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Map of the Achaemenid Persian Empire (550-330 BCE)

Map of the Persian Empire at its greatest extent showing the principal provinces and the route of the royal road from Susa to Sardis. Images © Trustees of the British Museum

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The Achaemenid dynasty of ancient Persia (modern Iran) was the largest the world had seen, which at its greatest extent stretched from present-day Pakistan to Egypt and from the Arabian Peninsula to present-day Kazakhstan. To effectively manage this large and diverse territory, the Achaemenids creatively adapted and updated many systems of administration, resulting in the introduction of new forms of writing, coinage, seals, religious practices, and lifestyles.