Arabia was a satrapy (province) of the Achaemenid Empire and later of the Sassanid Empire, by the name of Arabâya.
Achaemenid Arabia corresponded to the lands between Egypt and Mesopotamia, known as Arabia Petraea. According to Herodotus, the Cambyses did not subdue the Arabs when he attacked Egypt in 525 BCE. His successor Darius the Great does not mention the Arabs in the Behistun inscription from the first years of his reign, but mentions them in later texts. This suggests that Darius conquered this part of Arabia.
Interestingly, Arabs were not considered as subjects to the Achaemenids, as other peoples were, and were exempt from taxation. Instead, they simply provided 1000 talents of frankincense a year. They also helped the Achaemenids invade Egypt by providing water skins to the troops crossing the desert.
Sassanid Arabistan reached across upper Mesopotamia toward the Khabur and north to the lower districts of Armenia. The area was a constant area of contention between Rome (and later the Byzantines) and the Sassanids, who fought over Mesopotamia.
- ^ Arabia
- ^ Encyclopaedia Iranica
- ^ The Cambridge History of Iran, vol. 3(2): The Seleucid, Parthian, and Sasanian Periods, ed. Ehsan Yarshater (NY: Cambridge UP, 1983), 761-762.