An Animated Timeline of Persian Empires before Islam

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A Brief History

In 550 BC, the first dynasty of the Persian Empire was created by the Achaemenids, established by Cyrus the Great with the conquest of the Median, Lydian and Babylonian empires.  Because Iran, formerly known as Persia, has been in the news quite a bit as of late, it seems worthwhile to dig a little deeper into that country’s history.  So, today, we present an animated timeline of Persian Empires before Islam.

Digging Deeper

Timeline of the Pre-Achaemenid Era

Map by Ali Zifan.

Timeline of the Achaemanid Empire

Map by Ali Zifan.

Alexander the Great’s Empire was short-lived.

Less than 20 years after his death, it was divided among his generals with the Iranian portion going to the Seleucid Empire, an empire that endured for over 200 years but which also gradually lost ground to Parthia.

Timeline of the Parthian Empire

Map by Ali Zifan.

Timeline of the Sasanian Empire

Map by Ali Zifan.

Question for students (and subscribers): Whom do you consider to have been the greatest Persian emperor before Islam?  Please let us know in the comments section below this article.

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

Briant, Pierre.  From Cyrus to Alexander: A History of the Persian Empire.  Eisenbrauns, 2002.

The featured image in this article, an historic map by William Robert Shepherd (1871–1934) of the Achaemenid Empire, is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author’s life plus 70 years or fewer.

You can also watch a video version of this article on YouTube:


About Author

Dr. Zar

Dr. Zar graduated with a B.A. in French and history, a Master’s in History, and a Ph.D. in History. He currently teaches history in Ohio.