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Achaemenid Kingdom

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The Achaemenid Kingdom (Persian: پادشاهی هخامنشی, pādšāhiye haxāmaneši) refers to the pre-imperial history of the Achaemenid dynasty. The first king of the kingdom was Achaemenes, who was the forefather of the Achamenids, and who also gave his name to the dynasty.[1] The Achaemenid kingdom was the ruling kingdom of Persia (a region in south-western Iran) and Anshan (also in south-western Iran).

According to the Achaemenid tradition, Achaemenes was succeeded by Teispes, who divided his kingdom between his sons, Ariaramnes and Cyrus I.


It is not known if the first member of the dynasty, Achaemenes, was a mythical figure or an actual king. But historical or mythical, he was known to the later Achaemenids as the father of Teispes.[1] Apparently, the Achaemenid kingdom was divided by Teispes between his sons, Ariaramnes and Cyrus I. From then on, the dynasty had two branches, while the Ariaramnids were kings of Pars (Persis or Persia, a province in the south of Iran), the Cyrusids were kings of Anshan.

Cambyses I, son of Cyrus I and father of Cyrus II, reigned under the overlordship of Astyages, King of Media and married Mandane, daughter of the Great King. But soon Cambyses rebelled against Astyages. While Cambyses was killed in the rebellion, his son, Cyrus the Great, successfully conquered the realm of his grandfather and started the Achaemenid Empire.


In his cylinder, Cyrus the Great introduced himself as a descendant of Teispes. However, there is no mention of Achaemenes:[2]

I am Cyrus, king of the universe, the great king, the powerful king, king of Babylon, king of Sumer and Akkad, king of the four quarters of the world, son of Cambyses, the great king, king of the city of Anshan, grandson of Cyrus, the great king, king of the city of Anshan, descendant of Teispes, the great king, king of Anshan.

— Cyrus the Great

In the Behistun Inscription, Darius the Great said Achaemenes was the father of Teispes:

My father is Hystaspes; the father of Hystaspes was Arsames; the father of Arsames was Ariaramnes; the father of Ariaramnes was Teispes; the father of Teispes was Achaemenes.

According to Darius, there were eight Achaemenid kings before him:

That is why we are called Achaemenids; from antiquity we have been noble; from antiquity has our dynasty been royal. Eight of my dynasty were kings before me; I am the ninth. Nine in succession we have been kings.

— Darius the Great

The genealogy of the Achaemenids is also reported by Herodotus. According to him, Darius, Hystaspes, Arsames, Ariaramnes and Teispes were the Achaemenid kings of Darius's branch, while Cyrus [II], Cambyses [I], Teispes and Achaemenes were kings of the other branch.[3] Plato also describes Achaemenes as son of the Greek god, Perseus, son of Zeus.[4]

Achaemenid kings of Anshan[edit]

Portrait Name Family relations Reign Notes
Achaemenid dynasty (~705–559 BC)
Achaemenes ~705 BC First ruler of the Achaemenid kingdom
Teispes Son of Achaemenes ~640 BC
Cyrus I Son of Teispes ~580 BC
Cambyses I Son of Cyrus I and father of Cyrus II ~550 BC


Extent of the Achaemenid Empire

Once a minor dynasty in the south of Iran, the Achaemenid dynasty would rule much of the ancient world for more than two centuries. Cyrus the Great, a member of the dynasty, conquered Media, Babylon and Lydia, while his son Cambyses II, conquered Egypt.[5]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "ACHAEMENES – Encyclopaedia Iranica". Retrieved 2019-04-05.
  2. "The Cyrus Cylinder". British Museum. Retrieved 2019-04-05.
  3. "ACHAEMENID DYNASTY – Encyclopaedia Iranica". Archived from the original on 2011-04-29. Retrieved 2019-04-05. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  4. "Plato, Alcibiades 1, section 120e". Retrieved 2019-04-05.
  5. "ACHAEMENID DYNASTY – Encyclopaedia Iranica". Archived from the original on 2011-04-29. Retrieved 2019-04-05. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)

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