Timeline of the Persian Wars 492-449

Timeline of Major Events in the Persian Wars

Detail from the archer's frieze at the palace of Darius in Susa from 510 B.C. Public Domain. Courtesy of Wikipedia. Frieze is in the Louvre.

 

The Persian Wars (sometimes known as the Greco-Persian Wars) were a series of conflicts between Greek city-states and the Persian Empire, beginning in 502 BCE and running some 50 years, until 449 BCE. The seeds for the wars was planted in 547 BCE when the Persian emperor, Cyrus the Great, conquered Greek Ionia. Prior to this, the Greek city-states and the Persian Empire, centered in what is now modern-day Iran, had maintained an uneasy coexistence, but this expansion by the Persians would eventually lead to war.

 

 

Here is a timeline and summary of the principle battles of the Persian Wars:

502 BCE,  Naxos: An unsuccessful attack by the Persians on the large island of Naxos, midway between Crete and the current Greek mainland,  paved the way to revolts by Ionian settlements occupied by the Persians in Asia Minor. The Persian Empire had gradually expanded to occupy Greek settlements in Asia Minor, and the success of Naxos at repelling the Persians encouraged the Greek settlements to consider rebellion. 

c. 500 BCE, Asia Minor: The first revolts by Green Ionian regions of Asia Minor began, in reaction to oppressive tyrants appointed by the Persians to oversee the territories. 

498 BCE, Sardis:  Persians, led by Aristagoras with Athenian and Eritrean allies, occupied Sardis, located along what is now the western coast of Turkey. The city was burned and the Greeks met and were defeated by a Persian force.

This was the end of the Athenian involvement in the Ionian revolts.

492 BCE, Naxos: When the Persians invaded, the inhabitants of the island fled. The Persians burned settlements, but the nearby island of Delos was spared. This marked the first invasion of Greece by the Persians, led by Mardonius.

490 BCE, Marathon: The first Persian invasion of Greece ended with Athens decisive victory over the Persians at Marathon, in the Attica region, north of Athens.

 

480 BCE, Thermopylae, Salamis: Led by Xerxes, the Persians in their second invasion of Greece defeated the combined Greek forces at the Battle of Thermopylae. Athens soon falls, and the Persians overrun most of Greece. However, at the Battle of Salamis, a large island west of Athens, the combined Greek navy decisively beat the Persians. Xerxes retreated to Asia. 

479 BCE, Plataea: Persians retreating from their loss at Salamis encamped at Plataea, a small town northwest of Athens, where combined Greek forces badly defeated the Persian army, led by Mardonius. This defeat effectively ended the second Persian invasion. Later that year, combined Greek forces went on the offensive to expel Persian forces from Ionian settlements in Sestos and Byzantium. 

478 BCE, Delian League: A joint effort of Greek city-states, the Delian League formed to combine efforts against the Persians. When Sparta's actions alienated many of the Greek city-states, they united under the leadership of Athens, thereby beginning what many historians view as the start of the Athenian Empire. Systematic expulsion of the Persians from settlements in Asia now began, continuing for 20 years. 

476 to 475 BCE, Eion: Athenian general Cimon captured this important Persian stronghold, where Persian armies stored huge stores of supplies.

Eion was located west of the island of Thasos and south of what is now the border of Bulgaria, at the mouth of the Strymon River. 

468 BCE, Caria: General Cimon freed the coastal towns of Caria from the Persians in a series of land and sea battles. Southern Aisa Minor from Cari to Pamphylia (the region of what is now Turkey between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean) soon became part of the Athenian Federation. 

456 BCE, Prosopitis: In an effort to support a local Egyptian rebellion in the Nile River Delta, Greek forces were besieged by remaining Persian forces and were badly defeated. This marked the beginning of the end of Delian League expansionism under Athenian leadership 

449 BCE, Peace of Callias: Persia and Athens signed a peace treaty, although, to all intents and purposes, hostilities had ended several years earlier.

Soon, Athens would find itself in the middle of the Peloponnesian Wars as Sparta and other city-states rebelled against Athenian supremacy.