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A Chronology of Persian History


From the dawn of history Persia has preserved its individuality while influencing the art, architecture and culture of other countries.
This chronology catalogues and compares Iran's colourful history with that of the rest of the world from 4000 BC to modern times.

1. Chronology BC

2. Chronology AD

3. Modern Iran


Chronology BC




First city built at Susa
c. 3900 BC

4000-3500 BC

  • Bronze Age
  • Sumerians invent the wheel, oars to propel ships and ploughs to till the land.
  • Rise of Egypt


3500-3000 BC

  • Sumerians produce first system of writing in the world


3000-2500 BC

  • Egyptians develop the Solar calendar and build elaborate tombs - pyramids

Akkad annexes Susa
c. 2300 BC

Susa becomes part of Elam
c. 2200 BC

2500 -2000 BC

  • Reign of Sargon - founder of the Akkadian Empire
  • Indus civilization in India at its peak
  • Indo-Europeans (Hittites) enter Asia Minor


2000-1500 BC

  • Indo-Europeans develop a new war weapon - the chariot
  • Reign of Hammurabi, king of the first Babylonian Empire and the law-codes
  • The rise of Assyria
  • End of Indus civilisation
  • China in the Bronze Age and ruled by the Shang Dynasty

Height of the Elamite Empire
13-12th centuries BC

Destruction of the Kassite Empire of Babylon by Elam
1160 BC

1500-1000 BC

  • Egyptian Empire at its peak with a population of 3 million
  • Technique for making steel (adding carbon to Iron) controlled by the Hittites - beginning of the Iron Age
  • Israelites enter Canaan
  • Phoenicians develop first successful Alphabet
  • Feudalism in China
  • Trojan Wars (1193-1184 BC)

Median capital established at Ecbatana - 673 BC

Assyrian sack of Susa (Elam) under Assurbanipal - 646 BC

Fall of the Assyrian Empire with the capture of Nineveh by the Medes - 612 BC

First Persian Achaemenian Empire
550-331 BC

Reign of Cyrus II the Great
558-529 BC

Reign of Darius I
522-486 BC

Rebuilding of Susa
521 BC

Building of Persepolis started
518 BC

1000-500 BC

  • Assyria reaches its height and falls
  • The Iliad and Odyssey are written by Homer
  • "Zero" is invented in India
  • Olympic games are established in Greece
  • Phoenicians circumnavigate Africa
  • First Emperor in Japan
  • Rome expels its king and Establishes a Republic

Reign of Xerxes I
486-465 BC

Persian defeat at Guagamelus
331 BC

Death of Darius III, last Achaemenian ruler
330 BC

500 -250 BC

  • Greek victory over the Persian army at Marathon - 490 BC
  • Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta - 431 to 404 BC
  • Plato and Aristotle in Athens
  • Reign of Alexander the Great - 336 to 323 BC
  • Hellenistic Kingdoms

Seleucid Dynasty
312-44 BC

Parthian Dynasty
250-224 AD

Reign of Mithridates I
171-138 BC

Parthian victory over Rome at Carrhae
53 BC

250 - 1BC

  • Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage 264-146 BC
  • Ceaser establishes dictatorship and is assassinated
  • Mark Antony and Cleopatra
  • Octavian (Ceaser's great nephew) establishes the Roman Empire in place of the Republic - 27 BC
  • Herod rules over Judea (died 4 BC)
  • Jesus of Nazareth is born


1. Chronology BC

2. Chronology AD

3. Modern Iran


Chronology AD




Sassanian Empire

Reign of Shapur I

Roman emperor Valerian taken prisoner at Edessa

1 - 500

  • Jesus of Nazareth is Crucified
  • St. Paul and the founding of Christianity
  • China is the most advanced nation
  • Jews rebel against Rome and the Second Temple is destroyed
  • Reign of Hadrian (117-138). He builds a 72 mile wall (Hadrian's Wall) to keep the Picts out of Britain
  • Paper is invented in China
  • Constantinople becomes capital of the Holy Roman Empire - 330
  • Division of the Roman Empire into east and west - 395
  • Sack of Rome by Alaric - 410

Massacre and suppression of the Mazdakites
c. 528

Defeat of the Persian army at Nehavend by the Arabs

Umayyad Caliphate

Abbassid Caliphate

Reign of Caliph Harun al-Rashid

Tahirid Dynasty of Khorassan

Saffarid Dynasty of Sistan

Samanid Dynasty of Khorassan and Transoxiana

Ziyarid Dynasty

Buwayid, a local dynasty from Gilan

Ghaznavid Dynasty of Khorassan, Afghanistan and northern India

500 - 1000

  • Mohammed flees to Medina (Hegira) - 622
  • Death of the Prophet Mohammed - 632
  • T'ang dynasty in China
  • Death of Imam Hussein at Kerbala - 680
  • Victory of Charles Martel over the Saracens at Poitiers - 732
  • Carolingians in France (751-987)
  • Reign of Charlemagne (768-814)
  • Reign of Alfred the Great in England (871-899)
  • Fatimid Caliphat in Egypt (909 - 1171)

Reign of Toghrul Beg, founder of the Seljuks

Arrival in Iran of Genghis Khan's Mongol army

Timurid Dynasty dominated Persia from 1387

Shah Rukh (1405-1447)

Turkoman Dynasty of the Kara-Koyunlu, or "Black Sheep" (1275-1468) is set up at Tabriz, and it is later replaced by the Ak-Koyunlu, or "White Sheep" (1434-1514).

1000 - 1500

  • Brian Boru at the battle of Clontarf (1014) drives Vikings out of Ireland
  • William of Normandy ("the Conqueror") takes over England at the Battle of Hastings - 1066
  • First Crusade, capture of Antiochus and Jerusalem by the crusaders (1096-1099)
  • Reign of Saladin in Egypt and Syria (1171-1193)
  • John of England forced to sign the Magna Carta, which guarantees the rights of the nobility and of freedom generally against encroachment by the Crown.
  • Travels of Marco Polo (1260-1295)
  • Ibn Battuta, Arab geographer and traveller (1304-1377)
  • The Black Death strikes Europe (1347)
  • Hundred Years' War between England and France (1337-1453)
  • Joan of Arc forces the English to retreat at Orleans. In 1431 she is captured by the English and burned as a witch in Rouen.
  • Tamerlane, Turko-Mongol conqueror (1336-1405)
  • Incas establish Empire in South America
  • The War of the Roses starts in 1455
  • Invention of printing

Safavid Dynasty
1502 - 1737

Reign of Shah Abbas I (1571-1629), reconstruction of Isfahan begins

Reign of Nader Shah

Zand Dynasty (1750-1779), capital moved to Shiraz

Qajar Dynasty (1794-1925) moves capital to Tehran

1500 - 1900

  • Michelangelo paints the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (1508-1512)
  • Reign of Henry VIII of England (1509-1547)
  • Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation
  • Reign of the Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (1520-1566)
  • Spanish conquistadors destroy the Aztec civilisation of Mexico and the Inca civilisation of Peru
  • Reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England (1558-1603)
  • Isaac Newton (1642 -1727) invents calculus, designs the first reflecting telescope, and works out the laws of motion and universal gravitation.
  • American War of Independence (1775-1783)
  • Beginning of the French Revolution (1789)
  • Battle of Waterloo, Napoleon exiled to St Helena (1815)
  • American Civil War (1861-1865)
  • The British Empire at its peak

Adoption of a constitution

Reign of Reza Shah Pahlavi 1925-1941

1900 -1941

  • Kemal Ataturk abolishes Ottoman Sultanate, proclaims the Turkish Republic (1922-1923)
  • Boer War (1899 - 1902)
  • Wright brother invent the aeroplane (1903) and Ford (1863-1947) produces cheap cars by mass production
  • Titanic sinks on its maiden voyage (1912)
  • World War I (1914 - 1918)
  • Albert Einstein in 1916 develops the General Theory of Relativity
  • New York stock market crashes (Oct. 24, 1929)
  • Great Depression
  • World War II (1939-1943)


1. Chronology BC

2. Chronology AD

3. Modern Iran


Modern Iran

Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi



  • Soviet and British troops invade Iran in August 1941, to secure overland routes through Iran to USSR, during WW2
  • Reza Shah Pahlavi abdicates on September 16 in favour of his eldest son Mohammed Reza Shah


  • Mossadegh (leader of the National Front) becomes prime minister
  • Nationalisation of Oil (NIOC)


  • Fall of Mossadegh's government and the return to power of the Shah


  • In 1962, the Shah launches a series of reforms, known as the "White Revolution" aimed in particular at the rural population who form the majority of the country
  • Although the program is popular among the workers and peasants there is opposition from the clergy led by Ayatollah Khomeini. He is arrested in June 1963 and exiled to Turkey the following year.
  • Celebrations at Persepolis to commemorate the 2500th anniversary of the Persian Empire - Oct 1971


  • World oil prices quadruple and Iran's oil revenues increase significantly which allows the Shah to carry out a vast program of Industrial expansion. It is criticized for concentrating on extravagant and costly projects badly adapted to the needs of the country.
  • This boom in oil revenue is also attended by rapid inflation, massive migration into urban centres, housing shortages and growing resentment among the poorer and lower middle classes at the widening gap in incomes.
  • In 1975 the Shah abolishes political parties and creates a one party state. The mistreatment of political prisoners by the state security organisation, SAVAK, is the subject of widespread criticism.
  • A slump in oil sales between 1975 and '77 forces the government to reduce social spending even further to finance building projects and the purchase of armaments


  • In January and February 1978 demonstrations and riots led by the clerics or seminary students occur in Qum and Tabriz and rapidly spread to cities and towns all over the country.
  • In September hundreds of thousands march in Tehran
  • The leadership of the protest movement is passed to Ayatollah Khomenini, who from exile calls for the abolition of the monarchy and the establishment of an Islamic republic.
  • In a last attempt to keep control, the Shah appoints Shahpur Bakhtiar, a National Front politician, premier at the end of 1978


  • On January 16th the Shah is forced to flee the country with his family, and eventually dies in Egypt in 1980.

Ayatollah Khomeini

1979 - 1989


  • On February 1, Khomeini denounces Bakhtiar and returns to Tehran.
  • A referendum is held on March 31 - April 1, and an Islamic Republic declared. This requires all institutions, laws, and economic and social policies to be based on Islam
  • On 4th November US diplomats are taken hostage at the American Embassy in Tehran. They are released in January 1981.


  • From July 1980 the skirmishes at the Iranian Iraqi frontier intensify and in September Iraqi forces enter Khuzestan. Though Iranian forces succeed in retaking virtually all lost territory in early 1982, Khomeini refuses to end the war, vowing to overthrow Saddam Hussein and his secular government.
  • Fighting continues until July 1998 killing hundreds of thousands on both sides. A cease-fire is finally negotiated (United Nations Resolution 598) with neither side having achieved its objective.
  • Ayatollah Khomeini dies on June 3 1989
  • He is succeeded by Seyyed Ali Khamenei who becomes the head of state and Guide of the Revolution on 4 June 1989 and Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani who becomes president of the Republic in July 1989.

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Copyright © 2001 K. Kianush, Art Arena