The Achamaenid kings took over from the Elamites some 500 years before the birth of Christ and under them
Persia developed its first empire under leaders such as Darius I, who rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem
and Xerxes, whose westward ambitions were thwarted by the Greeks. It was during this period that
the Zoroastrian religion first came to prominence and cuneiform scripts was developed for recording events
and transactions. The great palace of Takht-e-Jamshid, or
Persepolis was constructed just north of Shiraz, and the first Jews, liberated from Babylon, were
settled in Isfahan.
The last of the Achamaenids was Darius II who after an exchange of insulting presents with
Alexander the Great was finally defeated in battle by Alexander and later assassinated by his own generals.
Tradition has it that the Kuh-e-Sofeh, the mountain which dominates Isfahan from the south, was the
scene of this battle which Darius watched from its slopes.