Student Activity

EDSITEment’s Persian Wars Resource Pages

Le roi Cambyse au siège de Péluse par Paul-Marie Lenoir, huile sur toile, 1872
Photo caption

Painting of a siege against Pharaoh's castle in 525 B.C.E. Titled: Le roi Cambyse au siège de Péluse par Paul-Marie Lenoir, huile sur toile, 1872.

“Great empires are not maintained by timidity.”
― Tacitus

The maps included below provide insight into the expansion of Mediterranean and Persian Empires, and provide access to multimedia resources for mapping and primary source analysis.  

Persian Empire Map
Map of the Persian Empire at the time of Xerxes. Red lines denote the route of Xerxes' army across the empire. Topography included.


Map of Persian Invasion Routes
Close-up of Greece and "war theater" area with with the Persian invasion routes. Note hotspots for important stages and battles of Xerxes' campaign. (Note also the inclusion of the battle of Marathon from the previous Persian War).


Map of Thermopylae and Artemisium area
Closeup of Thermopylae and Artemisium Area. A series of sea battles was fought around Artemisium at the same time as the land battle at Thermopylae. The Isthmus of Corinth—where the Pelleponesian Greeks wanted to make their stand—is to the south of this location.


Greek fleet depiction at Artemisium
A part of the Greek fleet advances on the Persian (Phoenicians, Egyptians and Persia's Greek allies) fleet around Artemisium. The sails and masts will be stowed and oars lowered into the water for battle when they are close enough to the enemy fleet. (EDSITEment reconstruction from resources through the EDSITEment-reviewed The Perseus Project.)


Reconstruction of the Hellespont during Persian Wars
Reconstruction of the Hellespont as it probably looked at the time of the Persian Wars. (EDSITEment reconstruction from resources through the EDSITEment-reviewed The Perseus Project.)


Tempe, on the river Strymon, Macedonia
Tempe, on the river Strymon (Macedonia), where Xerxes' is alleged to have made a human sacrifice to the gods. Image courtesy of


citadel of Sardis, in Turkey
The ruins of the citadel of ancient Sardis, where Xerxes' armies gathered and spent the winter of 481 B.C., before the final march to the Hellespont and the crossing to Europe. Image courtesy of


modern photo of shore near Artemisium
View from Artemisium on the island of Euboea, where the naval battle between the Persian and Greek fleets were fought. Image courtesy of


Thermopylae field reconstruction
A timeline reconstruction animation of Thermopylae as it may have looked at the time of the battle. View is from Spartan's last stand hillock. Refresh browser to view again from start. Based on recent (1970's) photos of Thermopylae from The Perseus Project.


Beached ships at Marathon
Beached ships. Marathon


Beached ships during Xerxes invasion
Beached ships. Xerxes invasion, the island of Euboia, during the sea battles at Artemisium. In the Aegean of 480 BCE, failure to beach warships in a severe storm could lead to disaster. The Persian fleet lost many ships this way during a great storm. All links through the EDSITEment-reviewed The Perseus Project.


Aerial reconstruction of Thermopylae
An aerial reconstruction of Thermopylae as it may have looked at the time of the battle. The Greeks rebuilt the so-called Phocian wall as part of their defense strategy. The Persian forces would have come initially from the left along the seashore in this illustration, where they were held back by the Greeks. The Persian "Immortals" eventually found a path (poorly guarded by the Phocians) that took them into the hills (toward bottom edge of this image), so that they could come up behind the rest of the Greek force from the bottom right of this image. All links through the EDSITEment-reviewed The Perseus Project.


Reconstruction of Persian Infantry formation
Reconstruction of a Persian Infantry fomation. Source: Wikimedia Commons


reconstruction of Persian Infantry
EDSITEment reconstruction of massed Persian Infantry formation to dramatize overwhelming force of Xerxes' army. Source: Wikimedia Commons.


Greek Hoplites
Greek Hoplites. The warriors are shown in two attack positions, with both an overhand and underhand thrust.


Reconstructed Greek Phalanx
An EDSITEment-reconstructed Greek phalanx based on sources from The front rank of Hoplites have their spears raised in the overhand stabbing/thrusting position as they prepare to close with the enemy.


reconstruction of Persian archers
EDSITEment-created reconstruction of Persian archers based on a mural piece from Wikimedia Commons. Archers were among the many troops the Greeks at Thermopylae had to contend with, especially in the Spartan's final stand.


Hellespont at Abydus, today
The Hellespont today, as seen from Abydos, on the Greek side. Image courtesy of


bust of Leonidas
A bust of Leonidas, who led both the Spartan contingent and was overall commander of the Greek forces at Thermopylae. Image courtesy of


Aerial view, Athos peninssula
The Athos peninsula today. Xerxes had a canal built across this peninsula (follow an imaginary line across the isthmus from the RED dot on the upper left of the image) to shorten the route of his navy. Image courtesy of


secret Thermopylae pass
This may have been the secret pass that the Persians used to come up behind the Greek defenders at Thermopylae. The Greek traitor Ephialtes told the Persians about the pass. Image courtesy of


origin of the Hebrus river
The origin of the river Hebrus, in modern-day Bulgaria. Ancient Doriscus was near the Hebrus. Image courtesy of


Ground view of Athos canal location today
A ground-level view of the location of Xerxes' Athos peninsula canal. Image courtesy of


relief image of Ahuramazda from Persepolis
Ahuramazda, the visual aspect of Ahuramazda. Relief from Persepolis. Image courtesy of


image of magi at fire altar
A Magian, worshipping at a fire altar, Sasanian period. From the British Museum. Image courtesy of


Ruins of the palace at Persepolis
Ruins at Persepolis, the capital of the Achaemenid Persian empire, in modern-day Iran. Image courtesy of


Mural image of Xerxes
Xerxes (as a prince) on a relief of Darius I the Great. Originally from the ruins of Persepolis, now in the National Archaeological Museum, Tehran (Iran). Image courtesy of


Darius the Great of Persia, relief image
Darius I the Great. Originally from the ruins of Persepolis, now in the National Archaeological Museum, Tehran (Iran). Image courtesy of


Temple of Apollo at Delphi
The temple of Apollo at Delphi, site of the famous Delphic oracles (prophesies). Image courtesy of 


bust of Themistocles
Themistocles, whose strong leadership and force of personality helped save both Athens and Greece from Xerxes and the Persians. Image courtesy of


Animation of the Battle of Marathon
An animation of the Battle of Marathon, from the first Persian War.