The first written account of someone being crucified was left to us by the Greek historian, Herodotus. In his The Histories , Herodotus wrote that King Achaemenid Darius (known as Darius I) of Persia ordered the crucifixion of 3,000 of the leading citizens of Babylon in about 519 BCE. In Iran, there is a town called Behistun where there are several ancient monuments, including one with a famous inscription by Darius I that reads:
“While I was in Persia and in Media, the Babylonians revolted from me a second time. A certain man named Arakha, an Armenian, son of Haldita, rebelled in Babylon. At a place called Dubâla, he lied unto the people, saying: ‘I am Nebuchadnezzar, the son of Nabonidus.’ Then did the Babylonian people revolt from me and they went over to that Arakha. He seized Babylon, he became king in Babylon. Then did I send an army unto Babylon. A Persian named Intaphrenes, my servant, I appointed as their leader, and thus I spoke unto them: ‘Go, smite that Babylonian host which does not acknowledge me.’ Then Intaphrenes marched with the army unto Babylon. Ahuramazda brought me help; by the grace of Ahuramazda Intaphrenes overthrew the Babylonians and brought over the people unto me. On the twenty-second day of the month Markâsanaš [27 November] they seized that Arakha who called himself Nebuchadnezzar, and the men who were his chief followers. Then I made a decree, saying: ‘Let that Arakha and the men who were his chief followers be crucified in Babylon!’”
The Greeks may have learned crucifixion from the Persians. In his History of the Alexander the Great, the Roman senator, Quintus Curtius Rufus, wrote that Alexander ordered 2,000 citizens of the Tyre crucified after his conquest of the city in 332 BCE.
“The extent of the bloodshed can be judged from the fact that 6,000 fighting-men were slaughtered within the city’s fortifications. It was a sad spectacle that the furious king then provided for the victors: 2,000 Tyrians, who had survived the rage of the tiring Macedonians, now hung nailed to crosses all along the huge expanse of the beach.”