After Kuroush (Cyrus) overthrew Astayges, unifying the Median and
Persian tribes, with himself at the helm, he continued to expand his empire. Though Kuroush was immortalized in the bible for his great tolerance, his military genius
helped him overcome many enemies in combat. He trained his soldiers through hefty routines to condition them for combat. During his expansion westward Kuroush
battled the armies of Croseus, king of Lydia. Babylon was alarmed, but Kuroush in act of pure political savy, assured Babylon that he was not contemplating attacking
them. At that time war in mountainous regions was seasonal. Fighting through the summers and taking a break during the harsh long winters. Kuroush decided to attack
early in Spring, when the mountain passes had opened, but the Lydians were still unsuspecting. The Lydians had a formidable cavalry. To solve this issue Kuroush set
camels up in front of his army. The ghastly smell from the camels terrified the Lydian horses who fled, leaving their masters hopeless. After conquering Lydia, with
Babylon pacified for the time-being, Kuroush set his sights on his eastern domain. Attacking tribes in Afghanistan and Central Asia until his empire had expanded into
kingdoms such as Bactria and Sogdiana. Prepared for Babylon, Kuroush moved to attack Babylon. Most people were discontent with their king Nabonidus. The battle
was short as Nabonidus soon fled.
Upon his Kuroush's death his son
Kambujiyahya (Cambyses) took the throne. Not as experienced as his dad he moved to attack Egypt swiftly, showing the plans where likely already set by Kuroush. Kambujiyahya also conquered lands to the south and west of Egypt, principally Libya and Nubia. Upon hearing an imposter had taken the throne Kambujiyahya hurried
back to reclaim his throne but died enroute.
One of Kuroush's relatives and a general in his army, Darayavus (Darius) was furious upon hearing of the imposter on the throne. Resolving to reclaim the throne he took
a small battalion and killed the imposter and his supporters. During his reign Darius took land in Northern Thrace, India, and Central Asia.
The Persain army was divided into
units by a factor of 10, similar to the Romans. Most divisions had their own standards and insignias. These soldiers wore scaled armour under tunics. Some wore bronze, others Iron. Elite warriors, and nobility wore gold-plated armour. The shields used by the army also came in many shapes, forms, and uses. The Spara shields were large shields made of reed that were used on the front lines to protect the advancing army. Smaller shields were oval in shape but had two circular cut outs on either side, making two handed spears more usable. Among the many types of swords the Kopis was the favorite. It had a curved blade which gave it more leverage and a longer cutting edge than the Greek double-sided swords, perfect for decapitating. Its heavy blade allowed it to be used against heavier infantry. Most soldiers also also carried an Akinankes as well. This dagger originated in northeast Iran and was versatile and useful. Spears were important to the army as well. Usually about 9 or 10 feet long, they were used two handed or one handed. Some were also shorter and javelin shaped for throwing. Counterweights were placed on the ends of spears to make them balanced in weight distribution. These counterweights were circular in shape so as to prevent any accidentaly injuries from the thrusting motion to the soldiers behind. Persian forces used small composite bows which were versatile but not the most powerful. Greek soldiers would pull the arrows back with their thumb and index fingers, while Persian soldiers would use their index and middle fingers, giving them more strength and distance. Their archery was often used for blanketing enemy formations at distances. This made it effective against lightly armoured combatants but only effective against heavily armoured enemies at short distances. The army was divided in cavalry and infantry. Chariots were rare, obsolete, and mainly restricted for command positions as oppopsed to actual battle. A group of about 10,000 elite soldiers who were called, according to Herodotus, the immortals were also created. Their name as immortals was seems to be false. There is no mention of such names in Persian texts and some scholars theink that Herodotus confused the word of company, Anooshiya with the word for immortal Anausha. Herodotus was most likely referring to the royal guard, who were the best fighters from the Persian camp. Among other advancements, high-ranking officials were given authentic documentation to prove their position. Most soldiers had the right to take
their wives along on campaigns. Soldiers from other nations were
also hired or conscripted for their abilities. Phoenician seafares were masters of shipbuilding and were readily employed in naval conflicts. Greek and Nubian mercenaries were also utilized for their skills. The military of Iran greatly advanced under Achaemenid rule.