Political management of space in the Achaemenid era and its influence on People’s Convergence and Divergence

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Dep. of History, Faculty of Humanities, University of Tehran

2 Dep. of History, University of Tehran

3 National Geography Organization of Iran


Extended Abstract
Political management of space is in sum an optimal organizational approach, both de facto and theoretical (de jure) to managing political plans of the country in all its manifestations. This form of management hinges on the facts and principles of political geography, aiming to mitigate the uneven spatial distribution of limited resources, moving towards sustainable development. Despite the many ebbs and flows in the history of political divisions in Iran, the country is still faced with major challenges including but not limited to detrimental rivalries in procuring resources, gaps in and lack of a proper governmental structure, relatively weak performance in land-use planning, tribal quarrels, etc. This highlights the significance of a geographical-historical analysis of political divisions in Iran, as well as an investigation into the effects of these divisions in the divergence and convergence of citizens. The purpose of this study is to scrutinize the manner of political management of lands in the Achaemenid dynasty alongside the various strategies incorporated by the government and the extent to which they succeeded in preserving the integrity of their governments. By this token, the present study contributes not only to our historical knowledge but also provides insight into the theoretical and practical dimensions of the current demographic status of Iran.
The required information for this study were gathered using library research tools. First-hand historical resources were initially explored and notes were taken and categorized accordingly, after which relevant analyses were conducted.
Results and discussion
The present study proceeded to investigate strategies for political management of space during the Achaemenid era so as to gain further insight into the methods deployed by the government and possibly borrow from the proposed strategies in current times. The following question are duly investigated:
What structure of political management was employed in the Achaemenid dynasty? The proposed political structure in the time was non-centric, i.e. a decentralized government where the central government is in charge of coordinating affairs amongst different sectors of the country.
What was the role of the Satrap institution and how was it implemented? There are essentially two forms of Satraps in the Achaemenid Empire: Satraps dependent on and under the pension of of the king himself and semi-independent or protégé Straps. The dependent satraps that were elected by the king to govern the conquered lands. These satraps obeyed the ruling of the king in the manner by which they governed and administred authority over their territorie. The protégé straps on the other hand, were those who obeyed the king on their own accord.
How did the political management of space deployed by the Achaemenid Empire effect the rate of convergence and divergence of citizens to the central government?
Initially, the federal government of the Achaemenid empire encountered serious predicaments regarding reversibility of the former system of order due to efforts in maintaining the main principles of previous authorities.
The Achaemenid outlook on methods of political management left no room for converging local communities and states into a uniform government. The primary reason for this was the tribal and cultural diversity and distributiveness of the country.
The Achaemenid tax system had certain faults which allowed for aggressive and oppressing authority over the tax payers, which due to the extensiveness of the regions could not always be directly handled and supervised by the government.
On the one hand, political marriages between Achaemenid straps and local aristocrats encouraged and promoted the bonds between them and on the other hand engendered disobedience; stated differently, heads of state and local aristocrats would settle on a common interest and thereby seek autonomy.
The merging of states into one uniform government during the Achaemenid era would have led to economic prosperity.
The proposed strategies of the empire were one of the most influential methods for controlling various regions and maintaining the integrity of the country.

The prime indicator in political management of space during the Achaemenid era was the selection of an efficient model to govern and manage the country according to cultural, social, economic, and political features of the lands and tribes in the country, with the aim of maximizing convergence and minimizing divergence towards the central government. The most salient proceedings of the Achaemenid empire which were brought on either divergence or convergence of citizens and tribes to the central government include the following:
Divergence Convergence Proceedings
* Efforts to maintain the main principles of previous governments (during the rule of the first Achaemenid)
* Incorporating local citizens in domestic affairs of the satraps
* Minimizing the interposition of Achaemenid administration in the affairs of affiliated nations and methods common in various lands
* Merging various states into one uniform satrap government which negated all previous liberties and hindered commercial interactions
* Determining the king’s share of the taxes collected by the satraps
* Authority of straps in collecting taxes for the strap government which allowed for aggressive behavior towards citizens
* Constancy of the tax system incorporated by each satrap until the end of Achaemenid empire, whereas certain satrap governments were later divided into smaller satrap states
* Political marriages between aristocrats and governors which created a bond with the king’s court
* Political marriages between governors which allowed the formation of common interests between the heads of state who were later encouraged to seek autonomy
* Merging states into one uniform government in order to attain economic prosperity (commercial and agriculture)
* Authority of each satrap over the security of their affiliated regions
* Establishing communications pathways between the capital and satrap states
* Efforts attain symbiosis among states rather than solely attaining unity
Keywords: political management of space, Achaemenid, nations, historical pathology,
Keywords: political management of space, Achaemenid, nations, historical pathology,


Main Subjects

  1. احتشام، مرتضی، 2535، ایران در زمان هخامنشیان، تهران: چاپخانۀ زر.
  2. احمدی‏پور، زهرا؛ قنبری، قاسم و کرمی، قاسم، 1393، سازمان‏دهی سیاسی فضا، تهران: سازمان جغرافیایی نیروهای مسلح.
  3. اومستد، آلبرت، 1383، تاریخ شاهنشاهی هخامنشی، ترجمۀ محمد مقدم، تهران: علمی و فرهنگی.
  4. آذری، علاءالدین، 1354، پژوهش دربارة شهرب‏ها، مجلة بررسی‏های تاریخی، س ۱۰، ش 6 (مسلسل 61).
  5. بروسیوس، ماریا، 1390، ایرانیان عصر باستان، ترجمۀ هایده مشایخ، تهران: هرمس.
  6. بریان، پی‏یر، 1386، وحدت سیاسی و تعامل فرهنگی در شاهنشاهی هخامنشی، ترجمۀ ناهید فروغان، تهران: اختران.
  7. بریان‏، پی‏یر، 1388، قدرت مرکزی و چندمرکزی فرهنگی در شاهنشاهی هخامنشی، مجموعه تاریخ هخامنشی، ویراستار: هلن سانسیسی وردنبورخ، ج ۱، ترجمۀ مرتضی ثاقب‏فر، تهران: توس.
  8. بریان، پی‏یر، 1391، از کورش تا اسکندر؛ تاریخ شاهنشاهی ایران، مجموعه تاریخ هخامنشیان، ج ۱۰، بخش یکم، ترجمۀ مرتضی ثاقب‏فر، تهران: توس.
  9. بیانی، ملکزاده، 1370، تاریخ سکه: از قدیم‏ترین ازمنه تا دورة ساسانیان، ج 1-2، تهران: دانشگاه تهران.
  10. توین‏بی، آرنولد، 1379، جغرافیای اداری هخامنشیان، ترجمۀ همایون صنعتی‏زاده، تهران: بنیاد موقوفات دکتر محمود افشار.
  11. حافظ‏نیا، محمدرضا و کاویانی راد، مراد، 1383، افق‏های جدید در جغرافیای سیاسی، تهران: سمت.
  12. حافظ‏نیا، محمدرضا؛ قمصری، محمد؛ احمدی، حمید و حسینی، حسین، 1384، قومیت و سازمان‏دهی سیاسی فضا، فصل‏نامۀ ژئوپلیتیک، ش 2، صص 5-22.
  13. داندامایف، محمد، 1389، تاریخ سیاسی هخامنشیان، ترجمۀ فرید جواهرکلام، تهران: فرزان روز.
  14. شیعه، اسماعیل، 1369، مقدمـه‏ای بـر مبـانی برنامه‏ریزی شهری، تهران: دانشگاه علم و صنعت.
  15. زرین‏کوب، عبدالحسین، 1388، تاریخ مردم ایران، جلد 1، ایران قبل از اسلام، تهران: امیر کبیر.
  16. کورت، آملی، 1379، هخامنشیان، ترجمۀ مرتضی ثاقب‏فر، تهران: ققنوس.
  17. کوک، جان، 1387، ظهور هخامنشیان و تأسیس امپراتوری ایشان، تاریخ ایران کمبریج، ج ۲، قسمت اول، ترجمۀ تیمور قادری، تهران: مهتاب.
  18. گارثویت، جین رالف، 1387، تاریخ سیاسی ایران از شاهنشاهی هخامنشی تاکنون، ترجمۀ غلام‏رضا علی‏بابایی، تهران: اختران.
  19. گزنفون، 1380، کورشنامه، ترجمۀ رضا مشایخی، تهران: علمی- فرهنگی.
  20. مالوان، مکس، 1390، کورش کبیر، تاریخ ایران کمبریج، ج ۲، قسمت اول، ترجمۀ تیمور قادری، تهران: مهتاب.
  21. مجتهدزاده، پیروز و حافظ‏نیا، محدرضا، 1387، برابرسازی معنایی واژگان جغرافیای سیاسی، فصل‏نامۀ ژئوپلیتیک، س 4، ش 1، صص 1-7.
  22. ویسهوفر، یوزف، 1390، ایران باستان؛ از 550 پیش از میلاد تا 650 میلادی، ترجمۀ مرتضی ثاقب‏فر، تهران: ققنوس.
  23. هرودوت، 1389، تاریخ هرودوت، ترجمۀ مرتضی ثاقب‏فر، تهران: اساطیر.
  24. هینتس، والتر، 1378، داریوش و ایرانیان؛ تاریخ فرهنگ و تمدن هخامنشیان، ترجمۀ پرویز رجبی، تهران: ماهی.
  25. یاکوبس، برونو، 1391، سازوکارهای غلبه بر بحران در نظام اداری آسیای صغیر در دورة هخامنشی، مجموعة تاریخ هخامنشی، ویراستار: ووترف. م. هنکلمن و آملی کورت، ج ۱۳، ترجمۀ مرتضی ثاقب‏فر، تهران: توس.
  26. یانگ، کایلر و دیگران، 1385، ایران باستان (پیشاتاریخ، ایلامیان، هخامنشیان، سلوکیان، پارتیان، و ساسانیان)، ترجمۀ یعقوب آژند، تهران: مولی.
  27. یوسف‏جمالی، محمدکریم؛ ایمان‏پور، محمدتقی و شهابادی، علی‏اکبر، 1392، نقش و جایگاه ساتراپی‏ها در شاهنشاهی هخامنشی، تاریخ اسلام و ایران، ش 18، 108، صص 89-110.

28. Ahmadipur, Zahra and et al., 2014, Political Organization of Space, Tehran: National Geographical Organization. (In Persian)

29. Azari, Alaedin, 1975, A Reaserch on Satraps, Historical Review Journal, No. 6: 61. (In Persian)

30. Bayani, Malekzade, 1991, Coins’s History, Vol. 1-2, Tehran: University of Tehran. (In Persian)

31. Briant, Pierre, 1998, Gaumāta, Encyclopedia Iranica, Vol. 10: 3, PP. 333-335.

32. Briant, Pierre, 2007, Political unity and cultural interaction in the Achaemenid Empire, tr. Nahid Foroughan, Tehran: Akhtaran. (In Persian)

33. Briant, Pierre, 2009, Central Power and Cltural Multicentres in the Achaemenid Empire, Achamenid History, ed. Heleen Sancisi-Weerdenburg, Amelie Kuhrt, Vol. 1, tr. Morteza Saqebfar, Tehran: Tus. (In Persian)

34. Briant, Pierre, 2012, From Cyrus to Alexander: A History of the Persian Empire, Achamenid History, ed. Heleen Sancisi-Weerdenburg, Amelie Kuhrt, Vol. 1, tr. Morteza Saqebfar, Tehran: Tus. (In Persian)

35. Brosius, Maria, 2011, The Persian, tr. Haiedeh Mashayekh, Tehran: Hermes. (In Persian)

36. Cook, John, 1983, The Persian Empire, Schocken, 1st American edition: London, Melbourn and Toronto: J. M. Dent and sons.

37. Cook, John, 1985, The Rise of the Achaemenid and Establishment of their Empire, Cambridge History of Iran, I, Gershevitch (ed.), Vol. 2, Cambridge.

38. Cook, John, 2008, The Rise of the Persian Empire and establishment of their empire, Cambridge history of Iran, Vol. 2(1), tr. T. Qaderi, Tehran: Mahtab. (In Persian)

39. Dandamayev, Mohammad, 1993, Cyrus II The Great, Encyclopedia Iranica, Vol. 6, New York.

40. Dandamayev, Mohammad, 1999, Achaemenid Imperial Policies and Provincial Governments, Iranica Antiqua, Vol. 34, PP. 269-282, available at: http://abstractairanica.revues.org

41. Dandamayev, Mohammad, 2000, Achaemenid Taxation, Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, available at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/achaemenid-taxation.

42. Dandamayev, Mohammad, 2010, Political History of Achaemenids, tr. Farid Javaherkalam, Tehran: Farzan Ruz. (In Persian)

43. Dandamayev, Mohammad, 2012, Achaemenid Taxation, Encyclopedia Iranica, online edition, available at: www.iranicaonline.org/articles/achaemenidtaxation (accessed on 7 February 2014).

44. Dandamayev, Mohammad and Gyselen, Rika, 1999, “Fiscal System i. Achaemenid, ii. Sasanian,” Encyclopaedia Iranica, online edition, available at: http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/fiscal-system-i-achaemenid-ii-sasanian

45. Ehtesham, Morteza, 1976, Iran in the Achamenid time, Tehran: Zar. (In Persian)

46. Frye, Richard Nelson, 2005, Cyrus II, Encyclopedia Britannica, 15 edition, Vol. 3.

47. Garthwaite, Gene Ralph, 2008, A Survey of Iranian political history from the Achaemenid Empire till now, tr. Gholamreza Alibabaei, Tehran: Akhtaran. (In Persian)

48. Grayson, Albert Ktik, 1975, Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles, New York.

49. Hafeznia, Mohammad Reza and Kavianirad, Morad, 2005, The new approaches in political geography, Tehran: Samt. (In Persian)

50. Hafeznia, Mohammad Reza et al., 2006, Ethnicity and political organization of space, Journal of Geopolitics, Vol.1, No. 2, PP. 5-22. (In Persian)

51. Herodotus, 1977, Histories, tr. Morteza Saqebfar, Tehran: Asatir. (In Persian)

52. Hinz, Walther, 1999, Darius and the Persians, History of Achaemenids’ culture and civilization, tr. Parviz Rajabi, Tehran: Mahi. (In Persian)

53. Jacobs, Bruno, 2006, “Achaemenid Satrapies”, Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, available at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/achaemenid-satrapies

54. Jacobs, Bruno, 2012, Mechanisms for overcoming the crisis in the administrative system of Asia Minor in the Achaemenid period, Achamenid History, ed. Henkelmann & Kuhrt, Vol. 13, tr. M. Saqebfar, Tehran: Tus. (In Persian)

  1. Kent, Roland, 1950, Old Persian, Grammar, Texts, Lexicon, Second edition, New Haven, Connecticut: American Oriental Society.

56. Kuhrt, Ameli, 2000, Achamenids, tr. Morteza Saqebfar, Tehran: Qoqnus. (In Persian)

57. Mallowan, Max, 2011, Cyrus the great, Cambridge History of Iran, Vol. 2 (1), tr. T. Qaderi, Tehran: Mahtab. (In Persian)

58. Mojtahedzadeh, Pirouz and Hafeznia, Mohammad Reza, 2009, Equalization in Political Geography terms, Journal of Geopolitics, Year 4, No. 1, PP. 1-7. (In Persian)

59. Moore, Carey, 1971, Esther: Introduction, Translation and Notes, Garden City, N. Y.

60. Nepos, Cornelius, 1886, Lives of Eminent Commanders (Life of Datames), tr. the Rev. John Selby Watson, MA, PP. 305-450, available at: http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/nepos.htm#Datames

61. Olmstead, Albert, 2004, History of the Persian Empire, tr. Mohammad Moqadam, Tehran: Elmi Farhangi. (In Persian)

62. Oppenheim, Leo, 1969, Babylonian and Assyrian Historical Text, J.B Pritchard (Ed.). Ancient Near Eastern Text Relating to the Old Testament, Princeton.

63. Potts, Daniel, 1999, The Archaeology of Elam: Formation and Transformation of an Ancient Iranian State, Cambridge University Press, Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York.

64. Schmitt, Rüdiger, 1983, Achaemenid Dynasty, Encyclopædia Iranica, I/4, PP. 414-426; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/achaemenid-dynasty.

65. Schmitt, Rüdiger, 1994, Datames, Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, available at https://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/datames

66. Shieh, Esmaeil, 1990, Introduction to urban planning, Tehran: Iran University of Science and Technology. (In Persian)

67. Stolper, Matthew, 1989, The Governor of Babylon and across -the- River in 486 B.C., Journal of Near Eastern studies, No. 48, PP. 283-305.

68. Toynbee, Arnold, 2000, Achamenid Geographical Admistration, tr. Homayoun Sanatizadeh, Tehran: Dr. Afshar Foundation. (In Persian)

  1. Vogelsang, Willem, 1998, Medes, Scythians and Persian: The Rise of Darius in a north – south Perspec- tive, Iranica Antiqua, No. 33, PP. 195-224.

70. Wieshöfer, Josef, 2011, Ancient Persia; from 550 Bc-650 AD, tr. M. Saqebfar, Tehran: Qoqnus. (In Persian)

71. Wittke, Anne; Olshausen, Eckhart and Szydlak, Richard (ed.), 2010, New Pauly Supplements I - Volume 3: Historical Atlas of the Ancient World, Brill.

72. Xenophon, 2001, Cyropaedia, tr. Reza Mashayekhi, Tehran: Elmi-Farhangi. (In Persian)

73. Young, Theodore Cuyler et al., 2006, Ancient Iran (Pre-History, Elemids, Achamenids, Seleucids, Parthians and Sasanians), tr. Yaqub Azhand, Tehran: Mowla. (In Persian)

74. Yusof Jamali, Mohammad Karim; Imanpur, Mohammad Taqi and Shahabadi, Ali Akbar, 2012, Position of satrapies in Achamenid Emipre, History of Islam and Iran, 18, 108, PP. 89-110. (In Persian)

75. Zarrinkoob, Abdolhosein, 2009, The Hisory of Iranian People, Vol. 1, Tehran: Amirkabir. (In Persian)