An Introduction to Ancient Iran


If you should wonder how many are the lands that Darius the King held, behold the sculpted figures who bear the throne, then you shall learn, then it shall be known to you that the spear of the Persian man has gone forth far. Then it shall become known to you that the Persian man has given battle far away from Persia.

– inscription written on the tomb of Darius I, Naqsh-i Rustam, Fars province, Iran 1

The following takes a look at one of the greatest civilizations the world has ever known, that of ancient and pre-Islamic Iran, or Persia. This is a civilization that contributed immensely to both the ancient and modern world as we know it.

This section starts with the arrival of the Persian speaking peoples from their historical homeland in Central Asia (the mythical Airyanem Vaejah) to the Iranian plateau and then into the founding of the Persian state under Cyrus the Great and the history of Iran up until the last pre-Islamic Persian emperor, Yazdegard III.

Introduction and Early History

Bas-relief from old Susan temple.
The Persian Empire: An Introduction
The Elamites and the first state in Iran
The Lost City of Susa
New kids on the block: the arrival of the Persians and the Medes
The Kingdom of Anshan: Ancient Persia before Cyrus the Great

The Achaemenids

Persian Achaemenian King standing in front of a fire altar and Fravahar
Cyrus II and the Founding of the Persian Empire
Cyrus II and the conquest of Lydia
Cyrus the Great and the conquest of Babylon
Cyrus the Great and the Conquest of all of Iran
The Death of Cyrus the Great

Cambyses II and the Conquest of Egypt

Persian guards at Susa, from the Achaemenian period.
Soldier uniforms from the Achaemenian period

The Arsacids (Parthians)

The Quick History of Parthia and the Parthians
The Battle of Carrhae: The Parthians and Rome’s First Great Defeat in the East

Mithras and Mithraism: The Popularity of a Persian god in the Roman Empire

Interesting Links and other Resources

Elam / Elamites

History of Elam
Secrets Of The 5,000 Year-Old Proto-Elamite Tablets

Achaemenid Empire

Lost Worlds: Forgotten Empire (Ancient History Documentary) | Timeline
The Achaemenid Empire

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