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LIU Xuefei: On the Horse Breeding and Horse Politics in the Achaemenid Persian Empire
April 11, 2024  


As the first empire in history to span three continents—Europe, Asia and Africa, the Achaemenid Persian Empire was vast with many ethnic groups, and relied heavily on the mobility of horses for its spatial governance and institutional operations. Thanks to the development of previous horse breeding and the spread of horseback riding, horses were bred in many regions of the Persian Empire,and the local adaptation in breeding horses had formed a diverse spectrum of breeding stock, mainly represented by the Nisaean horse, which can meet various functional needs. In terms of horse breeding methods, two types had been developed, namely herding and housing, and there was also a flexible arrangement of housing and wild grazing. And relying on the abundant of horse resources all over the empire, the Persian Empire practiced flexible horse politics and controlled directly and indirectly a large number of horse resources, which met the empire's demand for horses and was of interest to the rival Macedonian king Alexander. All in all, the Persian Empire's horse breeding and horse politics, inherited from the past and left behind many material and conceptual legacies for future countries of Near Eastern to draw upon for their horse breeding and horse politics, and provided a solid guarantee for the momentum of the overland Silk Road.

Published on Foreign History Studies, Issue 1, 2024.


Institute of European Civilazation