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What was the Achaemenid Persian Empire

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[[File: Hibis,_Temple.jpg|300px|thumbnail|left|The Ruins of the Hibis Temple]]
Of all the places where the Achaemenid Persians pursued the tolerant approach to their subject peoples, Egypt presents the most interesting case. Along with Mesopotamia, Egypt was the site of the one of the world’s oldest civilizations, but unlike the case with Babylon, the Egyptians fiercely resisted Persian domination. The Persian conquest of Egypt was done by Cambyses (reigned 530-522 BC), who led a massive attack into the Nile Delta in 525 BC. The invasion was recorded in both classical and Egyptian sources, including Herodotus (Book III, 10-11) and by the second century AD Macedonian historian, Polyaenus. According to Polyaenus, when Cambyses saw how aggressively the Egyptians were resisting the Persian invasion, he ordered his troops to lob sacred animals from catapults in order to break the will of the Egyptian defenders. <ref> Polyaenus. <i> Strategams of War.</i> Translated by R. Shepard. (Chicago: Ares Publishers, 1974), Book VII, X</ref> Once the Persians defeated the Egyptians, Herodotus claimed that Cambyses embarked on a series of sacrilegious activities, such as whipping the mummy of the Egyptian king Amasis and killing the sacred Apis Bull. <ref> Herodotus. <i>The Histories.</i> Translated by Aubrey de Sélincourt. (London: Penguin, 2003), Book II</ref> Although many modern scholars are quick to point out that these claims may have been exaggerated and were probably a result of anti-Persian bias, a hieroglyphic inscription on a statue of an Egyptian noble claims that the invasion wrought great destruction to the temple of the goddess Neith in the city of Sais. <ref> Posener, Georges. <i>La première domination Perse en Égypte: Recueil d’inscriptions hieroglyps.</i> (Cairo: L’Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale, 1936), p. 19</ref> Once Cambyses took control of Egypt, he vanquished the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty and established Achaemenid Persian rule in the Nile Valley as the Twenty-Seventh Dynasty.
The extent of the damage Cambyses’ invasion of Egypt may be open to discussion, but there is no doubt that it left a negative impact on the Egyptian people, one that would cause problems for the Persians’ policy of tolerance toward their subject peoples. There is evidence that Cambyses tried to rectify some of the damage he caused by ceremoniously burying an Apis bull, which would run counter to Herodotus’ claim that he killed one of the bulls in a fit of rage. Epitaph stelae from the Serapeum, the subterranean internment chambers of the sacred bulls, shows that one bull was buried there under Cambyses’ rule and another during the rule of Darius I, or Darius “the Great” (ruled 522-486 BC). <ref> Posener, pgs. 30-41</ref>

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