Dari ( ) or Dari Persian ( ) is the variety of the Persian language spoken in Afghanistan. Descended from the courtly language of the Samanid Empire (819–999 CE) (known as Early New Persian), Dari is a relatively conservative form of the Modern or New Persian language; it is more similar to Early New Persian than are the Persian dialects spoken in Iran or the Tajik dialects of Central Asia. By way of Early New Persian, Dari Persian, like Iranian Persian and Tajik, is a continuation of Middle Persian, the official religious and literary language of the Sassanian Empire (224–651 CE), itself a continuation of Old Persian, the language of the Achaemenids (550–330 BC). In historical usage, Dari refers to the Middle Persian court language of the Sassanids.