe the family and social structure in the Persian Empire. They had occupational and social classes. There were the warriors, priests, and peasants. The warriors were the aristocrats who enjoyed fighting, hunting, and gardening. The priests were the specialists in rituals and sacrifice, and the peasants were the working class, common people. The king and the royal family were at the top of the society. The king had several wives. Both Greek and Persian sources reveal that Persian elite women were politically powerful, possessed a good bit of property, traveled and were prominent on public occasions.(p. 104,105).
4. How were the complex tasks of administration managed in the Persian Empire? The central administration was based in Elam and Mesopotamia. Trained administrators and scribes were used by the kings. Records indicate government officials distributed food and other essentials to large numbers of workers. The empire was also divided into 12 provinces, each with its’ own governor(satrap) and court. All these provinces were connected to the empire by well- maintained and patrolled roads. A body of law was written during the reign of Darius, but conquered people were allowed to live with their own traditions and laws. This shows the decentralized character of the Persian Empire. (p. 104, 105).
5. Describe Persian religious beliefs during the height of the Persian Empire. Persians believed the empire stood on the will of god and believed the rulers were given a mandate to bring order to a world of turmoil. This comes from, Zoroastrianism a religion created by Zoroaster who taught that Ahuramazda created the world. Angra Mainyu and demons threatened that world. The struggle between good and evil would end in a great fight and good would prevail. People would be rewarded or punished in the afterlife for their actions. Along with following Zoroastrianism they respected nature and venerated beneficial elements like water and fire. They believed the body soul should always be pure, therefore telling the truth and keeping promises was very important to them. (p. 109).
6. What impact did geography or the environment have on Greek civilization? Greece was relatively resource-poor. The rough landscape of central and southern Greece, with small plains separated by ranges of mountains and the many island in the Aegean favored the rise of hundreds of small, independent communities. Because of the limited natural resources of this region, the Greeks had to resort to sea travel and trade with other lands in the Mediterranean. The terrain and climate made it easier for the Greeks...
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