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A Brief History

Pre-Twentieth Century

History is a mirror of the past, and a lesson for the present

"History is a mirror of the past
And a lesson for the present."

(A Persian Proverb)

The country has always been known to its own people as Iran (land of the Aryans), although for centuries it was referred to as Persia (Pars or Fars, a province in southern Iran) by the Europeans, mainly due to the writings of Greek historians. In 1935 the Government specified that it should be called Iran; however, in 1949 they allowed both names to be used. 

Most people today, know Persia or Iran through its carpets, its caviar, its costly war with its neighbour Iraq, or through its importance as one of the world's major oil-producing nations. Yet, Persia has one of the richest and oldest cultures in the world.  

For more than three thousand years Persia was a melting pot of civilizations and demographic movements between Asia and Europe. Under Cyrus the Great, it became the centre of the world's first empire. Successive invasions by the Greeks, Arabs, Mongols and Turks developed the nation's culture through rich and diverse philosophical, artistic, scientific and religious influences. 

Persia's first vigorous growth began in the Neolithic era, and by the third millennium B.C. it had developed into a civilization of great sophistication. The infiltration of the Aryan peoples into Iran during the second millennium B.C. paved that way for the Achaemenian dynasty, whose achievements were gloriously represented in the great palaces of Persepolis.

These monuments had been built to testify to the absolute power of the Achaemenian Empire, and yet they were razed to the ground in just one night by Alexander, who conquered Persia and begun the Hellenistic period. This was followed in less than two hundred years by the Parthian and then the Sassanian Empires…

The following chapters provide a brief insight into the history of Iran prior to the 20th Century:

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1. Iran before the Iranians

2. The Medes

3. The Achaemenians

4. Alexander ( The Hellenistic Period )
The Seleucids

5. The Parthian Empire

6. The Sassanians

7. Arab Conquest: The Abbassid Caliphates

8. The Turkish Dynasties: The Seljuks

9. Mongol Invasions: 13th to 15th Centuries
The Timurids

10. The Safavids

11. The Qajar Dynasty (1794 - 1925)


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Copyright © 1998 K. Kianush, Art Arena