Kurdistan Regional Government
SUN, 18 FEB 2018 10:19 Erbil, GMT +3

Kurdistan's history until the 19th century

SUN, 27 JUN 2010 17:23 | KRG Cabinet

Alexander the Great defeated Persian Emperor Darius at the Battle of Arbela, near the ancient city of Erbil. Today Erbil is the capital of Kurdistan Region
Timeline of the Kurdistan Region’s history

Some of the key events in the Kurdistan Region’s history up to the 19th century.

60-80,000 years ago: Evidence of Neanderthal man living in caves. From 1957-1961 nine Neanderthal skeletons were found in Shanidar cave, close to the Big Zab River in Erbil province just above the Kahlon-Rezan road.

30-300,000 years ago: Evidence of Old Stone Age (Middle Paleolithic) people living in six caves near the village of Hazar Merd, south-west of Suleimaniah. In one cave near Zarzi village, many flint implements of the Upper Paleolithic era were found. [1]


9,000 BC: At Karim Shahir near Chemchemal, the earliest evidence of wild wheat and barley cultivation and domesticated dogs and sheep. Start of the global change from food gathering to food producing culture. [2]


6,750 BC: At Jarmo near Chemchemal, evidence of the oldest known permanent farmed settlement of mud houses, with wheat grown from seed, herds of goats, sheep and pigs. [3]


4,000 BC: Evidence that Arbela, today’s Erbil, was occupied, making it one of the oldest continuously inhabited sites in the world. Excavation is difficult because the modern city lies on top of the ancient town. [4]


612 BC: After the Babylonians destroyed the Assyrian capitals of Ashur and Nineveh, the Assyrian empire city of Arbela, today’s Erbil, becomes part of the Babylonian empire. [5]


539 BC: After Persian leader Cyrus the Great takes over Babylon, Arbela, today’s Erbil, joins the vast Achaemenid or ancient Persian empire. [6]


331 BC: Alexander the Great and Darius III of Persia fight the Battle of Gaugamela, also known as the Battle of Arbela, about 75 kilometres north-west of Erbil. In the aftermath, Darius is murdered by his kinsmen and Alexander goes on to conquer the Persian Empire including Babylon, and extends his empire to the Punjab. [7]


6-700 AD: Arabs conquer Kurdistan and convert many to Islam.

1100s – 1800s: Today’s Kurdistan Region is ruled by several semi-independent principalities, the Ardalan, Botan, Badinan, Baban and Soran. [8]


Early 1500s: Kurdistan becomes the main stake of the rivalries between the Ottoman and Persian empires. [9]


1514: After Turkish sultan Selim I defeats the Shah of Persia, Kurdish scholar Idriss Bitlissi persuades the sultan to give back to the Kurdish princes their former rights and privileges, in exchange for their commitment to guard the border between the two empires. The principalities in Kurdistan enjoy wide autonomy until the early 19th century. [10]


1784: The city of Suleimaniah is founded by Prince Ibrahim Pasha Baban when he decides to transfer the Baban emirate’s capital from Qala Chwalan. [11]


1847: Collapse of Botan, the last independent Kurdish principality, which included the towns of Amadiya and Akra. [12]


[1] "The Palaeolithic of Southern Kurdistan: Excavations in the Caves of Zarzi and Hazar Merd" (1930) Bulletin of American School of Prehistoric Research 6, 9-43

[2] Old Testament Life and Literature, Gerald A. Larue. Also Prehistoric Archaeology Along the Zagros Flanks, L. S. Braidwood, R. J. Braidwood, B. Howe, C. A. Reed, and P. J. Watson, eds.

[3] Old Testament Life and Literature, Gerald A. Larue. Also Prehistoric Archaeology Along the Zagros Flanks, L. S. Braidwood, R. J. Braidwood, B. Howe, C. A. Reed, and P. J. Watson, eds.

[4] Jona Lendering, Vrije University of Amsterdam, www.livius.org

[5] Jona Lendering, Vrije University of Amsterdam, www.livius.org

[6] Jona Lendering, Vrije University of Amsterdam, www.livius.org

[7] Encyclopedia Britannica.

[8] www.wikipedia.org

[9] A brief survey of the history of the Kurds, Kendal Nezan, President of the Kurdish Institute of Paris.

[10] A brief survey of the history of the Kurds, Kendal Nezan, President of the Kurdish Institute of Paris.

[11] KRG Ministry of Tourism.

[12] Martin van Bruinessen, (1983) ‘Kurdish tribes and the State in Iran: The case of Simko's revolt’, in Tapper, Richard (ed.), The Conflict of Tribe and State in Iran and Afghanistan, London, Croom Helm, pp. 364-400.