Timeline of the Persian Empire

Persian Empire Timeline from 3400 BC - 642 AD

The Immortals of Persian King Darius

This Persia timeline of major events is based on a Library of Congress Persia timeline.

For an introduction to this area -- now generally known as Iran -- see Extent of the Persian Empire: An Introduction to Ancient Persia and the Persian Empire.

Iran (Persia) Timeline of Important Events

  • Early History

    c. 3400 B.C.Elamite kingdom emerges in southwestern Iran and Mesopotamia.
    c. 2000 B.C.
    Nomadic peoples -- Scythians, Medes, and Persians -- move from Central Asia to Iranian plateau. [See Tribes of the Ancient Steppes.]
  • 6th Century B.C.

    c. 553-550 B.C. Cyrus II (Cyrus the Great) overthrows Median king; becomes ruler of Persia and Media; founds Achaemenid Empire.539 B.C.
    Cyrus captures Babylon, releases Jews from captivity.525 B.C.
    Cyrus's son Cambyses II conquers Egypt.522 B.C.
    Darius I becomes king; re-establishes and extends empire, carries out administrative reorganization.
  • 5th Century B.C.

    490 B.C. Darius invades Greek mainland; defeated at the Battle of Marathon.
  • 4th Century B.C.

    334 B.C. Alexander the Great begins Persian campaign; completes conquest of Persia and Mesoptamia, 330 B.C.323 B.C.
    Death of Alexander; division of empire among generals; Seleucids emerge as principal heirs in Iran.
  • 3rd Century B.C.

    247 B.C. Parthians overthrow Seleucids; establish own dynasty.
  • 3rd Century A.D.

    A.D. 224 Ardeshir overthrows last Parthian ruler; establishes Sassanian dynasty with capital at Ctesiphon.A.D. 260
    Shahpur I wages campaign against Romans, takes emperor Valerian captive.
  • 7th Century

    637 Muslim armies capture Ctesiphon, Sassanian Empire begins to crumble.
    641-42 Sassanian army defeated at Nahavand; Iran comes under Muslim rule.