Although the Persian Empire lasted less than 250 years, during that short time it was the largest empire in the ancient world and a powerhouse of creativity and invention. In Ancient Persia, kids will learn about the four kings who built and defended the empire, starting with Cyrus the Great and ending with Xerxes. They’ll explore Persian society, with its rigid class system and huge lifestyle differences between rich and poor, and they’ll also take a look at the kings’ massive building projects. During this golden period, Persian artisans reached the apogee of their skills, filling grand palaces with the gorgeous mosaics, rugs, and artwork for which this empire is still best known.
But the parable of Ancient Persia, for kids, becomes clear with accounts of how the last two kings tried to accomplish too much, which weakened the empire and made it vulnerable to conquest by Alexander the Great. After he died, the realm split into three parts, which now make up parts of modern-day Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan. And while it may be long-gone, the influence of Ancient Persia on in Islam – a religion imported from Arabia that took on Persian touches and is now practiced by a quarter of the world’s population – making it second only to Christianity in its number of adherents. Without a doubt, studying Ancient Persia, for kids, is a key part of understanding not only the ancient world, but the Middle East today.