Greater Khorasan has witnessed the rise and fall of many dynasties
and governments in its territory throughout history. Various tribes of
the Arabs, Turks, Kurds, Mongols, Turkemen and Afghans brought changes
to the region time and time again.
Ancient geographers of Iran divided Iran ("Iran-Shahr") into eight
segments of which the most flourishing and largest was the territory of
Greater Khorasan. Esfarayen,
among other cities of the province, was one of the focal points for
residence of the Aryan tribes after entering Iran.
The famous Parthian empire was based near Merv in Khorasan for many
years. In Arsacides (Parthians) time, Esfarayen was one of the important
villages of Neyshabour.
During the Sassanid dynasty the province was governed by a Spahbod
(Lieutenant General) called "Padgoosban" and four margraves, each
commander of one of the four parts of the province.
Khorassan was divided into four parts during the Islamic Conquest of
Iran and each section was named after the four large cities, such as
Neyshabour, Merv, Herat, and Balkh.
In the year 651, the army of Islamic Arabs took control of Khorasan.
The territory remained in the hands of the Abbasid clan until 820,
followed by the rule of the Iranian Taherid clan in the year 896 and the
Samanid dynasty in 900.
Sultan Mahmud Qaznavi conquered Khorasan in 994 and in the year 1037
Toqrol, the first of the Seljuqian rulers conquered Neyshabour. Mahmud
Qaznavi retaliated against the invaders several times, and finally the
Qaznavi Turks defeated Sultan Sanjar. But there was more to come, as in
1157 Khorasan was conquered by The Khwarazmids and because of
simultaneous attacks by the Mongols, Khorasan was annexed to the
territories of the Mongol Ilkhanate.
In the 14th century, a flag of independence was hoisted by the
Sarbedaran movement in Sabzevar, and in 1468, Khorasan came into the
hands of Amir Teimoor Goorkani
(Tamerlane) and the city of Herat was declared as capital. In 1507,
Khorassan was occupied by Uzbek tribes. After the death of Nadir Shah
Afshar in 1747, Khorasan was occupied by the Afghans.
During the Qajar period, Britain supported the Afghans to protect
their East India Company. Herat was thus separated from Persia, and
Nasser-al-Din Shah was unable to defeat the British to take back Herat.
Finally, the Paris Treaty was concluded in 1903 and Iran was compelled
not to challenge the British for Herat and other parts of what is today
Finally Khorasan was divided into two parts: the eastern part, which
was the most densely populated region, came under British occupation,
and the other western section remained part of Iran.
Khorasan was the largest province of Iran until it was divided into
three provinces on September 29, 2004. The provinces approved by the
parliament of Iran (on May 18, 2004) and the Council of Guardians (on
May 29, 2004) were Razavi Khorasan, North Khorasan, and South Khorasan.