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How Cyrus the Great Turned Ancient Persia Into a Superpower

Through far-reaching military conquests and benevolent rule, Cyrus the Great transformed a small group of semi-nomadic tribes into the mighty Persian Empire, the ancient world’s first superpower, in less than 15 years. 

The Rise of Cyrus the Great

Cyrus the Great (second from left), on a horse-drawn chariot, as he is driven into the city of Ecbatana

Born around 600 B.C., the founder of the First Persian Empire (also known as the Achaemenid Empire) belonged to the semi-nomadic Pasargadae tribe, which raised sheep, goats and cattle in the southwest of present-day Iran. Little is definitively known about the youth or lineage of Cyrus the Great (also known as Cyrus II) except that he was part of the Achaemenid royal family through either birth or marriage.

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