Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Ruling Persia: Satrapies

Darius the Great
The Persian Empire is the greatest and biggest empire that the ancient world could offer before the time of Alexander the Great. Its lands cover three continents. In Europe, it had a foothold in the Balkans and controlled the Anatolian Plateau. In Africa, it occupied the lands of Egypt and its neighboring lands. And in Asia, Persia dominated the whole Middle East along with Iran. Ruling such large territory was difficult. But during the reign of Darius the Great, a solution to rule was found in the form of Satrapies.

Satrapies were the provinces of the Persian Empire. It was first organized during the reign of Cyrus the Great. However, it saw only its efficient organization and management under the reign of King Darius the Great. Before Darius, the powers and duties of satraps were not laid out properly. Some satrapies became confident to rebel against the King. When Darius took power, he reorganized the Empire placed governor called satraps with definitive duties. Among these duties was to pay a certain amount of tribute given by Darius. in areas with special resources, additional "gifts" were to be given.

Depending on the sources, there were 20 satrapies. According to Herodotus’ Histories, the Satrapies and the amount of tribute they paid were the following:

1. Ionians, Magnesians, Aeolians, Carians, Lycians, Milyans, Pamphylians - paid 400 talents of silver
2. Mysians, Lydians, Lasonians, Cabalians, Hytennians - paid 500 talents of silver
3. Hellespontians, Phrygians, Tharcians, Paphlagonians, Maruandynians, Syrians - paid 360 talents of silver
4. Cilicia - paid 360 white horses in addition to 500 talents (140 paid to the cavalry guards of the province)
5. Lands between Poseidon city in Cilician-Syrian border and Egypt (Phoenicia) - paid 350 talents
6. Egypt and neighboring parts - paid 700 talents in addition to 120,000 bushels of grain
7. Sattagydae, Gandarh, Dadicae, Aparytae – paid 170 talents
8. Susa and Cissian - paid 300 talents
9. Babylon and the rest of Assyria – paid 1000 talents + 500 castrated boys
10. Ecbatana and the rest of Media, Paricanians and Orthocorybantians - paid 450 talents
11. Casph, Pausicae, Pantimathi, Daritae – paid 200 talents
12. Bactrians to the land of Aegli – paid 360 talents
13. Pactyic, Armenia, and lands until Euxine Sea – paid 400 talents
14. Sagrath, Sarangeis, Thamanei, Uth, Myci, islands in the southern sea – paid 600 talents
15. Sacae and Casph – paid 250 talents
16. Parthians, Chorasmians, Sogdi, Arii – paid 300 talents
17. Paricanii and Ethiopians - 400 talents
18. Matieni, Saspiri, Alarodii - 200 talents
19. Moschi, Tibareni, Macrones, Mossynoeci, Mares - 300 talents
20. Indians – paid 360 talents of gold dust

But in the Behistum Inscription, there were 23 satrapies in the Persian Empire, the following were:

1. Persia
2. Elam
3. Babylonia
4. Assyria
5. Arabia
6.Egypt
7. The Countries by the Sea
8. Lydia
9. Greeks
10. Media
11.Armenia
12.Cappadocia
13. Parthia
14. Drangiana
15. Aria
16.Chorasmia
17. Bactria
18. Sogdia
19. Gandara
20. Scythia
21. Sattagydia
22. Arachosia
23. Maka

Then, again, in the tomb of King Darius the Great inscribed Naqs-i Rustam. It also had a list of more than 20 satrapies of the Persian Empire under Darius. The following were:

1. Media
2. Elam
3. Parthia
4. Aria
5. Bactria
6. Sogdia
7. Chorasmia
8. Drangiana
9. Arachosia
10. Sattagydia
11. Gandara
12. India
13. Scythians (haoma-drinking)
14. Scythians (with pointed caps)
15. Babylonia
16. Assyria
17. Arabia
18. Egypt
19. Armenia
20. Cappadocia
21. Lydia
22. Greeks
23. Scythians across the sea
24. Thrace
25. Greak (sun hat-wearing)
26. Libyans
27. Nubians
28. Maka
29. Carians

Another source that listed the satrapies of the Persian Empire was the Davian Inscription. It showed the satrapies existing during the reign of king Xerxes the Great. The following were:

1. Media
2. Elam
3. Arachosia
4. Armenia
5. Drangiana
6. Parthia
7. Aria
8. Bactria
9. Sogdia
10. Chorasmia
11. Babylonia
12. Assyria
13. Sattagydia
14. Lydia
15. Egypt
16. Yaun
17. Sea dwellers
18. Maka
19. Arabia
20. Gandara
21. India
22. Cappadocia
23. Dahe
24. Sacae (haoma-drinking)
25. Sacae (pointed cap wearers)
26. Thrace
27. Men of "Kaufaciy"
28. Libyans
29. Carians
30. Nubians

Regardless of the number, Satrapies became the source of wealth of the Persian Empire and the Persian King itself. Satraps or governors of each satrapies were given the task of providing tribute. Much of the tribute went to fund state affairs. But, the King also took parts of the tribute as well. The Persian King became the most wealthy person in the Kingdom. 

Satrapies became synonymous of nepotism because most of the appoited satraps were close to the Persian Kings. Princes and nobles were appointed to the position. In most cases, the position of satrap became hereditary.

Nevertheless, Satrapies became a significant part of the success and long existence of Persian Empire. After the death of King Darius. the system of Satrapies continued for centuries. 

See also: 
Darius Administration of Persia
King Chulalongkorn (Part 3)

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