Iran Early History

Iranian history, Iranian history covers a larger geographical area than that of the current state of Iran (name since 1935).

These include the great Persian empires from antiquity to the early modern period. They also included non-Iranian parts of the Middle East such as Anatolia (Asia Minor) and Mesopotamia as well as the South Caucasus and Afghanistan (Bactria).

Prehistory and early history

The presence of people in the western outskirts of Iran (Zagros Mountains) has been attested since the Middle Paleolithic (around 50,000 BC). The stages of tool processing known as baradostia and tartarians go back to hunters and gatherers of the younger Paleolithic (Middle East, prehistory). The transition to the Neolithic Age with permanent settlements, the cultivation of plants and animal husbandry took place very early in the area of ​​today’s Iran (Ali Kosch). The fully developed Neolithic has been established in numerous places (Godintepe, Tepe Jahja, Tepe Sialk).

In the 4th millennium the transition to an urban high culture took place in Khusistan in the southwest, which was strongly influenced by the Mesopotamian culture (Elam) in the following two millennia. Connections between the Iranian highlands and Mesopotamia existed early on through the lapis lazuli trade, later through the tin trade and the trade in stone vessels (Tepe Jahja). At the beginning of the 2nd millennium, a gray or gray-black ceramic replaced the older painted goods in the northeast, and in the late 2nd millennium it also spread to the west, where it may indicate the immigration of Indo-European Iranians. Of these, the Medes (media) according to Assyrian sources since the late 9th century BC. BC in the Zagros area and the adjacent areas, as well as the Persians in the 7th century in the Parsa landscape, probably named after them, in Greek Persis (today Fars). Other Iranian tribes settled in the first half of the 1st millennium BC. In all of today’s Iran as well as in the areas bordering to the north and in Afghanistan; in the north of a. the Saks and Sarmatians, in the east the Parthians, Bactrians (Bactria) and Sogdians (Sogdiana). The temporal and spatial location of the prophet Zarathustra in Eastern Iran is still controversial today (turn from the 2nd to the 1st millennium or 7th / 6th century BC?).

Empire formations in antiquity

The loose tribal federation of the Medes united under Kyaxares II and destroyed – together with the Babylonians under Nabopolassar – the Assyrian Empire (until 612 BC). Around 550 BC The Medes were defeated under their leader Astyages by Cyrus II, the great (559-530 BC), king of Anshan (Persis) of the Teispiden family.

With the victory over the Lydian king Croesus around 546 BC. BC, the capture of Babylon in 539 BC. BC and the subsequent conquest of Eastern Iran, he founded the Persian world empire. Cyrus’ son and successor Cambyses II (530-522 BC) conquered Cyprus and Egypt. After an attempted coup by Gaumata, Darius I, the Great (522–486 BC) of the Achaemenid clan, seized the Persian Empire, which he re-established and thoroughly organized.

The Ionian Rebellion (500–494 BC) opened the Persian Wars against the Greeks, to which Persian power was ultimately subject. Despite this defeat, Darius’ son and successor Xerxes I secured the empire and led it to a cultural boom (construction work in Persepolis). Under Artaxerxes III. (359–338 BC) there was a final high point of Persian power and expansion before the Achaemenid Empire under Darius III. (336 / 335–330 BC) Alexander the Great succumbed. After the collapse of the Alexander Empire, the Macedonian Seleucids ruled Iran, partly following the Achaemenid model that in the 2nd century BC BC had to give way to the Parthians under the Arsacid dynasty. These founded the multiethnic and multilingual Parthian Empire, and they also linked to the traditions of their predecessors.

In 224 AD Ardashir I from the house of the Sassanids subjugated the rule of the Parthians and founded the third great Iranian empire. According to Philosophynearby, the Sassanids, like the Parthians also mediators of goods and ideas between East and West, fought successfully against Rome, especially under Shapur I (241 / 242–270 / 272), consolidated the empire and conquered territories in eastern Iran and India (today Pakistan). The Sassanid Empire reached a high point under Shapur II (309–379) and his successors in the 4th century. Then came the external threat from Arabs and the Hephthalites, internal difficulties (Masdakite revolts, Masdak), which only Kawad I. (488-531) and his son Chosrau (Husraw) I. (531-579) eliminated. In terms of foreign policy, Chosrau struggled particularly with Byzantium (under Justinian ), to which he inflicted severe defeats. The war continued under Hormisd IV (579-590) and his son Chosrau II (590-628), who once again raised the empire to the peak of power, but in the end quickly lost what had been conquered. After internal turmoil and ongoing Arab attacks since 634, the battle of Nehawend (642), south of the old military road from Babylon to Ekbatana, ushered in the end of the Sassanid Empire.

Iran Early History