While Iran has only existed in a recognizable form since the beginning of the 16th century, the area has a
longer history of civilization than almost anywhere in the world. The Bronze Age Elamite civilization was
one of the first to develop cuneiform writing in the 3rd millennium BCE, and Proto-Iranian groups were
already arriving in the area in the 2nd millennium BCE. The Achaemenid Empire, which existed from
550—330 BCE, was the biggest empire in ancient history.