The 4000- year-old skeleton of a woman with her embryo in Pahneh Museum - Semnan

The 4000- year-old skeleton of a woman with her embryo in Pahneh Museum – Semnan
Photo by Hessam Mirrahimi

Culture is an indispensable part of tourism and somehow it is the reason for embarking on a journey. In the past, people used to travel with the purpose of doing business but in recent centuries, other notions attract people from across the world. These belongings were objects and historical pieces in the first steps but later on, other things such as handicrafts, regional rituals, costumes and languages along with natural attractions took the central stage in drawing visitors which led to the formation of specialized branches of tourism.

Those countries which had a rich culture and history were the pioneers of the trend. Iran was one of them. Iran had a special position in the Middle East that linked the east of the ancient continent of Asia to its west and hosted the Silk Road. The very same characteristic made Iran a desirable target for different governments. Local states and invasive tribes came to Iran; each held power for a long time and of course left lots of relics behind. Iran’s strategic position and its rich resources attracted colonizers to Iran too.

Pre-historic Iran

The region of Iran was created about three million years ago, during the Paleolithic era. Iran has experienced different ages such as the Paleolithic, the Mesolithic, the Neolithic, the Chalcolithic, the Bronze, the Iron and the urban. The oldest human tool of Iran was excavated in Kashafrood of Khorasan that dates back to 800 thousands years ago. People in that era learned to farm and make tools. They began to settle in areas, bury their dead in a graveyard and create pottery wheels. Primitive cities were established and social ranks were created. Businesses and jobs were set up. Bronze and iron tools were used and glassware came into existence.

Historic Iran

It is about one century and a half that Iran’s history has been recorded following the discovery of cuneiform and its decipherment. Historic Iran begins with the Elamite Civilization. These people lived inside Iranian Plateau. Their residing area falls on today’s Khuzestan, Lorestan and Bakhtiari mountains. They fell to Assyrians, who had been living in an area called Mesopotamia. The Aryan tribe then migrated to Iranian Plateau. They were divided into three tribes; the most important ones were the Medes, the Persians and the Parthians. They founded the most significant powers before the advent of Islam, namely the Achaemenid, the Parthian and the Sassanid empires.

Iran was at its highest point of political power and geographical vastness during the Achaemenid era. The Parthian had the longest dynasty in Iran. Under their systems, people experienced freedom of religions and co-existence. Zoroastrianism became Iran’s official religion by Sassanian kings. They believed that religion was the pillar of their power. Sassanian kings loved luxury and money. This led to a widening gap between ordinary people and the court. Magi had their own religious dictations and all that led to the decay and collapse of the Sassanid Empire. They were heavily defeated by the Arabs and were eventually toppled.

Iran in the Islamic Era

Muslim Arabs invaded Iran from 635 to 641 AD and were victorious after numerous wars. Their advancement in Iran was mostly peaceful and the reason was Iran’s internal situation and the way the nation treated Muslims. The advent of Islam meaningfully affected the structures of Iranians’ lives that could be traced until today. As time went by, some features of the lives of Iranians mingled with those of Arabs and a culture called Iranian-Islamic came into existence.

One of the most important effects of the Arab migration was the expansion of urbanization. The trend started in the Sassanid era but expanded during the presence of Arabs and hit its best point. Lack of independent political ruling, the gradual change of religion and the multiplicity of political movements mark the first two centuries of Iran after the advent of Arabs. The Tahirid took power in east of Iran in the ninth century AD forming the first semi-independent government after two centuries.

After them, fifteen dynasties took control of Iran until today and each affected the country in a certain way. Some of them such as the Samanid and the Timurid brought art and culture to their best. Shia Islam was established as Iran’s official religion in the Safavid era. Iranians had their first encounters with modernity during the Qajar dynasty. Iran underwent major upheavals such as the Constitutional Revolution which was inspired by European revolutions. Developing roads and modernity were at their best during the Pahlavi dynasty. In 1979 the Islamic Revolution brought the Islamic Republic of Iran into existence.