What similarities do we find in the Assyrian and Persian Empires?

Similarities between the Assyrian and Persian empires would include the fact that they both ruled in Mesopotamia at different times. They were also both monarchies, with powerful armed forces. The Persian and Assyrian armies were well ahead of their time in terms of tactics, strategy, and weaponry.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Assyrian and Persian Empires were both large, multicultural, and multi-ethnic empires of the ancient world. The Assyrians rose to dominance first, collapsing by the end of the seventh century BCE. Their empire would, at the its height, extend across Mesopotamia and the Middle East as far west as Egypt....

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

The Assyrian and Persian Empires were both large, multicultural, and multi-ethnic empires of the ancient world. The Assyrians rose to dominance first, collapsing by the end of the seventh century BCE. Their empire would, at the its height, extend across Mesopotamia and the Middle East as far west as Egypt. Persia's greatest period of expansion, on the other hand, would come under Cyrus the Great (who would die around 530 BCE). The Persian Empire was much larger than the Assyrian Empire (and history's largest empire up to that time), conquering much of the same territory that the Assyrians had, but extending further west across Asia Minor and further east towards the Indus River.

Both the Persians and Assyrians were monarchies, which ruled with the assistance of elaborate systems of administration (to more effectively govern these far-flung, multi-cultural empires). As historian D. Brendan Neagle writes about the Assyrians:

The lands subdued by his campaigns were turned into provinces administered from Assyria by a governor directly responsible to the king. In Assyria itself existing administrative divisions were reduced in size to improve central control. An efficient communication system was set up using messengers who carried reports back and forth from the governors to the central administration (The Ancient World: A Social and Cultural History (5th Ed). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2002, p. 63).

When looking at this description, you can certainly see parallels between the Assyrian and Persian systems of administration. Later, the Persians would subdivide their empire into the various satrapies, while also relying heavily on internal communications, tying their empire together by the use of road-building.

Additionally, both empires had a great deal of internal instability, which rulers had to reckon with. To again quote Neagle,

When Babylon revolted in 689 BC, Sennacherib (704-681 BC) destroyed it....In 671 B.C. Egypt was subdued but quickly rebelled and had to be beaten down again eight years later. On the death of Ashurbanipal in 627 BC, a dynastic struggle racked the Assyrian state. Babylon again revolted, and under the Aramaean (or Chaldaean) Nabopolassar (625–605 BC) made common cause with the Medes of Iran and bands of Scythian nomads from Eurasia...In the west Palestine was again in revolt. In 614 BC Assur fell, and two years later Nineveh was captured. By 609 BC the remnants of the Assyrian army were being stamped out in northern Mesopotamia (65)

Similarly, the Persians also had to reckon with a significant degree of internal instability. Among the most historically famous revolts was the Ionian Revolt by the Greek cities in Asia Minor, which famously precipitated the Persian Wars. As a second example, you can point towards Egypt, which successfully drove out the Persians in 404 BCE (only to be later reconquered approximately sixty years later, shortly before the conquests of Alexander the Great).

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

One obvious similarity between the Persian and Assyrian empires would be that they both occupied and ruled Mesopotamia at various times. The Persians and the Assyrians took hold of their respective territories in the time-honored fashion: through military conquest. Indeed, both empires were renowned—and feared—throughout the known world for the strength and ruthlessness of their armed forces. Indeed, it was because of their military strength that the Assyrians and the Persians were able to build their empires in the first place.

Such military power was based on advanced skills, tactics, strategy, and weaponry, all of which gave their empires a significant edge over their regional rivals. The Assyrians were especially feared for their military prowess, not least because their rule was considerably more brutal than that of the Persians, whose empire was sustained by delegated authority to local satraps.

Not surprisingly, the Assyrian and Persian empires were both ruled by emperors. Democracy as we understand it today simply didn't exist at that time. Territories were invariably ruled over by what we would now call dictators, but in ancient Mesopotamia, such rulers were very much the norm. Though as we already hinted at earlier, the emperors of Persia delegated authority to local leaders, whereas their Assyrian counterparts ruled from the center with a rod of iron.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

A notable similarity between the Assyrians and Persians was in their military. The two empires had strong military forces that propelled them to power. The Assyrian army was known for conquering wealthy cities. Similarly, the Persian Empire under the rule of Cyrus the Great conquered various cities such as Babylon. The two empires participated in many battles to expand their territories.

On the other hand, the two empires practiced agriculture. Persian agriculture was characterized by irrigation systems. The Persians made tunnel systems to find water for their crops and also used canals. The Assyrian Empire practiced agriculture as well and grew crops such as millet and wheat. Just like the Persians, the Assyrians used canals for irrigation. Both the Assyrian and Persian Empires practiced polytheism.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

It should not be surprising that there were many similarities between the Assyrian and the Persian Empires. In many ways, the Persians were inheritors of the Assyrian legacy. As such, they continued many of the practices and functions of the previous empire, although they did institute their own as well.

Both empires were known for their strong and efficient militaries. Territorial conquest was important in both empires and their militaries incorporated soldiers from all parts of their territories. More specifically, both empires made use of archers who were well trained and made up a large cohort of any fighting force. This strong military was essential. There were few natural barriers in their territories that they could rely on for defense and being located in the fertile crescent and the junction of three continents made their territory covetable by others.

Since they occupied much of the same land, both the Persians and the Assyrians practiced similar agricultural techniques. They employed extensive and complex irrigation systems which made use of the water from the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. They both cultivated large amounts of grains which would be stored in times of plenty in anticipation of years of famine. As such, they were able to provide a reliable food source to a large population.

Both the Persians and the Assyrians were avid record keepers. Archaeologists have found countless accounts written in clay tablets from both empires recording everything from mundane business transactions to the legendary exploits of their kings and warriors.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Persians and Assyrians were both large empires in the Middle East from the Iron Age world. Both kingdoms boasted powerful militaries that protected their vast holdings and expanded their borders. The empires were not protected by natural barriers so a strong military was a necessity. Despite this geographical shortcoming, the empires utilized arable land, both being located in the fertile crescent around two rivers.

The two empires were both ruled by monarchs. The empires employed organized bureaucratic systems to enforce laws and collect taxes. Both empires are mentioned in the Old Testament, or Torah as having conquered the Hebrews, although the Persians are painted in a more positive vein in the scriptures. While both empires were known for their decisive military strength, both treated their new subjects with tolerance as long as the new citizens paid their taxes.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team