What Was Persia Called in Ancient Times?

When we think of ancient civilizations, many names come to mind. One of the most prominent and influential empires was Persia.

But what was Persia called in ancient times? Let’s dive into the history of this powerful empire and find out.

Origins of Persia

The land that is now known as Iran has been inhabited for thousands of years. The first known civilization in this area was the Elamites, who established a kingdom around 2700 BCE. However, it wasn’t until the 6th century BCE that Persia became a dominant force in the region.

The Achaemenid Empire

The Persian Empire reached its peak under the Achaemenid dynasty, which ruled from around 550 BCE to 330 BCE. This period is often referred to as the First Persian Empire.

Under Cyrus the Great, Persia conquered neighboring territories and established a vast empire that stretched from Asia Minor to Central Asia and even parts of Europe. The Achaemenids were known for their impressive architectural feats, including the construction of Persepolis.

The Parthian and Sassanian Empires

After the fall of the Achaemenids, Persia went through a period of instability before being conquered by Alexander the Great in 330 BCE. However, his rule was short-lived, and several different empires rose and fell over the centuries.

The Parthian Empire emerged in 247 BCE and lasted until it was conquered by the Sassanian Empire in 224 CE. This period is often referred to as the Second Persian Empire.

Under Sassanian rule, Persia once again became a dominant force in the region. They expanded their empire further eastward into India and westward into Europe. The Sassanian Empire was known for its impressive military might and advanced technology.

What Was Persia Called?

So, what was Persia called in ancient times? The answer is not so straightforward. The name “Persia” comes from the Greek word for “Persis,” which was a region in southwestern Iran.

However, the Persians themselves referred to their empire as “Iran,” which means “Land of the Aryans.” This name change was made official in 1935 by the government of Reza Shah Pahlavi, who wanted to emphasize Iran’s Aryan heritage.


Persia, or Iran, has a long and rich history that spans thousands of years. From the Elamites to the Achaemenids to the Parthians and Sassanians, this empire has left an indelible mark on world history. Whether you call it Persia or Iran, there is no denying the importance of this ancient civilization.