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A Look in the Life of Ancient Persians

written by: johnsinit • edited by: Noreen Gunnell • updated: 1/4/2012

An interesting journey back in time is one to daily life in the Persian Empire as a citizen in that period! Life in the Persian Empire was generally a life of contrasts and variations. From periods of being amongst the richest people on earth, to times when they were impoverished!

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    The Persian Empire

    Even prior to the formation of the Empire, the Persians were established in their own right as a “people”.

    Their origins went back to the Persian Empire great Assyrian Empire, where they were a vassal people and lived in a semi-nomadic environment.

    After several centuries the Persians became part of the Median Empire. By the sixth century, the Persians had been made wealthy and powerful by the Achaemenid Dynasty!

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    A Variety of Lifestyles

    If you had been a citizen in those times, your daily life in the Persian Empire would basically have been one of either being a peasant or part of the Royalty. You may have been Pagan or possibly Zoroastrian or a member of the Muslim community. Whilst some citizens lived as nomads, others resided in, for those days, large cities.

    You may have been amongst the fortunate ones who lived a luxurious life style, or conversely been very poor. It was indeed a time of direct contrasts. There was a relatively a high level of independence granted to women, who were recognized as legal entities.

    This was acknowledged to the extent that they were able to own, lease, or sell properties they had purchased.

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    Luxurious Life

    Golden Chariot - Persian Empire Whether a man or a woman, as part of the “Royals” you may have had the privilege of economic independence and been involved in the administration of the economy. Your position could have involved traveling and, by being enterprising, furthering your ambitions.

    As a “Royal”, normal daily life in the Persian Empire would probably have involved traveling extensively, visiting and administering your estates, accompanied by your spouse or with only guards, cooks and aides.

    You may have owned many villages. Although the inhabitants of the villages were “Free Subjects” and were not recognized as slaves, they paid taxes in the form of wine and agricultural products.

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    Ordinary Citizens

    Presuming you had been an ordinary worker, you would probably have been employed within a recognized work group or work shop. Your level of skill and/or responsibility in the place of work would have determined what rations you received. Whilst in some instances both men and women served in the same professions, there were others that were restricted by gender.

    Living and working, your daily life in the Persian Empire would have been within a converse environment. There were male and female supervisors in the workshops, which also had “mixed” workers and, following this pattern, the rations received by both genders did not vary greatly - but again this was not a consistent factor. Women were employed in positions of responsibility and given the title of “arashshara”, which implies “Great Chief”.

    They managed groups of both sexes, including children and generally were rewarded with inflated rations of grain and wine.

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    The Persian Empire and its rulers are often portrayed as denying its own people, and those of conquered nations, normal rights as Persian Soldier citizens. Much has been recorded of the “Ten Thousand” super soldiers, known as “the Immortals”.

    However, citizens of this in many ways benevolent Empire, were in those ancient times, were afforded opportunities that many in the civilized world of today are without.

    I hope you enjoyed this review of this historic empire and learned a little bit more about life during those times.

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    References and Image Credits

    Image Credits: