The history of Isfahan can be traced back to the Palaeolithic period. In recent discoveries, archaeologists have found artifacts dating back to the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze and Iron ages.
It is noteworthy to say that what was to become the city of Isfahan in later historical periods probably emerged as a locality and settlement that gradually developed over the course of the Elamite civilization (2700–1600 BCE).
During the Median dynasty, this commercial entrepôt began to show signs of a more sedentary urbanism, steadily growing into a noteworthy regional centre that benefited from the exceptionally fertile soil on the banks of the Zayandehrud River in a region called Aspandana or Ispandana.
Once Cyrus the Great (reg. 559–529 BCE) unified Persian and Median lands into the Achaemenid Empire (648–330 BCE), the religiously and ethnically diverse city of Isfahan became an early example of the king’s fabled religious tolerance. It is said that after Cyrus the great freed the Jews from Babylon some Jews returned to Jerusalem whereas some others decided to live in Persia and settle in what is now known as Isfahan. But, actually this happened later in the Sasanid period when a Jewish colony was made in the vicinity of the Sasanid Gay.
The tenth century Persian historian Ibn al-Faqih al-Hamedani wrote:
“When the Jews emigrated from Jerusalem, fleeing from Nebuchadnezzar, they carried with them a sample of the water and soil of Jerusalem. They did not settle down anywhere or in any city without examining the water and the soil of each place. They did all along until they reached the city of Isfahan. There they rested, examined the water and soil and found that both resembled Jerusalem. Upon they settledthere, cultivated the soil, raised children and grandchildren, and today the name of this settlement is Yahudia.” ´wikiwand[