Oriental Institute - ACHAEMENID ROYAL INSCRIPTIONS FROM PERSEPOLIS By Matthew W. Stolper, Professor of Assyriology in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, and Gene Gragg, Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Director of the Oriental Institute The University of Chicago. From 550 BC on, Cyrus the Great and his successors, the Persian kings of the Achaemenid dynasty, conquered and held an empire on a scale that was without precedent in earlier Near Eastern history, and without parallel until the formation of the Roman Empire. At its greatest extent, its corners were in Libya and Ethiopia, Thrace and Macedonia, Afghanistan and Central Asia, and the Punjab. It incorporated ancient literate societies in Elam, Mesopotamia, Egypt, and elsewhere. It engaged the emerging Greek states in a long confrontation that had profound effects on Greek and later European historical consciousness. It lasted without substantial loss of control until it was conquered by Alexander the Great, and then dismantled by his successors after 330 BC.