Iran has been home to organized urban settlements since at least 4000 BC and even from those times the history of Iran has been intertwined with the history of the region as a whole. Initially the Elamites and  Medes paid tribute to the greeter Mesopotamian powers of Sumeria and Neo _ Assyria. But for about 1100 years from 550 BC succession of Iranian Empires where the super powers that dominated the region from Egypt the Mediterranean and the borders of Europe in the west of Indus river in the East. It began with the Achaemenid was interrupted by Alexander and Seleucids and continued with Parthian and Sassanid dynasty. The arrival of the Arabs in AD 663 was turning point in Iranian history. The Zoroastrian religion was soon replaced by Islam but the more advanced arts sciences and administration that had defined Persian civilization were absorbed into Islamic life. What followed was a pattern that would recur for hundreds of years : a strong ruler creates an Empire, hid death begins the slow fragmentation of control and another strong ruler sweeps the weakened state aside to begin his own empire. The players included the Arabs, several local and Turkish dynasties and the Mongols. Through it all the Persian National, political and cultural identity survived and, indeed was largely adopted by the invader.

In 1502 the Safavid dynasty reestablished Iran as independent state adopted Shia’s Islam as the official religion and expanded the Empire across much of the region. Their demise in 1722 led to another round of the short _term dynasties before the Qajars, and later Pahlavis, continued royal rule the 1979 revolution brought with it the Islamic republic.   


3200_2100 BC 

The 150 Shahre- e Sukhteh ( Burnt city) thrives – and is burnt down three times- near modern Zabol before being abounded. some Archeologist think it was independent of ancient Mesopotamia. 

2000-3000 BC

Inscriptions recently uncovered near Jiroft, in southeastern Iran, are possibly The worls earliest known writing , pre dating Mesopotamian writing

1340- 1250 BC

The enormous Choqa Zanbil ziggurat is built to honor the preeminent Elamite god Inshushinak. It is lost under the sands from about 640 BC until being rediscovered in 1935

1125 BC 

The king of Babylon, Nebuchadrezzar I invades Elam and sacks the capital Susa (Shush). 

836 BC

The Medes establish a capital at Ecbatana (modern Hamedan) and compete for trade and influence with Babylon, Lydia , Scythia and the Neo Assyrian empire.

625- 585 BC

Median king Cyaxares the great joins with Babylon to sack Nineveh and the Neo- A ssyrian empire, expanding Median control from Asia Minor in the west to Kerman in the East.

559 BC

Aged 21, Cyrus II becomes king of the fast- rising Achaemenid people. His 30- year rule establishes a multi state empire governed from Pasargadae, Babylon, Susa and Ecbatana, each with limited regional autonomy.   


522-486 BC

Daruis I ( the great) creates the first superpower through sword and organisation.. He divides Persia into provinces, creates a uniform monetary system and adopts a common language.

539 BC

T he Achaemenids destroy the Babylonians at Opis. Cyrus releases Jews who had been enslaved in Babylon. Such benign policies were key to maintaining good relations with defeated subject nations.

385 BC

Artaxerxes III (358-338BC) takes the throne after assassinating eight and half -brothers. In 343 BC he defeats  EGYPT , which is again made a satrapy.


Alexander Macedonians defeat Persian armies at Granicus. Issus and Guagamela . He marches on Susa and Persepolis, whos surrender in effect ends the once- mighty Achaemenid empire. 

309 BC

Ambitious Macedonian Cassander has Alexander “s Persian widow, Roxana and their son Alexander IV, put to death to clear the way for his rule.

247 BC

Parthians, natives of the area southeast of the Caspian sea, rebel against the Seleucids to begin the longest empire in Iranian history, lasting 471 years 

123-88 BC

Mithridates II expands Parthian control from the borders of the Roman Empire to China and India. He stablishes diplomatic and trade relations with China. Greek remains the lingua franca.

53 BC

Parthian armies rout the Romans at Carrhae. Those Roman soldiers fortunate enough to survive report the Parthians fought under dazzlingly bright flags. Its Europe first glimpse of Silk 

AD 25

Parthian emissaries deliver lions to the curt of the Han dynasty in China. These are believed to be the inspiration for the lion dancing still seen at Chinese New Year. 


Ardashir Babakan overcomes local rivals to challenge and defeat the Parthian king Artabanus V, and seize control of Parthian territories. He stablished the Sassanid capital at Firuz Abad.

241-272 bc

Shapur I succeeds Ardeshir and expands Sassanid hegemony to include Bactria. He famously defeats the Romans at the Edessa in 260, were emperor Valerian is captured on the battlefield. 

The Sassanid state religion was Zoroastrianism faith were not allowed. However Shapur I was interested in the philosophy of Mani (216-276), which went on to become Manichaeism.


Khosrow II expands the Sassanid empire to its largest , stretching from Egypt to the borders of modern China.

He is murdered in 628 and the empire quickly unravels.


The prophet Mohammad dies and a year later Arab forces driven by religious zeal attack Persia. By 651 the last Sassanid king dead and the empire is history.

The Umayyad Caliphate take control of much of the lands of the former Sassanid empire, governing from Damascus and spreading Sunni Islam.

Imam Hosein, son of Imam Ali , is killed along with 72 partisans at Karbala. This becomes the defining event in the antagonism between Sunni and Shiite Muslims.


An uprising in Khorasan casts off Ummayad rule and the Abbasid Caliphate is born. Heavily influenced by Persian customs, the Abbaside choose Baghdad as their capital, near former Sassanid capital Ctesiphon. 


As Abbasid control weakens , a series of regional dynasties takes control. The Taherids (820-72) in Khorasan, the expansionist Saffarids (868-903) from Sistan and the Samanids (874-999), based in Bukhara.

The Persian Ziarids (928-1077) and Buyids (945-1055) were noted for their support of the arts, but their power gave way to Turkish clans begging with the Qaznavid in 962

Philisepher and physician Bu Ali Sina (Avicenna or Ibn Sina) lives primarily in Hamedan and Esfahan and publishes 250 books including the Canon Medicine, used in Europian universities until 17th century


Nomad Turks from central Asia, the Seljuks (1051-1220) sweep across Persia and create an empire reaching East to Syria, Palestine and the gates of Byzantine Constantinople.


In an observatory built by Seljuks, mathematician and poet Omar Khayyam(1048-1123) calculates the length of the year as 365.242198 days, preceding the Gregorian calendar by almost 500 years.


Mongol leader Genghis khans westward advance arrives with catastrophic results. The Mongols take most Persian territories raze cities  including Tus and Nishabur and slaughter tens of thousands.


Hulagu Khan leads a second Mongol drives into the Middeleast, destroying the power of the Ishmaelite assassins. The Ilkhanid rule from Maragheh then Sultanieh, until 1335.


Marco Polo crosses Iran while traveling to and from China, stopping in Tabriz, Saveh, Kashan, Yazd, Kerman, Hormoz, Bam, Tbas and Nishabur , among others


Tamerlane the sword happy Tatar, brutally takes control of Persia from series of local rulers. Governing first from Samarkand , then Herat and Qazvin, the Timurids prover great patrons of the arts.

1502 (Third Persian Empire)

A teenage Ismail Safavi (r 1502-24) takes Tabriz and within 10 years, territories from Baghdad to Uzbekistan to establish the Safavid empire.


Strong paranoid  Safavid Shah Abbas I (Abbas the Great) 1587-1629 moves the capital to Esfahan and embarks on a monumental building program from which Naqshe_ e Jahan emerges.



Nader Shah crowns himself shah, moves the capital to Mashhad, drives to Ottomans from Georgia and Armenia and the Russians from the Caspian coast, reclaims Afghanistan and invades India treasure.


Karim Khan Zand emerges from three years of war to cliam power. He moves the capital to Shiraz and is remembered as humble ruler who calls himself Vakil (regent) rather than Shah. 



After years of war Qajar ruler Aga Mohammad Khan finally defeats the Znad. He moves the capital to Tehran before being murder by his servant.


Fath Ali Shah presides over two disasters wars with expansionist Russia that illustrate how Iran has fallen behind the world. Iran is forced to cede Caucasus territories (modern Azerbaijan and Armenia) 



Nasser al-Din Shah attempts to modernize Iran, all the while siring hundreds of princes who take from the treasury at will. Russia and Britain assert control in domestic politics and trade.


The constitutional Revolution sees Iran get the Middle Easts first constitution after public outrage at Muzaffar -e- din Shahs reckless spending threatens to boil over into revolt. A Majlis (parliament) is formed. 


Soldier Reza Khan takes control of the army in a coup .By 1926 he has crowned himself the first Shah of the Pahlavi line. He sets about modernizing Iran.


Reza Shah support for Nazi Germany prompts an invasion by Soviet and British forces. Reza Shah is exiled and his 21 years old son Mohammad Reza becomes Shah.


Having arranged the nationalization of the British- owned Anglo Iranian oil company in 1951, Mohammad Mosadegh is elected prime minster only to be overthrown in a coup orchestrated by the Americas CIA.


After months of demonstrations, crackdowns, funerals and more demonstrations , Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi and his family leave Iran. In 1980 He dies of cancer in Egypt.


1 FEB, 1979

Ayatollah Khomeini, now 77 returns a broad based revolutionary movement into a victory for hardline Islamic forces. In April a referendum confirms Iran as an Islamic Republic.

4 NOV, 1979

Conservative students storm the US Embassy in Tehran and take 52 American hostage. They are held for 444 days and finally released on the day of Ronald Reagan presidential inauguration. 



The Iran- Iraq war begins with an opportunistic invasion by Saddam Husseins forces. In Iran , 87 cities and nearly 3000 villages are bombed. More than 900000 people are killed on both sides.


Reformist Mohammad Khatami is elected president in a landside. Harsh laws on dress and social interaction stop being so strictly enforced and many women start wearing make up and tighter clothing