A List of the Satrapies of the Achaemenid Persians

Achaemenid Bas-Relief Art From Persepolis
Achaemenid Bas-Relief Art From Persepolis. Clipart.com

The Achaemenid Dynasty of ancient Persia was an historical family of kings that ended with Alexander the Great's conquest. One source of information on them is the Behistun Inscription (c.520 B.C.). This is Darius the Great's PR statement, his autobiography and a narrative about the Achaemenids.

"King Darius says: These are the countries which are subject unto me, and by the grace of Ahuramazda I became king of them: Persia, Elam, Babylonia, Assyria, Arabia, Egypt, the countries by the Sea, Lydia, the Greeks, Media, Armenia, Cappadocia, Parthia, Drangiana, Aria, Chorasmia, Bactria, Sogdia, Gandara, Scythia, Sattagydia, Arachosia and Maka; twenty-three lands in all."
Translation by Jona Lendering

Included in this is a list of what Iranian scholars call the dahyāvas, which we tend to assume is equivalent of satrapies. The satraps were provincial administrators appointed by the king who owed him tribute and military manpower. Darius' Behistun list includes 23 locations. Herodotus is another source of information on them because he wrote a list of the tributes paid by the satrapies to the Achaemenid king.

Here is the basic list from Darius:

  1. Persia,
  2. Elam,
  3. Babylonia,
  4. Assyria,
  5. Arabia,
  6. Egypt
  7. the countries by the Sea,
  8. Lydia,
  9. the Greeks,
  10. Media,
  11. Armenia,
  12. Cappadocia,
  13. Parthia,
  14. Drangiana,
  15. Aria,
  16. Chorasmia,
  17. Bactria,
  18. Sogdia,
  19. Gandara,
  20. Scythia,
  21. Sattagydia,
  22. Arachosia, and
  23. Maka

The countries by the Sea may mean Cilicia, Phoenicia Palestina, and Cyprus, or some combination of them. See Satraps and satrapies for more on the various lists of satraps in chart format or Encyclopedia Iranica for a very detailed look at the satraps. This last divides the satrapies into great, major and minor satrapies. I have extracted them for the following list. The numbers on the right refer to the equivalent on the list from the Behistun Inscription.

1. Great Satrapy Pārsa/Persis.

  • 1.1. Central Main Satrapy Pārsa/Persis. #1
  • 1.2. Main Satrapy Ūja/Susiana (Elam). #2
  • Plus minor satrapies

2. Great Satrapy Māda/Media.

  • 2.1. Central Main Satrapy Māda/Media. #10
  • 2.2. Main Satrapy Armina/Armenia. #11
  • 2.3. Main Satrapy Parθava/Parthia #13
  • 2.4. Main Satrapy Uvārazmī/Chorasmia. #16
  • Plus minor satrapies

3. Great Satrapy Sparda/Lydia.

  • 3.1. Central Main Satrapy Sparda/Lydia. #8
  • 3.2. Main Satrapy Katpatuka/Cappadocia. #12
  • Plus minor satrapies

4. Great Satrapy Bābiruš/Babylonia.

  • 4.1. Central Main Satrapy Bābiruš/Babylonia. #3
  • 4.2. Main Satrapy Aθurā/Assyria #4
  • Plus minor satrapies

5. Great Satrapy Mudrāya/Egypt.

  • 5.1. Central Main Satrapy Mudrāya/Egypt. #6
  • 5.2. Main Satrapy Putāyā/Libya.
  • 5.3. Main Satrapy Kūšiyā/Nubia.
  • 5.4. Main Satrapy Arabāya/Arabia. #5
  • Plus minor satrapies

6. Great Satrapy Harauvatiš/Arachosia.

  • 6.1. Central Main Satrapy Harauvatiš/Arachosia. #22
  • 6.2. Main Satrapy Zranka/Drangiana. #14
  • 6.3. Main Satrapy Maka/Gedrosia.
  • 6.4. Main Satrapy Θatagus/Sattagydia. #21
  • 6.5. Main Satrapy Hinduš/India.
  • Plus minor satrapies

7. Great Satrapy Bāxtriš/Bactria.

  • 7.1. Central Main Satrapy Bāxtriš/Bactria. #17
  • 7.2. Main Satrapy Suguda/Sogdia. #18
  • 7.3. Main Satrapy Gandāra/Gandhāra. #19
  • 7.4. Main Satrapy Haraiva/Aria. #15
  • 7.5. Main Satrapy of the Dahā (= Sakā paradraya)/Dahae.
  • 7.6. Main Satrapy of the Sakā tigraxaudā/Massagetae.
  • 7.7. Main Satrapy of the Sakā haumavargā/Amyrgians.
  • Plus minor satrapies

Herodotus on the Satrapies

Bolded passages identify the tribute paying groups -- peoples included in the Persian satrapies.

90. From the Ionians and the Magnesians who dwell in Asia and the Aiolians, Carians, Lykians, Milyans and Pamphylians (for one single sum was appointed by him as tribute for all these) there came in four hundred talents of silver. This was appointed by him to be the first division. [75] From the Mysians and Lydians and Lasonians and Cabalians and Hytennians [76] there came in five hundred talents: this is the second division. From the Hellespontians who dwell on the right as one sails in and the Phrygians and the Thracians who dwell in Asia and the Paphlagonians and Mariandynoi and Syrians [77] the tribute was three hundred and sixty talents: this is the third division. From the Kilikians, besides three hundred and sixty white horses, one for every day in the year, there came also five hundred talents of silver; of these one hundred and forty talents were spent upon the horsemen which served as a guard to the Kilikian land, and the remaining three hundred and sixty came in year by year to Dareios: this is the fourth division. 91. From that division which begins with the city of Posideion, founded by Amphilochos the son of Amphiaraos on the borders of the Kilikians and the Syrians, and extends as far as Egypt, not including the territory of the Arabians (for this was free from payment), the amount was three hundred and fifty talents; and in this division are the whole of Phenicia and Syria which is called Palestine and Cyprus: this is the fifth division. From Egypt and the Libyans bordering upon Egypt, and from Kyrene and Barca, for these were so ordered as to belong to the Egyptian division, there came in seven hundred talents, without reckoning the money produced by the lake of Moiris, that is to say from the fish; [77a] without reckoning this, I say, or the corn which was contributed in addition by measure, there came in seven hundred talents; for as regards the corn, they contribute by measure one hundred and twenty thousand [78] bushels for the use of those Persians who are established in the "White Fortress" at Memphis, and for their foreign mercenaries: this is the sixth division. The Sattagydai and Gandarians and Dadicans and Aparytai, being joined together, brought in one hundred and seventy talents: this is the seventh division. From Susa and the rest of the land of the Kissians there came in three hundred: this is the eighth division. 92. From Babylon and from the rest of Assyria there came in to him a thousand talents of silver and five hundred boys for eunuchs: this is the ninth division. From Agbatana and from the rest of Media and the Paricanians and Orthocorybantians, four hundred and fifty talents: this is the tenth division. The Caspians and Pausicans [79] and Pantimathoi and Dareitai, contributing together, brought in two hundred talents: this is the eleventh division. From the Bactrians as far as the Aigloi the tribute was three hundred and sixty talents: this is the twelfth division. 93. From Pactyic and the Armenians and the people bordering upon them as far as the Euxine, four hundred talents: this is the thirteenth division. From the Sagartians and Sarangians and Thamanaians and Utians and Mycans and those who dwell in the islands of the Erythraian Sea, where the king settles those who are called the "Removed," [80] from all these together a tribute was produced of six hundred talents: this is the fourteenth division. The Sacans and the Caspians [81] brought in two hundred and fifty talents: this is the fifteenth division. The Parthians and Chorasmians and Sogdians and Areians three hundred talents: this is the sixteenth division. 94. The Paricanians and Ethiopians in Asia brought in four hundred talents: this is the seventeenth division. To the Matienians and Saspeirians and Alarodians was appointed a tribute of two hundred talents: this is the eighteenth division. To the Moschoi and Tibarenians and Macronians and Mossynoicoi and Mares three hundred talents were ordered: this is the nineteenth division. Of the Indians the number is far greater than that of any other race of men of whom we know; and they brought in a tribute larger than all the rest, that is to say three hundred and sixty talents of gold-dust: this is the twentieth division.
Herodotus Histories Book I. Macauley Translation

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Gill, N.S. "A List of the Satrapies of the Achaemenid Persians." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, thoughtco.com/satrapies-of-the-achaemenid-persians-120229. Gill, N.S. (2023, April 5). A List of the Satrapies of the Achaemenid Persians. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/satrapies-of-the-achaemenid-persians-120229 Gill, N.S. "A List of the Satrapies of the Achaemenid Persians." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/satrapies-of-the-achaemenid-persians-120229 (accessed June 6, 2023).