In Greek mythology, Agamemnon was a king of Mycenae, the son of King Atreus and Queen Aerope of Mycenae, the brother of Menelaus, the husband of Clytemnestra and the father of Iphigenia, Electra or Laodike and Chrysothemis. Legends make him the king of Mycenae or Argos, thought to be different names for the same area; when Helen, the wife of Menelaus, was taken to Troy by Paris, Agamemnon commanded the united Greek armed forces in the ensuing Trojan War. Upon Agamemnon's return from Troy, he was killed by the lover of his wife Clytemnestra. In old versions of the story, the scene of the murder, when it is specified, is the house of Aegisthus, who has not taken up residence in Agamemnon's palace, it involves an ambush and the deaths of Agamemnon's followers as well. In some versions, Clytemnestra herself does the killing, or they act together as accomplices, killing Agamemnon in his own home, his name in Greek, Ἀγαμέμνων, means "very steadfast", "unbowed". The word comes from *Ἀγαμέδμων from ἄγαν, "very much" and μέδομαι, "think on".
Atreus, Agamemnon's father, murdered the sons of his twin brother Thyestes and fed them to Thyestes after discovering Thyestes' adultery with his wife Aerope. Thyestes fathered Aegisthus with his own daughter and this son vowed gruesome revenge on Atreus' children. Aegisthus murdered Atreus and restored his father to the throne. Aegisthus jointly ruled with Thyestes. During this period and his brother, took refuge with Tyndareus, King of Sparta. There they married Tyndareus' daughters Clytemnestra and Helen. Agamemnon and Clytemnestra had four children: one son and three daughters, Iphigenia and Chrysothemis. Menelaus succeeded Tyndareus in Sparta, while Agamemnon, with his brother's assistance, drove out Aegisthus and Thyestes to recover his father's kingdom, he became the most powerful prince in Greece. Agamemnon's family history had been tarnished by murder and treachery, consequences of the heinous crime perpetrated by his ancestor, of a curse placed upon Pelops, son of Tantalus, by Myrtilus, whom he had murdered.
Thus misfortune hounded successive generations of the House of Atreus, until atoned by Orestes in a court of justice held jointly by humans and gods. Agamemnon gathered the reluctant Greek forces to sail for Troy. Preparing to depart from Ancient Greece, a port in Boeotia, Agamemnon's army incurred the wrath of the goddess Artemis. There are several reasons throughout myth for such wrath: in Aeschylus' play Agamemnon, Artemis is angry for the young men who will die at Troy, whereas in Sophocles' Electra, Agamemnon has slain an animal sacred to Artemis, subsequently boasted that he was Artemis' equal in hunting. Misfortunes, including a plague and a lack of wind, prevented the army from sailing; the prophet Calchas announced that the wrath of the goddess could only be propitiated by the sacrifice of Agamemnon's daughter Iphigenia. Classical dramatizations differ on how willing either daughter was to this fate, her death appeased Artemis, the Greek army set out for Troy. Several alternatives to the human sacrifice have been presented in Greek mythology.
Other sources, such as Iphigenia at Aulis, say that Agamemnon was prepared to kill his daughter, but that Artemis accepted a deer in her place, whisked her away to Tauris in the Crimean Peninsula. Hesiod said. Agamemnon was the commander-in-chief of the Greeks during the Trojan War. During the fighting, Agamemnon killed Antiphus and fifteen other Trojan soldiers, according to one source, but in the "Iliad" itself, he's shown to slaughter hundreds more in Book 11 during his "aristea" loosely translated to "day of glory", the most similar to Achilles' "aristea" in Book 21. Before his "aristea," Agamemnon was considered to be one of the three best warriors on the Greek side as proven when Hector challenges any champion of the Greek side to fight him in Book 7, Agamemnon is one of the three most wished for to face him out of the nine strongest Greek warriors who volunteered, and after they reconciled Achilles admits in Book 23 that Agamemnon is "the best in strength and in throwing the spear." That claim is further proven by the fact that Agamemnon was the only major warrior on either side never to need the gods' direct intervention to increase his strength or give him any unfair advantages in battle and yet he still caused incredible destruction on the scale of Achilles.
The Iliad tells the story about the quarrel between Agamemnon and Achilles in the final year of the war. Following one of the Achaean Army's raids, daughter of Chryses, one of Apollo's priests, was taken as a war prize by Agamemnon. Chryses was met with little success. Chryses prayed to Apollo for the safe return of his daughter, which Apollo responded to by unleashing a plague over the Achaean Army. After learning from the Prophet Calchas that the plague could be dispelled by returning Chryseis to her father, Agamemnon reluctantly agreed (but first berated Calch
History of Mesopotamia
The history of Mesopotamia ranges from the earliest human occupation in the Lower Sumaya period up to the Late antiquity. This history is pieced together from evidence retrieved from archaeological excavations and, after the introduction of writing in the late 4th millennium BC, an increasing amount of historical sources. While in the Paleolithic and early Neolithic periods only parts of Upper Mesopotamia were occupied, the southern alluvium was settled during the late Neolithic period. Mesopotamia has been home to many of the oldest major civilizations, entering history from the Early Bronze Age, for which reason it is dubbed the cradle of civilization; the rise of the first cities in southern Mesopotamia dates to the Uruk period, from c. 4000 BC onward. Mesopotamia means " between rivers" in ancient Greek; the oldest known occurrence of the name Mesopotamia dates to the 4th century BC, when it was used to designate the land east of the Euphrates in north Syria. It was more applied to all the lands between the Euphrates and the Tigris, thereby incorporating not only parts of Syria but almost all of Iraq and southeastern Turkey.
The neighbouring steppes to the west of the Euphrates and the western part of the Zagros Mountains are often included under the wider term Mesopotamia. A further distinction is made between Upper or Northern Mesopotamia and Lower or Southern Mesopotamia. Upper Mesopotamia known as the Jezirah, is the area between the Euphrates and the Tigris from their sources down to Baghdad. Lower Mesopotamia is the area from Baghdad to the Persian Gulf. In modern scientific usage, the term Mesopotamia also has a chronological connotation, it is used to designate the area until the Arab Muslim conquests in the 7th century AD, with Arabic names like Syria and Iraq being used to describe the region after that date. Two types of chronologies can be distinguished: an absolute chronology; the former establishes the order of phases, periods and reigns, whereas the latter establishes their absolute age expressed in years. In archaeology, relative chronologies are established by excavating archaeological sites and reconstructing their stratigraphy – the order in which layers were deposited.
In general, newer remains are deposited on top of older material. Absolute chronologies are established by dating remains, or the layers in which they are found, through absolute dating methods; these methods include radiocarbon dating and the written record that can provide year names or calendar dates. By combining absolute and relative dating methods, a chronological framework has been built for Mesopotamia that still incorporates many uncertainties but that continues to be refined. In this framework, many prehistorical and early historical periods have been defined on the basis of material culture, thought to be representative for each period; these periods are named after the site at which the material was recognized for the first time, as is for example the case for the Halaf and Jemdet Nasr periods. When historical documents become available, periods tend to be named after the dominant dynasty or state. While reigns of kings can be securely dated for the 1st millennium BC, there is an large error margin toward the 2nd and 3rd millennia BC.
Based on different estimates for the length of periods for which still few historical documents are available, so-called Long, Middle and Ultra-short Chronologies have been proposed by various scholars, varying by as much as 150 years in their dating of specific periods. Despite problems with the Middle Chronology, this chronological framework continues to be used by many recent handbooks on the archaeology and history of the ancient Near East. A study from 2001 published high-resolution radiocarbon dates from Turkey supporting dates for the 2nd millennium BC that are close to those proposed by the Middle Chronology; the early Neolithic human occupation of Mesopotamia is, like the previous Epipaleolithic period, confined to the foothill zones of the Taurus and Zagros Mountains and the upper reaches of the Tigris and Euphrates valleys. The Pre-Pottery Neolithic A period saw the introduction of agriculture, while the oldest evidence for animal domestication dates to the transition from the PPNA to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B at the end of the 9th millennium BC.
This transition has been documented at sites like Abu Hureyra and Mureybet, which continued to be occupied from the Natufian well into the PPNB. The so-far earliest monumental sculptures and circular stone buildings from Göbekli Tepe in southeastern Turkey date to the PPNA/Early PPNB and represent, according to the excavator, the communal efforts of a large community of hunter-gatherers. Jarmo Samarra culture Halaf culture The Fertile Crescent was inhabited by several distinct, flourishing cultures between the end of the last ice age and the beginning of history. One of the oldest known Neolithic sites in Mesopotamia is Jarmo, settled around 7000 BC and broadly contemporary with Jericho and Çatal Hüyük, it as well as other early Neolithic sites, such as Samarra and Tell Halaf were in northern Mesopotamia. The first of these was Eridu, settled during the Ubaid period culture by farmers who brought with them the Samarran culture from the north; this was followed by the Uruk period. Named after the Sumerian city of Uruk, this period saw the emer
Zeus is the sky and thunder god in ancient Greek religion, who rules as king of the gods of Mount Olympus. His name is cognate with the first element of his Roman equivalent Jupiter, his mythologies and powers are similar, though not identical, to those of Indo-European deities such as Jupiter, Perkūnas, Perun and Thor. Zeus is the child of Cronus and Rhea, the youngest of his siblings to be born, though sometimes reckoned the eldest as the others required disgorging from Cronus's stomach. In most traditions, he is married to Hera, by whom he is said to have fathered Ares and Hephaestus. At the oracle of Dodona, his consort was said to be Dione, by whom the Iliad states that he fathered Aphrodite. Zeus was infamous for his erotic escapades; these resulted in many divine and heroic offspring, including Athena, Artemis, Persephone, Perseus, Helen of Troy and the Muses. He was respected as an allfather, chief of the gods and assigned the others to their roles: "Even the gods who are not his natural children address him as Father, all the gods rise in his presence."
He was equated with many foreign weather gods, permitting Pausanias to observe "That Zeus is king in heaven is a saying common to all men". Zeus' symbols are the thunderbolt, eagle and oak. In addition to his Indo-European inheritance, the classical "cloud-gatherer" derives certain iconographic traits from the cultures of the ancient Near East, such as the scepter. Zeus is depicted by Greek artists in one of two poses: standing, striding forward with a thunderbolt leveled in his raised right hand, or seated in majesty; the god's name in the nominative is Ζεύς. It is inflected as follows: vocative: Ζεῦ. Diogenes Laërtius quotes Pherecydes of Syros as spelling the name, Ζάς. Zeus is the Greek continuation of *Di̯ēus, the name of the Proto-Indo-European god of the daytime sky called *Dyeus ph2tēr; the god is known under this name in the Rigveda, deriving from the root *dyeu-. Zeus is the only deity in the Olympic pantheon whose name has such a transparent Indo-European etymology; the earliest attested forms of the name are the Mycenaean Greek, di-we and, di-wo, written in the Linear B syllabic script.
Plato, in his Cratylus, gives a folk etymology of Zeus meaning "cause of life always to all things," because of puns between alternate titles of Zeus with the Greek words for life and "because of." This etymology, along with Plato's entire method of deriving etymologies, is not supported by modern scholarship. Cronus sired several children by Rhea: Hestia, Hera and Poseidon, but swallowed them all as soon as they were born, since he had learned from Gaia and Uranus that he was destined to be overthrown by his son as he had overthrown Uranus, his own father, an oracle that Rhea heard and wished to avert; when Zeus was about to be born, Rhea sought Gaia to devise a plan to save him, so that Cronus would get his retribution for his acts against Uranus and his own children. Rhea gave birth to Zeus in Crete, handing Cronus a rock wrapped in swaddling clothes, which he promptly swallowed. Varying versions of the story exist: According to Hyginus ) Zeus was raised by a nymph named Amalthea. Since Saturn ruled over the Earth, the heavens and the sea, she hid him by dangling him on a rope from a tree so he was suspended between earth and sky and thus, invisible to his father.
According to Pseudo-Apollodorus ) Zeus was raised by a goat named Amalthea in a cave called Dictaeon Antron. A a company of soldiers called Kouretes danced and clashed their spears against their shields so that Cronus would not hear the baby's cry. After reaching manhood, Zeus forced Cronus to disgorge first the stone his siblings in reverse order of swallowing. In some versions, Metis gave Cronus an emetic to force him to disgorge the babies, or Zeus cut Cronus's stomach open. Zeus released the brothers of Cronus, the Hecatonchires and the Cyclopes, from their dungeon in Tartarus, killing their guard, Campe; as a token of their appreciation, the Cyclopes gave him thunder and the thunderbolt, or lightning, hidden by Gaia. Together, his brothers and sisters and Cyclopes overthrew Cronus and the other Titans, in the combat called the Titanomachy; the defeated Titans were cast into a shadowy underworld region known as Tartarus. Atlas, one of the titans who fought against Zeus, was punished by having to hold up the sky.
After the battle with the Titans, Zeus shared the world with his elder brothers and Hades, by drawing lots: Zeus got the sky and air, Poseidon the waters, Hades the world of the dead. The ancient Earth, could not be claimed. Gaia resented. Soon after taking the throne as king of the gods, Zeus had to fight some of Gaia's other children, the monsters Typhon and Echidna, he left Echidna and her children alive. When Zeus was atop Mount Olympus he was appalled by human sac
Anedjib, more Adjib and known as Hor-Anedjib, Hor-Adjib and Enezib, is the Horus name of an early Egyptian king who ruled during the 1st dynasty. The Egyptian historian Manetho named him "Miebîdós" and credited him with a reign of 26 years, whilst the Royal Canon of Turin credited him with an implausible reign of 74 years. Egyptologists and historians now consider both records to be exaggerations and credit Adjib with a reign of 8–10 years. Adjib is well attested in archaeological records, his name appears in inscriptions on vessels made of schist, alabaster and marble. His name is preserved on ivory tags and earthen jar seals. Objects bearing Adjib's name and titles come from Sakkara. Adjib's family has only been investigated, his parents are unknown. Adjib was married to a woman named Betrest. On the Palermo Stone she is described as the mother of Adjib's king Semerkhet. Definite evidence for that view has not yet been found, it would be expected that Adjib had sons and daughters, but their names have not been preserved in the historical record.
A candidate for being a possible member of his family line is Semerkhet. According to archaeological records, Adjib introduced a new royal title which he thought to use as some kind of complement to the Nisut-Bity-title: the Nebuy-title, written with the doubled sign of a falcon on a short standard, it refers to the divine state patrons Horus and Seth. It symbolically points to Lower- and Upper Egypt. Adjib is thought to have legitimised his role as Egyptian king with the use of this title. Clay seal impressions record the foundation of the new royal fortress Hor nebw-khet and the royal residence Hor seba-khet. Stone vessel inscriptions show that during Adjib's reign an unusually large number of cult statues were made for the king. At least six objects show the depicting of standing statues representing the king with his royal insignia. Stone vessel inscriptions record that Adjib commemorated a first and a second Hebsed, a feast, celebrated the first time after 30 years of a king's reign, after which it was repeated every third or fourth year.
But recent investigations suggest that every object showing the Hebsed and Adjib's name together were removed from king Den's tomb. It would seem that Adjib had erased and replaced Den's name with his own; this is seen by egyptologists and historians as evidence that Adjib never celebrated a Hebsed and thus his reign was short. Egyptologists such as Nicolas Grimal and Wolfgang Helck assume that Adjib, as Den's son and rightful heir to the throne, may have been quite old when he ascended the Egyptian throne. Helck additionally points to an unusual feature; the end of Adjib's reign was a violent one. Adjib's burial site was excavated at Abydos and is known as "Tomb X", it is the smallest of all royal tombs in this area. Adjib's tomb has its entrance at the eastern side and a staircase leads down inside; the burial chamber is surrounded by 64 subsidiary tombs and divided by a cut-off wall into two rooms. Until the end of the 1st dynasty, it would seem to have been a tradition that the family and court of the king committed suicide and were buried alongside the ruler in his necropolis.
Francesco Raffaele: Adjib - Merbiape
Odysseus known by the Latin variant Ulysses, is a legendary Greek king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. Odysseus plays a key role in Homer's Iliad and other works in that same epic cycle. Son of Laërtes and Anticlea, husband of Penelope and father of Telemachus and Acusilaus. Odysseus is renowned for his intellectual brilliance and versatility, is thus known by the epithet Odysseus the Cunning, he is most famous for his nostos or “homecoming”, which took him ten eventful years after the decade-long Trojan War. In Greek the name was used in various versions. Vase inscriptions have the two groups of Olyseus, Olysseus or Ōlysseus, Olyteus or Olytteus. From an early source from Magna Graecia dates the form Oulixēs, while a grammarian has Oulixeus. In Latin the figure was known as Ulyssēs; some have supposed that "there may have been two separate figures, one called something like Odysseus, the other something like Ulixes, who were combined into one complex personality." However, the change between d and l is common in some Indo-European and Greek names, the Latin form is supposed to be derived from the Etruscan Uthuze, which accounts for some of the phonetic innovations.
The etymology of the name is unknown. Ancient authors linked the name to the Greek verbs odussomai “to be wroth against, to hate”, to oduromai “to lament, bewail”, or to ollumi “to perish, to be lost”. Homer relates it to various forms of this verb in puns. In Book 19 of the Odyssey, where Odysseus' early childhood is recounted, Euryclea asks the boy's grandfather Autolycus to name him. Euryclea seems to suggest a name like Polyaretos, "for he has much been prayed for" but Autolycus "apparently in a sardonic mood" decided to give the child another name commemorative of "his own experience in life": "Since I have been angered with many, both men and women, let the name of the child be Odysseus". Odysseus receives the patronymic epithet Laertiades, "son of Laërtes". In the Iliad and Odyssey there are several further epithets used to describe Odysseus, it has been suggested that the name is of non-Greek origin not Indo-European, with an unknown etymology. Robert S. P. Beekes has suggested a Pre-Greek origin.
In Etruscan religion the name of Odysseus were adopted under the name Uthuze, interpreted as a parallel borrowing from a preceding Minoan form of the name. Little is given of Odysseus' background other than that according to Pseudo-Apollodorus, his paternal grandfather or step-grandfather is Arcesius, son of Cephalus and grandson of Aeolus, while his maternal grandfather is the thief Autolycus, son of Hermes and Chione. Hence, Odysseus was the great-grandson of the Olympian god Hermes. According to the Iliad and Odyssey, his father is Laertes and his mother Anticlea, although there was a non-Homeric tradition that Sisyphus was his true father; the rumour went. Odysseus is said to have a younger sister, who went to Same to be married and is mentioned by the swineherd Eumaeus, whom she grew up alongside, in book 15 of the Odyssey; the majority of sources for Odysseus' pre-war exploits—principally the mythographers Pseudo-Apollodorus and Hyginus—postdate Homer by many centuries. Two stories in particular are well known: When Helen is abducted, Menelaus calls upon the other suitors to honour their oaths and help him to retrieve her, an attempt that leads to the Trojan War.
Odysseus tries to avoid it by feigning lunacy, as an oracle had prophesied a long-delayed return home for him if he went. He starts sowing his fields with salt. Palamedes, at the behest of Menelaus' brother Agamemnon, seeks to disprove Odysseus' madness and places Telemachus, Odysseus' infant son, in front of the plow. Odysseus veers the plow away from his son. Odysseus holds a grudge against Palamedes during the war for dragging him away from his home. Odysseus and other envoys of Agamemnon travel to Scyros to recruit Achilles because of a prophecy that Troy could not be taken without him. By most accounts, Achilles' mother, disguises the youth as a woman to hide him from the recruiters because an oracle had predicted that Achilles would either live a long uneventful life or achieve everlasting glory while dying young. Odysseus cleverly discovers which among the women before him is Achilles when the youth is the only one of them to show interest in examining the weapons hidden among an array of adornment gifts for the daughters of their host.
Odysseus arranges further for the sounding of a battle horn, which prompts Achilles to clutch a weapon and show his trained disposition. With his disguise foiled, he joins Agamemnon's call to arms among the Hellenes. Odysseus is one of the most influential Greek champions during the Trojan War. Along with Nestor and Idomeneus he is one of advisors, he always champions the Achaean cause when others question Agamemnon's command
Ancient Egypt was a civilization of ancient North Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in the place, now the country Egypt. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistoric Egypt and coalesced around 3100 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under Menes; the history of ancient Egypt occurred as a series of stable kingdoms, separated by periods of relative instability known as Intermediate Periods: the Old Kingdom of the Early Bronze Age, the Middle Kingdom of the Middle Bronze Age and the New Kingdom of the Late Bronze Age. Egypt reached the pinnacle of its power in the New Kingdom, ruling much of Nubia and a sizable portion of the Near East, after which it entered a period of slow decline. During the course of its history Egypt was invaded or conquered by a number of foreign powers, including the Hyksos, the Libyans, the Nubians, the Assyrians, the Achaemenid Persians, the Macedonians under the command of Alexander the Great; the Greek Ptolemaic Kingdom, formed in the aftermath of Alexander's death, ruled Egypt until 30 BC, under Cleopatra, it fell to the Roman Empire and became a Roman province.
The success of ancient Egyptian civilization came from its ability to adapt to the conditions of the Nile River valley for agriculture. The predictable flooding and controlled irrigation of the fertile valley produced surplus crops, which supported a more dense population, social development and culture. With resources to spare, the administration sponsored mineral exploitation of the valley and surrounding desert regions, the early development of an independent writing system, the organization of collective construction and agricultural projects, trade with surrounding regions, a military intended to assert Egyptian dominance. Motivating and organizing these activities was a bureaucracy of elite scribes, religious leaders, administrators under the control of a pharaoh, who ensured the cooperation and unity of the Egyptian people in the context of an elaborate system of religious beliefs; the many achievements of the ancient Egyptians include the quarrying and construction techniques that supported the building of monumental pyramids and obelisks.
Ancient Egypt has left a lasting legacy. Its art and architecture were copied, its antiquities carried off to far corners of the world, its monumental ruins have inspired the imaginations of writers for centuries. A new-found respect for antiquities and excavations in the early modern period by Europeans and Egyptians led to the scientific investigation of Egyptian civilization and a greater appreciation of its cultural legacy; the Nile has been the lifeline of its region for much of human history. The fertile floodplain of the Nile gave humans the opportunity to develop a settled agricultural economy and a more sophisticated, centralized society that became a cornerstone in the history of human civilization. Nomadic modern human hunter-gatherers began living in the Nile valley through the end of the Middle Pleistocene some 120,000 years ago. By the late Paleolithic period, the arid climate of Northern Africa became hot and dry, forcing the populations of the area to concentrate along the river region.
In Predynastic and Early Dynastic times, the Egyptian climate was much less arid. Large regions of Egypt were traversed by herds of grazing ungulates. Foliage and fauna were far more prolific in all environs and the Nile region supported large populations of waterfowl. Hunting would have been common for Egyptians, this is the period when many animals were first domesticated. By about 5500 BC, small tribes living in the Nile valley had developed into a series of cultures demonstrating firm control of agriculture and animal husbandry, identifiable by their pottery and personal items, such as combs and beads; the largest of these early cultures in upper Egypt was the Badari, which originated in the Western Desert. The Badari was followed by the Amratian and Gerzeh cultures, which brought a number of technological improvements; as early as the Naqada I Period, predynastic Egyptians imported obsidian from Ethiopia, used to shape blades and other objects from flakes. In Naqada II times, early evidence exists of contact with the Near East Canaan and the Byblos coast.
Over a period of about 1,000 years, the Naqada culture developed from a few small farming communities into a powerful civilization whose leaders were in complete control of the people and resources of the Nile valley. Establishing a power center at Nekhen, at Abydos, Naqada III leaders expanded their control of Egypt northwards along the Nile, they traded with Nubia to the south, the oases of the western desert to the west, the cultures of the eastern Mediterranean and Near East to the east, initiating a period of Egypt-Mesopotamia relations. The Naqada culture manufactured a diverse selection of material goods, reflective of the increasing power and wealth of the elite, as well as societal personal-use items, which included combs, small statuary, painted pottery, high quality decorative stone vases, cosmetic palettes, jewelry made of gold and ivory, they developed a ceramic glaze known as faience, used well into the Roman Per
Iran called Persia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia. With over 81 million inhabitants, Iran is the world's 18th most populous country. Comprising a land area of 1,648,195 km2, it is the second largest country in the Middle East and the 17th largest in the world. Iran is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan, to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Turkmenistan, to the east by Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, to the west by Turkey and Iraq; the country's central location in Eurasia and Western Asia, its proximity to the Strait of Hormuz, give it geostrategic importance. Tehran is the country's capital and largest city, as well as its leading economic and cultural center. Iran is home to one of the world's oldest civilizations, beginning with the formation of the Elamite kingdoms in the fourth millennium BCE, it was first unified by the Iranian Medes in the seventh century BCE, reaching its greatest territorial size in the sixth century BCE, when Cyrus the Great founded the Achaemenid Empire, which stretched from Eastern Europe to the Indus Valley, becoming one of the largest empires in history.
The Iranian realm fell to Alexander the Great in the fourth century BCE and was divided into several Hellenistic states. An Iranian rebellion culminated in the establishment of the Parthian Empire, succeeded in the third century CE by the Sasanian Empire, a leading world power for the next four centuries. Arab Muslims conquered the empire in the seventh century CE; the Islamization of Iran led to the decline of Zoroastrianism, by the country's dominant religion, Iran's major contributions to art and science spread within the Muslim rule during the Islamic Golden Age. After two centuries, a period of various native Muslim dynasties began, which were conquered by the Seljuq Turks and the Ilkhanate Mongols; the rise of the Safavids in the 15th century led to the reestablishment of a unified Iranian state and national identity, with the country's conversion to Shia Islam marking a turning point in Iranian and Muslim history. Under Nader Shah, Iran was one of the most powerful states in the 18th century, though by the 19th century, a series of conflicts with the Russian Empire led to significant territorial losses.
The Iranian Constitutional Revolution in the early 20th century led to the establishment of a constitutional monarchy and the country's first legislature. A 1953 coup instigated by the United Kingdom and the United States resulted in greater autocracy and growing Western political influence. Subsequent widespread dissatisfaction and unrest against the monarchy led to the 1979 Revolution and the establishment of an Islamic republic, a political system that includes elements of a parliamentary democracy vetted and supervised by a theocracy governed by an autocratic "Supreme Leader". During the 1980s, the country was engaged in a war with Iraq, which lasted for eight years and resulted in a high number of casualties and economic losses for both sides; the sovereign state of Iran is a founding member of the UN, ECO, NAM, OIC, OPEC. It is a major regional and middle power, its large reserves of fossil fuels – which include the world's largest natural gas supply and the fourth largest proven oil reserves – exert considerable influence in international energy security and the world economy.
The country's rich cultural legacy is reflected in part by its 22 UNESCO World Heritage sites, the third largest number in Asia and 11th largest in the world. Iran is a multicultural country comprising numerous ethnic and linguistic groups, the largest being Persians, Azeris and Lurs. Organizations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have criticized Iran's women's rights record; 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- and ary-, both deriving from Proto-Iranian *arya-, recognized as a derivative of Proto-Indo-European *ar-yo-, meaning "one who assembles". In the Iranian languages, the gentilic is attested as a self-identifier, included in ancient inscriptions and the literature of the Avesta, remains in other Iranian ethnic names Alan and Iron.
Iran has been referred to as Persia by the West, due to the writings of Greek historians who referred to all of Iran as Persís, meaning "land of the Persians", while Persis itself was one of the provinces of ancient Iran, today defined as Fars. As the most extensive interaction the Ancient Greeks had with any outsider was with the Persians, the term persisted long after the Greco-Persian Wars. In 1935, Reza Shah requested the international community to refer to the country by its native name, effective March 22 that year; as The New York Times explained at the time, "At the suggestion of the Persian Legation in Berlin, the Tehran government, on the Persian New Year, March 21, 1935, substituted Iran for Persia as the official name of the country." Opposition to the name change led to the reversal of the decision, Professor Ehsan Yarshater, editor of Encyclopædia Iranica, propagated a move to use Persia and Iran interchangeably. Today, both Iran and Persia are used in cultural contexts, while Iran remains irreplaceab