Iranian history represents a rich blend of legend, mythology, recorded fact and living tradition. Several civilizations have risen in various parts of the country at different times, each leaving its own impression on the subsequent development of Iranian history.
The oldest known civilization in Iran is that of Elam in the 10th century B.C. and the Assyrians in the 8th century B.C. Other major Iranian civilizations are Media, Achaemenids, Parthians and Sassanians. Unfortunately, most of the landmarks of these civilizations were demolished during the Arab and subsequent Mongol and Tatar invasions. The 16th century Safavids civilization that has the most lasting number of monuments has inherited from both Persian civilization and its invaders. Many other dynasties and monarchies succeeded the country until the Pahlavi that was once again demolished by the Islamic Revolution under the leadership of Imam Khomeini, in a way similar to its predecessors.
Iran has a long history of almost 7,000 years since the Aryans immigrated to the Iran Heights. Aryans gave their name to this land and called it “land of Aryans” or Iran. Achaemenids appeared in 550 B.C. They were the first unified dynasty and until it was conquered by Alexander of Macedonia (Eskandar e Maghdooni) in 330 B.C., Iran prospered as “The Great Persian Empire” for more than two centuries. Contributions of the Achaemenians to the world’s culture are numerous. Cyrus (Xerxes) The Great (550 B.C.) was the first emperor who conquered Elam and gave Jews freedom. He was also the first one who declared and practiced human rights. In the Great Persia Empire from East China to Libya, many nations were coexisting and all were declared free to practice their own religion and follow their own traditions and customs. Daryush the Great (500 B.C.) was the first emperor who committed to digging the ancient Suez Channel, joining the Red and Mediterranean Sea. There are many landmarks left from the Achaemenian period mostly in Persepolis and Naghsh-e-Rostam near the present Shiraz.
- ~750 BC the Medes era: Deioces (728 to 675 BC) was the founder of the Median kingdom. The Median capital Ecbatana or Hegmataneh (Hamedan) was founded in this era.
- ~600 BC The Achaemenids era: The capital of Achaemenids was located in Fars in southwestern Iran. Many present day landmarks, such as Takhte-jamshid and Persepolis are from this era.
- 329 BC Defeat of the Achaemenids by Alexander. Aryo-barzan, a brave Persian commander fought to death with all his army members and couldn’t stop Alexander to invade and destroy the capital.
- 250 BC the Parthians era began by defeating the Greeks.
- 226 AD the Sassanid era. The Sassanians overthrow the Parthians and established a vast and wealthy empire that included the Central Asia, Middle East, Turkey and North Africa.
- 570-632 AD
- The birth and death of Muhammad (peace be upon him) the prophet.
- 642 AD
- The Arab invasion. The Sassanid emperor Yazdgerd III was defeated by the Arabs at the Battle of Nahravan. Bisotun, the capital of the Sassanians was destroyed. The palace and library hosting more than 20,000 old books and scripts were set on fire too.
- ~800 AD
- Uprising of the Shi’ite movement in Khorasan (Northeastern Iran) by Abu Moslem Khosasany who fought the Arabs and established the first independent Persian state in Khorasan.
- 867 AD
- The birth of the Saffarids dynasty by Yaqub Saffar who was the first leader to unite Persians under the Shi’ite flag.
- 874 AD
- The rise of the Samanid dynasty in Northeastern Persia. Eventually, Samanid overthrow the Saffarids in 900 AD
- 962 AD
- Ghaznavid dynasty established in eastern Iran. The capital was Ghazneh located in present day Afghanistan. The Ghaznavids could defeat the Samanid in the early 11th century and established a vast kingdom from India to Syria.
- 1040 AD
- The Seljuqians era began by defeating the Ghaznavids at the Battle of Dandanqan, near Marv. Seljuqians’ reign ended with the death of Sanjar, the last king of this dynasty around 1160 AD.
- ~1160 AD
- The rise of Kharazmshahian in Northeastern Iran.
- 1220 AD
- The Mongol invasion. The Mongols captured nearly all Persia except the Fars. In Bukhara and Samarkand, they ruined and killed more than one million residents. Later the Il-Khanid dynasty was established in central Persia.
- 1380-87 AD
- The Tatar invasions under the command of Timur and the reign of the Timurid rulers started.
- 1502 AD
- Safavid dynasty was established by Shah Ismail.
- 1729 AD
- Nader Shah established the Afsharian dynasty by driving the Afghans out of Persia. He also captured Dehli and North India.
- Zand dynasty.
- Qajar dynasty: “Nehzat Mashrooteh” or the Constitutional Movement happened in this era and the first constitutional government was established.
- Finally Pahlavi dynasty, a constitutional monarchy… Concentrating on modernization, education and establishing close diplomatic relations with the Western countries were among the main objective of the King Reza and Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The gap between the government and people’s will, mostly due to corruption, ultra-speed modernization of the society and what was called unfair diplomatic relations, led to the Islamic movement in 1979, that established a kind of republic called Islamic Republic.
- 1979- Today
- The Islamic Republic of Iran