Past Cities

Behbahan, Khuzestan, Iran

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Behbahan is a historic city located in the Khuzestan province of Iran. Nestled in the southwestern part of the country, this city has a rich and diverse history that spans centuries.

Behbahan, also known as Behbahān, is situated in a fertile plain near the foothills of the Zagros Mountains. The city benefits from its strategic location between the central plateau of Iran and the Persian Gulf. Its proximity to important trade routes has made it an important hub for commerce and cultural exchange throughout history.

The history of Behbahan dates back to ancient times. Archaeological evidence suggests that the region was inhabited as early as the 6th millennium BCE. The Elamite civilization, one of the oldest in the region, had a significant presence in Behbahan. Elam was known for its advanced agricultural practices and trade relations with neighboring Mesopotamia.

During the Achaemenid Empire, Behbahan became part of the vast Persian Empire. The region played a crucial role as a military and administrative center. The Persian kings, including Cyrus the Great and Darius the Great, recognized the strategic importance of Behbahan and constructed roads and fortifications to strengthen their control over the area.

With the fall of the Achaemenid Empire, Behbahan fell under the rule of the Seleucids, Parthians, and Sassanids in succession. These dynasties brought their own cultural influences to the region, leaving behind architectural marvels and introducing new customs and traditions.

One of the most notable periods in Behbahan's history occurred during the Islamic conquest of Iran in the 7th century CE. The Arab armies led by Caliph Umar captured the city, bringing Islam to the region. The Islamic era witnessed the construction of mosques, madrasas, and other religious institutions that shaped the city's architectural landscape.

Throughout the medieval period, Behbahan experienced numerous invasions and conflicts. The city was frequently contested between different Islamic dynasties, including the Buyids, Seljuks, and Mongols. These power struggles often resulted in the destruction of buildings and infrastructure, leaving lasting scars on the city's development.

During the Safavid dynasty in the 16th century, Behbahan enjoyed a period of stability and prosperity. The Safavids consolidated their rule over the region and encouraged trade and agriculture. Behbahan became a center for carpet weaving, attracting merchants and artisans from across the region. The city flourished economically, and its population grew steadily.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, Behbahan came under the influence of local Khuzestani rulers and tribes, such as the Sheikhs of Khuza'a and the Qashqai Confederacy. These rulers maintained a level of autonomy from central Persian authorities and were able to exert their own political and economic control over the city.

In the 20th century, Behbahan, like the rest of Iran, experienced significant political and social changes. The discovery of oil in the region in the early 20th century brought modernization and economic development to Behbahan. The city witnessed an influx of workers and immigrants from other parts of Iran, leading to a rapid increase in population.

However, the political environment of Behbahan was not without its challenges. The region became a center of political activism and resistance during the Iranian Constitutional Revolution of 1905-1911. The people of Behbahan actively participated in protests and demonstrations, demanding democratic reforms and greater political freedoms.

Behbahan also played a role in the Iranian Revolution of 1979.