Following The Satraps

Parthian steppe-dwellers, a people of the horse and bow settled between the Caspian and Aral Seas — that is, what was the Aral sea. Cyrus the Great by 546 B.C. created the Parthava satrapy, confirmed by Darius I in 521 after his father Hystaspes (Vištâspa) won the battle of Vishpauzâtish against a Parthian army. His father remained satrap of Parthia. Herodotus places the Parthians in the sixteenth satrapy along with: Chorasmians, Arians and

Sogdians. Some say Parthians were related to the Medes since their western borders touched theirs with the Silk Road passing through both and Margiana (Margu) to the Northeast. Others suggest they were a branch of Scythians. Parthia bordered a desert to its south, the Dasht-e-Kavir, Hyrcania to the Northwest, and Aria bordering its Southeast.


Darius campaigned against European Scythians assisted by Greek ships during which period generals Mardonius and Artabazos hold recorded presence 512 B.C. involving the subjection of Thrace and Macedonia. Mardonius, a brother-in-law of Darius was wounded 492, perhaps fatally, when attacked by fierce Thracian tribes. He had settled Macedonia that year leaving behind a Persian-backed Argead dynasty. At some point Megabyzus (Bagabuxša) satrap of above Dascyleium tackled Thrace along with certain Greek cities in the northern Aegean deporting Thracians in quantity to Phrygia. (Transferring populations was an Achaemenid tool of rule, a familiar one in modern history as well.) Apparently he later shifted as satrap of Arabia replaced by Otanes who was instructed to blockade the straits in order to deter Scythians. This move was seconded by Megabyzus’ capturing Lemnos and Imbros Islands.Oebares a son of Megabyzus later became satrap of Dascylium circa 495.

Currently ancient Thrace of southeast Europe overlapes sections of Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria and former Yugoslavia. It bordered along three seas, the Black, the Aegean and the Marmara. Regardless its gold wealth the satraps issued no coinage as far as we know today. By 479 after Xerxes’ defeat, Persia’s hold relaxed over Thrace. Ancient Macedonia also possessed gold mines and held wide leg-space in today’s Balkans: Bulgaria, former Yugoslavia, Albania. Over half its mass lay in north and neartheastern Greece. Macedonia’s position swung from ally to becoming a Persian client tributary state. Possibly this concerned Aegean Macedonia only. Pharnabazus satrap of Dascylium, circa 410-413 B.C. struck an issue possibly in Cyzicus Mesia, very similar to Macedonian kithara coin types  though obverses were customarily reserved for Apollo, patron of music.*21. The instrument characterized other Hellenic coins during the Achaemenid period: Kolophon in Ionia, Amyzon and Alabanda of Caria etc…
Ancient Hittite homeland Cappadocia (Old Persian “Katpatuka”), land of beautiful horses, silver and gold mining and sacred volcanoes (pg.2)  was divided by Darius the Great. One portion fell after conquest under the Dascylium satrapy. The remaining portion held its capital at Sardis, Achaemenidian linchpin of western control, leading the Royal Road to Susa (see map pg. 3) which a messenger covered in seven days. Its location was central Anatolia with boundaries more or less reaching the Black Sea and facing east, the Euphrates River, though its geographical positioning varied through time. Amongst the first satraps assigned here were the Medians Mazares and Harpagus (Ha-pagus). Mazares had been the military leader suppressing rebellion in Lydia. Cappadocia’s northern portion is better known to us through its Roman name, Pontus. The first satrap to rule nearby Cappadocia under Darius is considered by some to have been Ariramnes previously battling Scythians with his king. Information from Herodotus however dates this satrapial formation to 410 B.C. Thereunto an Artabatas is also a recorded satrap. Be this as it may a notable successor was Gobryas a half brother of Xerxes (480 B.C.). The historian goes on to inform, Hellespontines, Paphlagonians, Phrygians, Asian Thracians, Mariandynians and Cappadocians were bound together in the third taxed satrapy paying 360 talents yearly tribute. Cappadocian kings held residence at 3000 year old Mazaca, well-situated along the Persian Royal Road as well as the Silk Road (see map pg. X) Important coinage data is expected in future as specialists prepare a much-needed publication using various sources including ANS, British Museum and the Cabinet des Médailles. Whilst tributary to Persia, local rulers replaced satrapial rule until the tardy Datimid period circa 380-362, and as far as we know today, it appears only the Carian Datames struck coinage as Cappadocian satrap.
Storm and war-god Ba’al (written Baaltars) so frequently accenting satrapial coinage as above, was the passe-partout in Middle-Eastern lands, omnipresent as far as Egypt under the name Seth, coterminous with Babylonia’s Belu, ‘’Lord’’, or Sumeria’s Enlil and Marduk, all well-familiar to a Persian satrap. Ba’al imagery: holding whip, thunderbolts and ears of wheat, commanded political respect from the satraps whilst accepted by subjected nations far and wide. Syria’s Ugarit library texts (fourteenth century B.C.) revealed the deity accompanied Phoenicians emigrating from the Negeb (south of Palestine) to Mediterranean coastal regions from hence their influence and Ba’al’s expanded due to trade, colonies abroad and their famous fleets. The god’s attribute was the bull and future emanation ascribed him as a marine deity named Melkart, ‘’God of the City’’, known to Greeks as Heracles. Attention may be called to the Old Testament’s definite opposition to the deity. Imposing Baalbek remains to remind of his powerful cult.

Oroetos (Old Persian Utâna) also known as Otanes became Lydia’s satrap after crushing Samos under heel between circa 522 and 517 B.C. causing philosopher-mathematician Pythagoras to flee his homeland.  The importance of controlling Samos was no doubt its menacing fleet financed by Egyptian Pharaohs. Maritime details on this subject may be read at La Samaina.
Oroetos’ quarrel with satrap Mitrobates ended with the latter’s murder and in turn his own execution underhandedly manoeuvred by Darius. This peculiar quarrel and later reaction of Darius were storied variously but it is difficult to believe Oroetos would also have murdered a messenger from the king after murdering a fellow satrap, if in fact he did. This is all too obscure even had he ignored political upheavals in Persia whilst Darius sought effulgence in power during those chaotic years. And after all what were the latter’s credentials to restrain Oroetos or any satrap having served blooded rulers ?

Moreover, contemporaneous satraps as far-placed from their capital fallen to murder and factionalism undoubtedly profited too. Whatever the case, after his execution Darius may have replaced Oroetos briefly byBagaeos followed by another Otanes who brought Samos under Achaemenid rule. The latter’s successor 513 B.C. as Lydian satrap was Artaphernes Darius’ younger brother. Persepolis tablets indicate another brother of Darius, Artabanos as Paktra’s satrap — named Bactria by classical writers and so too herein. After Artaphernes above, his son, another Artaphernes served as Lydia’s satrap, later experiencing the battle of Marathon in the year 490. Satraps such as Pharnuchus were attributed Aeolia and Phrygia at Hellespont (now Dardanelles), Artacamas Sardis, Lydia (Phrygia major) and Adusius, Caria.


Integrated into the first satrapy Xanthos (Arñna) and independent Lycia were synonymous in ancient times (pg. 5). In its death-struggle against Persia’s Harpagus above, under common assent Lycian leaders deliberately destroyed their city, their population and finally their army by a suicidal attack upon numerically superior Persian troops. This self-destruction left a population of eighty families.  In light of such catastrophes or for other reasons unknown, Persia’s fist unclenched lightly enough to leave Lycia its own local rulers — who had been minting coinage since 520 B.C.  *20 Persian influence nevertheless presided and Xanthos was rebuilt. A local dynasty would later claim descent from Harpagus. Artembares(Artempara) satrap of western Lycia is named upon local coinage and inscriptions during a period of direct Achaemenid control. The Persian period engendered various coins presenting winged man-headed bulls, spread-winged eagles, the lotus and dynasts donning the Persian tiara. Xenophon notes Gadates (possibly Assyrian) there while Ionia’s satrap which does not preclude Harpagus above or others since Darius’ reign was long. Land of poets, geographers and griffins, storied Ionia struck coinage dating back to 650 B.C. Today its well-preserved cities are Priene, Miletus, and Ephesus along with Didyma, an ancient seat of Apollo’s oracle which the Persians plundered and burned circa 494 B.C. Harpagos (above) previously defeated Ephesus in 547 B.C. owing to the city’s refusing Cyrus’ peace offers, siding instead with Lydia. We are left to admire or ponder toppled stones bearing carved images reproduced upon coins  but more importantly fourth century B.C. tetradrachm “archers” have been discovered figuring Persian kings in the “kneeling-running” manner as we have seen, with reverses sketching a map of the Ephesus hinterland, a stupendous discovery for cartography.

This coin may be seen here:
Further satrapies created under Darius were Achaemenid Arabia between Egypt and Mesopotamia. Excluded from taxes it nevertheless owed tribute of three hundred and fifty talents. Ethiopia did not seem to surface as a satrapy although referred to as the seventeenth which included Paricanians. Both produced four hundred annual talents of tribute. This land regularly provided valuable “gifts” such as ivory and ebony.
Gandhara,“land of light”, Waihind in Persian, a satrapy since Cyrus the Great, (now found in eastern Afghanistan, Pakistan’s Punjab) possessed legendary Takshasila, a city named Taxila by the Greeks. This region formed part of the seventh satrapy Its yearly contribution equalled 170 talents of gold-dust. Gandhara produced a coinage, shatamanas, seemingly based upon Persian standards during the time, since one coin equalled two sigloi. It is doubtful however any Achaemenid influence elicited coinage in these eastern lands since the former were themselves new to the idea (see page 4) and Gandharan issues were unique, uninfluenced from abroad similarly to northern India’s region forming the twentieth satrapy. The latter’s heavily populated regions brought forth a daunting three hundred and sixty talents of gold-dust. Bactria with its vast urban centres commanded by Persian satrap Dadarshish/Dadarshi ), existed asthe twelfth satrapy paying three hunded and sixty talents. There was a certain Artabazos, satrap of Maka but this territory is disputed by scholars as located some say in today’s Iranian Baluchistan, others Pakistan and yet others, Oman.


Xerxes I in youth witnessed from afar Asia Minor’s Greeks aided by Athens and Sparta, successfully pinning Persian troops to Sardis and sacking this city representing Persian control. His uncle, satrap Artaphernes valiantly held position till succour arrived. Pursuing success the Greeks turned toward Cyprus, a pivotal maritime sentinel guarding fleet movements navigating West. Its loss to the Achaemenids was unacceptable. Persia’s navy prevailed regardless Ionian sea victories against the Phoenicians. Thereon liberated positions in Ionia fell to the overpowering satraps: Hymaees, Otanes , Daurises and the said Artaphernes. The former died in a Carian ambush along with four Persian generals. Hymaees died of an illness while fighting in the region of Troy. Such events became known as the Ionian Revolt 499 – 494 B.C., a desperate reaching for democracy, fetching instead, mass enslavement and cultural defacement. In sum it would seem Ionians misunderstood Persia’s sheer size of might or its power to rapidly muster considerable forces both on land and sea. Darius’ troops massacred Ionians and their allies at Ephesus in 498 on land and at Lade in 494 by sea, thus ending not the war, but at least eliminating foreign participation . Herodotus hints one of the mischief makers behind this uprising remained Megabatos (below), an energetic satrap of many shades. Darius leveled a sour eye towards mainland Greece and Sparta. The father of Xerxes no longer asked: “Who are the Athenians ?”

Daiva Inscription – Xerxes: “By grace of Ahura-Mazda I rule the Yaunâ (the Ionians), those dwelling this side of the sea and those across the sea”.

After the Ionian revolt Athenian and Ionian shipping were barred from the Black Sea’s vital grain-route. Artaphernes held a cadastral survey of Ionia towards tax impositions to better regulate these. He besides politically reorganized Ionia. Sent in 492 to succeed him in Ionia, Mardonius, deposed tyrants and restored past democracies, an unusual inspiration for the times. Later in his career when Athenians wisely deserted their city before the Battle of Salamis, Mardonius seized the opportunity to torch the city. He had become satrap of Greek areas subservient to Persia, (Boetia and Delphi for example). Mardonius appeared at every battlefront, Marathon, Thermopylae, and eventually Plataea where he died in battle. A story addressed falsely or justly, accused him of aspiring to the summit of a new satrapy: Greece.

Upon the demise of Darius 486 B.C., empire expansion ceased. Difficulties arose for the Achaemenids. Xerxes I, his son, the next ruler by divine right under “the favour of Ahura-Mazda”, set full priority to a powerful rebellion throughout the sixth satrapy, Egypt, departing for campaign his second year of reign. As principal advisor he had his uncle Artabanos, Bactria’s satrap.(“Artabanos” later became a name for numerous Parthian kings). Restoring Achaemenid control (483), Egypt’s grains welled once again over the empire as did her yearly tribute, seven hundred talents (about twenty tons of silver) which did not include corn supplies feeding 120,000 stationed Persian troops. *22 The cities of Cyrene and Barca along with Libya further enlarged this satrapy. Previously under Cambyses II ruling 530 to 522, the satrapy included Cyprus and Phoenicia (see the fifth satrapy below).

Cambyses II son of Cyrus the Great, formerly antagonized the powerful Egyptian priesthood, confiscating their wealth, cancelling income and sacrilegious usage of temples occurred.*23 Satrap Aryandes(Aruandês), residing in Memphis alike all Egypt’s satraps, was once appointed through Cambyses then apparently executed by Darius. He seemingly bypassed Persian coin laws, (there exists no proof of this) melting darics bearing the royal image — a matter of high treason — and trading off bullion at massive profit.

Herodotus claimed having seen in Egypt the purest silver issues minted by Aryandes but unfortunately no “Aryandics” ever emerged for our examination. From Byblos Phoenicia silver drachms bearing a Giza type sphinx estimated about circa 500-497 B.C. may represent that which to Herodotus referred but this merely becomes another supposition in an effort to carefully follow the historian’s footsteps such as pondering Xerxes’ canal below, thought a fabulist’s extravaganza. Aryandes, regardless proving a quarter century of loyalty both to Egypt and the Achaemenids, topped by admirable achievements, was replaced by Pherendates. The former’s execution by Darius remains unclear regardless the above coin issue Herodotus explicated, were it correct interpretation of events
Far-sighted Aryandes was probably the influence in shadow behind Darius’ reconstruction (or 497 B.C. completion, according to Herodotus) of the ambitious 150 foot wide canal Pharaoh Wehemibre Necho II (610 B.C. – 595 B.C) built or planned, linking the Nile with the Gulf of Suez. A precursor of Suez Canal it serviced one of the silk routes (map pg. 9) following through northern India, ending at Cairo and Alexandria.

Darius Inscription – Darius: “I commanded this canal dug in Egypt from the Nile River to the sea of Persia. Once the canal had been dug as I commanded, ships sailed from Egypt through this canal to Persia, as I intended.”

Heavily burdened under taxation Egypt again whisked her flail in 460 B.C. killing off two further satraps, the above Pherendates and a successor Achaemenes (Haxāmaniš) brother of Xerxes. This second uprising brought down Achaemenid rule then under Artaxerxes I son of Xerxes. Egypt had drawn in Athens. The Greeks sailed forth upon a fleet of 200 warships reaching and capturing ancient Memphis, later recovered by Syria’s satrap Xerxes’ brother-in-law Megabyzus (Bagabuxša) in 454, alongsideArtabazos (Artavazdâ?) Phrygia’s satrap dominating a princially Greek population.*24 The land of Horus briefly enjoyed freedom until Achaemenid control resumed position in 455. Ctesias of Caria related certain Egyptians were executed in punishment persuant to the revolt regardless the word of honour given by satrap Megabyzus. Apparently for this reason the satrap revolted, opposing his king whose armies he twice defeated. A peace embassy arrived and eventually the satrap returned to his tenure in Syria.
In the wake of Egyptian events Artabazos above, related to Darius I, son of satrap Pharnuchus  followed throughout Xerxes’ invasion of Greece witnessing Persian defeat at the Battle of Plataea (479 B.C.). He guarded his king’s exit from Europe leading an army 60,000 strong whilst the king’s satraps remained behind guarding Thessaly and Macedonia. Artabazos then returned to extinguish revolts threatening Potidaea, and Olynthus Thrace where he massacred a majority of the inhabitants, repopulating it with neighbouring Chaldidice Greeks. It would not be until 499 Athens and Persia buried the Persian Wars. Artabazos’ grandson Pharnuchus (also written Pharnaka *26), equally a satrap of Phrygia, witnessed the Peloponnesian War, 431 B.C. Xerxes’ brothers Ariabignes and Masistes were appointed satraps of Ionia and Bactria respectively. Before ruling the empire, during twelve years Xerxes once exercised authority himself (likely as satrap) over Babylon. Following Egypt’s revolt Babylon rebelled in turn killing their satrap Zopyrus in 482, presumed father of above Megabyzus. Xerxes ruthlessly squashed this insurrection, toppling the city’s fortifications, melting down their ancient gold statues of faith and pitching Babylon into the Assyrian satrapy. Judaea had been a part of the Babylonian satrapy but was next placed into the satrapy named “beyond the River” — Abar naharâ — formed as well with Phoenicia and today’s Syria.

Cambyses unsuccessfully prepared a campaign, challenging Carthage, but no Phoenician navy would sail against a Tyrian colony. The king they left adrift in the doldrums since Persia possessed no sea power.. Under his rule, Phoenicia, Israel, Syria and Cyprus also, formed the fifth satrapy. Phoenicians represented an important structure for Achaemenid control in that they provided ships, naval engineering (for possibly the above mentioned canal), navigators and maritime know-how . Phoenician city-states were thus left unoccupied. Their kings were left in peace. The relationship represented mutual interests between allies. Phoenicia concerned : Byblos, Sidon, Tyre and Ugarit now Ras Sharma, Syria. In Achaemenid times Sidon dominated, supplying Persia an important contingent to assist bridging the Hellespont during the Persian Wars.
Phoenician ships dating to 850 B.C. were found in 1999 by marine archaeologists. An enterprising people, Phoenicians had sailed across the Mediterranean since 1200 B.C. and were first to engineer biremes and keeled hulls thereby allowing navigation of open seas using Polaris as guide rather than hugging coastlines. Typical crook (heka) and flail (nkhakha) Phoenician shekels symbolizing Egyptian god Osiris and the Pharaonic presence graphically reflect essential economics between the two cultures   Similarly the Athenian owl was a symbol upon certain satrapial coins. A fifth century Phoenician Byblos issue images Giza’s Egyptian sphinx. Interestingly, Achaemenids and Phoenicians were slow to mint coinage though both were extensively involved in trade. (This dampens the theory of coin origins depending upon commerce)

Lasting satrapial families ruled such as the sons of Megabyzus whom we followed under Darius on the previous page and whose descendants continued under Xerxes, such as Megabatos confirmed as satrap of Dascylium according to Thucydides (circa 460-395 B.C.). This would have occured in the 470’s after Oebares .Herodotus detailed another son, Babares, wed into the Macedonian ruling family, acting as overseer for the construction of Xerxes’ canal south of Macedonia at the Athos peninsula circa 483 B.C. Historians thought this structure to be a slipway (the Greek diolkos). Recent studies however suggest there existed indeed a shallow canal about seventy metres wide, allowing two triremes rowing in parallel. Though unfinished, present research points towards a canal fifteen metres below today’s surface levels. In sum, a signal historical achievement, presumed engineered by Phoenicians. Pharnabazids represented another Persian family. They descended from royal blood through Pharnaces, Persepolis governor and nephew of Darius I. Descendants such as Megabyzus I and II warred in Greece under Darius or Xerxes I, and Artabazos above in Egypt. These family members were frequently chosen as satraps of Anatolia.


Andrée Tougas



17*It is believed this extremeley rare gold coin was issued to pay Athenian mercenairies. At the time of this writing there exists only six recorded examples some placed in museums.

19*Metropolitan Museum New York from a Necklace with the head of the Egyptian god Bes, Achaemenid; 6th–4th century B.C. Iran. Dodge Fund, 1965 This god was also worshipped in Cyprus, Phoenicia and Cilicia. The latter issued “Bes” coins in the fourth century B.C.b) Winged figure: A tiny portion of a seal of the Metropolitan Museum of New York
20*Since the Triskelis site came about Professor Craig Melchert has compiled a Dictionary of the Lycian Language, a pre-Hittite Indo-European tongue considered Luwian in origin.
21*Pharnabazos kithara coin type may be seen at : (go to satrapial coins fig. 301)
22*To see a chart providing annual tribute rates under Babylonian and Attic weights :
23*Cambyses II had defeated Psamtik (Psammetichus III), pharaoh of the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty. This Achaemenid victory brought Egypt under its control. Persia’s kings became Egypt’s Twenty-Seventh and Thirty-First Dynasty pharaohs
24*For a rendering of this satrap’s life:
25*Persian Guard. Iran, Audience Hall (Apadana) at Persepolis. Reign of Xerxes (486–464 B.C.E.) Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Kevorkian Foundation in memory of Hagop Kevorkian, 65.195Copyright © 2004–2007 the Brooklyn Museum
26*Pharnaka/Farnaka also written Pharnaces by the Greeks was the name of an uncle of Darius I.




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