Art and religion historian Patrick Ringgenberg sheds light on Iranian culture during a lecture at the Villa Empain. With a millennia-old civilization, Iran experienced considerable upheavals in the 20th century, moving from a traditional society at the beginning of the 20th century (Qadjar period), to rapid and sometimes brutal modernization (Pahlavi), then to an Islamic Revolution (1979) which sought to completely reshuffle the political and identity cards. Today, Iran is a complex country, both Western and Eastern, Iranian and Shiite, at the crossroads of several worlds, and of considerable strategic importance. But beyond the current topics, which will be touched on, how can we understand the major aspects of Iranian culture? How is Iran still Iran, despite all the often profound changes that separate the Iranians of today from the Iranians of three thousand years ago, when Indo-European tribes settling on the Iranian Plateau founded history’s first universal empire in history – the Achaemenid Empire?