The Hellenistic period is traditionally defined as beginning with the death in 323 BC of Alexander the Great of Macedon, whose brief but dramatic career deeply and irrevocably changed the political and cultural complexion of the ancient Greek world. Alexander's father, Philip II, had transformed Macedon from a peripheral kingdom into the most powerful and dominant of the Greek states, and Alexander, in his own brief thirteen-year reign, conquered Persia and Asia Minor before extending his empire as far as Egypt and India.;His vast territory, split up among his generals after his premature death, was ruled by several great Hellenistic dynasties, whose kingdoms encompassed a variety of strongly independent cultural traditions. Eventually, by the late first century BC, all of the Hellenistic kingdoms had come under the dominion of Rome. Beginning with the historical and political background to the era, the author then traces the development of a new, distinctive cultural character in the Hellenistic Age and explores how this was shaped by the ambitions of its new individual rulers, the increased affluence of their urban centres and the contrasts between the regional diversity and common cultural identity (koine) which characterized their societies.