Timeline History  

A journey through time



History has always been the greatest teacher of mankind. Going through past civilizations leads us to a more advanced and experienced way in order to achieve our goals. Foundations and principles of those ancient civilizations are the best techniques to conclude a better way of living & basing our future. The origin of human civilizations and agriculture is of course much older than the documentation in the form of inscriptions and bas-reliefs or tombs can tell us. This section is only based on documented history. The research in front of you is the most accurate, up-to-date and scientific document according to the latest archeological and historical discoveries and evidence of the ancient history. This sections contains a summarized historical timeline.

Persia was a power house of academic knowledge in ancient times. They were leaders in astronomy, medicine, mathematics, literature and philosophy. Throughout the millenniums of invasions and conquests, Persians have been tough enough to live through it and repel the invaders. Even during Middle Ages Persia produced the best scholars in the world in all fields of science.
The historical events below are arranged in chronological date order: (oldest to newest).

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Predynastic Era

Predynastic Era  

The Dawn of Civilization

8000 B.C.E. (Before Current Era)

Agricultural Revolution

The Agricultural Revolution made permanent settlements possible and the creation of complex civilizations started. Monumental architecture and more elaborate forms of artistic representation reflect an increasingly differentiated social hierarchy. Forms of administration and recording are developed as cities emerge across the region. The Persian Plateau became the cradle of one of the oldest civilizations and Kingdoms in history. In Iran today, there are 1.2 million historical sites, discovered so far, with some 70,000 historical moulds. Our undocumented history goes way back to the 10th millennium B.C.E, buried deep in what is now southwestern Iran.

Banner - Agricultural Revolution

Susiana Civilization

Susiana Civilization

The ancient Shoosh Civilization or in English Susiana Civilization were among the first civilized civilizations to emerge over 8800 years ago in today’s Khoozestan (southwestern Iran). So far this has been reported as one of the oldest civilizations in recorded history. By civilization, we mean civilized city government, city state or Kingdom and an advanced state of development in human society, marked by progress in the arts and sciences, the extensive use of writing, and complex political and social institutions. Susians were one of the local Iranian races, before the coming of Aryans into Persia. They were an a non-Semitic Hemitic people (one of the main divisions of the Caucasic family) who had migrated to the Persian Plateau in prehistoric times. Today we know that these civilizations are much older than previously thought due to recent archeological discoveries. (Settlements at Susa date to 7th millennium B.C.E.)

Susa - Ancient Complex Reconstruction
The magnificent historical city of Susa is mentioned in the Old Testament as the place where the biblical Prophet Daniel lived. Susa was built in south-western Persia and marked the progress in complex political and social institutions. Before 4200 B.C.E. there were Governors ruling Susiana, not Kings. Some Governors were subject rulers, some autonomous, and some independent. After this date, Susa became an independent kingdom and a major power in the region. During this era the number of settled communities increased, particularly in the eastern Zagros mountains. The location of Susa and its closeness to Mesopotamia was the main reason why these civilizations influenced each other in terms of art and monuments despite their racial differences.
Susa Elam Map
Early Dynastic Era

Early Dynastic Era  

Rise of the first United Kingdom

3200 B.C.E. (Before Current Era)

Elamite dynasty

Several fragmented small kingdoms were united and created the Elamite Nation (A first dynasty) in the Persian Plateau and began to exert and receive influence from the cultures of the region. This impressive dynasty lasted for over two millenniums. Susa played a vital role in the development and expansion of the Elamite cultural sphere, and the threat of Assyrian attacks prompted the construction of a large 6 meter thick rammed earth wall about the city. The increasing frequencies in foreign invasions led to a need for centralization and organized defenses. Elam is the name of an ancient civilization located in what is now southwest Iran.

Chogha Zanbil - A late era Elamite complex that was founded in 1250 B.C.E.
Elamite - Chogha Zanbil - Town of Untash Reconstruction
The Elamites were non-Semitic Alpine people who had migrated to the Persian Plateau in prehistoric times and Susa became their primary capital of the kingdom. The Elamite language is regarded by the vast majority of linguists as a language isolate and has no close relation to the neighbouring Semitic languages or to Sumerian.
Assyrians vs. Elamite Kingdom

Rising Elamite power

Susa city-state falls under the rule of the Mesopotamian Akkadian Empire in the early 2300 B.C.E. and later also under the rule of the Third Dynasty of Ur . At the end of this period, the Elamites invaded southern Mesopotamia, destroying the city of Ur as a revenge for the previous Babylonian invasions and marked the beginning of a new era of rising Elamite power within the region. Elamites interfered in Mesopotamian affairs, usually in alliance with Babylon, against the constant pressure of Neo-Assyrian expansion.

Art - Elamites interfering in Mesopotamian affairs

Susa later played an important part in Babylonian opposition to the brutal Assyrian domination. Susa Kingdom reign ended by start of the Persian Achaemenid Empire.

Chogha Zanbil - One of the many ruins of the ancient Elamite complexes today
Elamite - Chogha Zanbil - Town of Untash Ruins
Arian migration

Arian migration  

Distinction between Indo-European tribes

2000 B.C.E. (Before Current Era)

The era of mass Arian migration (Aryans ) to Persia and the beginning of the distinction between Indo-European tribes is assigned to roughly ~2000–1000 B.C.E.. The Aryans gave Persia its historical name: Airyana, The land of the Aryans from which the name Ērān (Iran/Aryan) comes. Arian Tribes who emigrated to the west became the ancestors of Greeks and people who chose east as their destination came to be known as Indo-Iranians. Aryan (Arian) means noble or honorable. It is widely held to have been used as an ethnic self-designation of the Iranians. When the Arians finally took over most of the Persian Plateau they started organizing their domains. Small cities, headed by local mayors, and each independent of each other with almost no unity. This method soon proved useless, especially under the constant attack of new masters of Mesopotamia, Assyrians. Slowly, the Iranian tribes re-organized themselves into united kingdoms modeled after the Elamite dynasty.

Indo-Europeans that went west became the ancestors of Greeks and later Romans, those that went east split into several Indo-Iranian caucasian tribes: (Persians, Medes, Parthians and Scythians etc.)
Aryan Migration Map


The First Monotheist Religion

1737 B.C.E. (Before Current Era)

Zarathushtra was the first prophet to introduce the concepts of: monotheism, equalism, duality of good and evil, mankind’s free choice between the two alternatives, messianic redemption, resurrection, final judgement, heaven (the word Paradise comes from Old Persian), hell and the notion of an almighty, kind, loving and forgiving God. He believed man’s salvation in life and in the afterlife could only be ensured through Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds. Many of these concepts had a profound influence on Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Persians adopted Zoroastrianism at a time when Greeks and, later, Romans still practiced polytheistic religions, at a time when every race considered itself to be the chosen people of Gods/God, Zarathushtra did not discriminate between race, cast and creed. Zoroaster’s birthday falls on March 26th 1767 B.C.E. (6th of Farvardin in Persian Calendar) This date is more significant and special for the Zoroastrians. The Zoroastrian Year Calendar is based on his 40th Birthday, right now (in 2023), the year is 3761 Zoroastrian Holy Year.

* These dates are based on linguistic evidence, language studies and archeology and not the usual Greek anachronism which often corrupts historical fact. (Many wrongly confuse King Vishtasp who reigned during Zarathustra’s life with the father of Darius the Great, with the same name). That mistake alone is the main reason why many ancient Greek historians wrongly believed that Zarathustra lived around (600 B.C.E) 258 years before the reign of the Macedonian king Alexander, when in fact Zarathustra lived over 14 centuries before him. continue »
Asho Zarathushtra 1
Ruins of Persepolis - Fravashi, the guardian spirit of an individual
Persepolis Ruins - Fravashi Guardian Spirit Engraving 1

Yalda: Origin of Christmas

Yalda: Origin of Christmas

The Christmas celebrations actually derive from the Indo-European celebration of Yalda during the longest night of the year on the eve of the Winter Solstice. On the Yalda night, Persians used to stay awake all night till the dawn and normally the following days were a holiday (December 22–25). It was also the Day of Equality because on this day the Monarchs and Nobles were to dress just like ordinary people so as not to be recognized in the crowd and nobody was supposed to give order.

Yalda The Unconquerable Sun Banner

On December 25th Arians celebrated Mithrakana: The Birth of Mithra (Angelic divinity of covenant and oath) and hanged a wreathe of green cypress on their doors, gave gifts to their loved ones and feasted the night together. Many Christian, Jewish and Muslim customs have root in Mithraism and Zoroastrianism: the first Equal, Universal and Monotheist Religion. The birthday of Mithra (Mehr) was celebrated in Persia, Rome and other parts of Europe as Mithraism rapidly spread throughout the ancient world, Coincidence with Jewish Hanukkah (Festival of Lights) is not just an accident. An old tradition that would serve as a green movement today was that everyone pledged to plant a cedar tree during the festival of Yalda. (Christmas tree, holy bread and more other things entered, in this way)

The oldest record of the Yalda night celebrated throughout the Indo-European world dates back to 1600 B.C.E. Merry Mithrakana eventually became Merry Christmas with the spread of Christianity in the Roman Empire. The priests, since could not stop the practice of celebrating Mithra’s birthday on December the 25th. declared this day as the birthday of Jesus, which is still so (Because the date of Jesus’ birth is unknown).
Yalda Night Celebrations

Norouz: New Year’s celebrations

Norouz or new day, is wonderful and ancient Persian national celebration that reflects the rich cultural heritage of the nation. Norouz is the most cherished of all the Persian festivals and has been celebrated for more than 3500 years according to the latest archeological and historical discoveries. The Persian New Year always begins on the first day of spring (March 20th each year, at the exact time the sun enters Aries) Its exact time is calculated according to ancient astronomical methods established by a solar calendar in Persia. Norouz ceremonies are symbolic representations of two ancient concepts: the End and the Rebirth. It is a celebration of spring equinox and represents ancient Persians’ impressive understanding of science and astronomy. A few weeks before the New Year, Persians clean and rearrange their homes. They make new clothes, bake pastries and germinate seeds as sign of renewal and decorate their family Norouz table. The ceremonial cloth is set up in each household. Troubadours, referred to as Haji Firuz, disguise themselves with makeup and wear brightly colored outfits of satin. These Haji Firuz, singing and dancing, parade as a carnival through the streets with tambourines, kettle drums, and trumpets to spread good cheer and the news of the coming new year.

Nowruz Celebrations
Some of the activities during Norooz are Spring cleaning, painting eggs, family reunions, Persian dancing, exchanging presents, visiting neighbors and friends etc. just to name a few. The Norouz holiday and celebrations ends by having a massive family picnic on the 13th day of Spring.
Persian Median Empire

Persian Median Empire  

Aryan nomads unite their kingdoms

678 559 B.C.E. (Before Current Era)

Assyrians Destroyed Susa

The glorious, ancient, biblical and historical city of Susa in Persia was captured and razed to ground in 693 B.C.E. by the notorious army of Ashur Banipal . The Assyrians had built a very strong army that ruled over a vast area without any tolerance for other civilizations. Their source of wealth was plundering the weak and not let them regain power. They enslaved many nations including the Jews and most of the Persian Plateau . Assyrians destroyed the Elam kingdom leaving behind an ancient ruin called the Burnt City. This marked the end of 2000 years of Elamite kingdom and the Start of a New Era for the Aryan nomads.

Assyrians invading

Aryan nomads unite their Kingdoms

Three groups of Aryan nomads: The Medians (Central and North-Western parts) and the Persians (In South and South-Western parts) and the Parthians (North-Eastern and Eastern parts) united their Kingdoms and established the United Median Dynasty (678–559 B.C.E.) in order to to withstand the brutal Assyrians. An alliance between the Medians and Persians put an end to the Assyrian terror forever. After their defeat, many Medians were settled in Assyrian-territory in the region in order to prevent Assyrians from emerging again. The Persians in the South-Western parts eventually supplanted and absorbed the United-Median Kingdom in the massive Achaemenid Persian World Empire.

The Medes were Iranian people, who lived in the north, western, and northwestern portions of present-day Iran, and roughly the areas of present day Tehran, Hamedan, Azarbaijan, north of Esfahan, Zanjan, and Kurdistan. This region was known in Greek as Media.
Median Kingdom Map
The historical city of Susa which was destroyed by the Assyrians was rebuilt during the Persian Achaemenid Dynasty and became the second winter capital for official affairs and also the ceremonial capital of the Empire.

Princess Mandana

Mandana (Mandane) (600–559 B.C.E.) was a Median princess, daughter of the mighty King Astyages and later, the Queen consort of Cambyses of Anshan and mother of Cyrus the Great, (ruler of Persia’s Achaemenid Dynasty and the writer of the first declaration of human rights, named: Cyrus Cylinder). Queen Mandana is a central character in legends describing Cyrus the great’s early years. According to ancient greek historian Herodotus, after the birth of Cyrus, King Astyages had a strange dream that his Magi (Court Magician) interpreted as a sign that his grandson would eventually overthrow him. He then ordered his steward Harpagus to get rid of the boy. Harpagus, morally unable to do so hid the child with a shepherd named Mitridates. Cyrus grew up without knowing that he came from a Royal Bloodline. According to this legend, Cyrus would eventually defy his grandfather, King Astyages, leading to a great war between them; as the dream had forecast. There are references to Mandana’s death as 559 B.C.E. in the history books. King Darius the Great named his daughter Mandana after her.

Mandana - Mother of Cyrus the Great

Internal conflicts & shift of Power

Cyrus the Great (576–530 B.C.E.) defeats the Median king Astyages at the battle of Pasargadae in 551 B.C.E. and becomes the king of both kingdoms. He established the Persian Empire in 550 B.C.E. Cyrus the Great had a concept of One World and the Unification of All People around the known World. By accepting the practices and religions of the subject people he created the world’s first humane and religiously tolerant empire and evolved an administrative system that was sufficiently flexible to cater for the multitude of different languages, races, religions and cultures while maintaining the fundamental unity of government necessary to maintain the huge empire.

Cyrus the Great
Persian Achaemenid Empire

Persian Achaemenid Empire  

Unification of people around the known World

550 330 B.C.E. (Before Current Era)

The Achaemenid Persian Empire was the first humane, equal and religiously tolerant empire and consisted of a multitude of different languages, races, religions and cultures. It was the largest empire the ancient world had known, stretched in three continents and twenty-five nations. It made possible the first significant and continuous contact between East and West. The Persian Empire was also the first system of Federal Governments in the world! There were many states that were run by smaller kings who were under the great king or Shahan-Shah (King of Kings) and ultimately a courthouse (Kings & Queens could be sued by their own citizens for any wrongdoing). In detail, Each State had absolute internal autonomy to do as they pleased in their own internal affairs. It was a primitive form of Federalism in comparison to today’s Federal systems, but imagine back then when everyone including China, Egypt, Greece and later Rome practiced slavery and colonialism, Persians put an end to slavery and dictatorial oppression and granted internal autonomy to all states. All states had control over their affairs, their Educational system, local languages and even their own military forces! The only things that Persepolis required was absolute obedience to central government on international political and military affairs. Persian respect for local traditions, laws, languages, and religions set the foundation of a relatively benevolent empire.

Banner - Achaemenid Dynasty
Federalism is what made Persia strong! Even in times of war, each nation had to provide their own military force and combine they had to defend Mother Persia! They had to defend the Empire because the Empire guaranteed their internal autonomy, rights, freedom, independence, equality and humanity! This was the system, which Cyrus the Great built and the first humane Federal Empire of its kind in the world.
Ruins of Ancient Persepolis - The ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Persian Empire
Persepolis Ruins - Takhte Jamshid Persepolis Tourism
Reconstruction of Persepolis: The royal ceremonial capital of the Persian Empire
Art - Reconstruction of Persepolis 1

Prior to the rise of the Roman Empire, it set a precedent for the importance of the rule of law, a powerful centralized army and an efficient and systematic state administration. However, the greatest legacy of the Persian Empire was that it demonstrated for the first time how diverse peoples can culturally flourish and economically prosper under one central government.

As an administrator Emperor Cyrus’ insight was great, and he showed himself both intelligent and reasonable. His humanity was equaled by his freedom from pride, which induced him to meet people on the same level, instead of affecting the remoteness and aloofness, which characterized the great monarchs who preceded and followed him. History has further labeled him as a genius, diplomat, manager, and leader of men, the first great propagandist and able strategist. Cyrus was indeed worthy of the title Great.
Reconstruction of Persepolis: Main Stairways to Terrace and Gates of Persepolis
Art - Reconstruction of Persepolis 2

Pantea Arteshbod (Commander)

Pantea Arteshbod (570–525 B.C.E.) was one of the all time greatest Persian commanders during the reign of Cyrus the Great (559–530 B.C.E.). She was the wife of General Aryasb (Achaemenid Arteshbod). She played an important role in keeping law & order in Babylonia after the conquest of the Neo-Babylonian Empire in 547 B.C.E. by Cyrus the Great. Commander Pantea truly was an important and sensitive military commander whose presence on the ancient battlefield made a difference to the outcome of the battle and played a part in building up the tapestry of ancient military Achievement. Pantea and General Aryasb were the commanders of the elite force of Persian soldiers who performed the dual roles of both Imperial Guard and standing army during the Persian Empire’s expansion. They formed the elite core of the Persian army in times of war and the royal guard in times of peace in Persian Achaemenid Empire. In Persian lore, Pantea was the most beautiful and toughest woman in all of Asia and kept her face covered with an intimidating Battle Mask during war to protect her face but also to prevent men from falling in love with her.

The elite force were known as The Immortals because they were kept constantly at a strength of exactly 10,000 men, every killed or seriously wounded member was immediately replaced. To insure loyalty, the original members of this immortal fighting machine were Persians by bloodline and trained from early childhood (age 7+). Not everyone could become one of the 10,000 since the training was very rigorous and hard both physically and psychologically. They also followed a strict adherence to the religion of the prophet Zarathustra and his teachings in order to respect and value life. The Immortals were mainly used during the last stages of each battle as reinforcement by the order of the King of Kings to shock the enemies strategically.
Arteshbod Pantea - Commander of the Persian Immortal Army
Arteshbod Pantea - Immortal Army Commander
Imperial Army’s hall of honour Ports (also called Hundred-Columns Palace) in Persepolis
Art - Reconstruction of Persepolis 7
Ruins of Persepolis: Tripylon Staircase, showing the alignment of the Immortals
Persepolis Ruins - Bas-relief of the Immortals 1
Historical Artifact - Golden Achaemenid Dagger from 5th century B.C.E. in the national museum
Historical Artifact - Golden Achaemenid Dagger

Empress Cassandane

Cassandane Shahbanu (575–519 B.C.E.) was an Achaemenid Persian noblewoman, the daughter of Pharnaspes and the beloved wife of Cyrus the Great. She bore four children: Cambyses II (who succeeded his father and conquered Egypt), Smerdis (Bardiya) who also reigned as the king of Persia for a short time and a mighty daughter named Atusa. Princess Atusa later played an important role in Achaemenid royal house. Cyrus loved his Queen Cassandane dearly and when she died the entire empire observed a great mourning. Cyrus never recovered from the grief of losing her and stayed inactive for nearly a decade after her death. Behind every great man there’s a great woman and vice versa! There is a report in the chronicle of Nabonidus that, when the king’s wife died, there was a longlasting public mourning in Persia along with all the twenty-five nations that were part of the empire. Queen Cassandane was buried in the tower called Zendaan-e Solaymaan at Pasargadae Persia.

Cassandane - Shahbanu Wife of Cyrus the Great
Emperor Cyrus the Great with his beloved Shahbanu, Empress Cassandane
Emperor Cyrus the Great and Empress Cassandane
Ruins of Persepolis: Eagle-Headed Griffin with a body of a Lion Guarding the Entrance
Persepolis Ruins - Eagle-Headed Griffin Statue Guarding

International Cyrus Day

October 29 is The Cyrus Human Rights Day celebrated worldwide. Supporters of human rights cherish this day to mark the famous Cylinder of Cyrus which is known to be the first chapter of human rights in the world, it was the day Cyrus put an end to slavery and dictatorial oppression, his goal was to exterminate such inhuman traditions around the world. By doing so, the Persians pioneered the freedom of religion and culture of the minorities in the world. On this day Cyrus was officially crowned and on the day of coronation, Cyrus read the Charter of Freedom out after he put on the crown with his hand in Marduk Temple. Cyrus observed a policy of tolerance and equality during his time that was the key to creation of the greatest form of united nations and empire in the world.

Cyrus the Great entered the city of Babylon in 539 B.C.E, and liberated and protected the 50,000 Jews from captivity who were imprisoned by Babylonians and assisted them to migrate to their homeland and helped them to reconstruct their temple in Jerusalem at Persian taxpayer expense along with major fundings from his own royal treasury. Cyrus’s edict for the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem marked a great epoch in the history of the Jewish people and he was later considered as a messiah sent by Yahweh in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) as the patron and deliverer of the Jews. From these statements it appears that Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, was the monarch under whom the captivity and slavery ended.
Cyrus the Great in Babylonia

Cyrus the Great Freedom Charter stated:

Now that I put the crown of kingdom of Persia I announce that I will respect the traditions, customs and religions of the nations of my empire and never let any of my governors and subordinates look down on or insult them. I will impose my monarchy on no nation. Each is free to accept it, and if any one of them rejects it, I never resolve on war to reign. I will never let anyone oppress any others, and if it occurs, I will take his or her right back and penalize the oppressor. I will never let anyone take possession of movable and landed properties of the others by force or without compensation. Until I am alive, I prevent unpaid, forced labor. Today, I announce that everyone is free to choose a religion. People are free to live in all regions and take up a job provided that they never violate other’s rights. No one can be penalized for his or her relatives’ faults. I prevent slavery and my governors and subordinates are obliged to prohibit exchanging men and women as slaves within their own ruling domains. Such a tradition should be exterminated the world over... continue »
Historical Artifact - Cyrus Charter of Human Rights, in British Museum
Persian History - Cyrus Charter of Human Rights

The Declaration of Human Rights written by Cyrus the Great has been hailed as the first charter of human rights, predating the Magna Carta by nearly two millenniums (~1700 years) and in 1971 the United Nations was published translation of it in all the official U.N. languages. It is now kept in the British Museum and it is no exaggeration to say that it is one of the most precious historical records of the world. Also a replica of the Cyrus Charter of Human Rights is kept at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

Art - Cyrus the Great
Reconstruction of Persepolis, the royal ceremonial capital of the Persian Empire
Art - Reconstruction of Persepolis 6
Art - Reconstruction of Persepolis 10

Cyrus the Great was killed

The emperor was killed in battlefield from a wound inflicted from a poisonous arrow during a campaign against the Massagetes of central Asia in 530 B.C.E. Cyrus’ body was brought back to Pasargade in Persia; his tomb, which still exists, consists of a single chamber built on a foundation course of six steps. The body was placed in a golden sarcophagus, and the tomb, bore the inscription. He is considered as the most respected world leaders to date. He considered all nations equal in terms of their rights and respected the culture, language and religion of subdued nations. Cyrus was relatively liberal. While he himself ruled according to Zoroastrian beliefs, he made no attempt to impose Zoroastrianism on the people of his subject territories. He was a very down to earth person and always fought side by side with his soldiers and never left them alone in the battlefield.

His last wish was to be buried in Pasargadae in order to turn into Persian soil once again. He apologizes to people for not being able to use the soil of his tomb for some time. Cyrus the great, the founder of the greatest form of united nations to date rests in peace in Pasargadae shedding light on the future of the world civilization.
Pasargadae - The Palace of Peace and the Tomb of Cyrus the Great of Persia
Art - Reconstruction of Persepolis - Tomb of Cyrus the Great - Pasargadae
Pasargadae - Tomb of Cyrus the Great on the occasion of the 2500th anniversary
Persepolis Ruins - Tomb of Cyrus the Great
Art - Cyrus the Great Legacy

The mysteries of Prince Cambyses II

The son of Cyrus Cambyses II (Kambujiya) is crowned king of Persia (530–522 B.C.E.) Cambyses showed the same broad minded tolerance which had distinguished his father. Cambyses had a reign full of speculations and there are many rumors and lies surrounding his life written by biased Greek historians (Herodotus), they portray him as a mentally sick king that killed the sacred Apis bull of Egypt, burnt the body of Amasis (the Last Egyptian Pharaoh) and committed suicide...

When Cambyses conquered Egypt at Pelusium in 525 B.C.E., he repaired the great temple of Neith which had been damaged by his soldiers, and had himself instructed in the mysteries of Isis . The legendary army of Cambyses with over 50,000 elite soldiers was swallowed up in a cataclysmic sandstorm during their return to Persia. The legend of The Lost Persian Army has been a mistery for millennniums. When Cambyses was conquering Egypt and disappeared without a trace, someone calling himself Smerdis claiming to be his brother rebelled and proclaimed king. Smerdis was then overthrown by Darius the Great.
Art - Achaemenid
Ruins of Persepolis: A Guarding Lion capital statue (Lion is a zoroastrian symbol of Fire)
Persepolis Ruins - Lion capital statue

Emperor Darius the Great

Emperor Darius the Great

The reign of Darius the Great (522–486 B.C.E.) marked the zenith of the Persian Empire. Upholding the tradition established by Cyrus, Darius valued the rights of all people under his rule and his goal was to be a great law-giver and organizer. Darius was born in 550 B.C.E. and by the time he was 28 years old he ruled over approximately 50 million people, or at least 44% of the world’s population. He structured the empire under the satrapy system (similar to national and local governments). He built many roads, ports, banking houses, elaborate underground irrigation systems and a canal to link the Nile to the Red Sea (an early precursor of the Suez Canal). Darius established the First Tax System, Customs Duties, Official Records and The Legal Code, in the world level. Reflecting the wealth and the multi-cultural dimension of the Persian Empire, Darius initiated the building of the Persepolis palace. For its construction, artisans and materials were gathered from different corners of the empire.

Darius also revolutionized mankind’s economic activities by introducing one of the earliest (certainly the first on such a massive scale) forms of common coinage in history, the darik. This initiative, along with the standardization of weights and measures and the codification of commercial laws, stimulated world trade and elevated the Persian Empire’s economy to new levels of prosperity. Additionally a 2500 km massive road project connecting 20 satrapies togeather strengthened and enriched the economy for all nations of the empire.
Art - Darius the Great in Persepolis
Bas-relief of Darius the Great’s Nowruz Audience, known as Treasury Relief
Persepolis Ruins - Bas-relief of Darius the Great

Another project undertaken by Darius was the royal road, the world’s longest, extending 1,500 miles (see map). Due to an extensive network of relays, postmen could travel the road in six to nine days, whereas normal travel time was three months. The motto of the Persian postal service became memorable: stopped by neither snow, rain, heat or gloom of night. The US postal service also adopted this motto and the famous Pony Express mail delivery resembled the original Persian design.

Achaemenid Empire World Map
Achaemenid Officer guarding at the entrance of Persepolis Palace
Art - Achaemenid Officer
Construction of Persepolis monuments, masterpiece of Achaemenid art
Construction of Persepolis monuments
Naghsh-e Rostam - Tomb of Emperor Darius the Great and Atusa Shahbanu
Art - Reconstruction of Persepolis - Tomb of Darius the Great - Naghsh-e Rostam

The mighty Empress Atusa

Atusa Shahbanu (550–475 B.C.E.) was the Empress of Persia, wife of the mighty Persian Achaemenid King Darius the Great, daughter of Cyrus the Great and Queen Cassandane, a half-sister of Cambyses II and the mother of Xerxes the Great (Kheshayar Shah). Ancient Greek historians of the era remarks that the formidable Atusa had all the power. Atusa, had a great authority in the Achaemenid royal house and her marriage with Darius I is suggested to be because of her power and influence and also the fact that she was a direct descendent of Cyrus the Great. When her mother Cassandane died all the nations of the Persian empire observed a great mourning that lasted for months. Atusa was the director of palace affairs. She had a saying in deciding who would be send on military missions. She made sure that Xerxes became the successor of Emperor Darius the Great and not his eldest son Artobazanes. The invention of old Persian script is attributed to her. According to the legends Atusa also had a very strong women’s intuition and sixth sense which the King strongly admired and followed. Atusa is well mentioned in the Persepolis Fortification Tablets, an administrative archive from Persepolis. She was very wealthy with her own administration and massive personal army. Atusa & Darius the Great followed in the footsteps of Cyrus the Great, and respected the culture, language and religion of subdued nations and considered all nations equal in terms of their rights.

Emperor Darius the Great (Darius I) with his mighty Queen, Atusa Shahbanu
Atusa Shahbanu - Wife of Darius the Great
Historical Artifact - Bust of Atossa from 5th century B.C.E. in national museum of Iran
Historical Artifact - Bust of Atossa in national museum of Iran
Royal Residences of the Queen
Art - Reconstruction of Persepolis 11

Greco-Persian Wars

Greco-Persian Wars

In their wars with Persia (490–479 B.C.E.), the Greek city-states were never a threat to the Persian heartland. The Greeks had been carrying out terrorist attacks on Persian holdings for years. They had attacked Persian cities, set fire to Persian temples, disrupted key trade routes, and pirated merchant ships crossing the Bosphorus. They incited rebellions inside Persian provinces, but perhaps most abhorrent to the Persians was the ease by which the Greeks broke their treaties and betrayed Persia’s trust. Rather than resort to violence Persia tried to keep the Greeks in check by financially supporting Greek politicians who were pro-Persian, But what finally triggered Persia’s wrath was an act rarely mentioned in the West, though well documented, even by the biased Herodotus (Father of History). In 498 B.C.E, Athens carried out a terrorist attack on Sardis, a major Persian city. The Athenians, set fire to the outlying parts of Sardis trapping most of its population in a ring of fire, literally killing hundred thousands of innocent civilians.

Art - Battle of Thermopylae

It is important to note that Persia did not want to conquer Greece, the empire was already over stretched spanning three continents and over twenty-five nations. Many Ionian Greeks were already parts of Persia as protectorates and Persians respected Greek philosophers and had many of them in their employ. Also the Greek city-states were constantly busy fighting each other all the time and the Persian Kings saw that region as very unstable and left them alone. Persia mainly only attacked Greece as response to terrorist attacks on Persian holdings (Similar to what USA did after 9/11).

Persia’s wrath & Revenge

At the night of the Comet in 490 B.C.E., before his most trusted and elite force The Mighty Immortals, Darius the Great paid homage to his beloved forefather, Cyrus the Great... at his resting place in Pasargadae. He held-up the departed kings sword as a symbol of freedom and retribution, screaming for vengeance to punish Athens for all the Greek terrorist attacks on Persian holdings and civilian population. Darius told his soldiers that he may never rest until the day that his honor is restored, assuring his ancestors that he shall not forget the words carved on Cyrus the Great’s tomb as they reverberate in his ears till eternity.

Under Persian law, the Achaemenid kings were required to write their last will and choose a successor before setting out on such serious expeditions. Upon his great decision to leave (487–486 B.C.E.), Darius prepared his tomb at Naqsh-e Rostam and appointed his son Xerxes as the successor to the throne. Darius’s failing health then prevented him from leading the campaigns, and he died in October 486 B.C.E, thus leaving the task to his son Xerxes. Read the Testament of Darius the Great to his son and successor Emperor Xerxes the Great (Kheshayar Shah).
Darius the Great Homage with The Mighty Immortals
The following inscription appears on the tomb of Darius the Great: By the favor of the great God I believe in justice and abhor inequity. It is not my desire that the weak man should have wrong done to him by the mighty.
Ruins of Persepolis: Palace of Persian King of Kings at Dawn
Persepolis Ruins - Palaces of Persian King of Kings 5

Historical Businesswoman

Irdabama was a highly successful Persian businesswoman who lived during the reign of Emperor Xerxes the Great (518–465 B.C.E.). She was a major formidable landowner and controlled a huge workforce. She ran her own wine and grain businesses. The fortification tablets at Persepolis contain information about her wealth, workshops and hundreds of workers of both sexes. She had her own seal which meant great prestige and power. She was of the noble class, but possessed far more political and economic power than most members of the nobility. Irdabama proved that possession of enormous property, wealth and good social standing was not limited to Royal women and that everything was possible with hard work and determination. Her non-Royal ranks with considerable estate, influence and autonomy. She is also well mentioned in international history books. Irdabama was just one of the many successful and powerful businesswomen in the ancient Persian World. Most of them had the power to use their own seals and letterheads indicating not only their autonomy, but also the existence of an equal social system which accepted the authority and independence of women.

Worth to mention is that over a half millennium after Irdabama, in Europe, Roman women were not allowed to own their very own business and land. They were not allowed even to make suggestions. Also, women belonging to wealthy families didn’t work. Work was reserved thus for slaves and for the lower classes according to Roman and Greek historians. In the ancient Greece, women were considered to be inferior species. The rights of women decreased immensely with the spread of Greco-Roman culture and laws, as well as the spread of Abrahamic religions such as: (Judaism, Christianity, and especially Islam). continue »
Irdabama - Historical Achaemenid Businesswoman
Persians exported/traded wine as far away as southern Europe, Egypt, India and China.
Art - History of Wine
Historical Artifact - Golden Achaemenid Rhyton from 5th century B.C.E. in national museum of Iran
Historical Artifact - Golden Achaemenid Rhyton
Historical Artifact - Extremely rare Ancient Persian Gold Cup from 4th century B.C.E.
Historical Artifact - Ancient Persian Gold Cup

Emperor Xerxes the Great

Xerxes (518–465 B.C.E.) was son of Darius the Great and Empress Atusa (daughter of Cyrus the Great). After his accession in October 486 B.C.E, he tried to restore peace and order in the empire, he suppressed the revolts in Egypt and Babylon that had broken out the year before. His early wife and queen (prior to Esther) Amestris Shahbanu was the beautiful daughter of Otanes (A Persian nobleman mentioned in the Histories of Herodotus as a defender of the idea of democracy.). She was also an Achaemenid military Commander and her mother was a Arteshbod General of the Imperial Army. Amestris was known to have been poorly regarded by biased ancient Greek historians. She had the reputation to be more bloodthirsty than any Persian king had ever been against those who broke the law, in order to set a precedent for the importance of the rule of law in the empire. Queen Amestris was a great and very strict law-giver. Worth to mention is that after her death King Darius II of Persia named his daughter Amestris after her.

Emperor Xerxes the Great (Kheshayar Shah) with his early wife Amestris Shahbanu
Amestris with Xerxes the Great
Gateway to all Nations and the entrance into the ancient city of Persepolis
Art - Reconstruction of Persepolis 3
Ruins of Persepolis: Gateway to all Nations and the entrance into the ancient city
Persepolis Ruins - Gate of All Nations at Night

Persia’s wrath - Part II

Darius the Great left the task of punishing the Athenians for their interference in the Ionian Revolt and for the burning of the city of Sardis to his Son. Emperor Xerxes prepared his expedition with 10,000 of his elite warriors (The Immortals) along with a force at around 50,000 combatants. Many smaller Greek states, moreover, also took the side of the Persians. After the Persian victory at the Battle of Thermopylae, Athens was abandoned and King Xerxes decided to burn some of the Government Headquarters and Palaces to the ground as revenge and warning for all the previous Greek terrorist attacks on Persian holdings and civilian population. Xerxes later rebuilt some of the dammaged civilian areas of the city and sent a message to the Athenian citizens and told them that they could return to their homes, which they did. Soonafter Xerxes left Greece for good. That shows how humane the Persian empire was and how much they respected civilians, despite the fact that the Athenians wiped out the entire Persian city of Sardis and all its civilian population. What Persia did not achieve through war, it obtained through diplomacy.

Emperor Xerxes the Great commanding the Persian Navy at the Battle of Salamis
Art - Emperor Xerxes and the Persian Navy
Ruins of Persepolis: Lion vs Bull at the Grand Entry: Dual entrance to the Palace
Persepolis Ruins - The Grand Entry - Engraving of Lion vs Bull

Grand Admiral Artemisia

Artemisia (~500–450 B.C.E.) became the ruler of Halicarnassius (A Greek City-State and a colony of Persian Empire). She ruled under the overlordship of the Persian Emperor Xerxes I (Kheshayar Shah). She was the legendary Grand Admiral and leader of the Persian Navy, She was Xerxes’ great love. A great powerful, independent and intelligent woman who won many battles during the Achaemnid Dynasty Era. When the Persian King Xerxes went to war against Greece in 480 B.C.E, Artemisia led her powerful ships and helped Xerxes defeat the Greeks in the beginning phases of naval battle of Salamis. Ancient Greek historian Herodotus (Father of History) writes, apparently quite embarassed: It seems to me a marvel that she - a woman - should have taken part in the campaign against Greece. The Athenians resented women in arms, says Herodotus. The Greeks offered a reward of 10,000 drachmas for capturing Artemisia’s head, but no one succeeded in winning the prize. Understand that back then Persia was the sole superpower of the globe and Greece consisted of tens of separated and scattered city-states, each played their own tunes and they were busy fighting each other all the time. Some of these city-states were pro Persia, some were anti Persia, some were neutral and some were even parts of Persia as protectorates! Admiral Artemisia became a living legend and a role model for all the women in the Empire and the known civilized World.

Grand Admiral Artemisia and Emperor Xerxes the Great
Grand Admiral Artemisia with Xerxes the Great
Grand Admiral Artemisia
Grand Admiral Artemisia discussing battle strategy with a Royal Navy officer
Grand Admiral Artemisia - Discussing Battle Strategy

Conspiracy against history

The Battle of Thermopylae was of course written by the classical Greek author, Herodotus. His book, The Histories became part of Western folklore only recently. It was not until about 1850 that America embraced Herodotus as the leading authority on Persian history. Before 1850, however, the West had a very favorable and true impression of the humane Federal Persian Empire. That’s because the West’s main source for Persian history was the Bible and the Cyropaedia in which both glorified the monarchy of Cyrus The Great and the humane nature of the Persian Empire. In the wake of two bloody revolutions fought by America and France to liberate themselves from their own monarchies, a major campaign began, around the mid 19th century, to promote democracy throughout the rest of Europe, and Herodotus was the perfect propaganda tool and was quickly ushered in as the Father of History. Around 1850, his Battle of Thermopylae came to symbolize the West’s struggle for democracy against the powerful forces of Persia’s monarchy. The story is easy to buy into: 300 brave Spartan barbarians saved Western democracy from 3 million evil Persians! But aside from the fanciful numbers, this whimsical tale has far graver consequences than a mere bias account of history. The Battle of Thermopylae has been the single most powerful wedge, which has divided East and West for over 2 millennia. In a time when East and West should be reconciling their differences, along comes the movie 300 to drive that wedge even deeper.

The Spartans were extremely cruel men who annually killed for sport! And declared war on the defenseless Helots (Greek slaves) that lived around them. The entire civilized ancient world viewed them as bloodthirsty barbarians and nothing else. Herodotus is accepted blindly by virtually all Western demographics. Yet we know that slavery was an integral cornerstone of Greek society. Democracy may well be the best form of government in the modern age. But what makes America great is not so much democracy as it is its Bill Of Rights. And this is exactly what made Persia Great. Democracy can often lead to tyranny by the majority as was the case in democratic Athens, where women, slaves and foreigners did not have the right to vote. In monarchic Persia, however, women enjoyed a level of gender equality unmatched even to this day, and slavery was not practiced. The fact is, Persia’s monarchy was more free than the Athenian democracy, all because of Persia’s Bill of Human Rights.
Art - Battle of Thermopylae

...History is unfourtunatley always written by the victors and the usual Greek anachronism often corrupts historical facts about the Persian Empire and the Greco-Persian Wars.

The Biblical Esther

Esther (born Hadassah, 492–460 B.C.E.) was the wife of King Xerxes the Great and Persia’s first Jewish queen and heroine of the Biblical Book of Esther which is named after her and recounts how a Persian king helped protect the Israelite nation from annihilation. In many ways, Esther’s story reads like a Cinderella tale. Many modern scholars are concerned over Esther’s historical accuracy since it is hard to distinguish authentic history from fiction in biblical texts. According to the Biblical Book of Esther King Xerxes of Persia held a one hundred and eighty-day feast in Susa to display the vast wealth of his empire to the world and the splendour and glory of his majesty. When the king’s heart was merry with wine, the king ordered his seven chamberlains to summon Queen Vashti to come before him and his guests wearing her royal crown, in order to display her beauty. She refused to come since the Susa feast had lasted for nearly six months and she did not want to embarrass herself in front of all the drunken royal guests all over again, thus she left the palace at night. Furious at her refusal, the King asked his wise men and the seven princes of Persia for advice, they advised the King to search for a new queen. The King followed this advice and banished the rebellious Queen Vashti and then began searching for a new queen by means of a large-scale nationwide beauty & talent contest.

Beautiful young women were gathered to the palace from every province. Esther was advanced for this role by Mordecai, her adoptive father and guardian. For 12 months each woman underwent beauty treatments and Educational Importance of Royal Manners and Etiquettes in the Harem. They were then given anything they wanted or wished for to take with them from the Harem to the King’s palace. Most women chose luxurious colourful dresses, wore heavy makeup and carried as much gold and diamond jewellery as they could carry in order to catch the Kings Eyes and attention. When it was time for Esther to go to the king’s palace, she chose the simplest white dress she could find, wore minimum makeup and jewellery. Xerxes liked Esther more than he did any of the other young and beautiful women. None of them pleased him as much as she did, and right away he fell in love with her natural beauty, simplicity, sincerity and intellect and crowned her to be his wife and queen. In honor of Esther he gave a big dinner for his leaders and officials. Then he declared a holiday everywhere in his vast kingdom along with all the twenty-five countries that were part of his empire and gave expensive gifts to everyone. Both Esther and her adoptive father Mordecai became favourites in the Persian court.
Shahbanu Esther Welcomed by Emperor Xerxes the Great
Xerxes the Great with Queen Esther
Xerxes the Great with Shahbanu Queen Esther under the Lion in the Palace
Art - Xerxes the Great with Shahbanu Esther
Reconstruction of Persepolis: Private Residence of the King of Kings
Art - Reconstruction of Persepolis 8

Empress Parysatis

Parysatis (Pari Satis) was the illegitimate daughter of Artaxerxes I , Emperor of Persia, half-sister of Xerxes II and the wife of King Darius the Second . When her husband died, she supported her younger son Prince Cyrus who was also a general. Cyrus was defeated in the Battle of Cunaxa, and she blamed the satrap Tissaphernes for his death and took vengeance upon the slayer of her favorite son. Whilst King Artaxerxes wanted to eliminate his brother for betraying him, Parysatis interfered succesfully and restored order and peace with her own army (The Persian queens had large private estates and personal armies). Worth to mention is that the Asteroid 888 Parysatis is named after her.

Pari Satis - Wife of Darius II
Reconstruction of Apadana Palace - The audience hall in Persepolis
Art - Reconstruction of Persepolis 1
Ruins of Persepolis: Winged Human Faced Lion guardian
Persepolis Ruins - Winged Lion Engraving 1

The Amazons

One of the areas that have received the least amount of attention by international scholarship is the role of women warriors of ancient Persia. The role of ancient Persian female warriors can be traced back several millenniums. The women warriors, known as Amazons by the ancient Greeks, were typical of such fighters who prevailed in Iran’s north (modern Gilan, Mazandaran, Gorgan) and northwest (modern Azarbaijan in Iran) as early as the 5th century B.C.E. or earlier. There have been numerous finds in the gravesites of ancient North-Iranic warriors known as the Scythians (Saka in Persian) and their Sarmatian (or Ard-Alan) successors. The ancient burial mounds have often yielded the remains of women warriors who were buried alongside their swords, shields and other war equipments. These burial mounds have been discovered in various forms fall the way into the Caucasus and Iran (to the north and northwest).

The Achaemenid Unit of Persian Female Warriors. The Commander is in front
Persian Achaemenid Commander
A reconstruction of the north-Iranian Saka or Scythians in battle.
Persian Scythian Warriors

The Central-Asian steppe has been the home of iranic nomad tribes for millenniums. The earliest mention of the iranic Scythians is in Assyrian records dating to the reign of Sargon II (prior to 713 B.C.E.). The Scythians were diverse groups of militaristic Iranic pastoralists and their language belongs to the Iranian group (Eastern Iranian language family). The current province of Sistan in today’s Iran is historically known as Sakestan which means The land of Saks (Birthplace of the Scythians). continue »

Nomadic and sedentary (Imperial) Iranic Peoples in 6th century B.C.E.
Iranic Eastern and Western Peoples Map

Sisygambis (Sissy Cambis)

Sissy was the Mother of Darius the Third , whose reign was ended during the wars of Alexander the Great. She was a remarkable Achaemenid woman. At the Battle of Issus (333 BC), Darius’s army was routed and the Persian king fled the field, leaving his extended family, including his mother, his wife Stateira I, his children, and many others to the mercy of Alexander. When the Persian army’s Scythian cavalry broke though Alexander’s forces to reach them, she allegedly refused to celebrate what appeared at first to be Persian victory since she could never forgive her son Darius for abandoning his family. After she was captured by Alexander she became devoted to him, and Alexander referred to her as mother and she became the Second Adoptive Mother of Alexander.

Sissy Cambis - Queen of Persia and the Mother of Darius III
The ruins of Persepolis at Dawn
Persepolis Ruins - Pars Province at Dawn

Battle of the Persian Gate

The legendary Persian Hero, General Ariobarzanes of Persis also known as Ariobarzanes the Brave (in Ancient Greek: Ἀριοβαρζάνης), also spelled as Ario Barzan (meaning Exalting the Aryans) led a last stand of the outnumbered Persian forces at the Persian Gates near Persepolis at the Battle of the Persian Gate in the winter of 330 B.C.E. against the invading Hellenic League and successfully ambushed Alexander’s army, inflicting heavy casualties which held back the Macedonian army for a month. There are also historical accounts that an Iranian shepherd led Alexander’s forces around the Persian defenses, just as a local Greek showed the Persian forces a secret path around the pass at the Battle of Thermopylae 150 years prior...

His brave sister Youtab Aryobarzan also commanded part of the Persian Army and stood side by side with her brother during many of their battles.
An artistic reconstruction of General Ario Barzan and his sister Youtab
Aryobarzan siblings - Exalting the Aryans
Image below; Iranian Youth Enduring legacy of Aryobarzan at the city of Yasooj (Southern Iran) and form a human chain around the statue of Aryobarzan in early July 2011 to prevent its destruction by the extreme religious right.
Aryobarzan - Iranian Youth Enduring legacy of General Aryobarzan
Invasion of Alexander

Invasion of Alexander  

The king of Macedonia invaded Persia

334 323 B.C.E. (Before Current Era)

In January 334 B.C.E, The king of Macedonia: Alexander, Invaded Persia and began a series of campaigns that lasted ten years. Alexander broke the power of Persia in a series of decisive battles. He subsequently overthrew the Persian King Darius III and conquered the Achaemenid Empire in its entirety. Alexander was an admirer of Persian Kings and especially Cyrus the Great. He conquered Persia but the Persian culture conquered him. He married with the Persian Princess Roxana and ordered all his generals and 10,000 of his soldiers to follow suit in a mass Persian wedding. Alexander tried to emulate the Persian court customs and attempted to create a new culture, a mixture of both Persian and Hellenistic.

Alexander and his Army also plundered Persia, he ordered the execution of many Persians, allowed his troops to indulge themselves in plunder and rape and, in a drunken rage, set torch and destroyed Persepolis, the magnificent palace complex of the kings in revenge for all the Persian-Greek wars many centuries before and also because he was not yet the sole ruler of the Persian Empire, and it was too dangerous to leave the enormous treasures behind, where his enemies could recapture them. When Alexander conquered the Persians, he burned many of the grand buildings and libraries in Persepolis and destroyed or stole many of its royal treasures. The ancient painting below is showing Alexander’s troops burning and looting the palaces in Persepolis.
The Looting of Persepolis
Alexander and the Greek Seleucids Burning & Plundering Persepolis in Persia
Alexander Burning and Plundering Persepolis in Persia
The Burning of Persepolis

Alexander paid tribute to Cyrus the Great at his tomb. This shows how much Emperor Cyrus was respected, even in the eyes of his fierce enemies. When Alexander returned several years later and saw the Ruins of Persepolis, he regretted his act deeply.

Alexander at the Tomb of Cyrus the Great

Princess Roxana

Roxana (Roxanne) was the Persian princess of Bactria and the daughter of a nobleman named Oxyartes. She married the King of Macedonia: Alexander when he professed his love for her in the fortress around 327 B.C.E. Roxana bravely accompanied him on his campaign in India in 326 B.C.E. She bore him a posthumous son called Alexander IV Aegus, after Alexander’s sudden death. Roxana and her son became victims of the political intrigues of the collapse of the Alexandrian Empire. They were protected by Alexander’s mother, Olympias, in Macedon, but her assassination in 316 B.C.E. allowed Cassander to seek kingship. Since Alexander IV Aegus was the legitimate heir to the Alexandrian empire, Cassander ordered him and Roxana assassinated around 309 B.C.E. This is a factual based portrait and the historically accurate Roxanna.

Roxanna Achaemenid Princess

Alexander past away

Although a masterful general, he lacked administrative skills. Shortly after his death in 323 B.C.E., his empire was divided among his contesting generals. An important legacy of his conquest of Persia was the introduction of the Persian imperial practices into the West. Many of these practices particularly those relating to state administration and the rule of law were later adopted by the Roman Empire.


The Seleucid Empire

Seleucid Dynasty was established by one of Alexander’s generals. After Alexander’s conquest, Persia fell under a foreign occupying force. The subsequent Seleucid Empire was obviously not Persian, but Greek. They did not arrive with the intent of evolving Persian culture, but rather to dominate it, use it, and overwhelm it with another culture: Greek. Some of the results were positive, in so much as Greek culture is as rich as ours and has much to offer. Nevertheless, since it set out to overwhelm and subjugate Persian culture instead of simply enriching its foundations, it can be viewed only as a foreign occupation. Fortunately, it did not succeed. The Persians gradually defeated the Greek Seleucids and consolidated their control over all of Persia and restored Persian culture.

Parthians gradually defeated the Greek Seleucids and consolidated their control over all of Persia
Seleucid Empire Map
Persian Parthian Empire

Persian Parthian Empire  

Broke the Macedonian dynasty

247 B.C.E. 224 C.E. (471 years total)

The Parthians (Ashkanian), a tribal kingdom from northeastern Persia of the coastal areas broke the Macedonian dynasty, gradually defeated the Greek Seleucids and consolidated their control over all of Persia and they remained true to the spirit and culture of Persia, and did their best to make positive contributions. The Parthians were an Iranian ethnic group and they were also Zoroastrians like the Achaemenid Persians. The name of the founder of the dynasty, Arsaces, became the title of all Parthian kings in much the same way that the name of Caesar was later to become the title of all Roman emperors. They fought numerous times with the Romans. Their victory over the Romans in 53 B.C.E. elevated the Parthians into a superpower of their era. Although the Parthians ruled for almost five centuries, very little of their civilization has survived due to accidents of history, except for some small art objects.

The Greco-Persian wars and Alexander’s victories proved that light-armed troops could not stop heavy, well-trained, and brilliantly led infantry of the type of hoplites or phalanx. These could only be encountered with even more heavily armed and highly professional cavalry causing disorder in the massed ranks and then attacking them on vulnerable points with bowshots capable of piercing armour and lances effective against shields. This lesson went home with the Parthians who in ousting the Seleucids from Persia formed their own professional armies and taking into consideration of what was needed against their enemies.
Parthian Elite Cataphracts known as the "Ashkanian Savaran"
Parthian Elite Cataphracts

The Parthians originated from the Parni tribe of the coastal areas east of the Caspian Sea. In order to legitimize their rule, the Parthians claimed descent from the Achaemenid Dynasty. In many fields of culture, the Parthians represented a continuation of the Achaeaminds. The administrative system was arranged after the Hellenistic Seleucids, involving cities built according to Hellenistic layout as well as the formation of vassal kingdoms. In extent, the Parthian empire was smaller than that of the Achaemenids and far less centralized. It lacked, for instance, a standing united centralized army. There were of course the garrisons of towns and forts as well as armed retinues of tribal chiefs, feudal lords, and of the King of Kings himself, but these were limited and disunited due to their much more tribal political culture. The Parthian period of Persian history was one of wealth, and great building projects. The region profited from trade between Asia and the Mediterranean. Despite internal stability, the northeastern borders were often under nomad attack, and a wider area suffered from repeated attacks by the Scythians.

The Parthian Empire was the most enduring of the empires of the ancient Persia, which ruled for nearly half millennia. The Parthians organized a very strong and unified government and took the army and invaded Roman territory in West Asia. Neither side won a clear victory, and this set the pattern for the next four hundred years: a lot of fighting but no real change in the borders. *The Parthian Dark Age refers to the most confused period of Parthian history, from the late years in the region of Mithradates II (123–88 B.C.E.) to the establishment of the sole rule of Orodes II (c. 57–38 B.C.E.).
Parthian Empire World Map

The Legendary General Surena

The Legendary General Surena

In 53 B.C.E when the Romans advanced into Parthian territory and were ever ready for full-scale invasions the King of Parthia Orodes II sent his cavalry units under the Legendary General Surena (84–53 B.C.E.) to combat them with maximum force. The two armies subsequently met at the Battle of Carrhae where the superior equipment and clever tactics of the Parthians to lure the Romans out into the middle of the desert and enabled them to defeat the numerically superior Romans. This victory made the Parthians into a superpower of their era and although it did not cause any decisive shift in the balance of power it produced a mighty echo amongst the peoples of the East which in turn caused several revolts against the Romans after this period in history. General Surena, also known as Rustaham Suren-Pahlav was a mighty Parthian general and a member of the House of Suren. He is well known in history for defeating the Romans in the Battle of Carrhae, with an elite army of only 10.000 Parthians against 40.000 Roman soldiers. It is believed that 20,000 Roman troops out of a force of about 36,000 died at the hands of the Parthians. The Romans were especially in awe of the expert mobile Parthian archers (hence the term: the Parthian Shot) who inflicted enormous casualties upon successive Roman armies. General Surena distinguished himself in this battle for dynastic succession.

* After this victory the King of Parthia feared that his General Surena might take over the throne and constitute a threat, hence he had him executed at the young age of 31 by hiring secret mercenaries. That decision alone turned out to be a huge historical mistake since Surena and his clever tactics made a big difference to the outcome of each Parthian battle and played a part in building up the tapestry of their military Achievement.
Parthian Commander - The Legendary General Surena
Parthian Commander - The Legendary General Surena

The Parthian period holds an important place in military history. Several Parthian King of Kings, including the first and the last-fell in action, and their three century long conflicts with Rome had profound effects on Roman military organization. For they not only succeeded in repulsing repeated Roman attempts at the conquest of Persia, but they inflicted severe defeat seven in their last days-upon the Roman invaders; and to face the long-range fighting tactics of the Parthian armoured cavalry and mounted archers, the Romans started to supplement their armies of heavy and drilled infantry with auxiliary forces of riders and bowmen, thereby increasingly modifying traditional Roman arms and tactics.

Parthian victory over the Romans at the historical Battle of Carrhae
Parthian victory over the Romans (Battle of Carrhae) 1
The final stages of the the Battle of Carrhae against the Romans
Parthian victory over the Romans (Battle of Carrhae) 2

Decline of the Empire

Repeated Roman invasions finally destroyed much of the infrastructure of the Parthian kingdom in 198 C.E. after 83 years of non-stop war. The Romans invaded Parthian territory in search of desperately needed gold to fund Roman military campaigns and colonialism with force around the known ancient world. The Romans became much more numerically superior against the Parthians as their empire rapidly expanded. They could keep the war going for as long as needed by hireing unlimited number of mercenaries from their colonial subject territories to constantly attack the Parthian borders from all directions in order to finally exhaust them spiritually. This in turn caused major internal revolts within the Parthian empire and the power and influence of this handful of Parthian noble families was such that they frequently opposed the monarch, and would eventually be a contributory factor in the downfall of the dynasty. The Parthians finally submitted to another Persian dynasty which had close links with them and retained the power of their nobility. The end of this loosely organized empire came in 224 C.E., when the last king was defeated by one of their vassals, the Persians of the Sassanid dynasty.

This transition went well and the remaining Parthian army just saw this as a change of ruler and joined the Sassanid army after the takeover. They had previously been fighting alongside each other against the Roman invaders for centuries and they were both tired over the internal instability caused by wars from all fronts and focused their rage against the Romans instead of each other. The Sassanid military tactics differed from the Parthians and they were far more centralized and united. They also changed the tones of war against the Romans from Defensive to Offensive in order to end the threat once and for all and live in peace.
Parthian Wars

The Heroine of Persia

Sura (~213–235 C.E.) was one of the Greatest Heroines of Persian History, A strategical and Military Genius during the Parthian dynasty. She was the daughter of Ardavan the Fifth, the last King of the Parthian Empire. She is mentioned in the history books as her father’s right hand. Sura had the rank of: Ashkanid’s General, Sepahbod (Lieutenant General). Although she was not as tactical in the battlefield as the legendary General Surena (who was her role model), she was a great respected Lieutenant General on her own. Her main tactics was to not charge into the enemy line before weakening and exhausting them first. She was unfortunate to live during the decline of the Parthian empire due to centuries of Roman-attacks, major internal revolts and instability.

She had a grudge against King Aradeshir because on 225 C.E. Ardeshir (Son of Babak) went to a great war against her father (Ardavan V) and killed him in the war. All she experienced during her short life-span was war, death and misery. Her soldiers were the only friends that she ever had. May her great spirit rest in peace.
Sura - General of Ashkanid Empire
Persian Sassanid Empire

Persian Sassanid Empire  

Recognized as one of the leading world powers

224 C.E. 651 C.E. (Current Era)

The Sassanid Persians (Descendants of Sassan) coexisted with the Roman Empire, and there were many great battles between them. Many of the victories of Persians is carved in stone. They were proud of their Persian heritage, and they wanted to reestablish the borders of the old Persian empire. This meant reconquering all the land to the edge of the Mediterranean Sea from the Romans and also reconquering Egypt from the Romans. Sasanian courtly manners were to be adopted by the Roman Empire, as well as the entire Central Asia and China. Like their Persian ancestors, these Sassanid Persians were Zoroastrians. The Sassanids, second only to the Achaemenids in their service to Persia were also a major defining feature of Persian culture and identity. They considered themselves the direct descendants of the Achaemenids, and obviously sought to preserve Persian culture and identity while serving their nation. They took a great role in advancing the foundations of Persian civilization in many different aspects.

Huge Relief of King Ardeshir I in Necropolis at the Ruins of Persepolis
Persepolis Ruins - Relief of King Ardeshir

Ardeshir Babakan I (226–241 C.E.) founded the Sassanid dynasty and revived Persian culture and Zoroastrianism and made a conscious effort to return to the Persian Achaemenid norms. The most important feature was the alliance of religion and government. He created a national empire based on imperialism and achieved unity through conformity. They sponsored trade both with their arch-enemy, the Romans/Byzantines, and the Chinese. The Sassanids were the Last Zoroastrian Empire and the Strongest. The Empire could not rest cause of never ending wars with the Romans who desperately needed gold to fund Roman military campaigns and colonialism with force around the known ancient world.

* Roman emperors always said that in order to Rule the World and acquiring new lands and control over the Silk Road you have to conquer Persia first (known to the ancient world as The wealthiest empire under the sun). The Romans also wrongly believed that two superpowers could never coexist peacefully and therefore their main goal was to conquer and destroy Persia but they never succeeded despite of centuries of wars and instead lost many wars that weakened their own empire and in the end left both empires very vulnerable against internal revolts and outside threat. The Romans tried to re-write history by calling great civilized and historical nations that they invaded and colonised (Greece, Egypt etc.) along with the entire Non-Roman world for Barbarians when in fact it was the other way around. Persians and Greeks viewed the Romans as the true bloodthirsty Barbarians of their era.
The Silk Road (6,500 km): The loaction of Persia and the richness of its vast land was one of the many reasons for all the unnecessary Roman-Persian wars that lasted for nearly 700 years (54 B.C.E. – 629 C.E.).
Silk Road Map

The Mighty Sassanid Army

In the character of their warfare, the Persians of the Sassanid period differed greatly from their forebears under the Achaemenid kings. The principal changes which time had brought about were an almost entire disuse of the war chariot, the advance of the elephant corps into a very prominent and important position, and the increased use and pre-eminence of heavy cavalry on the Parthian model, including both heavy cataphracts and horse-archers. Five main arms of the service were recognized, each standing on a different level: the Golden-Armored War Elephants, the Silver-Armored War Horse, The Archers, and the Bronze-Armored elite foot archers who showered the enemy with storms of arrows. The heavy golden-armored war elephant corps always held the first position in line. These giant beasts acted as walking towers on battlefields and caused panic and disorder in enemy ranks, creating openings in the lines that cavalry could take advantage of. And finally the royal elite force called Zhayedan (The Immortals) numbered 10,000 men, like the Achaemenid predecessors, with the difference that they were heavy cavalry. Their task was mainly to secure any breakthroughs and to enter battles at crucial stages.

A Silver-Armored Sassanid City Guard (Police) Cavalry at Ctesiphon (Sassanid Capital)
Sassanid Heavy Armored Cavalry at Ctesiphon

Ranks of the Sassanid Army

  1. Commander-in chief. (Eran Spahbod)
  2. Field General (Spahbod)
  3. Commander of each of the four provincial divisions devised. (Padgospan or Padouspan)
  4. Margrave or Commander of the border guards. (Marzban or Kanarang)
  5. Head of the Royal Guard. (Poshtikban Salar)
  6. Senior rank responsible for army supplies. (Eran anbaraghbad)
  7. Senior vet who looked after the cavalry elite’s mounts. (Stor-bezashk)
  8. Castellan, Commander of a Castle and Fort. (Argbadh)
  9. Chief of an infantry division. (Payygan Salar)
  10. Head of a cavalry division. (Savaran Sardar)
  11. Commander of a gond division. (Gond Salar)

Roman Army against the Elite Persian Army

The ancient illustration below (angus mcbride) is showing the fatal wounding of the roman emperor Julian during a ambush of Sassanid Persian Elite Warriors (Battle of Samarra). Here you can clearly see the Golden-Armored War Horse and Elephants in Action causing panic and disorder in Roman army-ranks.

Sassanid Persian Elite Warriors vs. the Roman Army (Battle of Samarra)
Sassanid Elite Army Force

The Persian Sassanid High Command often channeled invading forces into kill zones and destoryed them by deploying Heavily Armored Savaran units (Elite cavalry). The right figure is a female warrior who is a local governess (Paygospanan-Banu).

Sassanid Savaran - Counterattacking

Shapur I the Great

The Reign of the mighty King Shapur I (215–270 C.E.) started in the year 240 C.E. and that same year also marks the death of the former King Ardeshir (the founder of the Sassanid dynasty) whom was his father. He was also the son of the Arsacid princess Lady Myrōd. Ardashir had towards the end of his reign renewed the war against the Roman Empire and his son Shapur conquered several Roman Emperors and defeated their entire armies. Shapur later on personally considered one of the great achievements of his reign to be the defeat of three Roman emperors: Valerianus, Gordianus III and Philip. The name Shapur, meaning Son of a King.

The Reign of the mighty King Shapur I renewed the war against the Roman Empire
Sassanid King Shapur I

Roman–Persian Wars & Shift of Power

The Great King Shahpur invaded Roman Empire territory in the years (253–260 C.E.) with the goal to reestablish the borders of the old Persian empire and also as a revenge for all the previous centuries of Roman–Persian wars. After the Roman army was defeated and besieged by the Persian forces, King Shahpur took Emperor Valerian and the entire Roman army prisoner as a lesson to never attack Persia again! He was victorious over three Roman emperors during his reign: Valerianus, Gordianus III and Philip. The Roman army was defeated several times and captured in its entirety by the Persian forces; for the first time in Rome’s military history their emperors was taken prisoner. As such, these battles are generally viewed as one of the worst disasters in Roman military history. This in turn forced the Romans to quickly negotiating peace with the Sassanid Persians and they started to pay heavy taxes each time they approached near Sassanid territory in order to avoid unnecessary conflicts.

The ancient Painting below is showing the Surrender of Roms Emperor Valerian and Roman Senator to Shapour King of Persia (on horse-top). Emperor Valerian kneels and begs for mercy from King Shahpur of Persia while the Female Persian cavalry officer (left) is guarding along with nobleman of the Suren clan (with tall beaked hat). Rome was a brutal empire with her economy based on slavery, POWs and built on blood and their main goal was to conquer Persia but they never succeeded despite many endless, brutal and unnecessary wars that weakened both sides and cost many lives.
King Shahpur I, invaded Roman Empire territory and took Emperor Valerian prisoner
Shahpur taking Roms Emperor Valerian Prisoner
Sassanid Capital - Ctesiphon - Royal Palace Entrance
Sassanid Capital - Ctesiphon - Royal Palace Entrance

Azadokht Shahbanu

Azadokht (~220–260 C.E.) was the Queen of the Persian Sassanid Empire and the wise wife of Shapur the Great, they established Jondi Shahpur university, a major center of higher learning. Azadokht was not a military woman but she was very skilled with her sword. Persia were constantly in war with the Roman Empire for many centuries and the Roman army had never seen women soldiers in war fighting so bravely and brutally next to male soldiers and valiantly defending the empire. During the Sassanid dynasty many of the Persian soldiers captured by Romans were women who were fighting along with the men.

Azadokht - Shahbanu and Wife of King Shahpur


Prophet Mani (216–274 C.E.) was the founder of a religion now called Manichaeism. He preached a universal philosophy which included elements of Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Christianity and Hinduism. Mani practised under the protection of the Persian emperor, Shapur, the Persian King himself seems to have favoured his ideas. The Shapurgan, Mani’s only treatise in the Middle Persian language, is dedicated to Shapur. As his teaching quickly gained ground, he came in opposition to the Zoroastrian priests and after the death of Emperor Shapur Mani lost his protection and was forced to leave Persia, he wandered the east, preaching a gnostic version of Mithraism. He considered himself an apostle of christ. When he returned to Persia, he was imprisoned and crucified by the orders of emperor Bahram and the Manichaean creed was suppressed. The death of Mani (276 C.E.) is retold as an incident similar to the crucifixion of Jesus.

Mani was born in 216 C.E. in the province Babylon which was under Persian rule, his family was Persian, but his name is Aramaic-Persian. At the age of 12 and 24, Mani had visions where an angel told him that he would be the prophet of a last divine revelation. A the age of 26 Mani started on a long journey, where he stood forward as Messenger of Truth, and he travelled through the Persian Empire and reached as far as India.
Prophet Mani of Persia

Father of socialism

Mazdak was the founder of the philosophy called Mazdakism (488–528 C.E.). He was the son of Bamdad who was a Zoroastrian priest and started preaching his doctrines. Mazdak believed in equal rights among human beings and advocated abolition of private property, the division of wealth, as well as nonviolence and vegetarianism. His ideas brought about a major class struggle between the peasants and the nobility. The followers of Mazdak raided the Palaces and Harems of the rich who, he believed, had oppressed the Persian population and caused much poverty. Mazdak embarked on a program of social reform and equal rights, which involved pacifism, anti-clericalism (anti-religious) and aid programs for helping the poor. Mazdak had government warehouses opened to help the poor. Mazdak emphasized good conduct, which involved a moral and ascetic life, no killing and not eating flesh and being kind and friendly and living in peace with other people. The leaders of the feudalist society and the political ranks staged several conspiracies that led to the total elimination of Mazdakism in 528 C.E.

Mazdakism is believed to be the first form of socialism (communalism and populism) 1360 years before Marx published his famous manifest. Mazdak is considered to be the world’s first socialist.
Art - Mazdak the founder of Mazdakism

The counselor of the Persian Courthouse

Princess Parin (490–540 C.E.) was a Persian Sassanid politician, daughter of Emperor Kavadh I (Qobad). She was the counselor of the Persian Courthouse and a confident female politician who mastered the art and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of states in order to prevent unnecessary conflicts between Roman/Byzantine Empire and Persia.

Princess Parin Sassanid

The mighty populist king of Persia

Persia recovered her glory during the reign of Khosrow I (Anushiravan 531–579 C.E.), who defeated the Roman Empire and marked the height of the Sassanid dynasty. He promoted scholarship and sponsored the translation of Indian and Greek scientific and medical texts into Middle Persian or Pahlavi, Persia’s native language. By the time of Khosrow I, Jondi Shahpur’s library had amassed one of the largest collections of books in the world. He also gave refuge and financial assistance to philosophers fleeing oppression in the Byzantine Empire. Khosrow I was also a populist king, possibly a reflection of Mazdak’s ideology and the civil conflicts that subsequently ensued. He made himself available to all his subjects; anyone could rattle his chain of justice and have an audience with the king. His famous prime minister, Bozorgmehr, reportedly invented the game of backgammon for the king.

Art - Byzantium and Sassanid Persian Wars
Sassanid Empire World Map

Empress & Counselor of the Persian courthouse

Zand Shahbanu (~510–560 C.E.) was the Queen of Persia and the mighty Wife of King Khosrow Anushirvan (The most illustrious of the Sassanid Rulers) and the niece of General Bahram Chubin. She was also the counselor of the Persian courthouse, extremely intelligent and confident lady. The last holdout of Sassanid Persia was in the east, and it is to this little studied part of the world that scholars need next to approach, for it seems certain that the small states of Central Asia, too, were part of the ancient Persian world, and their role in bringing Persian influences to China and to Russia should not be forgotten.

Zand the Wife of Khosrow Anushirvan

Christian princess & Empress

Shirin Shahbanu was the Queen of the Persian Sassanid Empire and the wife of the mighty King Khosrow II (590–628 C.E.) whose military exploits extended the empire to its furthest extent and conquered much Byzantine empire territory. Shirin was a christian princess who eventually consents to marry King Khosrow after several romantic and heroic episodes, including his rescue of her from a lion. Their historical love story has been further romanticized by Persian scholars. During his reign, King Khosrow Parviz built several magnificent palaces in the Kermanshah Province (west of Iran) and named them after his queen, Shirin; hence the city got its name from there and is now called Qasr-e Shirin, literary meaning Palace of Shirin.

Shahbanu Shirin Sassanid

Empress Purandokht

Purandokht (Buran 590–632 C.E.) was the twenty-sixth Sassanid monarch of Persia, reigning from 629 to 632. She was the daughter of emperor Khosrow II and the older sister of Azarmidokht. Her father was overthrown and killed in 628 C.E. by a group of members of the nobility which ushered in a period of instability in the empire. When Purandokht ascended to the throne she attempted to quickly bring stability to the empire. This stability was brought about by a peace treaty with the Byzantine Empire, the revitalization of the empire through the implementation of justice, reconstruction of the infrastructure, lowering of taxes, and minting coins. She was committed to revive the memory and prestige of her father, during whose reign the Sasanian Empire had grown to its largest territorial extent. She was largely unsuccessful in her attempts to restore the power of the central authority which was weakened considerably by civil wars, and resigned.

Empress Purandokht Sassanid

An icon of nobility and stature

Turandokht (~605–633 B.C.E.) was the beautiful Princess of Persia during the Sassanid dynasty era and the youngest daughter of King Khosrow Parviz. The legend and fairy tale of Princess Turandokht (Turandot) is very famous in Europe and it was taken from the Persian collection of stories called: The Book of One Thousand and One Nights (Hezar o-yek shab), she became an icon of nobility and stature. The Europeans changed the nationalities of the historical characters but other than that everything else is intact and true to the original. Turan is the ancient Persian name for Central Asia which used to be part of the Persian Empire. The original Turanians are the Tuirya Iranian people of the Avesta age (1737 B.C.E.).

Turandokht Sassanid
Turandokht Sassanid II

Empress Azarmidokht

Azarmidokht was the younger daughter of King Khosrow Parviz. She was the twenty-seventh Sassanid Monarch of Persia and she ruled the empire after her sister Purandokht during the last decade of the Sassanid Dynasty era. In the years following King Khosrow’s death, there were internal revolts which caused major instability and left the empire very vulnerable against outside threat.

Sassanid Consecutive Female Monarch Rulers

Decline of the Empire

The endless Wars and Rivalry between the two superpowers; Rome and Persia lasted for nearly 700 years (54 B.C.E. – 629 C.E.) and weakened both empires significantly. Neither side won a clear victory, a lot of fighting but no real change in the borders. The final and most devastating of the series of wars fought between Byzantine (Eastern Roman Empire) and the Sassanid Persian Empire took place between 602–628 and was fought throughout nearly all of the subject countries of Rome and Persia in both Europe and Asia from all directions. By the end of the conflict both sides had exhausted their human and material resources. Consequently, they were vulnerable to the sudden emergence of the Islamic Caliphate, whose forces invaded both empires after these series of wars.

In the years following the death of the Persian King Khosrow, there were major internal revolts, instability and power struggle that lasted for years in the exhausted empire. The central authority was weakened considerably by civil wars. At the same time the Arab forces (brutal nomadic tribesmen) were trying to attack and invade Persia from South. The Persian King Yazdegerd III was strictly focused on protecting the Persian borders against the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine) and was not paying any attention to the rise of Islam and the invading barbaric savage Arabs. The first encounter between Sassanids and Muslim Arabs was in the Battle of the Bridge in 634 which resulted in a Sassanid victory, however the Arab threat did not stop there as the united Muslim army repeatedly attacked the southern borders of persia again and again. The united barbaric tribes of Arabia eventually conquered the entire Sassanid Persian Empire and deprived the Byzantine Empire of its territories.
The final devastating wars between Byzantine and Persia
Art - Final devastating wars of Byzantine & Persia

The Fall of the Empire

Rostam Farrokhzad was the head of Persian forces & the Grand General in charge of the defence under King Yazdegerd III. A large Arab army had united against Persia (battle of Nehavand) and a long and brutal war against the savage invaders started in the southern borders of Persia at the worst time possible, during civil wars within the empire which weakened the central authority.

Rostam figured what the Bloodthirsty Arabs were fighting for... for their hunger, and their new God Allah and his so-called Holy War against the civilized World and all non-believers. (Arabs believed that they could rape & plunder the population, and if they would die during the holy-war they would go directly to heaven and meet their 72 virgins). It was not possible for the Persians to fight an official war against the rebellious Jihadist Arabs who deliberately targeted un-armed civilians to spread fear and terror among the population. For the first time Rostam, The Mighty Lion of Persia as they called him... felt outnumbered and could finally see the End.. They thought the Sassanid Empire would last for thousands of years. Rostam stood in the front of his horse giving his last speech telling his army if he falls, he will take as many savage Arabs as he can. Let this last day be the worse for them... The persian borders falls, but the resistance from the people makes it more bloody though they were not armed, Resistance in the final stages was led by a mighty woman named Apranik.
Governor Rostam Farrokhzad - Mighty Sassanid Army General and Warrior
Rostam Farrokhzad

The Final Resistance

Apranik (620–655 C.E.) was a Persian Sassanid High Ranking Commander of Army and the daughter of Piran (the great General of King Yazdgird III) and she fought gracefully, as a resistance commander, fighting against the invading Arabs (brutal nomadic tribesmen). Apranik was more like a TomBoy! Since childhood, she loved military and was her Father’s Right hand and eventually followed his footsteps and become a military person. Like her father Apranik decided to become a professional soldier and she climbed the steps of progress, one by one and after her complete education, she managed to rise from a petty officer, to a high ranking commander. Apranik was a tireless inspiration for her troops in defense against outside aggressors.

Apranik fully took the command of a major battalion of the Persian Army directly after the full-scale invasion and occupation by the united Arab armies and she led her devoted warriors against the Arab invaders even after the loss of the Persian Empire. As she got wiser, she found out that Organized Warfare with the Arabs or The Desert Rats as she refered to them, who invade and hide, and then reinforce and invade again, does not work; therefore, she started a campaign of a treacherous battle against the occupiers. For years to come, Apranik, first fought an official war and later on when all hopes were destroyed, Apranik, started her Hit and Run Rebellious Campaign. Apranik’s Dedicated Commando Warfare were legendary and relentless. Her white horse has always been a famous symbol of freedom and still is til this day.
Legendary Commander Apranik of the Persian Sassanid Army
Commander Apranik of Sassanid
Commander Apranik of Sassanid Army in Battle against the invaders
Commander Apranik of Sassanid - In Battle

... Apranik and her Ranks, never surrendered, they have fought an on going bloody battle to the bitter ends. Her braveries were so known, that she became a symbol for the Persian Resistance & Freedom and Persians created an expression for her! Every time a female soldier would have shown bravery among the resistance, other soldiers would smile and call her: Apranik. Apranik’s famous words and policy were: No retreat, no surrender. Apranik acted as a battery charger for resistances spirit and chose to fight with her soldiers, until the bitter end and eventually Apranik became a legend. May her great spirit rest in peace. Apranik, the mighty daughter of renowned general Piran or as they used to call her Apranik of Piran’s will always be in the Persian Resistance Hall of Fame. This is what the Persian women were made of!

A Gentler side of Commander Apranik of the Persian Sassanid Army
Commander Apranik of Sassanid - Gentler side

The last Sassanid ruler, Yazdegerd III , died in 651 C.E. as a fugitive. Persia was again faced with an enemy from within which aimed to completely undermine its civilization and identity. The first factor used to destroy a national identity was an attack on its predominant religion: Zoroastrianism.

Read the Historical letter of Yazdgird III to the Arab Caliph Omar.
Arab conquest of Persia

Arab conquest of Persia  

The Dark and Brutal Arab Caliphate Era

633 660 C.E. (Barbaric Invasion)

oppression, misery and massacre

The history of Persians after the Arab conquest can be summarized in three words: oppression, misery and massacre. The Arabs invaded Persia not only for its reputed wealth, but to bring into the faith new converts and to impose Islam as the new state religion. They were religious zealots who believed that in a religious war if one kills or is killed, one’s place in heaven is secure. To impose the new religion, the old culture and creed had to be destroyed. Therefore first they targeted the libraries, universities and schools. Only few examples reflect the enormity of the calamity that befell upon Persia at 630 C.E. To conquer Persia and force Islam, the Arab invaders resorted to many inhumane actions including massacre, mass enslavement of men, women and children, and imposition of heavy taxes on those who did not convert.

Arab Taziz Raping and Killing Civilians in Persia and enslaving women and children
Arab Taziz Raping and Killing Civilians in Persia

Erasing history by burning books and killing scholars

In 641 C.E. When the Arab commander Saad ibn-e Abi Vaghas faced the huge Persian library of Ctesiphon (capital city), he wrote to Omar (Caliph/Ruler of Arab Muslims): what should be done about the books?. Omar replied that the blasphemous books are not needed, as for us only Koran is sufficient. Thus, the huge library was destroyed and the books or the product of the generations of Persian scientists and scholars were burned in fire or thrown into the Euphrates (waters of Euphrates ran black with ink from the enormous quantities of books flung into the river). Later by the order of another Arab ruler (Ghotaibeh ibn-e Moslem) in Khwarezmia, those Persians who were literate with all the historians, writers and Mobeds were massacred and their books burned so that after one generation the people were illiterate. Other libraries in Ray and Khorassan received the same treatment and the famous international University of Gondishapour declined and eventually abandoned, and its library and books vanished. Only few books survived, because the Persian scholars quickly translated them into Arabic in order to save them.

It was a tremendous loss. Our knowledge would be richer and, potentially, our path from the ancient world to the modern world would have been shorter and easier, had some of these works survived.
Art - Barbaric Book Burning

Mass massacre and conversion

By the order of the Arab commander Yazid ibn-e Mohalleb in Gorgan so many Persians were beheaded that their blood mixed with water would energize the millstone to produce as much as one day meal for him, as he had vowed and ordered the soldiers to cut off the tongue of anyone who dared to speak Persian. This is why in Arabic, Persians are called Ajam, meaning mute! The event of blood mill has been quoted by the generations of historians and Persian Zoroastrian families to this day, yet our books of history have been silent about it. In recent years however, disenchanted Persian scholars have been writing about the blood mills and in fact this event has been reported by our historians of the Islamic era. On the way to Mazandaran (northern Iran) the same commander ordered 12,000 Persian captives to be hanged at the two sides of the road so that the victorious Arab army pass through. Upon arrival, many more were massacred in that province and heavy tax (Jizya) was imposed on the survivors who did not convert.

One of the Umayyad Caliphs was quoted saying: milk the Persians and once their milk dries, suck their blood.
Blood Mill Massacre committed by the Arab conquerors

Some historians have estimated that a total of 400,000 Persian civilians were massacred. After the battle of Alis, the Arab commander (Khalid ibn-e Valid) ordered all the prisoners of war be decapitated so that a creek of blood flows. When the city of Estakhr in the south put up stiff resistance against the Arab invaders, 50,000 residents were slaughtered. One of the battles by the Arabs has been named, Jelovla (covered), because an estimated 100,000 bodies of the slain Persians covered the desert. It is reported that 130,000 Persian women and children were enslaved and sold in the Mecca and Medina markets and large amount of gold and silver plundered. One respected Persian scholar recently wrote, Why so many had to die or suffer? Because one side was determined to impose his religion upon the other who could not understand. The Arabs colonized, exploited, raped and despised the population. They even named the Persian converts Mavali or liberated slaves. Persian women became second rate citizens when the Arabs conquered Persia in a very brutal way, they lost all their rights and consistently assigned a passive role in the society. Many Persian women joined the resistance fighters against the barbaric Arab oppressors and fought to the end, they rather chose to be cut to pieces by the Arab Sword, than to become a slave or whore in the Arab Bed. Nevertheless history reflects the extent of atrocities committed by the Arab conquerors.

Persians have developed a surprising ability to adapt, but only outwardly, superficially & when absolutely required. Persian culture is both very strong & resilient. Iran was neither truly Arabized nor Islamized.
Arabs Raping and Enslaving women and selling them in Mecca and Medina markets
Arab Taziz Raping and Enslaving Women

Women actively took part in many of the future movements for freedom of Iran and repossession of their human rights from Arabs. Women were the most oppressed segment of Iranian society by the Arabs and they were a significant part of the many Revolutionary Movements of Iran including the Sanbad movement in Neyshabour of Khorasan (Northeast of Iran), Ostadsis’ movement in Sistan (Southeast of Iran), Moqanna’ and Sarbedaran movement in Khorasan (Northeast of Iran), and Babak Khoramdin’s movement in Azerbaijan (Northwest of Iran).

Art - Jewels of Persia

The Umayyad Caliphate

Umayyad Caliphate (661–750 C.E.) emerged as the rulers of the Islamic world. Although they maintained the Persian Sassanid administrative practices, the Umayyads considered Islam as primarily an Arab religion and were wary of Persian culture. They tried to force the Arabic language upon the Persians, leading to the demise of the Middle Persian or Pahlavi alphabet in favor of the new Arabic/Persian alphabet in use to this day. They also tried to eradicate the independent and unique sense of Persian identity in the same way that they Arabized and assimilated the Egyptians and the Assyrians, but with minimal success.

Arabic became the official language of the Islamic world but not in Persia. During the Islamic period many Persian scholars attempted to revive the Persian culture and history and reintroduce the national identity to the despised nation. As the Arabs destroyed and burned all the non-Arabic and Pahlavi writings, Persian scholars found a solution to save the books that was to translate them into Arabic. One of the rare books that survived the carnage was Khodai-namak, a Pahlavi writing of the Sassanid era.

A Persian general ended Umayyad rule

The Abbasids had depended heavily on the support of Persians in their overthrow of the Umayyads and in 750 C.E. their victorious armies were led by a Persian general named Abu Khorasani. The Islamic capital was relocated from Damascus to Baghdad, a newly built city adjacent to the old Sassanid capital, Ctesiphon. This relocation symbolized the rising power of Persians in the Islamic world.

The Abbasid Caliphate relied on Persian ministers and bureaucracy for many state functions. Persian customs began to take deep roots under the Abbasids. The offices of the vizier (minister) and the divan (or bureau for state revenue) were copied from the Sassanid model and later caliphs adopted the Persian courts’ ceremonial procedures and the trappings of the Sassanid kings. The Persian Barmakid family became architects of the Abbasid political structure and several members of their family became notable grand viziers. The Abbasid reign marked the pinnacle of the power and glory of the Islamic world.
Abbasids overthrowing Umayyads
Khoramdinan movement

Khoramdinan movement  

Persian Freedom Fighters (Red-Shirts)

795 838 C.E. (Current Era)

Babak Khoramdin is considered as one of the most heroic freedom fighters of Persia who initiated the Khoramdinan movement. It was a freedom fighting movement aimed to overthrow the Tazi Arab Caliph occupiers and at the time rulers of Persia. He was born in Balal Abad region of Azarbaijan (Northwest of Iran). Babak’s knowledge of history, geography, and the latest battle tactics strengthened his position as a favorite candidate for commander during the early wars against the Arab occupiers. One of the most dramatic periods in the history of Persia was set under Babak’s leadership between 816–837 C.E. During these most crucial years, they not only fought against the Caliphate, but also against Tazi Arab barbaric behaviors and customs. Eventually, Babak, his wife Banu, and his warriors were forced to leave The Castle of Babak (Ghaleye Babak) after 23 years of constant successful campaigns that killed over 500,000 invading Arabs and Babak’s mighty army (Red-Shirts) was never once defeated. According to historians of the era; For every Persian that died 10 Arabs followed them to the grave!

He was eventually betrayed by an officer under his command named Afshin and was handed over to the Abbasid Caliph. During Babak’s execution, the Arab Caliph’s henchmen first cut off his legs and hands in order to convey the most devastating message to his Persian followers. Legend has it that Babak bravely rinsed his face with the drained blood pouring out of his cuts, thus depriving the Caliph and the rest of the Abbasid arab army from seeing his pale face, a result of the heavy loss of blood.
Babak Khoramdin - Irans National Hero

Banu was the Wife of Babak Khoramdin (Persian Legendary Freedom Fighter), she fought side by side to her husband Babak. They are considered as one of the most heroic freedom fighters of Persia. Banu and Babak worked as revolutionary resistance fighters leading the Persian Resistance Militia. The famous female commando and revolutionary Banu, was a lioness. The central area of activity for Banu was Atropatgan state of Persia. Now this woman was amazing! She was the better half of Babak Khoramdin (Legendary Freedom Fighter). Banu was a temperamental Woman and a very skilled archer, she grew up with her bow and arrows! She was Babak’s partner in life and death, in war and peace. Banu was a symbol of Pure Persian Pride! Banu and Babak fought the Arab Occupation for years. They lived and they died as Proud Persians until the last drop of blood was shed.

Banu Khoramdin

After Babak and Banu’s execution many Persians started revolts in different regions of the country in order to regain their freedom. This in turn, forced the Arab Caliphs to use more violence against the Persian population in order to keep the country under control but they failed and eventually Arab rule over Persia began to diminish. Babak’s sensational and legendary campaign to defend Persia’s national identity and interest is still pursued after nearly 1200 years. Every year on his birthday in July the Iranian pilgrims visit Babak’s fortress in Southern Azerbaijan to hail their Persian hero, Babak, as the symbol of Persian resistance against Tazi Arab occupiers. The pilgrims read poetry including Shahnameh (Epic of Kings - Iran’s most famous epic by Ferdowsi) and play traditional Persian music. They also light up bonfires to follow traditional rituals of ancient Persia.

View a summary video clip in Persian about Babak’s life and History


Reincarnation of Persia

820 C.E. (Current Era)

Arab rule over Persia began to diminish. The Arabs ruled parts of Iran for some 80 years, before local Persian princes emerged in Sajestan and Khorassan. It was indeed the darkest chapter of Iran’s history and has been compared to a nightmare associated with the moans of widows and orphans, a dark night of silence that was interrupted only by the hoot of owls and the harsh sound of thunder. Finally the Arabs were driven out of Persia. Various local Persian monarchs rose to power: the Tahirids (821–873), Saffarids (867–903), Samanids (873–999), Ziyarids (928–1077) and Buyids (945–1055).

The lost ancient Persian language was restored and it soon blossomed into one of the most poetic languages of the world. The Samanids were the first to adopt Persian as the official language of their court. Once again, Persia became a world center for art, literature and science. It was renowned for the impulse that it gave to Persian national sentiment and learning. All the cultural, scientific and philosophical advances of the so-called Islamic world came out of Persia, these advancements were not Islamic, but Persian.
Art - Persian Palace

Khwarazmi, the father of modern Algebra

Khwarazmi (780–850 C.E.), a remarkable mathematician, astronomer and the Father of Algebra. He wrote precise astronomical tables and the first work of algebra, The Book of Integration and Equation. The word Algebra is derived from this book’s title and the word Algorithm from his own name. He helped establish the concept of zero and perfect the decimal system. The culmination of his work, along with that of other Persian scholars, produced the Arabic numerals - a modified version of which replaced the Roman numerals in the West and which is still in use to this day.


Persians openly revolt against the Arabs

Ya’qūb-i Layth-i Saffārī (840–879 C.E.) was the founder of the Saffarid dynasty and the first Persian ruler to openly revolt against the Arabs. He brought much of Persia under his control and promoted the Persian language. The Saffarids (861–1003 C.E.) gave great care to the Persian culture. The empire did not last long after Ya’qūb’s death but it gave impetus to a renaissance of New Persian rulers, literature and culture. The statue of Ya’qūb can be found in the old Sassanid city of Dezful in southwestern Iran.

Yaqub Leys Statue

Razi, a very important figure in the history of medicine

Razi (865–925 C.E.) was a Persian polymath, physician, alchemist, philosopher, and important figure in the history of medicine. He also wrote on logic, astronomy and grammar. He was one of the most accomplished physicians, chemists and philosophers of his era, invented the medical usage of alcohol and wrote a number of books on a variety of topics, especially medicine. One of his more famous treatises, On Small Pox and Measles, was translated into many European languages.

Razi in Gerardus Cremonensis

Rudaki, the Adam of Poet

Rudaki (857–941 C.E.) also known as Adam of Poet crystallized the new Persian language and its lyrical poetry. He was the first major poet of the Persian language. His contribution was especially important since poetry was to become one of the main pillars of Persian culture and identity. The statue of Rudaki can be found in Dushanbe, Tajikistan at the heart of the central park named after him.

Safavid Period miniature art

Ferdowsi, Persia’s national Hero

Ferdowsi (940–1020 C.E.), Persia’s national poet and possibly its greatest hero, completed the national Persian epic, Shahnameh (Epic of Kings) in 1010. It took him over 30 years and consisted of some 50,000 couplets. He was a genuine defender of Persian national identity and he deeply resented the Arab influence. He wrote his entire epic story with minimal usage of Arabic-derived words. Shahnameh consists of mythical stories of pre-Islamic Persia. The book’s chief epic hero is a noble knight named Rostam, who embodies values such as integrity, strength and chivalry. Ferdowsi is revered by all Persians and most consider him single-handedly responsible for reawakening the Persian language & pre-Islamic history, identity & heritage of Iran. Shahnameh is written in almost pure Persian language, which in itself is extremely significant.

Ferdowsi the Legend

Persian Buyid dynasty defeated the Arab armies

The Buyids (945–1055 C.E.), from north-central Iran, defeated the Arab armies and captured Baghdad. Although they allowed the Caliph to retain his title, they reduced the role of the Caliph to that of a powerless religious figurehead. The Buyids held the actual political power in the eastern Islamic world for a century.

The Buyids Map

Avicenna, the father of modern medicine

Avicenna (Sīnā) (980–1037 C.E.), one of the most significant scientists and philosophers, wrote over 200 books, including The Cannon of Medicine, an encyclopedia summarizing all the then known medical knowledge from across the world. This book was translated into Latin and remained the most influential book of medicine in the world. He was also a renowned philosopher who emphasized the use of logic and reason as means of discovering the truth. He is still considered by many to be the Father of Modern Medicine.

Avicenna Sina

The most prominent jurist and theologian

Ghazali (1058–1111 C.E.) was recognized as the most prominent jurist and theologian of his time. He argued against a merely rational and logical interpretation of existence, in favor of a more mystic and spiritual understanding. He represented the view opposite to Ibn Sina’s rationalism and significantly undermined the influence of Avicenna Sina. He was an important intellectual pillar of Sufism. Sufis strive for a deeper understanding of life and a closer communion with God through meditation, inner self-examination and the rejection of worldly possessions.


The Genius of Khayyam

Khayyam (1048–1122 C.E.), a great mathematician, philosopher, poet and astronomer, performed the mathematical calculations to reform the Persian calendar, one of the most accurate calenders in the world and still in use to this day. Khayyam was often admonished because he was viewed as an un-Islamic iranian-nationalist. He helped build an important observatory in Isfahan and wrote his collection of quatrains, Rubaiyat. Dealing with the great enigmas of human existence, his poems celebrate the divine gifts of love and life. The Rubaiyat was translated by FitzGerald in the 19th century, helping Khayyam to become the most famous oriental poet in Europe. His work has since been translated into many other languages and millions of copies have been sold.

Omar Khayyam
Mongol conquest

Mongol conquest  

The Dark and Brutal Mongol Era

1219 1221 C.E. (Barbaric Invasion)

Gangis Khan (1162–1227 C.E.) united the Mongol clans and began his attempt at world conquest. The Mongol hordes attacked Persia with unparalleled brutality in 1220 C.E., bringing about one of the worst catastrophes in the history of mankind. In Persia’s northeastern provinces, his descendants, especially Hulagu Khan, razed almost every major city, destroyed libraries and hospitals and slaughtered entire populations. The death toll estimates ranged in the millions.

Mongols invading Persia

Gangis Khan died

After the death of Gangis Khan in 1227 C.E., his empire was divided among his sons. The Il-Khanid dynasty gained control of the segment of the Mongol Empire covering Persia (1258–1353 C.E.). The Mongols extended their hegemony over major part of the Eurasian landmass from the Danube to the Pacific for the better part of two centuries.

Mongol Empire World Map

Nasir Al-Din Tusi, a Medieval Persian genius

Nasir Al-Din Tusi (1201–1274 C.E.) was a Medieval Persian scholar: An architect, astronomer, biologist, chemist, mathematician, philosopher, physician, physicist, scientist, theologian and Marja Taqleed. He put forward the basic theory of evolution over 600 years before Darwin and built the Maraghah observatory, the first observatory in the modern sense in the history of science. He developed the mathematical calculations showing the earth’s revolution around the sun and its spherical shape and size. His work was later translated into Latin and predated, by some 200 years, that of Copernicus, considered the founder of modern astronomy and the originator of the idea of a solar-centered universe.

Nasir Al-Din Tusi

Rumi the greatest mystical poet

Rumi Mawlana (1207–1273 C.E.) the greatest mystical poet of the Persian language and the author of Mathnawi, elevated Sufism to unprecedented heights. Although a Persian, he lived in Anatolia (his parents had migrated in fear of the Mongols’ brutality). His poetry and philosophy had a significant influence throughout the Islamic world. His disciples founded the famous Whirling Dervish mystic order. His poems have been widely translated into many of the world’s languages and transposed into various formats; BBC News has described him as The most popular poet in the world.

Farewell to Rumi

Saadi of Shiraz

Saadi Shirazi (1210–1292 C.E.) is one of the major Persian poets of the medieval period. He is recognized not only for the quality of his writing, but also for the depth of his social thoughts. His best and most significant Persian known works are Bustan and Gulistan. His poems exercised wide influence in India, Central Asia and as far as in China. His poems emphasized the interdependence of all mankind regardless of nationality, race or religion. He asked for the following inscription on his tomb: From the tomb of Sa’di, son of Shiraz, the perfume of love escapes, thou shall smell it still 1,000 years after his death.

Persian Mystical Poets

Marco Polo journeyed through Persia

Marco Polo (1254–1324 C.E.) an Italian merchant, explorer, and writer journeyed through Persia on his way to China in 1271. In his Book of Travels, he wrote about the Mongols’ savagery: How sad it is, the destruction, waste and death inflicted upon this once mighty, prosperous and beautiful Persia.

Marco Polos journey through Persia

Major advances in the field of optics

Kamal Al-Din Farsi (1265–1319 C.E.) pioneered major advances in the field of optics with his theories on refraction and reflection. Farsi was the most prominent Persian author on optics and he also made a major contributions to science on number theory.

History of Optics

Mongols became Persianized

Ghazan Khan became the first Mongol leader to convert religion. After his conversion in 1295 C.E., the Mongols, like the Greek, Arab and Turkic invaders before them, became Persianized. Ghazan Khan’s prime minister, Rashid ad-Din, was a Persian scholar who wrote one of the earliest works of universal history, Jami’ Al-Tawarikh. After almost one hundred years of Mongol devastation, Rashid ad-Din’s policies brought about a short-lived period of peace and prosperity. The vast Mongol Empire helped to facilitate the exchange of ideas and goods among China, India and Persia.

Ghazan Khan

Hafez of Shiraz

Hafez Shirazi (1315–1390 C.E.), the greatest lyric poet of the Persian language, wrote his most famous work, The Divan. Hafiz is a beloved mystical poet who always refreshes the love of Zoroastrian faith in his poetry by calling himself a follower of the old Magi. Hafez was a Sufi and his poetry is characterized by the sense of beauty, love of humanity and devotion to God.


Jamshid Kashani

Jamshid Kashani (1380–1429 C.E.) was a major Persian astronomer and mathematician, he advanced number theory, invented the first calculating machine and participated in the astronomical activities at Samarqand. He wrote many Astronomical books. He was still working on his final book, called The Treatise on the Chord and Sine, when he died in 1429. Some scholars believe that Ulugh Beg, a Timurid ruler as well as a rival astronomer and mathematician may have ordered his murder.

Persian Astronomer

Brutal invasion of Turco-Mongols

After the death of the ruler of the Ilkhanate, in 1335, there was a power vacuum in Persia. In the end Persia was split into several smaller independent dynasties. In 1383, Timur (Tamerlane), a Turco-Mongol leader started his lengthy military conquest of Persia. He conquered much of Persia and its surrounding areas. His conquests yet again consisted of unimaginable cruelty and devastation. Although brutal, he was also a patron of arts. He made Samarqand his capital and brought artists from all over Persia. Tamerlane is probably remembered most for his massacres and brutality. 80 000 were slain at Delhi (many of them flayed and burned alive) and the city itself did not recover until almost a century later, whole irrigation systems and agriculture centres were destroyed beyond repair, towers were made from the skulls of his enemies, at Sabzawar live captives were cemented between clay and brick to create minarets. He was responsible for ruining trade in the region and reducing populations by sometimes staggering amounts. Tamerlane died in 1405. After his death, his empire disintegrated, but his descendants ruled over various parts of Persia for almost a century.

Mongol horde in battle
Safavid Empire

Safavid Empire  

Persia united again under Iranian leadership

1501 1736 C.E. (Current Era)

Shah Ismail united all of Persia under Iranian leadership in 1501 after some nine centuries of foreign or fragmented Iranian rule. He declared Shi’ism as the state religion and converted virtually all of Persia and some surrounding areas under his control from Sunnism to Shi’ism. Shi’ism became a medium for the Persians to differentiate themselves from the rest of the Islamic world, in particular from the Sunni Ottomans. To ensure its continuation as the state religion, the Safavid kings in general supported the Shi’ite clergy.

Ismail declares himself shah by entering Tabriz
Shah Abbas I of Persia

The Safavid dynasty founded by Shah Ismail would rule for over two centuries, being one of the greatest Persian empires after the brutal Muslim conquest of Persia and at its height being amongst the most powerful empires of its time, ruling all of Iran, Azerbaijan, Armenia, most of Georgia, the North Caucasus, Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan, as well as parts of modern day Syria, Turkey, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. It also reasserted the Iranian identity in large parts of Greater Iran. The legacy of the Safavid Empire was also the revival of Persia as an economic stronghold between East and West, the establishment of an efficient state and bureaucracy, its architectural innovations and its patronage for fine arts. Ismail was also a prolific poet and contributed to Persian literature, though few of his Persian writings survive.

Banner - Safavid Dynasty

Shah Abbas the Great

The reign of Shah Abbas the Great (1571–1629 C.E.) marked the pinnacle of the Safavid dynasty. He developed a disciplined standing army and defeated the Ottomans. In 1598, he chose Isfahan as his capital. A strong supporter of the arts, especially architecture, he adorned Isfahan with some of the finest monuments in the world. He built a number of temples, schools, bridges and a major bazaar. During his reign (1588–1629), Persian craftsmen and artists excelled in creating fine silks, cloths, porcelain, metalwork, calligraphy, miniatures and carpets.

Shah Abbas Miniator 1
Khaju Bridge (Pol-e Khāju) in the province of Isfahan was built by Shah Abbas II around 1650
Shah Abbas II - Khaju Bridge bridge in Isfahan

The Age of Gunpowder Empires

Gunpowder Empires (1501–1722 C.E.) is a term used to describe the Safavid, Ottoman and Mughal empires which all had considerable military success using the newly developed firearms, especially cannon and small arms, in the course of their empires. These three empires dominated Asia, Europe and North Africa in the 16th century.

The two arch rivals of the Safavids: the Ottomans in Anatolia and the Mughals in India, relied on Persian artisans and poets for much of their arts and literature. Persian was the language of choice in both of their courts. This preference is evident from their poems and miniature paintings whose texts were almost exclusively written in Persian. Persian influence was especially prevalent in India, where it was also the cultural and administrative language; it remained so until the colonization of India by the British. The Taj Mahal’s principle architect was a Persian named Ustad Isad and its architectural style was significantly influenced by Persian designs.
Gunpowder Empires Map

Vassal of the Safavids, attacked Persia

Mahmoud Khan (Moghul Khan), an Afghan chieftain and a vassal of the Safavids, attacked Persia and captured Isfahan with virtually no resistance, he overthrew the heavily declined Safavid dynasty to briefly become the king of Persia from 1722–1725. Suffering from mental illnesses and fearing a revolt by his subjects, Mahmud invited his Persian ministers and nobles to a meeting under false pretences and had them slaughtered. He also executed up to 3,000 of the Persian royal guards. At the same time the Persian arch rivals, Ottomans, and the Russians took advantage of the chaos in Persia to seize land for themselves.

The mighty Nader Shah

Nader Shah Afshar (1688–1747 C.E.), an officer of the Safavids, was able to expel the Afghans and reunite the country again during his reign (1736–1747). He was a brilliant military strategist, defeating the Ottomans, Russians, Indians and various local tribes. In his invasion of Mughal India, Nader Shah captured two of the world’s greatest diamonds, the Sea of Light (now in Iran) and the Mountain of Light (now part of the British Crown Jewels). Nader Shah became increasingly paranoid and was assassinated by his own guardsmen. After his death, his great military machine collapsed.

Nader Shah

Zand Dynasty

Karim Khan Zand was the founder of the Zand Dynasty (1747–1779 C.E.) and gained control of central and southern parts of Persia. He was a compassionate ruler who refused to assume the title of Shah and referred to himself as the Representative of the People. While Karim was ruler, Persia recovered from the devastation of 40 years of war, providing the war ravaged country with a renewed sense of tranquility, security, peace, and prosperity. The years from 1765 to Karim Khan’s death in 1779 marked the zenith of Zand rule. After Karim Khan Zand’s death in 1779 C.E. Aqa Khan Qajar from a rival tribe gradually vanquished the Zands dynasty and established the Qajar dynasty.

Karim Khan Zand
Qajar Dynasty

Qajar Dynasty  

Succeeded in reuniting Persia

1789 1925 C.E. (Current Era)

Although The Qajars succeeded in reuniting the country, they were generally weak and corrupt rulers. The economic and military gap between Iran and the West widened considerably under their reign - especially in light of the Industrial Revolution that was taking place in the West. However, the Qajar period also enjoyed a high degree of artistic excellence, producing some of Iran’s finest paintings, tileworks and architectural monuments.

The Qajars

European imperialism

The European imperialism resulted in English and Russian penetration in Iranian affairs. The Qajars lost the Caucasus (present day Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan) to the Russians in two separate treaties: the Gulistan in 1813 and the Turkmanchay in 1828. As a result of the 1828 treaty, the Qajars were forced to enact the Capitulation law, exempting all foreign citizens from Iranian jurisdiction. This law deeply humiliated the Iranian people.

European imperialism

Britain & Russia manipulated Iran’s politics

In 1851–1906 C.E. The Qajars lost their central Asian provinces to the Russians and were forced to give up all claims on Afghanistan to the British. These two European powers dominated Iran’s trade and manipulated its internal politics. The Qajars and influential members of their court were bribed to sell many valuable concessions to the British, such as the Tobacco Concession which triggered a massive popular uprising.

Qajar Persian British painting of the assault

Social and Economic Chaos

Discontent with Qajar corruption and mismanagement led to the Constitutional Revolution and the establishment of Iran’s first parliament or Majles. The constitutional aspirations for a limited monarchy were never to be fully realized. Although Iran never became an actual colony of imperial powers, in 1907 it was divided into two spheres of influence. The north was controlled by Russia and the south and the east by Britain. By the end of World War I, Persia was plunged into a state of political, social and economic chaos.

Persia 1907 Map

Reza Khan the Great

Reza Khan, an officer in the army disliked the foreign influence in his country, namely, Britain and Russia. He wanted to regenerate Iran and staged a coup in 1921. Initially the minister of war and then the prime minister, in 1925 Reza Khan decided to become the Shah himself. Although Reza Khan’s initial objective was to install a republic, the clergy, fearing a diminished role in a republic, persuaded him to become the Shah (1925–1941).

Reza Khan Pahlavi 1
The Pahlavi dynasty

The Pahlavi dynasty  

Rise of nationalism and major modernization

1925 1978 C.E. (Current Era)

The Pahlavi dynasty can be seen as one very important Iranian dynasty since the Sassanid Empire. The Iranian patriotism and service of Reza Shah the Great (1878–1944) to the Iranian nation, culture, and identity is unquestionable. After a millennium and a half, he was the first to truly recognize the important role that our pre-Islamic heritage and civilization serve in our identity. The king sought to rebuild Iran where the Sassanids had left off. The Great Reza Shah Pahlavi’s first priority was to strengthen the authority of the central government by creating a disciplined standing army and restraining the autonomy of the tribal chiefs. He embarked upon a series of modernizing and secular reforms, some of which were designed specifically to break the power of the clergy over Iran’s educational and judicial systems. He provided public education, built many modern universities, and brought women into higher education and to the work force.

He initiated Iran’s first industrialization program and dramatically improved Iran’s infrastructure by building numerous roads, bridges, state-owned factories and Iran’s first Transnational railway. On 21 March 1935, the ruler of Persia, King Pahlavi I, officially requested all foreign governments to no longer refer to Iran as Persia and it nearly took 25 years (until 1959) for the entire world to officially recognize and use the local term Iran. Politically, however, Reza Shah forcibly abolished the wearing of the veil, took away the effective power of the Majles and did not permit any forms of free speech. With the outbreak of WW II, Reza Shah, wanting to remain neutral, refused to side with the Allies.
Reza Khan Pahlavi 2

Anglo-Soviet invasion of Persia

USSR, Britain and other Commonwealth armed forces invaded & occupied Persia in 1941 during the Second World War in desperate need of the Trans-Iranian railway to supply the Soviets with wartime materials. The invasion lasted from 25 August to 17 September 1941 and was codenamed Operation Countenance. King Reza Shah was forced to abdicate in favor of his young son and died in South Africa in exile in 1944.

A British officer in the capital of Iran, Tehran (Meydan Sepah) after the invasion
1941 - Tehran, Meydan Sepah

The Northern Tier vs. USSR

An alliance between Iran and its neighbors in 1946 created a great wall against Soviet expansion called The Northern Tier, also known as the Central Treaty Organization. Under American pressure, the Soviet Union was forced to pull out of Iran’s northwestern province. It was the first and only time that Stalin gave back a WW II occupied territory.

USSR-Iran Northern Tier Map

Britain and USA sponsored a coup

Iran’s Majles passed a law sponsored by the nationalistic (soon to be prime minister) Dr. Mossadeq to nationalize Iran’s oil from British control. The British, enraged by the threat to their oil concessions, froze all of Iran’s Sterling assets and took their case to the International Court of Justice. The Court ruled in Iran’s favor. Undeterred, the British placed a total trade embargo on Iran and enforced it with their navy, leading to the collapse of Iran’s economy. Citing the threat of a communist takeover, During 1951–1953 the British Intelligence and the CIA sponsored a coup (Operation Boot & Operation Ajax ) to topple Dr. Mossadeq’s democratically-elected government. In the midst of the coup, the young Shah, having thought the plan had failed, left the country. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Mossadeq’s government was overthrown and the Shah was put back in power.

Prime Minister Mossadegh

White Revolution

The Shah (1919–1979) introduced his White Revolution in 1962. It consisted of major land reform, workers’ rights and women’s suffrage, equality, among other initiatives. His reforms did not develop as planned. In a series of public speeches, Ayatollah Khomeini attacked these reforms. He was arrested and then exiled. A series of reforms, consisting of 19 elements, were planned and introducted over a period of 15 years. the first 6 elements were introduced in 1963 and put to a national referendum on January 26th, 1963 with overwhelming approval by the public.

Imperial Majesty Reza Pahlavi Aryamehr 01

Rapid economic growth

Iran experienced rapid economic growth and prosperity coupled with a relatively stable political climate during 1963–1973. Iran progressed by huge leaps and bounds in the seventies and was labeled by the West as an outstanding economic performer with record earnings and revenues. Iran’s infrastructure, public health and educational institutions were expanded. A number of highways, roads, bridges, railroad tracks, water and sewage projects, factories, schools, universities and hospitals were built. Iran’s military strength grew and its international prestige was enhanced.

Basically, The Shah’s reign displayed the same two trends as were characteristic of his father’s period, nationalism and modernization. There were other similarities as well: the new King faced at the beginning foreign occupation and interference, he was challenged by tribal rebellion and unrest, and was beset by an upsurge of provincial separatism and communism. He also had to wage a struggle for economic independence from British dominance of the oil sector. And, like his father, he searched for a friendly third force that would counterbalance both the Soviet and the British influence. continue »
Azadi Freedom 1

Global oil and energy crisis

The oil embargo (1973–1979) quadrupled Iran’s oil revenue to $20 billion a year. This new wealth as well as the Shah’s advanced stage of cancer accelerated the kings timetable to make Iran catch up with the West during his lifetime. The Shah’s determination to modernize Iran virtually overnight and at any cost led to cultural shock, alienation of the masses, inflation, corruption, economic bottlenecks, massive urbanization, rising expectations and increasing authoritarianism in dealing with these social, economic and political problems. By the late 1970s, the Shah’s opponents, of all political affiliations, united against him. The people’s broad-based, popular revolution for democracy was quickly hijacked by extremists & Islamic fundamentalists.

The Shah was overthrown in 1979 by the Iranian Revolution. Beset by advanced cancer, the Shah left Iran to begin a life in exile in Cairo, Egypt and he died a year later. Unfortunately, the Pahlavi Dynasty’s nationalistic efforts were halted, undermined, and greatly reversed with the formation of an Islamic Republic based on the Arab-Islam ideology and cult. After 2500 years of monarchy, Iran’s government was changed to a theocratic republic, The Islamic Republic of Iran (at times referred to as the Second Islamic invasion) aimed at destroying Iran from within and turned back the clocks of the history & progress by hundreds of years.
1979 - The Year That Changed the World as we knew it
1979 - Iran’s Revolution Was Hijacked

International Women’s Day

After the broad-based, popular revolution for democracy was hijacked by Islamic fundamentalists, women quickly became the most oppressed segment by the new government (theocratic republic) as they passed many new laws that step by step took all their rights away. Millions took to the streets on March 8, 1979 (International Women’s Day) to protest in vain after the announcement that the headwear would be mandatory. At the time, Iranian people were very politically charged and believed change could be effected by demonstrating in the streets, They were wrong! These protests and their screams for freedom soon became completely forgotten by the world as soon as the Iran-USA hostage crisis (1979–1981) and later the Iran-Iraq war started (1980–1988).

Millions of women protesting in vain against the new islamic laws that restricted their freedom
1979 - Women protesting against headwear

Iran’s America policy

Iran’s America policy

To help you comprehend Iran’s current America policy, you need to look beyond the headlines and search for those fundamental cultural and psychological factors that drive Iran’s foreign policy in general and its America policy in particular. No real grasp of Iran’s behavior in world politics is possible without appreciating that the Iranian people have very strong ties to their history, culture and language, which are distinctively Persian and are very proud of their rich heritage. But this sense of pride in the greatness of their culture and history is countered by a deep sense of victimization. The Iranian people feel they have been oppressed by foreign powers during their long history.

Iranians remember that the British and the Russian empires exploited them economically and subjugated them politically, and that the CIA of USA destroyed their democratically-elected government and staged a coup in 1953 (Operation Boot & Operation Ajax ) engineered by the British and American intelligence services that destroyed the democratically-elected government of Dr. Musaddiq. The United States returned the shah to the throne for their own benefit, and American economic, political, military and cultural domination ensued over the following quarter century until the revolution in 1979 (The Year That Changed the World as we knew it). Not to mention the Persian civilian airliner Iran Air Flight 655 that was shot down by US missiles on July 1988, killing all 290 passengers and crew aboard, including 66 children, ranking it among the deadliest airliner fatalities. The United States must bear its fair share of responsibility for the problems that have arisen in U.S.-Iranian relations.
Chess Game - Iran-USA Relations

Persian Identity

Persian Identity

Iran has never been an Arabic country and never will be! Iranian people have very strong ties to their history, culture and language, which are distinctively Persian. They are very proud of their rich heritage, strongly admire their former King of Kings, especially Cyrus the Great and his legacy of introducing human rights in a political setting of the first humane and equal Federal World Empire. Another reason for which Persians dislike being mistakenly identified as Arabs is because Arab Islamic army conquered Persia in a very brutal way and forced them to change their religion, and customs by the edge of a sword. When Arabs conquered Persia they destroyed our Equal rights, Freedom of speech and Freedom of religion and replaced those factors with central primitive brutal government, prejudice and slavery. But Persian culture and rich history conquered them! Persia is the only country which didn’t become an Arab country (like Egypt, Babylonia, Assyria, Phoenicia and all the other ancient countries conquered and destroyed by Arabs) and in spite of centuries of invasions and foreign rule by Greeks, Arabs, Turks, Mongols etc. Persia has retained its own strong identity.

For centuries Arabs has tried to destroy our culture, our language, science, poetry, literature, philosophy, religion, race, traditions, celebrations, music, arts and of course our Calendar. They never fully succeeded! Wake up Persia!
Don’t forget our brave and mighty Lions and Lionesses of the past!
Azadi Freedom 3
A great civilization is not conquered from without until it destroys itself from within.

The Future

Iran today stands at the crossroads of history and we live in remarkable times, and thanks to the tyranny of the islamic republic, we are now able to shed the Islamic past and move ahead into the future. A future without Islam, or any other organised religion. In this, we are far more fortunate than the rest of the world, for once this regime crumbles into dust, the tyranny of religion will never again raise it’s ugly head in our land, for we will never forget. Islam as an Arab ideology has been a disease for Iran and Iranians and the only people who have truly once and for all uprooted Islam from Iran are the Mullahs themselves in only three decades. In a way, we should be grateful to them for this remarkable achievment.

For us, there is no going back to the superstitions of the distant past. There is only the future, where Atheism, Equalism, Democracy & Freedom awaits us... For millenniums when invaders came to Persia, the Iranians never become the invaders; the invaders became Iranians. Their conquerors were said to have gone Persian. Persians seem particularly proud of their capacity to get along with others by assimilating compatible aspects of the invaders’ ways without surrendering their own; a cultural elasticity that is at the heart of their Persian identity.
The Invaders Can’t Control What’s Inside Us
Azadi Freedom 4

We would like to end by saying that we are certain that light will overcome darkness/fanaticism, and Persia, alike the legendary bird Simorgh of Shahnameh , will once again rise from her ashes and regain her rich history. Persia, has always been home to those who throughout history have fought for the idea of freedom and equality.



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