The Parthenon, a temple dedicated to Athena, located on the Acropolis in Athens, is one of the most representative symbols of the culture and sophistication of the ancient Greeks.
Persians and Spartans fighting at Plataea. 19th century illustration.
The Victorious Youth (c. 310 BC), is a rare, water-preserved bronze sculpture from ancient Greece.
The Achaemenid Empire at its greatest territorial extent under the rule of Darius I (522 BC–486 BC)
A map showing the Greek world at the time of the battle
Dipylon Vase of the late Geometric period, or the beginning of the Archaic period, c. 750 BC.
The Achaemenid Empire at its greatest territorial extent under the rule of Darius I (522 BC–486 BC)
The Achaemenid Empire and its allied Greek states (Macedonia, Thessaly, Malis, Locris, Phocis and Boeotia) at the time of the Battle of Plataea.
Early Athenian coin, depicting the head of Athena on the obverse and her owl on the reverse – 5th century BC
Family tree of the Achaemenid rulers.
Movements of the Persian and Greek armies in 480–479 BC
Map showing events of the first phases of the Greco-Persian Wars.
Map of the expansion process of Achaemenid territories
Answer of Aristides to the ambassadors of Mardonius: "As long as the sun holds to its present course, we shall never come to terms with Xerxes".
Delian League ("Athenian Empire"), immediately before the Peloponnesian War in 431 BC
Cyrus the Great is said, in the Bible, to have liberated the Hebrew captives in Babylon to resettle and rebuild Jerusalem, earning him an honored place in Judaism.
The initial movements at the Battle of Plataea. The Greek line moves forward to the Asopus ridge.
Alexander Mosaic, National Archaeological Museum, Naples.
The tomb of Cyrus the Great, founder of the Achaemenid Empire. At Pasargadae, Iran.
Death of Masistius in early skirmishes.
Map showing the major regions of mainland ancient Greece and adjacent "barbarian" lands.
The Achaemenid Empire at its greatest extent, c. 500 BC
The Spartan general Pausanias commanded the Allied Greek troops.
Greek cities & colonies c. undefined 550 BC (in red color)
The Persian queen Atossa, daughter of Cyrus the Great, sister-wife of Cambyses II, Darius the Great's wife, and mother of Xerxes the Great
Disposition of Achaemenid troops beyond the Asopos river at the beginning of the Battle of Plataea. From left to right: Greek allies, Sacae, Indians, Bactrians, Medes and Persians.
Marble bust of Pericles with a Corinthian helmet, Roman copy of a Greek original, Museo Chiaramonti, Vatican Museums; Pericles was a key populist political figure in the development of the radical Athenian democracy.
Map showing events of the first phases of the Greco-Persian Wars
Aristides, commander of the Athenians, informed by Alexander I of Macedon (a nominal ally of the Achaemenids) that delaying the encounter with the Persians would help further diminish their already low supplies. Battle of Plataea, 479 BC.
Inheritance law, part of the Law Code of Gortyn, Crete, fragment of the 11th column. Limestone, 5th century BC
Greek hoplite and Persian warrior depicted fighting, on an ancient kylix, 5th century BC
The battlefield of Plataea from the Achaemenid (northern) side.
Fresco of dancing Peucetian women in the Tomb of the Dancers in Ruvo di Puglia, 4th–5th century BC
Achaemenid king fighting hoplites, seal and seal holder, Cimmerian Bosporus.
Pausanias offering sacrifice to the Gods before the battle
Gravestone of a woman with her slave child-attendant, c. undefined 100 BC
Achaemenid gold ornaments, Brooklyn Museum
Scene of the Battle of Plataea. 19th century illustration.
Mosaic from Pompeii depicting Plato's academy
Persian Empire timeline including important events and territorial evolution – 550–323 BC
The main phase of the battle at Plataea. The Greek retreat becomes disorganised, and the Persians cross the Asopus to attack.
Greek hoplite and Persian warrior depicted fighting, on an ancient kylix, 5th century BC
Relief showing Darius I offering lettuces to the Egyptian deity Amun-Ra Kamutef, Temple of Hibis
Scene of the Battle of Plataea on the south frieze of the Temple of Athena Nike, Athens. The scene on the right may show the fight over the body of Masistius. British Museum.
The carved busts of four ancient Greek philosophers, on display in the British Museum. From left to right: Socrates, Antisthenes, Chrysippus, and Epicurus.
The 24 countries subject to the Achaemenid Empire at the time of Darius, on the Egyptian statue of Darius I.
Greek hoplite and Persian warrior depicted fighting on an ancient kylix. 5th century BC
The ancient Theatre of Epidaurus, 4th century BC
The Battle of Issus, between Alexander the Great on horseback to the left, and Darius III in the chariot to the right, represented in a Pompeii mosaic dated 1st century BC – Naples National Archaeological Museum
Coin of Alexander I of Macedon in the decade following the Battle of Plataea and the departure of Achaemenid forces (struck in 480/79-470 BC).
A scene from the Iliad: Hypnos and Thanatos carrying the body of Sarpedon from the battlefield of Troy; detail from an Attic white-ground lekythos, c. 440 BC.
Alexander's first victory over Darius, the Persian king depicted in medieval European style in the 15th century romance The History of Alexander's Battles
The Antikythera mechanism was an analog computer from 150 to 100 BC designed to calculate the positions of astronomical objects.
Frataraka dynasty ruler Vadfradad I (Autophradates I). 3rd century BC. Istakhr (Persepolis) mint.
The Temple of Hera at Selinunte, Sicily
Dārēv I (Darios I) used for the first time the title of mlk (King). 2nd century BC.
Mount Olympus, home of the Twelve Olympians
Winged sphinx from the Palace of Darius in Susa, Louvre
Daric of Artaxerxes II
Volume of annual tribute per district, in the Achaemenid Empire, according to Herodotus.
Achaemenid tax collector, calculating on an Abax or Abacus, according to the Darius Vase (340–320 BC).
Letter from the Satrap of Bactria to the governor of Khulmi, concerning camel keepers, 353 BC
Relief of throne-bearing soldiers in their native clothing at the tomb of Xerxes I, demonstrating the satrapies under his rule.
Achaemenid king killing a Greek hoplite. c. 500 BC–475 BC, at the time of Xerxes I. Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Persian soldiers (left) fighting against Scythians. Cylinder seal impression.
Color reconstruction of Achaemenid infantry on the Alexander Sarcophagus (end of 4th century BC).
Seal of Darius the Great hunting in a chariot, reading "I am Darius, the Great King" in Old Persian (𐎠𐎭𐎶𐏐𐎭𐎠𐎼𐎹𐎺𐎢𐏁𐎴 𐏋, "adam Dārayavaʰuš xšāyaθiya"), as well as in Elamite and Babylonian. The word "great" only appears in Babylonian. British Museum.
Achaemenid calvalryman in the satrapy of Hellespontine Phrygia, Altıkulaç Sarcophagus, early 4th century BC.
Armoured cavalry: Achaemenid Dynast of Hellespontine Phrygia attacking a Greek psiloi, Altıkulaç Sarcophagus, early 4th century BC.
Reconstitution of Persian landing ships at the Battle of Marathon.
Greek ships against Achaemenid ships at the Battle of Salamis.
Iconic relief of lion and bull fighting, Apadana of Persepolis
Achaemenid golden bowl with lioness imagery of Mazandaran
The ruins of Persepolis
A section of the Old Persian part of the trilingual Behistun inscription. Other versions are in Babylonian and Elamite.
A copy of the Behistun inscription in Aramaic on a papyrus. Aramaic was the lingua franca of the empire.
An Achaemenid drinking vessel
Bas-relief of Farvahar at Persepolis
Tomb of Artaxerxes III in Persepolis
The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of the Seven wonders of the ancient world, was built by Greek architects for the local Persian satrap of Caria, Mausolus (Scale model)
Achamenid dynasty timeline
Reconstruction of the Palace of Darius at Susa. The palace served as a model for Persepolis.
Lion on a decorative panel from Darius I the Great's palace, Louvre
Ruins of Throne Hall, Persepolis
Apadana Hall, Persian and Median soldiers at Persepolis
Lateral view of tomb of Cambyses II, Pasargadae, Iran
Plaque with horned lion-griffins. The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Achaemenid Empire, also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient Iranian empire based in Western Asia that was founded by Cyrus the Great in 550 BC. It reached its greatest extent under Xerxes I, who conquered most of northern and central ancient Greece.

- Achaemenid Empire

It took place in 479 BC near the city of Plataea in Boeotia, and was fought between an alliance of the Greek city-states (including Sparta, Athens, Corinth and Megara), and the Persian Empire of Xerxes I (allied with Greece's Boeotians, Thessalians, and Macedonians).

- Battle of Plataea

The Persians were decisively defeated at sea by a primarily Athenian naval force at the Battle of Salamis, and on land in 479 BC at the Battle of Plataea.

- Ancient Greece

The land army which he left in Greece under Mardonius retook Athens but was eventually destroyed in 479 BC at the Battle of Plataea.

- Achaemenid Empire

To fight the enormous armies of the Achaemenid Empire was effectively beyond the capabilities of a single city-state.

- Ancient Greece
The Parthenon, a temple dedicated to Athena, located on the Acropolis in Athens, is one of the most representative symbols of the culture and sophistication of the ancient Greeks.

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1900 depiction of the Battle of Marathon

Battle of Marathon

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The Battle of Marathon took place in 490 BC during the first Persian invasion of Greece.

The Battle of Marathon took place in 490 BC during the first Persian invasion of Greece.

1900 depiction of the Battle of Marathon
The plain of Marathon today, with pine forest and wetlands.
A map showing the Greek world at the time of the battle
Darius I of Persia, as imagined by a Greek painter on the Darius Vase, 4th century BC
Initial disposition of forces at Marathon
Marshlands at Marathon.
Athenians on the beach of Marathon. Modern reenactment of the battle (2011)
The ethnicities of the soldiers of the army of Darius I are illustrated on the tomb of Darius I at Naqsh-e Rostam, with a mention of each ethnicity in individual labels. Identical depictions were made on the tombs of other Achaemenid emperors, the best preserved frieze being that of Xerxes I.
Persian infantry (probably Immortals), shown in a frieze in Darius's palace, Susa in Persia (which is today Iran)
First phase
Greek troops rushing forward at the Battle of Marathon, Georges Rochegrosse, 1859.
Second phase
Third phase
"They crashed into the Persian army with tremendous force", illustration by Walter Crane in Mary Macgregor, The Story of Greece Told to Boys and Girls, London: T.C. & E.C. Jack.
Fourth phase
Fifth phase
Cynaegirus grabbing a Persian ship at the Battle of Marathon (19th century illustration).
Relief of the battle of Marathon (Temple of Augustus, Pula).
Contemporary depiction of the Battle of Marathon in the Stoa Poikile (reconstitution)
Greek Corinthian-style helmet and the skull reportedly found inside it from the Battle of Marathon, now residing in the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto.
Plan of the Battle of Marathon, 1832
Statue of Pan, Capitoline Museum, Rome
Reconstitution of the Nike of Callimachus, erected in honor of the Battle of Marathon. Destroyed during the Achaemenid destruction of Athens. Acropolis Museum.
Luc-Olivier Merson's painting depicting the runner announcing the victory at the Battle of Marathon to the people of Athens.
Burton Holmes's photograph entitled "1896: Three athletes in training for the marathon at the Olympic Games in Athens".

It was fought between the citizens of Athens, aided by Plataea, and a Persian force commanded by Datis and Artaphernes.

The battle was the culmination of the first attempt by Persia, under King Darius I, to subjugate Greece.

These numbers are highly comparable to the number of troops Herodotus says that the Athenians and Plataeans sent to the Battle of Plataea 11 years later.

Leonidas at Thermopylae, by Jacques-Louis David, 1814.

Battle of Thermopylae

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Leonidas at Thermopylae, by Jacques-Louis David, 1814.
A map of almost all the parts of the Greek world that partook in the Persian Wars
The Spartans throw Persian envoys into a well
The site of the battle today. Mount Kallidromon on the left, and the wide coastal plain formed by accretion of fluvial deposits over the centuries; the road to the right approximates the 480 BC shoreline.
Map showing Greek and Persian advances to Thermopylae and Artemisium
5th century hoplite.
A flow map of the battle
Map of Thermopylae area with a reconstructed shoreline of 480 BC.
Contemporary depictions: probable Spartan hoplite (Vix crater, c.500 BC), and Scythian warrior of the Achaemenid army (tomb of Xerxes I, c.480 BC), at the time of the Second Persian invasion of Greece (480–479 BC).
Spartans surrounded by Persians, Battle of Thermopylae. 19th century illustration.
Crown-wearing Achaemenid king killing a Greek hoplite. Impression from a cylinder seal, sculpted circa 500 BC–475 BC, at the time of Xerxes I. Metropolitan Museum of Art.
A Persian soldier at the time of the Second Achaemenid invasion of Greece.
The Capture of the Acropolis and the destruction of Athens by the Achaemenids, following the battle of Thermopylae.
Hidush (Indian soldier of the Achaemenid army), circa 480 BC. Xerxes I tomb. Herodotus explained that Indians participated on the Second Persian invasion of Greece.
Epitaph with Simonides' epigram
The Battle of Thermopylae, 19th century engraving
The Persian Gates narrow pass
Scene of the Battle of the Thermopylae (19th century illustration).
Leonidas Monument
Thespian monument

The Battle of Thermopylae was fought in 480 BC between the Achaemenid Persian Empire under Xerxes I and an alliance of Greek city-states led by Sparta under Leonidas I.

The engagement at Thermopylae occurred simultaneously with the Battle of Artemisium: between July and September 480 BC. The second Persian invasion under Xerxes I was a delayed response to the failure of the first Persian invasion, which had been initiated by Darius I and ended in 490 BC by an Athenian-led Greek victory at the Battle of Marathon.

However, the following year saw a Greek army decisively defeat Mardonius and his troops at the Battle of Plataea, ending the second Persian invasion.

A Greek hoplite


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A Greek hoplite
Hoplite, 5th century
Hoplites shown in two attack positions, with both an underhand thrust and an overhand prepared to be thrown
Phalanx fighting on a black-figure amphora, c. 560 BC. The hoplite phalanx is a frequent subject in ancient Greek art
Probable Spartan hoplite (Vix crater, c. 500 BC).
Hoplite armour exhibit from the Archaeological Museum of Corfu. Note the gold inserts around the chest area of the iron breastplate at the centre of the exhibit. The helmet on the upper left is a restored version of the oxidised helmet on the right.
Stele of Aristion, heavy-infantryman or hoplite. 510 BC. Top of helmet and pointed beard missing.
Armour of an ancient Athenian Hoplite
Athenian cavalryman Dexileos fighting a naked Peloponnesian hoplite in the Corinthian War. Dexileos was killed in action near Corinth in the summer of 394 BC, probably in the Battle of Nemea, or in a proximate engagement. Grave Stele of Dexileos, 394-393 BC.
Chigi Vase with Hoplites holding javelins and spears
Hoplites on an aryballos from Corinth, c. 580–560 BC (Louvre)
Crouching warrior, tondo of an Attic black-figure kylix, c. 560 BC (Staatliche Antikensammlungen)
Achaemenid king killing a Greek hoplite. Circa 500 BC–475 BC, at the time of Xerxes I. Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Spartan hoplite. (Image from Vinkhuijzen Collection of Military Costume Illustration, before 1910)
Paintings of Ancient Macedonian soldiers, arms, and armaments, from the tomb of Agios Athanasios, Thessaloniki in Greece, 4th century BC
Etruscan warrior, found near Viterbo, Italy, dated circa 500 BC.

Hoplites ( : hoplítēs) were citizen-soldiers of Ancient Greek city-states who were primarily armed with spears and shields.

The formation proved successful in defeating the Persians when employed by the Athenians at the Battle of Marathon in 490 BCE during the First Greco-Persian War.

The phalanx was also employed by the Greeks at the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BCE and at the Battle of Plataea in 479 BCE during the Second Greco-Persian War.

Fragment from Histories, Book VIII on 2nd-century Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 2099

Histories (Herodotus)

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Considered the founding work of history in Western literature.

Considered the founding work of history in Western literature.

Fragment from Histories, Book VIII on 2nd-century Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 2099
[[Candaules, King of Lydia, Shews his Wife by Stealth to Gyges, One of his Ministers, as She Goes to Bed|Candaules, King of Lydia, shews his wife by stealth to Gyges...]], by William Etty (1830)
Edwin Long's 1875 interpretation of The Babylonian Marriage Market as described by Herodotus in Book 1 of the Histories
Nile crocodile allowing the trochilus to eat leeches in its mouth. Drawing by Henry Scherren, 1906
Scythian warriors, drawn after figures on an electrum cup from the Kul'Oba kurgan burial near Kerch (Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg)
Relief of Darius I, Persepolis
Statue of Athena, the patron goddess of Athens
A Greek trireme
The plain of Marathon today
Leonidas at Thermopylae, by Jacques-Louis David (1814)
The Battle of Salamis, by Wilhelm von Kaulbach (1868)
The Serpent Column dedicated by the victorious Greeks in Delphi, later transferred to Constantinople
Dedication in the Histories, translated into Latin by Lorenzo Valla, Venice 1494
Reconstruction of the Oikoumene (inhabited world), ancient map based on Herodotus,
The Indian Gold Hunters, after Herodotus: gold ants pursuing gold hunters.
The Himalayan marmot
Croesus Receiving Tribute from a Lydian Peasant, by Claude Vignon

The Histories also stands as one of the earliest accounts of the rise of the Persian Empire, as well as the events and causes of the Greco-Persian Wars between the Persian Empire and the Greek city-states in the 5th century BC. Herodotus portrays the conflict as one between the forces of slavery (the Persians) on the one hand, and freedom (the Athenians and the confederacy of Greek city-states which united against the invaders) on the other.

The invasion of Greek lands under Mardonius and enslavement of Macedon

The Persian retreat to Thebes where they are afterwards slaughtered (Battle of Plataea)

The Kingdom of Macedonia in 336 BC (orange)

Macedonia (ancient kingdom)

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Ancient kingdom on the periphery of Archaic and Classical Greece, and later the dominant state of Hellenistic Greece.

Ancient kingdom on the periphery of Archaic and Classical Greece, and later the dominant state of Hellenistic Greece.

The Kingdom of Macedonia in 336 BC (orange)
The entrance to one of the royal tombs at Vergina, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
The Kingdom of Macedonia in 336 BC (orange)
A silver octadrachm of Alexander I of Macedon ((r. 498 – 454)), minted c. 465–460 BC, showing an equestrian figure wearing a chlamys (short cloak) and petasos (head cap) while holding two spears and leading a horse
Macedon (orange) during the Peloponnesian War around 431BC, with Athens and the Delian League (yellow), Sparta and Peloponnesian League (red), independent states (blue), and the Persian Achaemenid Empire (purple)
A Macedonian didrachm minted during the reign of Archelaus I of Macedon ((r. 413 – 399))
A silver stater of Amyntas III of Macedon ((r. 393 – 370))
Map of the Kingdom of Macedon at the death of PhilipII in 336BC (light blue), with the original territory that existed in 431BC (red outline), and dependent states (yellow)
Alexander's empire and his route
The Stag Hunt Mosaic, c.300BC, from Pella; the figure on the right is possibly Alexander the Great due to the date of the mosaic along with the depicted upsweep of his centrally-parted hair (anastole); the figure on the left wielding a double-edged axe (associated with Hephaistos) is perhaps Hephaestion, one of Alexander's loyal companions.
A golden stater of Philip III Arrhidaeus ((r. 323 – 317)) bearing images of Athena (left) and Nike (right)
Paintings of Hellenistic-era military arms and armor from a tomb in ancient Mieza (modern-day Lefkadia), Imathia, Central Macedonia, Greece, 2nd centuryBC
The Temple of Apollo at Corinth, built c.540BC, with the Acrocorinth (i.e. the acropolis of Corinth that once held a Macedonian garrison) seen in the background
A tetradrachm minted during the reign of Antigonus III Doson ((r. 229 – 221)), possibly at Amphipolis, bearing the portrait image of Poseidon on the obverse and on the reverse a scene depicting Apollo sitting on the prow of a ship
The Kingdom of Macedonia (orange) under PhilipV ((r. 221 – 179)), with Macedonian dependent states (dark yellow), the Seleucid Empire (bright yellow), Roman protectorates (dark green), the Kingdom of Pergamon (light green), independent states (light purple), and possessions of the Ptolemaic Empire (violet purple)
A tetradrachm of Philip V of Macedon ((r. 221 – 179)), with the king's portrait on the obverse and Athena Alkidemos brandishing a thunderbolt on the reverse
Bronze bust of Eumenes II of Pergamon, a Roman copy of a Hellenistic Greek original, from the Villa of the Papyri in Herculaneum
The Vergina Sun, the 16-ray star covering the royal burial larnax of Philip II of Macedon ((r. 359 – 336)), discovered in the tomb of Vergina, formerly ancient Aigai
Hades abducting Persephone, fresco in the small Macedonian royal tomb at Vergina, Macedonia, Greece, c.340BC
Fresco of an ancient Macedonian soldier (thorakites) wearing chainmail armor and bearing a thureos shield, 3rd centuryBC, İstanbul Archaeology Museums
A mosaic of the Kasta Tomb in Amphipolis depicting the abduction of Persephone by Pluto, 4thcenturyBC
The Lion of Amphipolis in Amphipolis, northern Greece, a 4th-centuryBC marble tomb sculpture erected in honor of Laomedon of Mytilene, a general who served under Alexander the Great
Alexander (left), wearing a kausia and fighting an Asiatic lion with his friend Craterus (detail); late 4th-centuryBC mosaic, Pella Museum.
Portrait bust of Aristotle, an Imperial Roman (1st or 2nd centuryAD) copy of a lost bronze sculpture made by Lysippos
A fresco showing Hades and Persephone riding in a chariot, from the tomb of Queen Eurydice I of Macedon at Vergina, Greece, 4thcenturyBC
A banquet scene from a Macedonian tomb of Agios Athanasios, Thessaloniki, 4thcenturyBC; shown are six men reclining on couches, with food arranged on nearby tables, a male servant in attendance, and female musicians providing entertainment.
Ruins of the ancient theatre in Maroneia, Rhodope, East Macedonia and Thrace, Greece
Tetradrachms (above) and drachms (below) issued during the reign of Alexander the Great, now in the Numismatic Museum of Athens
The Alexander Mosaic, a Roman mosaic from Pompeii, Italy, c. 100 BC
Kingdoms of the diadochi c.301BC, after the Battle of Ipsus
Kingdom of Ptolemy I Soter
Kingdom of Cassander
Kingdom of Lysimachus
Kingdom of Seleucus I Nicator
Roman Republic
Greek States

Before the 4th century BC, Macedonia was a small kingdom outside of the area dominated by the great city-states of Athens, Sparta and Thebes, and briefly subordinate to Achaemenid Persia.

For a brief period, his Macedonian Empire was the most powerful in the world – the definitive Hellenistic state, inaugurating the transition to a new period of Ancient Greek civilization.

486 – 465)) during the Second Persian invasion of Greece in 480–479 BC, and Macedonian soldiers fought on the side of the Persians at the 479BC Battle of Platea.