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Persian Empire

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Persian Empire in the Achaemenid era, 6th century BC
Tomb of Cyrus the Great, founder of the Achaemenid Empire (the first Persian Empire) in the 6th century BC
Taq Kasra (Arch of Ctesiphon), symbol of the Sasanian Empire, 3rd century AD

The Persian Empire (Persian: شاهنشاهی ایران‎, translit. Šâhanšâhiye Irân, lit. 'Imperial Iran') refers to a series of imperial dynasties that were centred in Persia/Iran from the 6th century BC Achaemenid Empire era to the 20th century AD in the Qajar dynasty era.


The first dynasty of the Persian Empire was created by Achaemenids, established by Cyrus the Great in 550 BC with the conquest of Median, Lydian and Babylonian empires.[1][2] It covered much of the then known Ancient world.[3] Persepolis is the most famous historical site related to Persian Empire in the Achaemenid era and it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979.[4]


From 247 BC to 224 AD, Persia was ruled by the Parthian Empire, which supplanted the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire, and then by the Sassanian Empire, which ruled up until the mid-7th century.[5] The Persian Empire in the Sasanian era was interrupted by the Arab conquest of Persia in 651 AD, establishing the even larger Islamic caliphate, and later by the Mongol invasion. The main religion of ancient Persia was the native Zoroastrianism, but after the seventh century, it was slowly replaced by Islam.[6]


Abbas the Great, the most powerful king of the Safavid dynasty

The Safavid Empire was the first Persian Empire established after the Arab conquest of Persia by Shah Ismail I. From their base in Ardabil, the Safavid Persians established control over parts of Greater Persia/Iran and reasserted the Persian identity of the region, becoming the first native Persian dynasty since the Sasanian Empire to establish a unified Persian state.[7]

Literature, art and architecture flourished in the Safavid era once again, and it is often cited as the "rebirth of the Persian Empire". Safavids also announced Shia Islam as the official religion in the empire versus the Sunni Islam in the neighbouring Ottoman Empire. The Safavid Empire was the first Muslim Iranian state to be a match for the Ottomans and Mameluks.[8]

List of the dynasties described as a Persian Empire

See also



  1. ^ Herodotus (2015) [2014]. "Halicarnassus". The Histories. Penguin Classics Deluxe (Reprint ed.). London: Penguin Classics. pp. (page needed). ISBN 978-0143107545.
  2. ^ Briant 2002, p. 15.
  3. ^ Kleber, Kristin (2015-11-12). "Taxation in the Achaemenid Empire". doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199935390.013.34. The Achaemenid (or First Persian) Empire (538–330 b.c.e.) stretched from Libya to modern-day Afghanistan and from Greece to India, covering a surface of approximately 8 million square kilometers.
  4. ^ Centre, UNESCO World Heritage. "Persepolis". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Retrieved 2019-06-10.
  5. ^ "SASANIAN DYNASTY – Encyclopaedia Iranica". www.iranicaonline.org. Retrieved 2019-06-10. SASANIAN DYNASTY, the last Persian lineage of rulers to achieve hegemony over much of Western Asia before Islam, ruled 224 CE–650 CE.
  6. ^ "CONVERSION ii. Of Iranians to Islam – Encyclopaedia Iranica". www.iranicaonline.org. Retrieved 2019-06-10. Iranians were among the very earliest converts to Islam, and their conversion in significant numbers began as soon as the Arab armies reached and overran the Persian plateau. Despite some resistance from elements of the Zoroastrian clergy and other ancient religions, the anti-Islamic policies of later conquerors like the Il-khanids, the impact of the Christian and secular West in modern times, and the attraction of new religious movements like Babism and the Bahai faith, the vast majority of Iranians became and have remained Muslims.
  7. ^ Roemer, H. R. (1986). "THE SAFAVID PERIOD". The Cambridge History of Iran. Retrieved 2019-06-11. Whether we think of this event as marking the beginning of modern Persian history or not, it certainly heralds a new era. The historical achievement of the Safavids was to establish a strong, enduring state in Iran after centuries of foreign rule and a lengthy period of political fragmentation. Unknown parameter |DUPLICATE_date= ignored (help)
  8. ^ Roemer, H. R. (1986). "THE SAFAVID PERIOD". The Cambridge History of Iran. Retrieved 2019-06-11. Not until the Safavid era did Iran witness the rise of a state similar in importance to the Ottoman empire or the empire of the Egyptian Mamlūks. Unknown parameter |DUPLICATE_date= ignored (help)


External links