Introduction to Darius I
Darius I, son of Vishtasp, nicknamed Darius the Great, was the third Achaemenid king. In 522 BC, with the help of several heads of seven large Persian families, he restored the monarchy to the Achaemenid dynasty by killing Gaumatus the Magi that ascended the throne as Bardia, son of Cyrus the Great. During this date, he waged a year of civil war in the land that Cyrus had conquered and consolidated the government that Cyrus had established. He overcame all local revolts within the fledgling Achaemenid territory. The inscription of Biston, which is the account of these endless wars, shows how much he was able to maintain the imperial order and security at the cost of his constant and unceasing suffering. The satraps that Cyrus had appointed in each territory were mostly self-elected and had their men and equipment. They also had the army and equipment. The death of Cambyses, known as the son of Cyrus, became an excuse for the disgruntled people of the province.
The marriage of Darius to the daughter of Cyrus put him in a position where the Persian nobles remained loyal and even interested in this new king.
He then went to war outside his homeland. First, he fought the Scythians. They regularly escaped from Darius’s army and followed the Achaemenid army until Darius returned to Persia for fear of famine and war. Although Darius did not defeat them, he stopped them from attacking the borders of Persia forever. Darius conquered India, passed through Sindh, and gained the wealth of the Hindus. He also had unsuccessful wars with the Greek islands.
Let us add that the beginning of the construction of Parseh (Persepolis) and Susa was during his reign.
For the army to reach the desired points quickly, Darius had organized an army called the Immortal Army because he never reduced their number and immediately filled the vacancies. The number of this division was ten thousand.
Among Darius’s actions in this regard is the establishment of the royal road that connected the former capital of Lady Lydia to Susa, the capital of the Achaemenids. Darius created another way to connect Babylon to Egypt.
Darius created a system called the courier, which meant a postal system, a fast news outlet in which spies quickly collected information and passed it on to Dariush’s intelligence service.
Darius divided the lands of Persia into several parts and nominated a governor for each of them, who was called in the language of that day (Khashtarpavan), that is, the protector or guardian of the country. In the texts written by the Greeks, the number of sections is mentioned between twenty and twenty-six, but the number of provinces in Naqsh-e-Rostam inscription reaches thirty. In order not to have everything in the hands of one person, two men were appointed from the center, one as the commander of the local army and the other as the editor who managed the affairs of the country. The editor was the center’s inspector in the states, and the purpose of establishing this job was for the center to know whether the orders issued to the satrap were carried out or not. The inspectors that were commissioned from the center were the eyes and ears of the government.
These satraps indeed had undisputed power and prestige in their spheres of rule as a puppet king, yet, all their affairs were under the direct and direct supervision of the king and his eyes and ears, and this gave them less opportunity. Remember the claim of independence or the idea of violating the king’s law. At the same time, these supervisions both protected the subjects from the exploitation and encroachment of the satraps and did not allow the satraps to strengthen their treasury by collecting unnecessary duties and taxes, and inevitably thought of expanding power.
When Darius was in India, he noticed that Egypt and Shamat’s trade with India was unwieldy by land and that transportation was costly. He ordered that the canal, now known as the Suez Canal, be built in 609 BC. And establish the course of ships in this canal. It seems that Darius had seen this unfinished waterway on his way to Egypt and had asked people about it. There are hints of these questions in the hieroglyphic inscriptions commemorating the canal. Three inscriptions by Darius are discovered in the Suez Canal, the most detailed and significant of which are 12 lines long, containing the praise of Ahuramazda and the introduction of Darius and the order to dig the Suez Trail. The other two inscriptions are smaller and include the introduction of Darius.
In the inscription of Biston, Darius speaks of the reconstruction of the shrines that Gaumatus had destroyed. He also went to their temples to build a new one in Amun for the Egyptians, the ruins of which still speak of Darius’ reign. The high priest of Egypt, who exiled to Susa, was brought back to Egypt, and he was highly respected. Due to these actions, the Egyptians were satisfied with Darius and considered him one of their great legislators.
In 512 BC, Darius, after establishing security in his subordinate countries, annexed several provinces to Persia, one of which is Punjab and the other is Sindh, both of which are located in India. The name of India, of course, is not one of the subordinate states in the Biston inscription, and the fact that it appears in the Persepolis inscription shows that these southeastern provinces must have fallen to Darius after the revolt.
Darius I was a resourceful, powerful, and intelligent man who shaped the Achaemenid state, which lasted until the end of the empire. He showed the Achaemenids to be very powerful among the people of the ancient world. Darius died in 486 BC. His tomb is in the heart of Rahmat Mountain in a place called Naghsh-e Rostam in Marvdasht Fars, near Shiraz.