Eastern Mediterranean, the Achaemenid Empire (539‐331 BC) has been difficult to grasp archaeologically outside its centres, the impressive monumental complexes of Persepolis, Susa and Pasargadae. This is particularly surprising given the historic and epigraphic evidence for the existence of a very tight‐knit, efficiently organized administration. Wherever major Achaemenian sites outside Iran had been investigated, it appeared that religious practices, local power structures and pre‐existing customs were respected and adapted in a deliberate attempt at cooperative rule. During the past 20 years, excavations as well as the implementation of survey projects benefiting from technological advances in landscape archaeology led to new archaeological discoveries that have changed this picture. Firstly, in the centre of the empire, the extent and internal structure of centres like Pasargadae and Persepolis is now much better understood. The impressive monuments from these two sites are only the visible remains of cities loosely distributed within a landscaped environment made up of gardens and parks. Secondly, in a peripheral corner of the empire, the Southern Caucasus, administrative complexes were found which bear all hallmarks of ‘Iranian Achaemenid’ monumental architecture, from building standards to the physical organization of the landscape. Taken together, this suggests that the Achaemenids did create and export within their realm a fundamentally new way of representing rulership, by managing space on an unprecedented scale and creating new imperial landscapes. Their ‘paradises’ were at the same time luxurious residences with spacious gardens and administrative centres, playing an important role for the control of the dependent territories.