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A stronger emphasis on the western regions in the later lists reflects that, in the course of the ‘liberation’ of the Greeks of Asia Minor, the hierarchy of the administrative apparatus in this region was removed, and governors of lesser rank could in some circumstances play quite an important role, as happened for example in the case of Eumenes (ca. In the rest of the empire, however, whether in Egypt, Babylonia, or Bactria, during the secession movements under the Seleucids—for example in Parthia and Media—and in still later times, it is in the geopolitical entities named in these groups of sources that political developments took place (e.g., Just., 41.6.3; Ammianus Marcellinus, 23.6.14-73).
They must also have been the constituent units of the imperial Achaemenid administration.
The following overview provides information about the location and boundaries of each satrapy, its position within the hierarchical framework, and its officials and residences. Herodotus’s statement that Hystaspes, the father of Darius I, was governor of Persis, is, however, likely to be an error (Hdt., 3.70; cf. Besides the name-giving Main Satrapy Pārsa/Persis, the Great Satrapy included the Main Satrapy Ūja/Susiana, because Diodorus (18.6.3) stated that Susiana was located in Persis, which must represent Pārsa (cf. This can be deduced indirectly from Pliny the Elder ( lists. Its territory coincides with the modern district of Fārs. The satrapy comprised roughly the area of the modern provinces of Kermān und Lorestān.
It begins with the imperial center, even though, because of the decline in source material as one goes from west to east, reconstruction of the administrative organization in the east can only be achieved by analogy with better-documented situations in the western satrapies. This is confirmed for the time of Alexander the Great, when the post in Carmania represents a first step in the impressive career of Sibyrtius and is therefore of modest rank (Jacobs, 1994, pp. In the east the range of the Shir mountains east of the Zāyanda-rud is likely to have formed the boundary (Strab., 15.3.6) in the northwest the border may well have been located at the Aorsis/Zohra and have run where the high range of the Baḵtiāri mountains rises (Arr., . The capital is likely to have been on the site of modern Kermān.
Citation of sources and literature was restricted to the most important evidence (for details, see Jacobs, 1994, pp. Since Herodotus’s list is not considered a useable source, specific information about tax revenues cannot be given. This major complex is elusive as an administrative unit, yet the classical authors provide the names of governors such as Sybares in the time of Cyrus the Great (Trogus apud Just., 1.7.1) and Ariobarzanes during the reign of Darius III (Arr., 3.18.2; cf. In the Persepolis Fortification Tablet (PF) 681 (cf. In Alexander’s time, further governors, presumably of lesser rank, are mentioned for the province’s southern part, which may correspond to Yutiyā in the Bisitun inscription (Arr., 37.3; Stein, cols. In the west the province borders on Persis (see above 1.1.1), in the north on Parthia, because it includes the greatest part of the Dašt-e Lut, and in the east on Zranka/Drangiana and Maka/Gedrosia (Strab., 15.2.14).
In fact, the existence of each of these as a satrapy is demonstrable through the classical tradition, and information about their position in the hierarchical framework can generally be found in Greek and Latin sources.Classical sources furthermore preserved numerous pieces of information about the provinces’ geographical setting.The provinces were defined territorially, as is proved not least by the fact that one of the satrap’s duties was to measure their land (Hdt., 6.42; cf. Hence Greek and Latin sources frequently attest that provincial boundaries were marked by boundary stones as well as passes, rivers, mountain peaks, or other natural barriers. The capital of the province was apparently Pasargadae, where the satrap seems to have held office (Arr., 3.18.10-11; Curt., 10.1.22; Strab., 15.3.3).As a rule, Achaemenid imperial administration involved no primary administrative (re-)organization of the conquered territories but simply adaptation of existing structures. In the reconstruction of the administrative levels, it is clear that, the lower the level one chooses, the less comparable the individual areas become, because the administration was to a greater extent characterized by deeply rooted traditional structures.
This regional diversity explains the difficulty of determining within the general administrative hierarchy the precise rank of official titles gleaned from the study of local administrative archives (Briant, 2001, pp. The hierarchical structure meant that several Minor Satrapies formed a Main Satrapy, and two or more Main Satrapies a Great Satrapy.
But even then there were voices that questioned the usefulness of the list (Krumbholz, 1883, pp. To document the extent of the empire completely, it would be quite sufficient to enumerate all provinces of one specific level of the administrative hierarchy.