During the Bronze Age, the territory of present-day Iran was home to several civilizations, including Elam, Jiroft, and Zayanderud.

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and reached its greatest extent during the Achaemenid Empire founded by Cyrus the Great in the sixth century BC, stretching from Eastern Europe to the Indus Valley, becoming a larger empire than previously ever existed in the world.

The Iranian realm fell to Alexander the Great in the fourth century BC, but reemerged shortly after as the Parthian Empire, followed by the Sasanian Empire, which became a leading world power for the next four centuries.

The term Iran derives directly from Middle Persian Ērān, first attested in a third-century inscription at Rustam Relief, with the accompanying Parthian inscription using the term Aryān, in reference to the Iranians.

The Middle Iranian ērān and aryān are oblique plural forms of gentilic nouns ēr- (Middle Persian) and ary- (Parthian), both deriving from Proto-Iranian *arya- (meaning "Aryan", i.e.

"of the Iranians"), As the most extensive interactions the Ancient Greeks had with any outsider was with the Persians, the term persisted, even long after the Persian rule in Greece.

In 1935, Reza Shah requested the international community to refer to the country by its native name, Iran.

The brouhaha was initially triggered by the actions of Median ruler Astyages, and was quickly spread to other provinces, as they allied with the Persians.

Later conquests under Cyrus and his successors expanded the empire to include Lydia, Babylon, Egypt, parts of the Balkans and Eastern Europe proper, as well as the lands to the west of the Indus and Oxus rivers.

In 550 BC, Cyrus the Great, the son of Mandane and Cambyses I, took over the Median Empire, and founded the Achaemenid Empire by unifying other city states.