The term “Persian civilization” can refer to two distinct, but closely related cultural entities, Pre-Islamic Persian civilization and Islamic Persian civilization. This series of articles deals with Pre-Islamic Persian civilization.
This in turn falls into two main periods: first, that of the great Persian empire of the Achaemenid kings (c. 550 BCE to c. 330 BCE); and second, that of the Parthian and Sasanian empires (c. 140 BCE to c. 640 CE). These two periods are punctuated by the Greek-Macedonian occupation of Iran under Alexander the Great and his successors.
This article deals with the society and culture of the great Persian empire which was founded by Cyrus the Great in the 540s and 530s BCE, and was conquered by Alexander the Great two centuries later. For the government and politics of this empire, see the article The Persian Empire: The State.