Iranian (Achaemenid) Empire and India




Iranian (Achaemenid) Empire and India:

The Achaemenid emperors established the Persian empire by conquering smaller kingdoms in the northeast region of the Indian subcontinent and expanded their boundary up to Punjab. It was the same period when the Magadha empire was on the rise in India. It becomes apparent from the inscriptions of the Achaemenid emperors and the records kept by the Greek historians that Cyrus II had conquered the region of the Kabul basin (Gandhara). It was part of the Achaemenid empire. The river Vitasta (Jhelum) had formed its eastern boundary. Alexander crushed the Achaemenid empire and the region of Punjab which was the part of Achaemenid empire. The revenue received by the Achaemenid empire from its provinces (satrapies) in the Indian subcontinent was more than any other provinces. According to Herodotus, this revenue amounted to 360 talents of gold dust. Accepting the possibility of exaggeration in this description, it clearly indicates that the revenue collected from the Indian states formed a major share of the Achaemenid treasury.


The Greek historian Herodotus was born in 484 B.C.E., inHalicarnassus, a Greek city state. He began to write with the intention of tracing the history and causes of the battles between Greek city states and Achaemenid empire during 500-449 B.C.E. The book he wrote was named as ‘Historia’ (The Histories). He, at the outset of the book says, “Herodotus of Halicarnassus here displays his inquiry, so that human achievements may not become forgotten in time, and great and marvellous deeds – some displayed by Greeks, some by barbarians – may not be without their glory.” Herodotus was the first historian who collected information seeking answers to a particular question, and then to put it in a chronological order. While doing this he did not bring in notions like god, human destiny, etc. Later putting historical events in chronological sequence became an essential theme of history writing. This theme proved to be fundamental in the development of history writing as an independent discipline. Therefore, Herodotus is said to be the father of historiography.

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