And IRAN was there in the beginning, inhabited by civilizations great and small, each leaving a deep impression on the land and its people. 9000 year old mounds of the plain of Khuzestan, ancient mounds of central, northwestern and northeastern, as well as central IRAN, are but a few of such examples.From these the oldest known painted pottery in the world and the earliest metal artifacts have been excavated, all bearing witness to the ingenuity and competence of their creators, and presenting a rich and diverse variety unique to IRAN. Modern IRAN offers a chance to visit the ancient mounds across the country, monuments such as the largest remaining Ziggurat in the world, that of Chogha Zanbil from the 13th century BC, the greatest architectural achievement of the first Persian Empire, Persepolis, from the 6th Century BC, remains of monuments from the second Persian Empire, and a host of world class monuments from the Islamic era, reaching its zenith in Safavid Isfahan.