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An ancient civilization, known as early as 2000 b.c. The persian empire was founded by cyrus the great (550-529 b.c.) and for 200 years, from 550 to 331 b.c., the persians ruled the ancient world from india to egypt. The territory west of india was called persis by the greeks who later called the entire empire persia. In 331 b.c. The persian wars against the greeks ended disastrously under the counterattacks by alexander the great. The name persia in modern times for the modern country was changed to iran in 1935.