Daily Life in Ancient Persia

Instructor: Jessica Roberts

I have taught at the middle grades level for ten years and earned my MA in reading education in 2009.

The ancient Persians were ahead of their time. Here you will learn more about the people's daily lives, like their art, inventions, the school subjects that they learned and the skilled jobs that helped raise the empire to grand heights.

Daily Life

You may have heard a little about the ancient Persian wars or epic events. But have you ever wondered about their regular, daily life?

Ancient Persians enjoyed a time of rich cultures and lifestyles, exciting firsts, and advancements of the day. Let's learn more about the daily life of the ancient Persians.

Map of ancient Persia

Food and Clothing

Imagine being a citizen of ancient Persia (550 - 330 BCE). What would you have looked like? The dress of the ancient Persians was greatly influenced by people who traveled from other places. As an ancient Persian woman you would have worn pleated skirts, chitons (draped robes), and possibly overgarments that covered your head but left your face uncovered.

Much more is known about how ancient Persian men dressed. Horsemen wore tighter fitting clothes, whereas soldiers typically wore the color red, with headgear and other such protective clothing. People in the upper class, women and men alike, wore loose clothing and beautifully decorated headwear.

As a farmer, you probably wore long gowns that reached to your knees or even your ankles!

The ancient Persian diet looks very similar to the region's current diet: produce and grains with smaller amounts of meat and dairy. Bread and rice were the most important items. How the bread was prepared and what was served with the rice added variety to every dish.

Common vegetables that were grown included garlic, spinach, onions, carrots, and various types of nuts. Fruits, such as oranges, grapes, and dates, were oftentimes eaten as a dessert.


You and your family could have lived in one of a number of different lifestyles in society. Ordinary folks, or peasants, lived and worked a rather ordinary life. Your food rations, or the amount of food that was paid for services, depended upon your skills and responsibility. In such jobs you would find both men and women in supervisory roles.

You would find people in a number of different occupations like merchants, soldiers, government workers, dress and costume makers, school teachers, and craftsmen, just to name a few.

You and your family may have lived a nomadic lifestyle, requiring you to move from place to place rather than live in one area for long. These groups often moved to follow the herds that sustained their diet, and did not hold regular jobs.

Rich, royal folks made up a small minority of the society and were often landowners, who owned lands and businesses, thus employing many people, like house servants, farmers and craftsmen.


Religious diversity was also a way of life in ancient Persia. Communities and the king were Zoroastrian (monotheists), but those who had been conquered were allowed to keep practicing their religions.

Zoroastrian individuals were not allowed to eat 'evil' foods, including insects and reptiles. They celebrated their own version of the new year, as well as solstices and had mandatory feasts.

Art and Architecture

The Persian Empire had impressive architecture and art influenced by other great societies of the day, such as the Chinese Mongol Dynasty. Ruins show grand buildings and palaces with columned, spacious halls. Monumental, extravagant, and open style was often what was used in big structures. This was done to achieve a feeling of space as well as luxury.

Palace in ancient Persia

The popularity of artwork changed through the years, as is the case today with seasonal changes of clothes and the latest smartphone. As an ancient Persian, you would have seen engraved metalwork, which was either silver or bronze cups that were often engraved with as plants, animals, or court scenes.

Other popular artwork of the day included jewelry and pottery. A number of these pieces were exhibited in museums and owned by the richer people of the society.

Ancient Persian bull amulet

Intricately designed carpets were popular and sold across the empire, as well as to outside markets. Workshops were even held for everyday people to generate interest and fund such projects. Miniature art was a fan favorite in ancient Persia, too, particularly among the locals. This type of art was used in books, like poetry, and is now seen in museums and casinos.

Education and Literature

Formal education seemed to be reserved for boys. They learned reading, writing, math, grammar and astronomy. Weaponry education was believed to allow the young men to grow into protectors of the family and, eventually, the empire.

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