For the administrative subdivision, see Behbahan County.
Coordinates: 30°35′45″N 50°14′30″E / 30.59583°N 50.24167°E / 30.59583; 50.24167Coordinates: 30°35′45″N 50°14′30″E / 30.59583°N 50.24167°E / 30.59583; 50.24167
Country  Iran
Province Khuzestan
County Behbahan
Bakhsh Central
Population (2012)
  Total 378,523
Time zone IRST (UTC+3:30)
  Summer (DST) IRDT (UTC+4:30)

Behbahan (Persian: بهبهان, also Romanized as Behbahān and Behbehān)[1] is a city in and the capital of Behbahan County, Khuzestan Province, Iran. At the 2012 census its population was 327,410.[2]

To the north of the city lie the ruins of the ancient city Arjan, built during the Sassanian period, where important remnants from the Elamite era can be found.

The people of Behbahan (Behbahanis) speak a Persian dialect distinct to their group, as well as Sassanid language Middle Persian, and may still use words of Khuzi origin, the language of the original inhabitants of Khuzestan. Behbahanis claim various lines of descent: from the ancient peoples of Arrajan - the Persians / nobility . But the inhabitants of the suburban districts are primarily of Lors background. The majority of Behbahanis are remains of Arrajan (Arjan/Argan) after an earthquake destroyed a dam, which led to the flooding of the city. People of Arrajan were originally Zoroastrian during the elamite period, and later on converted to Islam. The details of how or when they converted are unclear. According to the elderly of the city and the oral history, the current population of Behbahan consists of a mixture of 60% zoroastrian background, and 40% others. They are mostly Muslims, even those who still observe sabbath to be the holy day of the week. However, a large Baha'i minority can be noticed.


The name (Behbahan) was not mentioned in text books earlier than the 14th century. the land of what is currently known as Behbahan was part of Arya-gan (Arjan=Arregan=Argan) city instead; back then, the land of the current Behbahan was not inhabited. Arjan Elamite city is located 10 kilometers north of the city of Behbahan in Khuzestan province. A grave belonging to the New Elamite era was discovered during the construction of a dam on Maroon River in fall 1982. The grave belongs to Kidin Hutran, an Elamite king who ruled during the seventh century BC. A unique and remarkable gold ring with the design of two winged lions on two sides of a holly tree was also discovered in this grave. On this ring, a phrase written in the Elamite cuneiform is evident which reads: “Kidin Hutran son of Cyrus”. Some clay relics belonging to the New Susan era (about 4500 years BC) and the Lapoyi era were found in Homayoon Tepe. In addition, remains of a kind of special clay from the beginning of the writing period (around 3500 BC) were discovered during the 1970s in Tal Sabz (a pre-historical site five kilometers east of Arjan). All of these discoveries indicate to a continuous settlement in Behbahan plain for some 6500 years,”. Arjan site consisted of two old and new areas. Due to the construction activities of Shohada Dam on Maroon River, most parts of the old area which is located on the basin of this river were destroyed. However, studies on this historical site indicate that the old region was an active settlement during the Elamite period (about 2000 BC) and Achaemenid era (about 300 BC). According to historical documents, the new area was established a few kilometers from the old area by the order of Qobad I, Sassanid king (499-531 AD). Arjan historical site was a flourished city during the ancient times which stayed alive until the beginning of the Islamic period, based on the historical evidence, it was a very affluent city which covered a vast area that extended to the southern mountain-skirts of Zagros. The city underwent a lot of changes and got into conflicts with Al-e Bouye dynasty. Arjan was devastated by an earthquake in 1085 AD. Those who survived from the earthquake migrated toward the south of the area and established today’s Behbahan city. A Persian group who lived in tents were forced to leave to another part of the city across the Maroon river. There, they founded a city on a plain of land where they started building better homes, the "Good Tents". Those tents were never made of wool in their new place. Instead, they were made out of bricks and clay.

The name Behbahan is a result of the combination of two words, "Beh" and "Bahan". The first part, "beh" (Persian: به), simply means "Good". The second part, "bahan" (Persian / Ancient Khuzi Iranian: بهان), means "a tent" used by very old people. So, simply the name of Behbahan means the "Good Tent".[3]

Another research shows that the city did not come about as a result of a natural disaster destroying Arjan(aka Arjaan, Argan or Argun); but, by the 14th century the city overtook Arjan, which had fallen to decline.

Famous People

Ariobarzanes of Persis;

Simin Behbahani, Taha Behbahani, Behbehanian Mahin MD, Dr.Khosrow Behbehani, Iraj Bashiri, and Zohreh Behbehani.

Marafi Behbahani, one of the first merchants to settle in Kuwait. Marafi settled in Kuwait in 1740 and his descendants are one of Kuwait's wealthiest businessmen.

Ahmad Behbahani, Iranian security expert, leader of Iran end of the Iran-contra organisation, who fled to Turkey when Ahmedinjad came to power, and was presumed to have been hanged in Evin prison. He had been head of the Iranian end of the Iran-contra operation and carried out the first stage of the bombing of Pan Am 103, which he undertook as the qesas revenge for the deliberate shooting down of IR665 by the USS Vincennes on 3 July 1988.


  1. Behbahan can be found at GEOnet Names Server, at this link, by opening the Advanced Search box, entering "-3055917" in the "Unique Feature Id" form, and clicking on "Search Database".
  2. Template:IranCensus2012
  3. , Meaning of Behbahan.

External links

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