Compare and contrast the Assyrian and Persian empires.

Similarities between the Assyrian and Persian empires include that both empires ruled in Mesopotamia at different times, that both had advanced weapons and military techniques, and that both were monarchies. Differences between them include that the Assyrians were brutal, making slaves of captors and not allowing them to rule themselves, while the Persians appointed local satraps over the people and ruled with tolerance.

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We should first establish what we mean by the Assyrian and Persian Empires, since those names have been used to describe some very different cultures over the course of about 4,000 years. For the purposes of comparison, it seems reasonable to select the Neo-Assyrian Empire which began with Adad-nirari II in 911 BC and the Achaemenid Empire of Persia founded by Cyrus the Great in 550 BC, since these are the closest in time. Both these reigns began with extensive new conquests which raised the empire in question to the status of a great power. The Neo-Assyrian Empire fell in 609 BC and eventually became a province of the Achaemenid Empire. The Achaemenids lasted until 330 BC, when Alexander the Great captured Persepolis.

Although the Neo-Assyrians lasted longer than the Achaemenids, their rule was less secure and was maintained by terror. The massive fortifications of Nineveh were there for a reason: the conquering Assyrians ruled their subjects very harshly and were widely hated. The...

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