Persian Empire History Facts for Kids

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Immortals Persian Empire

Immortal's appearance was said to be magnificent, they glittered with gold armlets and necklaces, vast quantities of which they wore about their persons. The elaborate robes seen on the stone reliefs at Persepolis and glazed tiles of Susa are considered to be their parade dress, on campaign they wore the more practical Median dress.

The Immortals played an important role in Cyrus the Great's conquest of the Neo-Babylonian Empire in 547 BC, Cambyses II of Persia, Cambyses' military campaign against Egypt in 525 BC and Darius I of Persia, Darius the Great's invasion of History of India and Scythia in 520 BC and 513 BC. Immortals participated in the Battle of Thermopylae 480 BC and were amongst the Persian occupation troops in Greece in 479 BC under Mardonius.

The main weapons of the Immortals were the composite bow and iron-headed cornel wood spear. The spear was approximately 7' in length with a counterweight on the butt-end rather than the iron spike that the Greeks used on their spears. One thousand Immortals carried spears with a golden pomegranate-shaped counterweight which must have been the file leaders or officers in charge of the ten men (Satapatish).

In the early years of the empire, the predominantly Persian army was highly motivated and responsive on the battlefield, making it a dangerous foe.The elite of the Persian army were the Ten Thousand Immortals, so called because the unit was always kept at a full strength of 10,000 men. The loss of any man to death or incapacitation was immediately made good by promotion from another unit.

One thousand of the Immortals were the king's personal bodyguards. In its later years, the ratio of Persians to provincial levies declined. The hardened army of disciplined and well-trained Persians was replaced by a mixture of formations, weapons, and methods. These troops lacked the discipline of the Persians and proved difficult to maneuver and employ on the battlefield. Since all men were eligible for combat until age 50, manpower was not an obstacle.

Garbed in colorful raiment that concealed their scale armor, the Immortals were adept with both bow and blade and were honored so highly that they were permitted to travel with their own exclusive retinue of cooks and concubines.

Thousands of years later, the Shah of Iran invoked the legacy of the country's mighty past and named his elite household guard the Javidan or Immortal guard. Those Immortals, though, couldn't withstand of the Islamic revolution.

The historians of Alexander the Great mention another elite regiment, which they call the Apple Bearers. Their spears had a small metal counterweight to balance the heavy point. Because this counterweight resembled an apple, they received their remarkable surname. Several scholars believe they are identical to the Immortals.

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