History of Iran

Comprehensive History of Iran

The history of Iran is a very long complicated story. It consists of several instances of invasions, resistance, revivals, survival, etc. Iranian history has witnessed several ups and downs when glorious eras ended up and foreign invaders started another era. Local luminaries tried to take great steps for their people as long as they were in highly dangerous situation.

History of Iran tells you about how a nation has witnessed some of the most glorious periods of human history and suffered at their collapsing days. And the history of Iran is a mysterious story of how a nation has managed to keep a lot of its identity by adhering to the riches of its culture.

To make Iranian history easier to remember and to make it possible for you to read the history of Iran in one sitting, Destination Iran has explained it in chronological order here:

Chronology of Iranian History:

History of Iran from the Prehistoric Era

Before 100000 years ago – Lower Paleolithic Period

Only stone-made artifacts were found in three provinces: Khorasan, Azerbaijan, and Sistan & Baluchestan (Acheulean Culture).

From 100000 / 80000 to 40000 years ago – Middle Paleolithic Period

Artifacts were found in the following Provinces: Luristan, Elam, Kermanshahan, Golestan, and Tehran.

From 40000 to 11000 years ago – Upper Paleolithic Period

Artifacts were found in the following Provinces: Luristan, Kermanshahan, and Ilam provinces.

From 20000 / 13000 to 7000 years ago- Epipaleolithic Period

Artifacts were found in Mazandaran province.

Since 8000 B.C.  Neolithic Period (including food-collecting, food reserving, food-producing and settling periods)

Artifacts were found in many historical sites, mounds, and caves.

Since 5000 B.C.

Artifacts were found in many historical sites, mounds, caves, and rock shelters.

Since 5000 / 4000 B.C.

The flourishing period of techniques in such fields as pottery and metalwork. The invention of the pottery wheel and copper-made tools. Artifacts were found in many historical sites and mounds.

Since 3000 B.C.

Clay tablets in early and later Elamite writing systems; Gorgan culture, and Gian IV & III cultures In Luristan province. Artifacts were found in many historical sites and mounds.

Since 2000 B.C.

Qal’eh Shoga culture in Fars province. Artifacts were founding many historical sites and mounds.

From 1400-1150 B.C.

The end of Bronze cultures and the beginning of Iron cultures. Artifacts were found in many historical sites and mounds.

History of Iran during the Pre-Islam Era

Since 2500 / 2600 B.C.

The beginning of the Elamite dynasty- Awan kings, and the war against Mesopotamia.

Since 1450 / 1100 B.C.

Middle Elamites; the war between Elamites and Mesopotamia still went on.

814 B.C. Cyrus the great; New Elamites. Historical documents were kept silent for 200 years.

After lots of destruction as a result of wars, Cyrus the Great introduced himself from Anshan and took control of Elam in around 558 B.C.

Aryans’ Migration to Iranian Plateau


Some nations united in the latter half of the 7th century B.C. to form the Median kingdom. They were Lullubians, Galatians, Mauritanians, Kassian, Urartians, Caspians, and Mannaians who were united with Aryans. Dioces founded the Median Empire. The assyrian kingdom, the most brutal power of the time, was put to an end by the Medians.


550 B.C. Cyrus defeated the Medes at Pasargad, founded the dynasty, and broadened the empire.

522 – 486 B.C. Darius I, the great, suppressed rebels, established the first civil society in Iran and broadened the Empire. He ordered the construction of Persepolis.

330 B.C. Alexander invaded Persia, destroyed the uncompleted Persepolis, and took the Persian Empire.

323 B.C. Death of Alexander.

Seleucids & Parthians

312 – 281 B.C. Seleucid I Nicator founded the Seleucid Greek Dynasty in Persia.

250 B.C. The Arsacid from the Parthian dynasty captured Khorasan, then under Seleucid’s control.

161 – 138 B.C. Mithridates I founded the Parthian Empire.

123 – 87 B.C. Zenith of the Parthian Empire.

87 B.C.-224 A.D. The decline of the Parthian Empire and the rise of Rome.


224 – 241 Artaxerxes I overcame the Parthians and founded the Sassanian Empire.

241 – 272 Shapur I invaded the Roman Empire (252-261) and arrested Emperor Valerian in 260.

242 – 273 Preaching of Mani, the prophet.

250 – 300 The conversion of Armenia to Christianity.

283 The Emperor Garus took Ctesiphon. Armenia and North Mesopotamia were yielded to Rome.

363 Shapur II defeated Julian the apostate in a battle and regained Armenia and North Mesopotamia.

379 Peace was established with Rome.

425 White Huns raided Khorasan.

c489 Nestorian church was founded.

499 – 531 The zenith of Sassanian power.

529 Justinian closed schools. Scholars immigrated to Persia.

c570 Birth of the prophet Mohammad. Yemen was under Persian control.

608 Sassanians attacked Byzantium.

614 Khosrow II captured Damascus and Jerusalem, bringing the true cross to Ctesiphon.

622 Heraclius defeated Khosrow II. The year of the prophet Mohammad’s journey from Mecca (hijra).

632 The death of the prophet Mohammad.

632 – 651 Yazdegerd III, the last Sassanian monarch.

635 – 641 The Arabs took Damascus and Ctesiphon. They defeated Persians and Persia was formally annexed to the Arab Empire.

651 The death of Yazdegerd III.

You can read more about Pre-Islam Iran here!

History of Iran from the Post-Islam Era

Local Dynasties

661 – 750 Umayyad Caliphs ruling from Damascus.

750 – 1257 Abbasid Caliphs ruling from Baghdad.

756 – 1031 Western caliphate of Cordoba was founded on the flight of the last Umayyad.

861 – 872 Tahirid dynasty in Khorasan.

872 – 903 Saffarid dynasty in Khorasan.

903 – 999 Samanid dynasty in Khorasan.

935 – 1055 The rise of the Buwayhids near Shiraz.

962 – 1044 Ghaznavid dynasty rose in the east challenging the Samanids.

Seljuks and Mongols (Ilkhanids)

1037 – 1055 Seljuq Turks invaded Iran under Tughril beg. Buwayhid’s rule ended with Abu Moslem, the Iranian commander of the Abbasid army.

1073 The zenith of Seljuq power.

1090-1257 Ishmaelite society, later named assassins, mainly based in northern Iran, the valley of Alamut.

1117 – 1157 Sultan Sanjar. The end of Seljuq’s rule in Iran.

1219 – 1227 Chengiz khan devastated Iran.

1256 – 1265 Hulagu, the grandson of Chengiz Khan, founded the Ilkhanid dynasty at Maragheh.

1295 – 1304 Ghazan Khan and his final conversion to Islam.

1334 The end of the Ilkhanid dynasty.


1380 – 1393 Timur conquered Iran. The suspension of the Nestorian church.

1397 – 1447 Timur invaded India. Then, he died. His successor, Shahrokh conquered the Oxus region.

1408 – 1453 The rise of the Qara Qoyunlu Turkmen.

1461 The Ottoman Turks entered the northwest and pushed the Timurids to the east.


1502 – 1524 Shah Ismail founded the dynasty. The conversion of Iran to Shiite Islam.

1587 – 1628 Shah Abbas I defeated the Turks in the north, conquered Baghdad, and declared Esfehan as his capital.

1722 – 1724 Afghans invaded Iran and captured Esfehan. Shiraz was captured afterward. The massacre of Safavid princes.

Post Safavid Iran

1729 – 1739 Nader Qoli founded the Afshar dynasty, expelled Afghans, and conquered Afghanistan and India.

1750 – 1795 Zand dynasty ruling from Shiraz.

1795 – 1925 Qajar dynasty ruling from Tehran.

1812 The treaty of Golestan. Iran cedes territories to Russia.

1827 Russia seized Tabriz.

1896 – 1906 The constitutional revolution.

1906 The promulgation of the constitution.

1908 Nationalist uprisings.

1909 The Anglo-Iranian oil company (later British Petroleum) was formed.

1909 – 1923 Ahmad Shah was the last Qajar king. Reza Khan was appointed as Prime Minister.

1924 Qajar dynasty was overthrown.

1925 – 1941 The proclamation of Reza Khan as Reza Shah, founder of the Pahlavi dynasty.

1941 The invasion of the allied forces. Reza Shah abdicated in favor of his son, Mohammad Reza.

1943 Tehran conference (Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin). Territorial integrity was regained by Iran.

1951 Dr.Mosaddeq became the prime minister and pressed for the nationalization of the oil industry.

1955 Iran joined the Baghdad Pact.

1959 Iran signed a defense agreement with the USA.

1963 Ayatollah Khomeini held a religious nationwide uprising in protest to the Shah.

1967 The coronation of Mohammad Reza and queen Farah.

1969 Tension was renewed between Iran and Iraq on the Arvand Rud (Shat al-Arab) issue.

1971 2500th anniversary of the Iranian monarchy was celebrated.

1978 – 1979 The escalation of people’s uprising against the monarchy caused the Shah to flee from the country.

Islamic Republic of Iran

1979 The Islamic Republic of Iran. The nation voted for the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s government under the leadership of the late Ayatollah Khomeini.

1980 Iraq attacked Iran.

1988 Both parties accepted 1988 UN resolution 598. A final cease-fire was proclaimed by Iran. (An 8-year-long war).

1989 Ayatollah Khomeini passed away and Ayatollah Khamenei was elected as the new spiritual leader of the country.

You can read about post-Islam Iran here!

Rahman Mehraby

Rahman Mehraby is the founder and owner of Destination Iran. He plans and customizes quality Iran tours. Also, he provides tourism marketing consultation and services for tourism businesses.

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