History of Azerbaijan

History of Azerbaijan

40,000 BCE

  • Pictograms found in Gobustan reveal human settlement in Azerbaijan. Earliest pictograms date to 40,000 BCE.

600 BCE

  • Cyrus the great expands his empire to include what is now Azerbaijan

350 BCE

  • Azerbaijan is conquered along with surrounding territories by Alexander the Great.

313 CE

  • Caucasian Albania adopts Christianity, making it one of the world’s first nations to officially proclaim Christianity as a state religion. Some of the first churches in the Caucasus were built in the Karabakh region.

667-705 CE

  • After the Arab caliphate conquest, most of the Caucasian Albanian population started to convert to Islam, consolidating into the modern day Azerbaijani nation — a Turkic-speaking predominantly Muslim nation with strong Caucasian roots and traditions.

9th Century

  • The Arab caliphate began to be brought down by native resistance and freedom fighters such as Babek (the Azerbaijani Spartacus.

11th Century

  • Turkic tribes, particularly the Oghuz, began settling in large numbers throughout Azerbaijan, establishing a predominantly Turkic identity in the region. Seljuks (Seljuq), a branch of the Oghuz Turks, establish a dynasty.


  • The emergence of a powerful state of Azerbaijan, by the Turkic Great Atabek dynasty of Ildeniz (Ildegoz, Ildezid). The Great Atabek state of Azerbaijan was nominally part of the Great Seljuk Empire (which they de facto ruled being “father rulers” to the Turkic Seljuk princes and sultans). All of North Azerbaijan and South Azerbaijan, as well as present-day Armenia and other lands were part of this Great Atabek state of Azerbaijan. They had three important city-centers and capitals: Ganja, Tabriz and Nakhchivan.


  • Mongols invaded much of South East Asia and Eastern Europe. They eventually establish Ilkhanid dynasty in Azerbaijan and the greater region.

Late 14th Century

  • Timur established a Turko-Mongol empire in the Caucasus, Central Asia and Iran.

Late 14th Century – 15th Century

  • Azerbaijan and the region were ruled by the the Qara-Qoyunlu and the Ag-Qoyunlu Turkic dynasties.

16th Century

  • Safavid Empire founded by Ismail I in Azerbaijan in 1501. The early years of the empire were marked by a strong influence of Azerbaijani culture and language. First capital of the empire is Tabriz.
  • From the mid 1500s, the powerful Azerbaijani Turkic Safavid Dynasty created a Karabakh Ganja Beylerbeyliq, which was one of the four such administrative super-regions (beylerbeyliqs or beglerbegs) into which they divided Azerbaijan. The first beylerbey of the Karabakh Ganja beylerbeliq was Shahverdi Soltan Ziyadoglu of the Qajar dynasty.


  • Afshar dynasty was established by an Azerbaijani Turkic general Nader (Nadir) Shah Afshar.


  • In 1747 Panah Ali khan Javanshir, a local Azerbaijani Turkic noble and military leader of the Javanshir Otuz-iki Turkic tribe, returned back to the region after the death of the Nadir Shah Afshar, in whose army Panah Ali khan was a general, and both Lower Karabakh and Mountainous Karabakh were declared as the new independent Karabakh khanate.

Late 18th Century

  • Qajar (Kajar) dynasty was established by an Azerbaijani Turkic Qajar tribe.


  • The Karabakh khanate accepted Russian suzerainty and in 1822 the Russian Empire abolished the khanate and incorporated Karabakh, like all other Azerbaijani khanates, into its administrative territorial structure, where Karabakh remained until the fall of the Russian empire.


  • Gulistan treaty between Imperial Russia and Qajar Iran recognizes most of present-day Azerbaijan (except Nakhchivan, Irevan and Talish khanates) as part of Russian Empire. Thus, Northern Azerbaijan, with its independent khanates, became part of the Russian Empire and Southern Azerbaijani khanates remained part of the Qajar Iranian Empire.


  • Turkmanchay treaty between Russian Empire and Qajar Iranian Empire completes the division of historic Azerbaijan — present-day Azerbaijan is recognized to be part of the Russian Empire and Southern Azerbaijan is confirmed as part of Qajar Iranian Empire.


  • World’s first oil well is drilled south of Baku.


  • Nobel brothers set up oil-production company.


  • Independent Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR) is declared on May 28th. The ADR was the world’s first predominantly Muslim parliamentary democracy. Karabakh was part of it and remained as such after the Bolshevik Russia overtook Azerbaijan and proclaimed the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.).


  • The Red Army Invades on April 28th; Azerbaijan is declared a Soviet Socialist Republic.


  • Azerbaijan becomes one of the founding republics of the Soviet Union.


  • Hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan develop into full-scale war over the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan.


  • Villages of Aliagali, Alimamedli, Galaychylar, Boyahmedli, Papravend, Agdere, Arysh, Gochahmedly, Garajaly, Khatynbulag, Gorazilli, Muganly, Shykhbabaly, Merzili, Novruzlu, Yusifjanly, Giyasly, Khydyrly, Saryjaly, Muradbeyli, Juvarly, Ashagy Veyselli, Yukhary Yaglyven, Sur, Banazur, Gushchular, Gyshlag, and the regions of Fizuli, Jebrail, Gubadly, Minjivan, and Zangilan were occupied by Armenian forces.


  • Armenia and Azerbaijan sign a ceasefire accord. Armenians militarily occupy most of Karabakh.
  • Azerbaijan signs “contract of the century” with a consortium of international oil companies for the exploration and exploitation of three offshore oil fields.


  • Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape declared UNESCO World Heritage Site.


  • The art of Azerbaijani Ashiq added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultral Heritage of Humanity list.
  • Azerbaijani Novruz added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list.


  • The Azerbaijani Carpet added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list.