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====Three Examples of the Achaemenid Persian “Hands Off” Policy====
[[File: Cyrus_Cylinder.jpg|300px|thumbnail|left|The Cyrus Cylinder in the British Museum, London]]
The basic political theory that governed the Achaemenid Persian policy toward their subject peoples can best be described as “co-operation rather than coercion.” This idea can be seen visually on many of the reliefs from the Achaemenid capital city of Persepolis, where the subject peoples are depicted freely bringing gifts and tribute to the Great King. <ref> Ehrenberg, Erica. “Persian Conquerors, Babylonian Captivators.” In <i>Regime Change in the Ancient Near East and Egypt: From Sargon of Agade to Saddam Hussein.</i> Edited by Harriet Crawford. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), p. 95</ref> Although the king is clearly shown in a superior position in these reliefs, the subject peoples are never bound and the king was reliant on his subjects for support, which was different than earlier versions of Mesopotamian and Near Eastern models of kingship. <ref> Walser, Gerold. <i>Die Völkerschaften auf den Reliefs von Persepolis: Historiche Studien über den sogenannte Tributzug an der Apadanatreppe.</i> (Berlin: Akadamie Verlag, 1966), p. 26</ref> The Achaemenid Persians put this policy into effect throughout their empire, but it was most apparent in Babylonia/Mesopotamia, with the Jews, and in Egypt.
“Without any battle, he made him enter his town Babylon, sparing Babylon any calamity. He delivered into his (i.e. Cyrus’) hands Nabonidus, the king who did not worship him (i.e. Marduk). All the inhabitants of Babylon as well as of the entire country of Sumer and Akkad, princes and governors (included), bowed to him (Cyrus) and kissed his feet, jubilant that he (had received) the kingship, and with shining faces. Happily, they greeted him as a master through whose help they had come (again) to life from death (and) had all been spared damage and disaster, and they worshiped his (very) name.” <ref> Pritchard, James B, ed. <i>Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament.</i> 3rd ed. (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1992), p. 315-6</ref>
How much of the cylinder was historical fact and how much was propaganda is open to debate. But even having the cylinder commissioned shows that the Persians were concerned about how they were seen by the inhabitants of the older Mesopotamian civilization. The evidence shows that the Persians certainly allowed the Marduk cult to continue operating in Babylon as it had for centuries and archaeological excavations from other sites in Mesopotamia indicate that the policy was employed there as well. Brick inscriptions from the southern Mesopotamian city of Uruk dated to the reign of Cyrus prove that the Persian king repaired religious temples in that city. A cuneiform inscription dated to Cyrus’ fourth year of the rule states that he also funded efforts to reorganize native Mesopotamian cults in the cities of Eshnunna and Akkad. <ref> Jursa, Michael. “The Transition of Babylonia from the Neo-Babylonian Empire to Achaemenid Rule.” In <i>Regime Change in the Ancient Near East and Egypt: From Sargon of Agade to Saddam Hussein.</i> Edited by Harriet Crawford. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), pgs. 77-78</ref>