HISTORY OF IRAN
Some recent archaeological studies indicate the human presence on the southern shores of the Caspian Sea as early as 10,000 BC. C., in one of the few areas of the world that, according to scientists, escaped the Ice Age. Probably, these were the first humans in history to practice agriculture and livestock.
Although the history of Iran is long and complex, it has been the rise and fall of successive dynasties (with intervals of chaos and confusion) that has marked their identity.
The Persian Empire, the Medes, the Assyrian Empire, the Macedonians, the Huns, the Sassanians, the Arabs, the Seljuks and Mongols, the Timurids and Safavids are some of the peoples and empires that dominated this region at some point in its history.
In the sixth century a. C., Cyrus the Great founded the Persian empire, which was destroyed by Alexander the Great in 330 BC. During subsequent centuries, Persia was invaded by Parthians, Arabs, Mongols and several Turkish dynasties. After the Arab conquest of the mid-seventh century, the ancient Persian religion of Zoroastrianism gave way to Islam.
Persia continued to be invaded by foreign powers for another thousand years. The Seljuk Turks arrived in the eleventh century, followed by the Mongols under the power of Genghis Khan and his grandson Hulagu Khan in the thirteenth century and by Tamerlane (Timur) in the fourteenth century. The Safavids, another Turkish dynasty, took control in the sixteenth century, but were overthrown by the Kayar, another Turkish tribe, in the eighteenth century.
The Safavids belonged to the religious order of the Sufis and converted the Shiite Islam into the religion of Iran, carrying out an important campaign of conversion of the Iranian Muslims. The Safavid dynasty reached its climax during the reign of Shah Abbas I (1587-1629). With the reign of this monarch, Persia was again known as a superpower in Europe for being the Ottomans’ greatest opponent and its wars saved Europe, as the Ottomans were too busy in the East fighting against Iran to make their way towards West.
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Iran fell under increasing pressure from European nations, especially the Russian Empire and Great Britain. The discovery of oil in the early twentieth century intensified the rivalry between Britain and Russia for power over the nation. After the First World War, Iran joined the League of Nations as a member.
In 1921, Reza Khan, an army officer, established a military dictatorship. Later, he was elected hereditary sah, thus ending the Kayar dynasty and establishing the new Pahlavi dynasty.
In 1963, the most important religious uprising took place at the national level, led by Ayatollah Khomeini, in protest of the so-called “White Revolution”.
After the victory of the Islamic revolution of 1979, the sah was overthrown and Iran, officially renamed the Islamic Republic of Iran, became a theocratic state. The 1979 constitution appointed Ayatollah Khomeini as the pious jurist or faqih (the political leader and who holds the supreme decision-making power). On April 1, 1979, it became the Day of the Islamic Republic.