The Achaemenid Empire (ca. 550–330 BC), also known as the Persian Empire , was the successor state of the Median Empire, ruling over significant portions of what can become Greater Iran. The Persian and the Median Empire taken together may also be known as the Medo-Persian Empire , which encompassed the combined territories of several earlier empires. The empire was forged by Cyrus the Great, and spanned three continents: Asia, Africa and Europe. At its greatest extent, the empire included the territories of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, parts of Central Asia, Asia Minor, Thrace and Macedonia, much of the Black Sea coastal regions, Iraq, northern Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, and all significant population centers of ancient Egypt as far west as Libya. It’s noted in western history as the foe of the Greek city states throughout the Greco-Persian Wars, for emancipation of slaves like the Jews from their Babylonian captivity, and for instituting the use of official languages throughout its territories. The Achaemenid Persian empire was invaded by Alexander III of Macedon, and it collapsed and disintegrated in 330 BC into what later became the Ptolemaic Kingdom and Seleucid Empire, along with other minor territories which gained independence.