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Persian Rugs and the Achaemenid Empire

Persia, also known as Iran, was once the political center of the world. The Achaemenid Empire (550-33 B.C.E) held a huge expanse of land, stretching from the Indus Valley to Thrace and Macedon in the north, all the way to present day Liberia in the east. It was the Persian Empire that freed the Jewish people from Babylon, that warred with the Greek city states and that instituted an official language (Aramaic).

Eventually, the empire weakened when the king delegated power to local governors, undermining his own status and causing difficulty in the quelling of local rebellions. This eventually led to Alexander the Great’s reign over the empire. Alexander greatly respected Cyrus the Great, and adopted the Persian technique of proskynesis, or lying prostrate before royalty, into Macedonian culture. Cyrus the Great had huge area rugs, which are said to have dazzled Alexander.

During these peaceful times, the arts flourished, and stone-cutting and carpet weaving became important aspects of Persian cultural heritage. This is when the Pazyryk carpet and others of the world’s oldest area rugs were created. These hand knotted rugs evolved to become world renowned throughout the Ancient and Modern Eras. Today, Persian rugs are still widely known to be the best.

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