Persia, present-day Iran, is one of the world’s great civilizations and easily the largest empire of all time.
Cyrus the Great was a master engineer who helped design some of the greatest marvels of engineering and architecture the world has ever known, such as palaces, and an incredible infrastructure of bridges, highways, etc. It came to an end because of the epic battle it endured (and ultimately lost) with Greece, and specifically Alexander the Great.
One of the most magnificent feats of engineering that helped Iran become great was how water was elicited from rock—not rivers or lakes, as you might suppose.
Cyrus the Great was a military and political genius. Whenever he obtained victory over a civilization, he borrowed their technological advances and adapted them to Persia. One of his most beautiful contributions was the four-walled gardens, pari-daiza (English: paradise), inside which his people relaxed and enjoyed nature. These gardens were the forerunner to modern-day parks.
Cyrus the Great was a unique ruler. He encouraged tolerance and freedom of religion. When he conquered Babylon, he liberated the Jews from the despot who ruled over them, Nebuchadnezzar.
Darius the Great was Cyrus’s successor. He founded Persepolis. Walls were more than 60 feet high. He paid his workers fairly, according to their skill, and this included women. Persepolis was a monument to the greatness of Persia as a civilization. The irrigation system was more sophisticated than anything that had happened before. Darius’s empire extended from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean. From North Africa to India, an area covering over 1,500 miles, a stone highway covered mountains, deserts, etc. It was built by Darius and his workers. One of the advantages engendered by this stone highway was the beneficial effect it had on trade. The canal that connected the Red Sea to the Mediterranean is known as Darius’s canal.
Persia will forever be equated with the word ‘luxury.’
Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cq1WJfw7FXg, a documentary provided by the History Channel
I recall a student telling me a story, the details of which I cannot remember, unfortunately. It was something to the effect that when the Arabs conquered Persia, the Arabic conqueror told the Persian ruler at the time about women’s rights, and the Persian ruler laughed in his face, saying that women’s rights had been more advanced in Persia than anywhere else in the world. If anyone knows the full story behind this, please let me know!