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History

History

 The plateau of Iran is among the oldest civilization centers in the history of humanity and has an important place in archeological studies. The history of settlement in the Plateau of Iran, from the new Stone Age till the migration of Aryans to this region, is not yet very clear. But there is reliable evidence indicating that Iran has been inhabited since a very long time ago. Settlement centers have emerged close to water resources like springs, rivers, lakes or totally close to Alborz and Zagross mountains. The most important centers of this kind are: Choqazanbil Temple (Ziqqurat), Susa (Shoush) Sialk hill in Kashan, Hesar hill in Damqan, Toorang hill in Gorgan, Hegmataneh hill in Hamadan, Hasanloo hill in Naqadeh, Marlik hill in Roodbar, and Susa (Shoosh) in Khuzestan. According to archeological excavations conducted in these civilization centers, some vestiges have been discovered, the antiquity of which dates back to the 5th millennium BC.                                                                                                                                       

The migration of Aryan tribes to the Plateau of Iran began in the 2nd millennium BC. Out of these tribes, the Parthians dwelled in Khorassan, the Medes in the west, and the Parsees resided in southern Iran. The Median Empire rose in Hegmataneh (Ekbatan), the present Hamadan. The Achaemenidae established the first great Persian Empire after defeating the Medes and conquest of their capital. The limits of the Achaemenian territory during the reign of Dariush I (522-485 BC.) extended from the plain of Sand River in the east to the borders of Greece in the west. Passargadae and Persepolis are among the vestiges of this period and, as important historical sites, are visited by a significant number of foreign tourists annually. Ganj Nameh Inscription, Hamadan Pasargadae, Marvdasht After the decline of the Achaemenian dynasty, and the destruction of Persepolis by Alexander, his successors the Seleucids dominated over Iran for a short period of time. During this time the interaction between Iranian and Hellenic cultures occurred. Around the year 250 BC, the Parthians, who were an Aryan tribe as well as horse riders, advanced from Khorassan towards the west and south-west and founded their empire over Iran Plateau in Teesfoon. This empire survived only untill the year 224 AD. The Sassanides, after defeating the last Parthian king in 225 AD, founded a new empire which lasted untill mid-7th century AD. Persepolis, Marvdasht With respect to its political, social, and cultural characteristics, the ancient period of Iran (Persia) is one of the most magnificent epochs of Iranian history. Out of this era, so many cultural and historical monuments have remained in Persepolis, Passargadae, Susa (Shoosh), Shooshtar, Hamadan, Marvdasht (Naqsh-e-Rostam), Taq-e-bostan, Sarvestan, and Nayshabur, which are worth seeing.         

The influence of Islam in Iran began in the early 7th century AD after the decline of the Sassanid Empire. Since then, new era began in the history of Iran which caused fundamental changes in social, political, religious, governmental, and general conditions of the country. Iranians, who were very unhappy with the existing social and economic inequalities in the time of the Sassanid’s, accepted Islam easily and contributed to its expansion and enrichment. However, Iranians never covered up their opposition against dominance and the tyranny of the Umayyad and the Abbasids’ Caliphs and founded many autonomous movements to confront them. In return, the Umayyad and the Abbasids’ Caliphs, tried to neutralize and suppress these movements, which were based on partisanship of the Prophet of Islam family and establishment of a government on the basis of Shia Imams. Continuity of wars of attrition among local governors weakened the overall power of the country and favored conditions for invasion by stranger tribes of Central Asia, like the Seljuks Turks, Mongols, and Timurid. In the Safavid time, the second great Iranian Empire was founded, and the Shia sect of Islam, disciples of which were seriously limited till then, was formalized. The dynamic nature of Shi’ism and its political and social commitments firmly safeguarded Iranian independence and national identity against Ottoman assaults. Thus, Iran once again became a new political and religious power. Soltanieh Dome, Abhar (Zanjan) Bam Citadel, Bam (Kerman) with the decline of the Safavid, Afsharieh and later the Zand took the throne. After the Zand rule, the Qajars took power. At this time the influence of foreign powers such as Britain and Russia in the internal affairs of Iran significantly increased. Meanwhile, social movements of Tobacco, Constitutional Revolution, Forest Uprising, and Sheik Mohammed Khiabani’s Revolt took place. In the Pahlavi period, Oil Industry Nationalization Movement incited the uprising of June 5th 1963, and other autonomous movements resulting in the Islamic Revolution under the leadership of Imam Khomeini in 1979.   

Timeline of Persian/Iranian History

 

 

     
     

Dynasty, Ruler or Event

Begin

End

     

Birth of Zoroaster

Sometime between 10th and 7th century BCE

     

Achaemenian Dynasty

  
 

Cyrus the Great

559 BCE

530 BCE

  

First to extend Persian empire

  
  

Builder of Pasargad

  
  

Killed in battle by Queen Tomyris of the Massagetaes

 

530 BCE

  

Tomb at Pasargad

  
     
 

Cambyses (son of Cyrus)

530 BCE

 
  

Extended empire into Egypt

  
     
 

Darius I

521 BCE

486 BCE

  

28 year old royal spear bearer; branch of Achaemenian family

  
  

Married widow of Cambyses and daughter of Cyrus

  
  

Put down internal revolts; carved story in rock at Hamadan

  
  

Moved into Punjab, in present-day India.

517 BCE

 
  

Using chariots, drove into Libya

  
  

Persian army reached lower Danube -- height of Empire

512 BCE

 
  

Builder of Persepolis

500 BCE

 
  

Greek victory at Battle of Marathon

490 BCE

 
  

Tomb at Naqsh-e Rostam

  
  

Ganjnameh (Treasure Book) carvings near Hamadan

  
     
 

Xerxes

486 BCE

465 BCE

  

Brought foreign architects and artisans to work at Persepolis

  
  

Marched on Greece; defeated Spartans at Thermopylae

481 BCE

 
  

Conquered Athens and set fire to the Parthenon

  
  

Lost navy at Battle of Salamis

480 BCE

 
  

Xerxes murdered by a palace conspirator

465 BCE

 
  

Tomb at Naqsh-e Rostam

  
  

Ganjnameh (Treasure Book) carvings near Hamadan

  
     
 

Artaxerxes I

465 BCE

424 BCE  ?

  

Tomb at Naqsh-e Rostam

  
     
 

Darius II

425 BCE  ?

405 BCE

  

Tomb at Naqsh-e Rostam

  
     
 

Artaxerxes II

405 BCE

361 BCE

  

Tomb above Persepolis

  
     
 

Artaxerxes III

361 BCE

338 BCE

  

Tomb above Persepolis

  
     
 

Darius III

  
  

Defeated by Alexander the Great

  
     

Alexander the Great

  
  

Crossed Hellespont

332 BCE

 
  

Took, looted and burned Persepolis

  
     

Selucid Dynasty (founded by Alexander's generals)

312 BCE

44 BCE

  

Anahita Temple in Kangavar from Selucid or Parthian times

  
     

Parthian Dynasty

163 BCE

224 CE

  

Fought and kept Romans in check for 300 years

  
  

Developed larger, stronger horses mounted w/ armor and archers

  
  

Defeated Mark Anthony and killed 35,000 Romans in Azerbaijan

36 BCE

 
  

Fostered development of Persian miniature painting

  
  

Takht-e Soleiman (Solomon's Throne) used as Zoroastrian fire alter

  
     

Sassanian Dynasty

208 CE

637 CE

  

Renaissance of Persian culture

  
  

Dome and vault used later in Islamic architecture developed

  
  

Takht-e Soleiman (Solomon's Throne) used as Zoroastrian fire alter

  
  

Ruins on hill of Zoroastrian Fire Temple from Sassanian era outside Isfahan

  
     
 

Ardeshir I

208 CE

241 CE

  

Defeated Artabanus V (Ardavan), last Parthian king in hand-to-hand combat

224 CE

 
  

Depicted in carvings at Naqsh-e Rostam receiving crown from Ahura Mazda

  
  

   (Artabanus V and Ahriman, Zoroastrian god of evil, trampled underfoot)

  
  

Zoroastrianism becomes state religion

  
     
 

Shapur I

241 CE

272 CE

  

Roman Emperor Valerian taken prisoner at Edessa

260 CE

 
  

Carving at Naqsh-e Rostam, w/ Philip the Arab (kneeling) and Valerian

  
  

Prophet Mani (b. 216) spreads concepts of Manichaeism (duality of good and evil)

  
     
 

Bahram II

276 CE

293 CE

  

Depicted in carving at Naqsh-e Rostam, w/ family and dignitaries

  
  

Also at Naqsh-e Rostam on horseback in combat

  
     
 

Narseh

293 CE

302 CE

  

Depicted at Naqsh-e Rostam receiving crown from goddess Anahita

  
     
 

Hormizd II

303 CE

309 CE

  

Depicted at Naqsh-e Rostam on horseback toppling enemy w/ spear

  
     
 

Shapur II

310 CE

379 CE

  

Right cave, leaning on sword, at Taq-e Bostan, Kermanshah

  
  

Depicted in damaged carving at Naqsh-e Rostam leaning on sword

  
     
 

Shapur III

383 CE

388 CE

  

Right cave, leaning on sword, at Taq-e Bostan, Kermanshah

  
     
 

Ardeshir II

379 CE

383 CE

  

Depicted receiving crown from Ahura Mazda at Taq-e Bostan in Kermanshah

  
     
 

Bahram V

420 CE

440 CE

  

Built small palace (or hunting lodge) at Sarvestan (near Shiraz)

  
     
 

Peroz

457 CE

484 CE

  

Killed by Hephtalite Huns out of central Asia

  
     
 

Khosroe (Khosrow) I

531 CE

579 CE

  

Moved capital to Cresiphon in Mesopotamia

  
  

"Spring of Khosrow," first known Persian carpet; 90' square

  
     
 

Khosroe (Khosrow) II

590 CE

628 CE

  

Depicted on horse (Shabdiz) in large grotto at Taq-e Bostan in Kermanshah

  
  

Renewed empire building; drove into Byzantium in 602; Jerusalem in 614

  
  

Drove into Alexandria and Egypt in 619

  
  

Defeat by Byzantium; king abandons Cresiphon; beginning of end

626 CE

 
     
 

Yazdagird III

632 CE

651 CE

  

Battle at Qadisiya (on Euphrates); Gen. Rustam and 80,000 Persians lose

636 CE

 
  

Cresiphon falls to Arabs; Yazdagird in retreat

638 CE

 
  

Arabs win at Nihavand (near Hamadan) opening passes thru Zagros to Persia

642 CE

 
  

Persians lose at Istakhr (in Fars); 40,000 killed; Arabs take Persepolis

648-49 CE

 
     

Beginning of Arab (and Islamic) domination

651 CE

 
  

Persian culture led Islamic Empire to golden age of 8th to 10th centuries

  
  

Ali, son-in-law of Prophet, becomes caliph in Kufa (near Basra)

656 CE

 
  

Ali assassinated in Kufa; buried in Najaf (now in Iraq)

661 CE

 
  

Hussein, 2d son of Ali, challenges Umayyad rulers in Damascus

  
  

Hussein, with force of 72, slaughtered by Umayyad army in Karbala (Iraq)

680 CE

 
  

Battle of Karbala beginning of Shi'ism as separate sect from Sunnis

  
     

Abbasid Dynasty defeats Umayyad; moves capital to Baghdad

750 CE

 
  

Abbasid Dynasty much influenced by traditional Persian culture

  
  

Greek works translated by Persians into Arabic; also Persian scientific work

813 CE

833 CE

     
  

Eighth Imam, Reza, died of suspected poisoning (buried in Mashhad)

817 CE

 
  

Muhammad al-Muntazar, 12th or Hidden Imam, goes into "occultation"

873 CE

 
     

Buyids (adherents of Shi'ism) march into Baghdad

945 CE

1055

  

Buyids establish Qom as important center of Shi'ism

  
     

Ghaznavid Dynasty (Turkic speaking)

994 CE

1030

  

Persian culture flourishes

  
  

Ferdowsi (b. 935) writes Shahnameh (Book of Kings); created modern Persian

985 CE

1010

  

Gonbad-e Kavus (167 foot tomb tower) built 1007

  
  

Tomb/tower of Arsalon (10th century Turk, General of Tus) outside Mashhad

  
     

Seljuq Dynasty (and vizier Nizam al-Mulk (1020-1092)

1045

1092

 

Toghrul Beg

1038

1063

 

Alp-Arslan

1063

1072

 

Mailk Shah

1072

1092

  

Era of Omar Khayyam (and historical novel Samarkand)

  
  

Khayyam solved quadratic equation; reformed calendar

  
  

Seljuqs elevated Sufism as respected part of Sunni Islam

  
     
  

Dome of Gonbad-e Khaki (1088) in Friday Mosque in Isfahan

  
  

Gonbad-e Alavian built in Hamadan during Seljuq era

  
  

Gonbad-e Sorkh (Red Tomb) (1147) built in Maragheh

  
  

Gonbad-e Kabud (1197) built in Maragheh

  
  

Pol-e Shahrestan (12th century, Seljuq, bridge over river, Zayendeh-rud in Isfahan)

  
  

West evian of Friday Mosque in Isfahan w/ stalactites; Seljuq construction

  
  

North evian of Friday Mosque in Isfahan; Sejuq construction

  
     

Genghis Khan's Mongol Army captures Khorassan

1221

 
  

Every person in Nishapur beheaded; heads stacked in pyramids

  
     

Hulagu Khan (grandson of Genghis; d. 1265) subdues all of Persia

1256

 
  

Baghdad captured; caliph put to death; end of Abbasid Caliphate

1258

 
  

Massacred up to 800,000 in Baghdad

  
  

Iran becomes an "Ilkhanate," territory of Great Khan of China

  
  

Not until mid-20th century did Iran's population reach pre-Mongol levels

  
     
 

Ghazan Khan

1295

1304

     
  

Gonbad-e Khafariyeh (1328) built in Maragheh

  
  

Mausoleum of Sheikh Safi al-Din (1252-1334) -- important Sufi center

  
  

Shaking Minarets (menar-e Jonban); small 14th c. Mongol mosque; near Isfahan

  
     

Tamerlane (Timur the Lame; d. 1405) captures eastern Iran

1384

1405

  

Remainder falls a few years later; 70,000 killed in sack of Isfahan

  
     

Timurid Dynasty

1405

1517

 

Shah Rokh

1405

1447

  

Flourishing of arts, especially miniature painting

  
     
 

Jahan Shah

1436

1467

  

Mausoleum of Shah Nematollah Vali (d.1431) in Yazd

  
  

Mir Chakhmaq mosque (1437) in Yazd

  
  

Blue Mosque (masjed-e Kabud) built in Tabriz in 1465

  
     
  

Khanjor tower (Gonbad-e Khanjour?) -- 15th century; Timurid, near Mashhad

  
  

South evian ceiling (Timurid; 15th c.) at Friday Mosque in Isfahan

  
     

Safavid Dynasty

1502

1737

  

Arg-e Bam (Citadel) built during Safavid era

  
     
 

Shah Ismail

1501

1524

  

Origins go back to Sufi order centered around Ardabil

  
  

Shah Ismail declared Shi'ism as the official religion

1501

 
  

Over next 8 years subdued all of Persia; imposed Shi'ism thru "example, zeal

  
  

   massacre, pillage and torture."

  
     
 

Shah Abbas I

1588

1629

  

Signed treaty ceding Azerbaijan to Ottoman Turks to neutralize external threat

1590

 
  

Encouraged contacts and trade w/ Europe; another "golden age"

  
  

Abbas furthered secured Shi'ism as state religion

  
  

Fearing a conspiracy to overthrow his throne, Abbas murders own son

1615

 
  

Another son suspected of conspiracy is blinded

1621

 
  

Abbas also blinded and imprisoned his 5th son, his father and two brothers

  
  

Capital moved to Isfahan, away from Ottomans; massive rebuilding of city

  
     
  

Ali Qapu Palace, small Timurid palace enlarged by Shah Abbas in Isfahan

  
  

Si-o-Se pol (Bridge of 33 Arches, aka Allahverdi Khan Bridge) (c. 1600)

  
  

Mosque of Sheikh Lotfollah (built, 1602-1619) in Imam Square, Isfahan

  
  

Imam Mosque (started in 1611) in Imam Square, Isfahan

  
  

Mausoleum of Khaje Rabi (built 1617-1622 by Shah Abbas) near Mashhad

  
  

Chehel Sotun (40, really 20, columns) finished 1647 in Isfahan

  
  

Pol-e Khaju (bridge built in 1650; 24 arches) over river in Isfahan

  
  

Bagh-e Fin gardens in Kashan, designed for Shah Abbas (buildings now Qajar)

  
  

West evian of Friday Mosque in Isfahan; Seljuq construction; Safavid redecoration

  
     
 

Succession of weak and disconnected rulers

  
     

Afghan army invades Khorassan and captures Isfahan; rules eastern Iran

1722

1729

 

Ashraf Shah (2d ruler) overthrown by Nader Shah

  
     

Nader Shah

1736

1747

  

Briefly restored Tahmasp to Safavid throne before taking power himself in 1736

  
  

Conquered Afghanistan, New Delhi, Bukhara and Khiva (Jewels from India)

  
  

Cruel and dictatorial, he was assassinated in 1747

  
     

Karim Khan (and Zands) establishes rule in Shiraz

1750

1779

  

Civil wars rip Iran apart along ethnic lines

1779

1795

  

Last Zand surrenders to Agha Muhammad Khan

1795

 
     

Qajar Dynasty

1795

1925

 

Agha Muhammad Khan

1796

1797

  

In youth, hostage of Zands; castrated and caged

  
  

Unified Persia under his control; crowned Shah in Tehran in 1796

  
  

Assassinated by own servants

1797

 
     
 

Fath Ali Shah

1798

1834

  

Restored Persian elegance and grandeur to the court

  
  

Portrait painted in large grotto at Taq-e Bostan in Kermanshah

  
  

Iran loses first war to Russia and Armenia, Georgia and N. Azerbaijan

1813

 
  

Iran loses second war to Russia and cede southern Caspian shore

1828

 
     
 

Muhammad

1834

1848

  

Qajar king lays claim to Herat in Afghanistan; trounced by Great Britain

1838

 
  

Mirza Ali Muhammad declares himself Mahdi; creates Bahai faith

1844

 
  

Bahais considered Shia heresy; deny Muhammad as last prophet and Koran

  
  

   as the final revelation; Mirza executed as heretic in 1850

  
     
 

Naser od-Din Shah

1848

1896

  

Visited Europe several times and started "modernization" of Iran

  
  

Tried to reclaim Herat for Iran; Britain forces entry into Iran w/ Treaty of Paris

1857

 
  

Began selling "concessions" to European companies

1890

 
  

Religious fatva against tobacco concession sold to Britain

1891

 
  

Shah assassinated in mosque by Muslim objecting to Western influence

1896

 
     
 

Muzzaffar ed-Din Shah

1896

1907

  

Pledged Iranian customs receipts as collateral for Russian loan

1900

 
  

Shah gives British right to Iranian oil

1901

 
  

Riots; 13,000-20,000 take refuge in British Embassy

1906

 
  

Constitution and inauguration of Majlis, parliament

1906

 
     
 

Muhammad Ali Shah

1907

1909

  

Russian troops defeat protestors at mosque and Majlis; end of parliament

1908

 
     
 

Sultan Ahmed Shah (corpulent 12 year son of Muhammad)

1909

1925

  

W. Morgan Shuster attempts to reorganize Iranian finances; ousted by Russians

1911

 
  

Shah's cabinet backed by 12,000 Russian troops overthrows Majlis

1911

 
  

British Admiralty converts to oil; controls much of southern Iran

1913

 
     

Pahlavi Dynasty

1925

1979

 

Reza Shah

1925

1941

  

Little known military officer, Reza Khan, seizes power

1921

 
  

In negotiations, clergy rejects republic; agrees to Reza as Shah

1925

 
  

Declared "Reza Shah" by Majlis

1925

 
  

Forced "westernization" of Iran

  
  

Country's name changed from "Persia" to "Iran"

1935

 
  

Various moves against religious authority; wearing of veil banned in 1935

  
  

Shah's troops massacre hundreds of protestors in Imam Reza Shrine in Mashhad

1935

 
  

Britain and Russia depose Reza; install weak, playboy son as new Shah

1941

 
     
 

Muhammad Reza Shah

1941

1979

  

Muhammad Mossadeq and second constitutional revolution

1951

1953

  

Shah flees to Rome, but is reinstalled with American CIA help

1953

 
  

SAVAK (secret police) formed w/ CIA assistance.

1957

 
  

"White Revolution" incenses clergy; Ayatollah Khomeini is jailed for first time

1963

 
  

Iran accepts U.S. "Status of Forces Agreement," immunity for US citizens in Iran

1964

 
  

Khomeini released from jail; promptly resumes criticism of Shah and SOFA

1964

 
  

Khomeini exiled to Najaf, in Iraq -- continues criticism w/ leaflets and cassettes

1964

 
  

Shah's grandiose celebration of 2,500 years of empire at Persepolis

1971

 
  

Nixon arms Iran to counter Soviet influence in region; Iran buys $4B US arms

1972

1976

  

Mid-70's 50,000 Americans living in Iran; "ugly American" incidents protected by SOFA

 
  

SAVAK increases spying, repression, torture and killing thru 1970's

  
  

SAVAK arrests, interrogates and tortures Rafsanjani, Montazeri and Khamenei

1974

 
  

Economic hardship; inflation; lower oil revenue; spending on arms; budget deficit

1975

1977

  

Khomeini's 49-year old son dies suddenly; SAVAK suspected

1977

 
  

Shah's police kill hundreds of protestors in Qom, Tabriz, elsewhere

1978

 
  

Khomeini's exile moved to Paris; gains access to international press

1978

 
  

Shah flees Jan 16; Khomeini arrives Feb. 1; Islamic Revolution begins

1979

 
     

Islamic Revolution and Establishment of Islamic Republic

1979

 
  

First seizure of US Embassy: Feb. 14, 1979 -- militants retreat

2/14/1979

 
  

Seizure of US Embassy: Nov 4, 1979 after Shah admitted to US for treatment

11/4/1979

 
  

Khomeini used seizure to unify country around adoption of constitution

  
  

Saddam Hussein and Iraq invade Iran

9/22/1980

 
  

American hostages released

1/20/1981

 
  

During 1981, Mujahedin assassinates more than 1,000 gov't officials

  
  

1985-1986 Iran and US engage in "arms for hostages" deals

  
  

July 3, 1988 USS Vincennes shoots down Iran Air 655; 290 die

7/3/1988

 
  

Iran agrees to UN resolution to end war with Iraq; 750,000 Iranians died

7/18/1988

 
  

Khomeini issues fatva against Salman Rushdie

2/14/1989

 
  

Ayatollah Khomeini dies; Khamenei becomes new Supreme Leader

6/4/1989

 


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