Iran ancient Persia, deserves a geological introduction. In prehistoric times, the land mass that is now Iran forced itself up to divide the oceans, splitting the Caspian Sea off from the Indian Ocean. Since then, it has formed a natural land bridge across these two seas, separating the cold northern plains of Russia from the hot southern deserts of Arabia, and connecting the Middle East with the Far East. The ancient Silk Route from China to Syria went through N. Iran, while the Afro-Arab-Indian trade routes crossed its southern regions. The centrality of its location in the ancient world meant that the Persian Empire, more than 2,500 years ago, extended from Russia in the north to Egypt in the south, and from Greece in the west to India in the east.