Ancient Iran ,also known as Persia used for centuries ,chiefly in the west ,to designate those regions where Persian language and culture predominated, but it more correctly refers to region of southern Iran formerly known as Peris ,Pars , modern Fars . During the rule of the Persian Achaemenian dynasty (559-330BC),The ancient Greeks first encountered the inhabitants of Persis on the Iranian plateau, when the Achaemenids(native of Persis) were expanding their political sphere. The Achaemenids were the dominant dynasty during Greek history until the time of Alexander the Great , and the use of the name Persia was gradually extended by the Greeks and other realms to apply to the whole Iranian plateau.
This tendency was reinforced with the rise of the Sassanian dynasty (also native to Persis) , whose culture dominated the Iranian plateau until the 7th century AD .The people of this area have traditionally referred to the region as Iran “Land of the Aryans”. In 1935 the government of Iran request that the name Iran be used in lieu of Persia ,the two terms ,however , are often used interchangeably when referring to periods preceding the 20th century .
The Elamites (Iran History)
Iran’s first organized settlements were established in Elam ,the lowland region in what is now Khuzestan province , as far back as the middle of the 3rd millennium BC. Elam was close enough to Mesopotamia and the great Sumerian civilization to feel its influence, and the records suggest the two were regular opponents on the battlefield. The Elamites established their capital at Shush. The Elamites believed in a Pantheon of gods ,and the most notable remaining building , the enormous ziggurat at Choga Zanbil was built around 13 century BC and dedicated to foremost of these gods.by 12th century the Elamites are thought to have controlled most of what is now western Iran ,the Tigris Valley and the coast of the Persian Gulf .They even managed to defeat the Assyrians , carrying off in victory the famous stone inscribed with the Code of Hammurabi.
About this time Indo-European Aryan tribes began to arrive from the north ,this Persians eventually settled in what is now Fars province ,around shiraz while the Medes took up residence further north in what is today northwestern Iran .The Medes established a capital at Ecbatana, now buried under modern Hamedan .
Median & Achaemenid Empire (650BC-330BC)
In 646 BC the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal devastated shush ,which ended Elamites supremacy in the region .For over 150 years Assyrian kings of nearby Northern Mesopotamia were seeking to conquer Median tribes of western Iran . Under pressure of the Assyrian empire ,the small kingdoms of western Persian plateau coalesced into larger and more centralized states. In the second half of 7th century BC, the Median tribes gained their independence and were united by Deioces (دیاکو) . In 612 BC Cyaxares, Deioces ‘ grandson ,and the Babylonian king Nabopolasser invaded Assyria and laid siege to and eventually destroyed Nineveh ,the Assyrian capital , which led to the fall of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. The Medes are credited with foundation of Iran as a nation & Empire , moreover they established the first Iranian empire ,the largest of its day until Cyrus the Great established a unified empire of Medes and Persian lading to Achaemenian Empire (648_330BC).
Cyrus the Great overthrew ,in turn the Medes , Lydians, and Babylonians , creating an empire far larger than Assyria . He was capable of unifying the realm through his benign policies ,to reconcile his subjects to Persian rules ,resulting to his Empire’s empowering .Cambyses II conquered Ancient Egypt ,overthrowing the Dynasty of XXVI .Since e became ill and died before or while leaving Egypt ,stories developed as related by Herodotus , leading to succession crisis at last , and Darius I became King of Achaemenian .
Darius ‘ first capital was at Susa and he started building project at Persepolis . he rebuilt a canal between the Nile and the Red sea ,a forerunner of modern Suez Canal then he improved the extensive road system ,constructed & developed Royal road, a great highway stretching all the way from Susa to Sardis with posting stations at regular interval .Major reforms took place under Darius , for instance not only coinage in the form of the Daric(Gold coin )and shekel (Silver coin) but also administrative efficiency was increased .The old Persian language appear s in royal inscriptions ,written in a specially adapted version of cuneiform Under the Cyrus the Great & Darius the Great .The Persian Empire eventually became the vast Empire in Human history until right now .
Their greatest achievement of Achaemenid’s Empire was itself, represented the world’s first superpower that was based on a model of respect for other cultures and religions. you can conceive more the concept of vast Achaemenid’s Empire by the below picture. In 334BC-331BC Alexander the Great defeated Darius III ,swiftly conquering the Persian Empire by 331 BC. Alexander ‘s Empire broke up shortly after his death, however Alexander’s general ,Seleucus I Nicator tried to take control of Persia& Mesopotamia .His ruling family is known as the Seleucid dynasty . At last he was killed in281BC by Ptolemy Keraunos.
Parthian Empire (Iran History)(248BC-224AD)
Parthia was led by the Arsacid dynasty ,who reunited and ruled over the Iranian plateau ,after defeating the Greek Seleucid Empire ,beginning in the late 3rd century BC .It was the second native dynasty ancient Iran (Persia).Parthia was the Eastern archenemy of the Roman Empire ;and its limited Rome’s expansion beyond Cappadocia (central Anatolia ) .
The Parthian armies included two types of cavalry: the heavily armed & armored cataphracts and lightly armed but highly mobile mounted archers. for the Romans ,who relied on heavy infantry ,the Parthians were too hard to defeat ,as both types of cavalry were much faster & more mobile than foot soldiers . On the other hand , the Parthian found it difficult to occupy conquered areas, as they were unskilled in siege warfare. Because of these weaknesses , neither the Romans nor the Parthians were able to completely annex each other . The Parthian empire lasted over five centuries ,longer than most eastern empire .The end of long lasted empire came in 224 AD ,when the empire was weakly organized and the last king was defeated by one of empire’s vassals , the Persians of Sassanian dynasty .
Sassanid Empire (224-651)
The first Shah of the Sassanid Empire , Ardashir I ,started reforming the country both economically & militarily .The empire territory encompass all of today’s Iran ,Iraq, Armenia , Afghanistan , Caucasia , Central Asia include India , eastern part of turkey ,Syria, Pakistan & Arab regions .During Khosrow II’s rule in 590-628, Egypt ,Jordan, Palestine & Lebanon were also annexed to the Empire then the Sassanians called their empire Iranshahr (Dominion of the Aryans).
A chapter of Iran’s history followed after roughly six hundred years of conflict with the Roman Empire .During this time ,the Sassanian & Romano-Byzantine armies clashed for influence in Mesopotamia , Armenia & Levant . Under Justinian I ,the war came to a concerning peace with the payment of tribute to the Sassanian , However the Sassanians used the deposition of the Byzantine Emperor Maurice as casus belli to attack the Empire .After many gains ,the Sassanians were defeated at Issus Battle ,Constantinople and finally Nineveh ,resulting in peace .
The Sassanian era ,encompassing the length of the Late Antiquity period ,considered to be one of the most important and influential historical periods in Iran at the same time had major impact on the world .In many ways the Sassanian period witnessed the higher achievement of Persian civilization ,and constitutes last great Iranian Empire before the adoption of Islam .Persia influenced Roman civilization considerably during Sassanian times ,their cultural influence extending far beyond the empire’s territorial borders ,reaching as far as western Europe ,Africa & China and India .The Sassanian spoke their own languages ,Pahlavi ,the root of modern Farsi. The Sassanian capital was at Ctesiphon in modern Iraq
In conclusion of the Roman- Persian wars ,the war-exhausted Persians lost the Battle of al-Qadisiyeh (632)in Hilla (present Iraq) to the invading forces of Islam . Persia was in no state to resist when the Arabs attacked in 633AD ,only two women moarchs came and went in following 5 years before Arab’s conquest.