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Persian Empire refers to any of a series of imperial dynasties centered in Persia (modern–day Iran). The first of these was the Achaemenid Empire established by Cyrus the Great in 550 BC with the conquest of Median, Lydian and Babylonian empires. It covered much of the Ancient world when it was conquered by Alexander the Great. Several later dynasties "claimed to be heirs of the Achaemenids". Persia was then ruled by the Parthian Empire which supplanted the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire, and then by the Sassanian Empire which ruled up until mid 7th century.
It is important to note that while many of these empires referred to themselves as Persian, they were often ethnically ruled by Medes, Babylonians, or Parthians. Iranian dynastic history was interrupted by the Arab Muslim conquest of Persia in 651 AD, establishing the even larger Islamic Caliphate, and later by the Mongol invasion.
In the modern era, a series of Islamic–notably Shiite–dynasties (e.g. Safavids and Afsharids) ruled Persia independently of the Arab/Turkic Sunni [clarification needed] caliphates, who became Persia's classical rival, like the pagan Romans and Christian Byzantines had been before.
Since 1979 and the downfall of the Pahlavi dynasty. Persia has a Shiah theocratic government.
List of dynasties described as a Persian Empire
- Achaemenid Empire (550–330 BC)
- Sasanian Empire (224–651), also called the "Sassanid Empire" or the "Empire of Empires"
- Safavid dynasty (1501–1736)
- Afsharid dynasty (1736–1796)
- Qajar dynasty (1785–1925)
- Pahlavi dynasty (1925–1979)
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- List of monarchs of Persia
- Iranian monarchy
- List of Iranian dynasties and countries
- Iranian peoples
- Persian people
- List of tombs of Iranian people
- History of the World in 1,000 Objects (DK Publishing, 2014), p. 71.