Timeline of the Persian Empire

From 3400 BCE to 642 CE

Scythian emissaries meeting with Darius.

Franciszek Smuglewicz / Wikimedia Commons / PD-Art

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

Early History

  • c. 3400 BCE - Elamite kingdom emerges in southwestern Iran and Mesopotamia.
  • c. 2000 BCE - Nomadic peoples -- Scythians, Medes, and Persians -- move from Central Asia to the Iranian plateau.

6th Century BCE

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

5th Century BCE

  • 490 BCE - Darius invades the Greek mainland; defeated at the Battle of Marathon.

4th Century BCE

  • 334 BCE - Alexander the Great begins Persian campaign; completes conquest of Persia and Mesopotamia, 330 BCE.
  • 323 BCE - Death of Alexander; division of empire among generals; Seleucids emerge as principal heirs in Iran.

3rd Century BCE

  • 247 BCE - Parthians overthrow Seleucids; establish their own dynasty.

3rd Century CE

  • 224 CE - Ardeshir overthrows the last Parthian ruler; establishes the Sassanian dynasty with capital at Ctesiphon.
  • 260 CE -Shahpur I wages a campaign against the Romans, takes emperor Valerian captive.

7th Century

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