I have included only a few items concerning the history of this empire. A good source for more details can be
found on Wikipedia or in history books.
Prior to the rise of Persia, Susa was a city associated with
Sumeria and the capital of Elam.
In 646 BC, King Ashurbanipal of the
Assyrian Empire conquered Elam and sacked Susa.
Deioces later united Median tribes, ousted the Assyrians and founded the Median Empire.
His grandson, Nebopolassar, expanded the Chaldean Empire (aka Neo-Babylonia)
and destroyed Nineveh in 612 BC.
WAR WITH GREEKS:
From 499 to 493 BC, Ionian Greek Cities revolted against Persia
and received military support from Athens and
Eretria in 498 BC. King Darius I suppressed the rebellious
Ionian cities on the west coast of Anatolia,
and sent an invasion force against the Greek mainland. In 492 BC, Mardonius (son-in-law to Darius) reconquered
Thrace and made Macedon
a client state. A storm near Mount Athos
destroyed many of the Persian ships, which halted the campaign.
Darius sent warning to the Greek city-states in 491 BC, but Athens and Sparta
executed the ambassadors. A large naval force under admiral Datis and troops under Artaphemes succeeded in enslaving people
from many Greek islands and razed Eretria. Although they landed in the bay of Marathon,
Athenian and troops from Plataea soundly routed the Persians at the Battle of Marathon
in August/September 490 BC.
In 480 BC, Persian king Xerxes I personally led a large army and naval
force against Greece. They crossed the Hellespont unopposed,
reportedly via pontoon bridges.
Greeks originally planned to stop the Persians at the Vale of Tempe,
but reconsidered that Thermopylae
was better suited. The main Spartan army delayed due to a religious ceremony, but King
Leonidas I led his personal guard of 300 men, who all died
fighting Xerxes' personal elite force (The Immortals)
in the Battle of Thermopylae.
Simultaneously, Greek naval forces defeated Persian ships in the Battle of Artemisium.
These actions allowed Greek city-states to prepare a defense. Athenians abandoned their city for safety on
During the Battle of Salamis in 480 BC, the Persian admiral
(Ariabignes) died and a combined Greek naval fleet defeated the
forces of King Xerxes. Although the king departed for home, he left a powerful army behind, under the command of general
Mardonius. In August 479 BC, a combined Greek force under Spartan command defeated and killed Mardonius in the
Battle of Plataea. On the same day a Greek fleet under
Spartan king Leotychides routed a Persian army of 60,000 men at
Mount Mycale and destroyed their ships.
CYRUS THE YOUNGER:
In 401 BC 12,900 Greek mercenaries fought with Cyrus the Younger against his brother, Artaxerxes, at the
Battle of Cunaxa. Cyrus died and his Persian forces scattered.
Only the Greek force remained viable, however, the Spartan
general (Clearchus) and his senior officers foolishly accepted a dinner invitation from Artaxerxes. All
were executed, while the Greek force made its way north to the
Black Sea after selecting new leaders.
Xenophon, one of the new commanders, related their adventure in
his story "Anabasis".