HOME

TheInfoList




The Medes ( peo, 𐎶𐎠𐎭 ; akk, , ; grc, Μῆδοι ) were an ancient Iranian people who spoke the
Median language The Median language (also Medean or Medic) was the language of the Medes relief, bas-relief shows a Mede soldier behind a Persian soldier, in Persepolis, Iran The Medes ( peo, wiktionary:𐎶𐎠𐎭, 𐎶𐎠𐎭 ; akk, , ; grc, wi ...
and who inhabited an area known as
Media Media may refer to: Physical means Communication * Media (communication), tools used to deliver information or data ** Advertising media, various media, content, buying and placement for advertising ** Broadcast media, communications deliv ...
between
western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Junction, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western world, countries that ide ...
and
northern Iran Northern Iran consists of the Southern border of the Caspian Sea and the Alborz- mountains. It includes the provinces of Gilan, Mazandaran Province, Mazandaran, and Golestan Province, Golestan of Iran (Ancient kingdom of Hyrcania, medieval region ...
. Around the 11th century BC, they occupied the mountainous region of northwestern Iran and the northeastern and eastern region of
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in th ...

Mesopotamia
located in the region of
Hamadan Hamadan () or Hamedan ( fa, همدان, ''Hamedān'') (Old Persian: Haŋgmetana, Ecbatana) is the capital city of Hamadan Province of Iran. At the 2019 census, its population was 783,300 in 230,775 families.The majority of people living in Hamadan ...

Hamadan
(
Ecbatana Ecbatana (; peo, 𐏃𐎥𐎶𐎫𐎠𐎴 ''Hagmatāna'' or ''Haŋmatāna'', literally "the place of gathering"; Elamite language, Elamite: 𒀝𒈠𒁕𒈾 ''Ag-ma-da-na''; Middle Persian: 𐭠𐭧𐭬𐭲𐭠𐭭; Parthian language, Parthian: ...

Ecbatana
). Their consolidation in Iran is believed to have occurred during the 8th century BC. In the
7th century BC The 7th century BC began the first day of 700 BC The year 700 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. In the Roman Empire, it was known as year 54 '' Ab urbe condita'' . The denomination 700 BC for this year has been used since the early ...
, all of western Iran and some other territories were under Median rule, but their precise geographic extent remains unknown. Although they are generally recognized as having an important place in the history of the
ancient Near East The ancient Near East was the home of early civilization A civilization (or civilisation) is any complex society that is characterized by urban development, social stratification, a form of government, and symbol A symbol is a mark ...
, the Medes have left no written source to reconstruct their history, which is known only from foreign sources such as the
Assyria Assyria (), also called the Assyrian Empire, was a Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of We ...

Assyria
ns,
Babylonia Babylonia () was an and based in central-southern which was part of Ancient Persia (present-day and ). A small -ruled state emerged in 1894 BCE, which contained the minor administrative town of . It was merely a small provincial town dur ...
ns,
Armenians Armenians ( hy, հայեր, ''Romanization of Armenian, hayer'' ) are an ethnic group native to the Armenian Highlands of Western Asia. Armenians constitute the main population of Armenia and the ''de facto'' independent Republic of Artsakh, A ...
and
Greeks The Greeks or Hellenes (; el, Έλληνες, ''Éllines'' ) are an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has cer ...
, as well as a few Iranian
archaeological site An archaeological site is a place (or group of physical sites) in which evidence of past activity is preserved (either prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also kn ...

archaeological site
s, which are believed to have been occupied by Medes. The accounts relating to the Medes reported by
Herodotus Herodotus ( ; grc, Ἡρόδοτος, Hēródotos, ; BC) was an Classical Greece, ancient Greek writer, geographer, and historian born in the Greek city of Halicarnassus, part of the Achaemenid Empire, Persian Empire (now Bodrum, Turkey). He ...
have left the image of a powerful people, who would have formed an empire at the beginning of the 7th century BC that lasted until the
550s BC 55 may refer to: *55 (number) 55 (fifty-five) is the natural number File:Three Baskets.svg, Natural numbers can be used for counting (one apple, two apples, three apples, ...) In mathematics, the natural numbers are those numbers used for cou ...
, played a determining role in the fall of the Assyrian Empire and competed with the powerful kingdoms of
Lydia Lydia (Lydian language, Lydian: ‎𐤮𐤱𐤠𐤭𐤣𐤠, ''Śfarda''; Aramaic: ''Lydia''; el, Λυδία, ''Lȳdíā''; tr, Lidya) was an Iron Age Monarchy, kingdom of western Asia Minor located generally east of ancient Ionia in the mod ...

Lydia
and Babylonia. However, a recent reassessment of contemporary sources from the Mede period has altered scholars' perceptions of the Median state. The state remains difficult to perceive in the documentation, which leaves many doubts about it, some specialists even suggesting that there never was a powerful Median kingdom. In any case, it appears that after the fall of the last Median king against
Cyrus the Great Cyrus II of Persia (; peo, wikt:𐎤𐎢𐎽𐎢𐏁, 𐎤𐎢𐎽𐎢𐏁, translit=Kūruš), commonly known as Cyrus the Great and also called Cyrus the Elder by the Ancient Greece, Greeks, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire, the Histo ...

Cyrus the Great
of the
Persian Empire The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, wikt:𐎧𐏁𐏂𐎶, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, translit=Xšāça, translation=The Empire), also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient Iranian peoples, Iranian empire based in Western Asia founded by Cyrus the Grea ...
, Media became an important province and prized by the empires which successively dominated it (
Achaemenids The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, translit=Xšāça, translation=The Empire), also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient Iranian Iranian may refer to: * Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and offic ...

Achaemenids
,
Seleucids The Seleucid Empire (; grc, Βασιλεία τῶν Σελευκιδῶν, ''Basileía tōn Seleukidōn'') was a Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), off ...
,
ParthiansParthian may be: Historical * A demonym "of Parthia Parthia ( peo, 𐎱𐎼𐎰𐎺 ''Parθava''; xpr, 𐭐𐭓𐭕𐭅 ''Parθaw''; pal, 𐭯𐭫𐭮𐭥𐭡𐭥 ''Pahlaw'') is a historical region located in north-eastern Iran Iran ...

Parthians
and
Sasanids The House of Sasan was the house that founded the Sasanian Empire, ruling this empire from 224 to 651. It began with Ardashir I, who named the dynasty as ''Sasanian'' in honour of his grandfather, Sasan, and after the name of his tribe. The Shaha ...

Sasanids
).


Tribes

According to the ''Histories'' of Herodotus, there were six Median tribes: The six Median tribes resided in Media proper, the triangular area between
Rhagae Shahr-e Rey ( fa, شهر ری, "City of Ray") or simply Ray (Rey; ) is the capital of Ray County in Tehran Province Tehran Province ( fa, استان تهران ''Ostān-e Tehrān'') is one of the provinces of Iran, 31 provinces of Iran. It cove ...
,
Aspadana
Aspadana
and
Ecbatana Ecbatana (; peo, 𐏃𐎥𐎶𐎫𐎠𐎴 ''Hagmatāna'' or ''Haŋmatāna'', literally "the place of gathering"; Elamite language, Elamite: 𒀝𒈠𒁕𒈾 ''Ag-ma-da-na''; Middle Persian: 𐭠𐭧𐭬𐭲𐭠𐭭; Parthian language, Parthian: ...

Ecbatana
. In present-day
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
, that is the area between
Tehran Tehran (; fa, تهران ) is the Capital city, capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With a population of around 8.7 million in the city and 15 million in the larger metropolitan area of Greater Tehran, Tehran is the List of largest cities o ...

Tehran
,
Isfahan Isfahan ( fa, اصفهان, Esfahān ), from its Achaemenid empire, ancient designation ''Aspadana'' and later ''Spahan'' in Sassanian Empire, middle Persian, rendered in English as ''Ispahan'', is a major city in Greater Isfahan Region, Is ...

Isfahan
and Hamadan, respectively. Of the Median tribes, the Magi resided in Rhagae, modern
Tehran Tehran (; fa, تهران ) is the Capital city, capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With a population of around 8.7 million in the city and 15 million in the larger metropolitan area of Greater Tehran, Tehran is the List of largest cities o ...

Tehran
. They were of a sacred caste which ministered to the spiritual needs of the Medes. The Paretaceni tribe resided in and around Aspadana, modern
Isfahan Isfahan ( fa, اصفهان, Esfahān ), from its Achaemenid empire, ancient designation ''Aspadana'' and later ''Spahan'' in Sassanian Empire, middle Persian, rendered in English as ''Ispahan'', is a major city in Greater Isfahan Region, Is ...

Isfahan
, the Arizanti lived in and around
Kashan Kashan ( fa, ; Qashan; Cassan; also romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ...

Kashan
(
Isfahan Province Isfahan Province ( fa, استان اصفهان, Ostāne Esfahan), also transliteration, transliterated as ''Esfahan'', ''Espahan'', ''Isfahan'', or ''Isphahan'', is one of the thirty-one provinces of Iran. It is located in the center of the cou ...

Isfahan Province
), and the Busae tribe lived in and around the future Median capital of Ecbatana, near modern
Hamadan Hamadan () or Hamedan ( fa, همدان, ''Hamedān'') (Old Persian: Haŋgmetana, Ecbatana) is the capital city of Hamadan Province of Iran. At the 2019 census, its population was 783,300 in 230,775 families.The majority of people living in Hamadan ...

Hamadan
. The Struchates and the Budii lived in villages in the Median triangle.


Etymology

The original source for their name and homeland is a directly transmitted
Old Iranian The Iranian languages or Iranic languages are a branch of the Indo-Iranian languages The Indo-Iranian languages (also Indo-Iranic languages or Aryan languages) constitute the largest and southeasternmost extant branch of the Indo-European l ...
geographical name which is attested as the
Old Persian Old Persian is one of the two directly attested Old Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of the Indo-Iranian languagesIndo-Iranian may refer to: * Indo-Iranian languages * Indo-Iranians, the various peoples speaking ...
"Māda-" (). The meaning of this word is not precisely known. However, the linguist W. Skalmowski proposes a relation with the
proto-Indo European Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the theorized common ancestor of the Indo-European language family. Its proposed features have been derived by linguistic reconstruction from documented Indo-European languages. No direct record of Proto-Indo-Europ ...
word "med(h)-", meaning "central, suited in the middle", by referring to the
Old Indic The Indo-Aryan languages (or sometimes Indic languagesIn modern and colloquial context, the term "Indic" also refers to both the language families of the Indian subcontinent: Aryan and Dravidian. See e.g. ) are a branch of the Indo-Iranian lan ...
"madhya-" and Old Iranian "maidiia-" which both carry the same meaning. The Latin ''medium'', Greek ''méso'', Armenian ''mej'', and English ''mid'' are similarly derived from it. Greek scholars during antiquity would base
ethnological Ethnology (from the grc-gre, ἔθνος, meaning 'nation') is an academic field that compares and analyzes the characteristics of different peoples and the relationships between them (compare cultural anthropology, cultural, social anthropolog ...
conclusions on Greek legends and the similarity of names. According to the ''Histories'' of
Herodotus Herodotus ( ; grc, Ἡρόδοτος, Hēródotos, ; BC) was an Classical Greece, ancient Greek writer, geographer, and historian born in the Greek city of Halicarnassus, part of the Achaemenid Empire, Persian Empire (now Bodrum, Turkey). He ...
(440 BC):Herodotu
7.62
/ref>


Mythology

In the
Greek myth Greek mythology is the body of myths originally told by the Ancient Greece, ancient Greeks, and a genre of Ancient Greek folklore. These stories concern the Cosmogony, origin and Cosmology#Metaphysical cosmology, nature of the world, the lives ...
of , Medea is the daughter of King
Aeëtes Aeëtes (; , ; , ), or Aeeta, was a king of Colchis in Greek mythology Greek mythology is the body of myths originally told by the Ancient Greece, ancient Greeks, and a genre of Ancient Greek folklore. These stories concern the Cosmogony, orig ...
of Colchis and a paternal granddaughter of the sun-god
Helios Helios; Homeric Greek Homeric Greek is the form of the Greek language that was used by Homer in the ''Iliad'' and ''Odyssey'' and in the Homeric Hymns. It is a literary dialect of Ancient Greek consisting mainly of Ionic Greek, Ionic and Aeol ...

Helios
. Following her failed marriage to Jason while in
Corinth Corinth ( ; el, Κόρινθος, Kórinthos, ) is the successor to an ancient city, and is a former municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). ...

Corinth
, for one of several reasons depending on the version, she marries King
Aegeus In Greek mythology Greek mythology is the body of myth Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief ...
of Athens and bears a son
Medus In Greek mythology Greek mythology is the body of myth Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief i ...
. After failing to make Aegeus kill his older son
Theseus Theseus (, ; grc-gre, Θησεύς ) was the mythical king and founder-hero of Athens. His role in history has been called "a major cultural transition, like the making of the new Olympia by Hercules." The myths surrounding Theseus—his jour ...

Theseus
, she and her son fled to ''
Aria In music, an aria (; it, air File:Atmosphere gas proportions.svg, Composition of Earth's atmosphere by volume, excluding water vapor. Lower pie represents trace gases that together compose about 0.043391% of the atmosphere (0.04402961% at ...

Aria
'', where the Medes take their name from her, according to several Greek and later Roman accounts, including in
PausaniasPausanias (; Greek language, Greek: Παυσανίας) is the name of several people: *Pausanias of Athens, lover of the poet Agathon and a character in Plato's ''Symposium'' *Pausanias (general), Spartan general and regent of the 5th century BC *Pa ...
' ''
Description of Greece Pausanias (; grc-gre, Παυσανίας ''Pausanías''; ) was a Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast ...
'' (1st-century AD). According to other versions, such as in
Strabo Strabo''Strabo'' (meaning "squinty", as in strabismus Strabismus is a condition in which the eyes do not properly align with each other when looking at an object. The eye that is focused on an object can alternate. The condition may be pre ...

Strabo
's ''
Geographica The ''Geographica'' (Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek ...
'' (1st-century AD) and
Justin Justin may refer to: People * Justin (name), including a list of persons with the given name Justin * Justin (historian), a Latin historian who lived under the Roman Empire * Justin I (c. 450–527), or ''Flavius Iustinius Augustus'', Eastern Roma ...
's ''Epitoma Historiarum Philippicarum'' (2nd or 3rd century AD), she returned home to conquer neighboring lands with her husband Jason, one of which was named after her; while another version related by
Diodorus Siculus Diodorus Siculus, or Diodorus of Sicily ( grc-gre, Διόδωρος Σικελιώτης ;  1st century BC), was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern ...
in ''
Bibliotheca Historica ''Bibliotheca historica'' ( grc, Βιβλιοθήκη Ἱστορική, "Historical Library") is a work of universal history A universal history is a work aiming at the presentation of a history History (from Greek , ''historia'', meani ...
'' (1st-century BC) states that after being exiled she married an Asian king and bore Medus, who was greatly admired for his courage, after whom they took their name.


Archaeology

The discoveries of Median sites in
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
happened only after the 1960s. Prior to the 1960s, the search for Median archeological sources has mostly focused in an area known as the "Median triangle", defined roughly as the region bounded by Hamadān and Malāyer (in
Hamadan Province Hamadan Province ( fa, استان همدان), is an provinces of Iran, Iranian province located in the Zagros Mountains. Its center is Hamadan city. The province of Hamadan covers an area of 19,546 km². In the year 1996, Hamadan province h ...
) and Kangāvar (in
Kermanshah Province #REDIRECT Kermanshah Province#REDIRECT Kermanshah Province Kermanshah Province ( fa, استان كرمانشاه, Ostān-e Kermanšah, ku, پارێزگای کرماشان, Parêzgeha Kirmaşan) is one of the 31 provinces of Iran Iran is su ...
). Three major sites from central western Iran in the Iron Age III period (i.e. 850–500 BC) are: * Tepe Nush-i Jan (a primarily religious site of Median period), :The site is located 14 km west of Malāyer in Hamadan province. The excavations started in 1967 with
David Stronach David Brian Stronach (10 June 1931 – 27 June 2020) was a British archaeologist Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. Archaeology is often considered a branch of s ...
as the director. The remains of four main buildings in the site are "the central temple, the western temple, the fort, and the columned hall" which according to Stronach were likely to have been built in the order named and predate the latter occupation of the first half of the 6th century BC. According to Stronach, the central temple, with its stark design, "provides a notable, if mute, expression of religious belief and practice". A number of ceramics from the Median levels at Tepe Nush-i Jan have been found which are associated with a period (the second half of the 7th century BC) of power consolidation in the Hamadān areas. These findings show four different wares known as "common ware" (buff, cream, or light red in colour and with gold or silver mica temper) including jars in various size the largest of which is a form of ribbed
pithoi Pithos (, grc-gre, πίθος, plural: ' ) is the Greek name of a large storage container. The term in English is applied to such containers used among the civilizations that bordered the Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a sea co ...

pithoi
. Smaller and more elaborate vessels were in "grey ware", (these display smoothed and burnished surface). The "cooking ware" and "crumbly ware" are also recognized each in single handmade products. *
Godin Tepe Godin Tepe is an archaeological site in western Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran ( fa, جمهوری اسلامی ایران ), is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered to ...
( its period II: a fortified palace of a Median king or tribal chief), :The site is located 13 km east of Kangāvar city on the left bank of the river Gamas Āb". The excavations, started in 1965, were led by T. C. Young, Jr. which according to
David Stronach David Brian Stronach (10 June 1931 – 27 June 2020) was a British archaeologist Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. Archaeology is often considered a branch of s ...
, evidently shows an important
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric Periodization, period that was characterized by the use of bronze, in some areas proto-writing, and other early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the Three-age sys ...
construction that was reoccupied sometime before the beginning of the Iron III period. The excavations of Young indicate the remains of part of a single residence of a local ruler which later became quite substantial. This is similar to those mentioned often in Assyrian sources. * Babajan (probably the seat of a lesser tribal ruler of Media). :The site is located in northeastern
Lorestan Lorestan Province (also written Luristan, Lurestan, or Loristan, fa, استان لرستان) is a province of western Iran in the Zagros Mountains. The population of Lorestan was 1,760,649 people in 2016, according to the last conducted census ...

Lorestan
with a distance of roughly 10 km from Nūrābād in Lorestan province. The excavations were conducted by C. Goff in 1966–69. The second level of this site probably dates to the 7th century BC. These sources have both similarities (in cultural characteristics) and differences (due to functional differences and diversity among the Median tribes). The architecture of these archaeological findings, which can probably be dated to the Median period, show a link between the tradition of columned audience halls often seen in the
Achaemenid Empire The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, translit=Xšāça, translation=The Empire), also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient Iranian Iranian may refer to: * Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and offi ...

Achaemenid Empire
(for example in
Persepolis Persepolis (; peo, 𐎱𐎠𐎼𐎿, ; ) was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, , translit=Xšāça, translation=The Empire), also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient based in foun ...

Persepolis
) and
Safavid Iran Safavid Iran or Safavid Persia (), also referred to as the Safavid Empire, '. was one of the greatest Iranian empires after the 7th-century Muslim conquest of Persia The Muslim conquest of Persia, also known as the Arab conquest of Iran, le ...

Safavid Iran
(for example in
Chehel Sotoun Chehel Sotoun ( fa, چهل ستون, literally: “Forty Columns”) is a Persian pavilion in the middle of a park at the far end of a long pool, in Isfahan, Iran, built by Shah Abbas II to be used for his entertainment and receptions. In this pal ...
from the 17th century AD) and what is seen in Median architecture. The materials found at Tepe Nush-i Jan, Godin Tepe, and other sites located in Media together with the Assyrian reliefs show the existence of urban settlements in Media in the first half of the 1st millennium BC which had functioned as centres for the production of handicrafts and also of an agricultural and cattle-breeding economy of a secondary type. For other historical documentation, the archaeological evidence, though rare, together with cuneiform records by Assyrian make it possible, regardless of Herodotus' accounts, to establish some of the early history of Medians.


Geography

An early description of Media from the end of the 9th century BC to the beginning of the 7th century BC comes from the Assyrians. The southern border of Media, in that period, is named as the
Elam Elam (; Linear Elamite: ''hatamti''; Cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronz ...

Elam
ite region of Simaški in present-day
Lorestan Province Lorestan Province (also written Luristan, Lurestan, or Loristan, fa, استان لرستان) is a province of western Iran in the Zagros Mountains. The population of Lorestan was 1,760,649 people in 2016, according to the last conducted census. ...
. To the west and northwest, Media was bounded by the
Zagros Mountains The Zagros Mountains ( fa, کوه‌های زاگرس, ''Kuh hā-ye Zāgros;'' Luri language, Luri: کویل زاگروس‎, ''Koyal Zagros;'' Turkish language, Turkish: ''Zagros Dağları;'' ku, چیاکانی زاگرۆس, translit=Çiyakani ...
and from the east by the
Dasht-e Kavir Dasht-e Kavir ( fa, دشت كوير, lit=Low Plains in classical Persian, from ''khwar'' (low), and ''dasht'' (plain, flatland), also known as Kavir-e Namak () and the Great Salt Desert, is a large desert lying in the middle of the Iranian Plate ...

Dasht-e Kavir
desert. This region of Media was ruled by the Assyrians and for them the region fell "along the
Great Khorasan RoadThe (Great) Khurasan Road was the great trunk road connecting Mesopotamia to the Iranian Plateau and thence to Central Asia and History of China, China. It is very well-documented in the Abbasid Caliphate, Abbasid period, when it connected Round cit ...
from just east of Harhar to Alwand, and probably beyond." The location of Harhar is suggested to be "the central or eastern"
Mahidasht District Mahidasht District ( fa, بخش ماهیدشت) is a district (bakhsh A ''bakhsh'' ( fa, بخش, also Romanization, Romanized as "baxš") is a type of administrative division of Iran. While sometimes translated as county, it should be more accur ...
in
Kermanshah Province #REDIRECT Kermanshah Province#REDIRECT Kermanshah Province Kermanshah Province ( fa, استان كرمانشاه, Ostān-e Kermanšah, ku, پارێزگای کرماشان, Parêzgeha Kirmaşan) is one of the 31 provinces of Iran Iran is su ...
. Its borders were limited in the north by the non-Iranian states of Gizilbunda and
Mannea The Mannaeans (, country name usually Mannea; Akkadian language, Akkadian: ''Mannai'', Biblical Hebrew: ''Minni'', (מנּי)) were an ancient people who lived in the territory of present-day northwestern Iran south of Lake Urmia, around the 10th ...
, and to its south by
Ellipi Ellipi was an ancient kingdom located on the western side of the Zagros The Zagros Mountains ( fa, کوه‌های زاگرس; ku, چیاکانی زاگرۆس, translit=Çiyayên Zagros;) are a long mountain range in Iran Iran ( fa, ...
and
Elam Elam (; Linear Elamite: ''hatamti''; Cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronz ...

Elam
. Gizilbunda was located in the Qaflankuh Mountains, and Ellipi was located in the south of modern Lorestan Province. On the east and southeast of Media, as described by the Assyrians, another land with the name of "Patušarra" appears. This land was located near a mountain range which the Assyrians call "Bikni" and describe as "Lapis Lazuli Mountain". There are differing opinions on the location of this mountain.
Mount Damavand Mount Damavand ( fa, دماوند ) is a potentially active stratovolcano A stratovolcano, also known as a composite volcano, is a conical A cone is a three-dimensional space, three-dimensional geometric shape that tapers smoothly from a ...

Mount Damavand
of
Tehran Tehran (; fa, تهران ) is the Capital city, capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With a population of around 8.7 million in the city and 15 million in the larger metropolitan area of Greater Tehran, Tehran is the List of largest cities o ...

Tehran
and
Alvand Alvand is a subrange of the Zagros Mountains The Zagros Mountains ( fa, کوه‌های زاگرس; ku, چیاکانی زاگرۆس, translit=Çiyayên Zagros;) are a long mountain range in Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called ...
of Hamadan are two proposed sites. This location is the most remote eastern area that the Assyrians knew of or reached during their expansion until the beginning of the 7th century BC. In Achaemenid sources, specifically from the
Behistun Inscription The Behistun Inscription (also Bisotun, Bistun or Bisutun; fa, بیستون, Old Persian Old Persian is one of the two directly attested Old Iranian languages (the other being Avestan language, Avestan) and it is the ancestor of Middle Persian ...

Behistun Inscription
(2.76, 77–78), the capital of Media is
Ecbatana Ecbatana (; peo, 𐏃𐎥𐎶𐎫𐎠𐎴 ''Hagmatāna'' or ''Haŋmatāna'', literally "the place of gathering"; Elamite language, Elamite: 𒀝𒈠𒁕𒈾 ''Ag-ma-da-na''; Middle Persian: 𐭠𐭧𐭬𐭲𐭠𐭭; Parthian language, Parthian: ...

Ecbatana
, called "Hamgmatāna-" in Old Persian (
Elamite Elamite, also known as Hatamtite, is an extinct language that was spoken by the ancient Elamites. It was used in present-day southwestern Iran from 2600 BC to 330 BC. Elamite works disappear from the archeological record after Alexander the Great ...
:''Agmadana-''; Babylonian: ''Agamtanu-'') corresponding to modern-day
Hamadan Hamadan () or Hamedan ( fa, همدان, ''Hamedān'') (Old Persian: Haŋgmetana, Ecbatana) is the capital city of Hamadan Province of Iran. At the 2019 census, its population was 783,300 in 230,775 families.The majority of people living in Hamadan ...

Hamadan
. The other cities existing in Media were Laodicea (modern
Nahavand Nahavand ( fa, نهاوند, translit=Nahāvand / Nehāvend) is a city in Hamadan Province Hamadan Province ( fa, استان همدان), is an Iranian province located in the Zagros Mountains. Its center is Hamadan city. The province of Hama ...
) and the mound that was the largest city of the Medes, Rhages (present-day Rey). The fourth city of Media was Apamea, near Ecbatana, whose precise location is now unknown. In later periods, Medes and especially Mede soldiers are identified and portrayed prominently in ancient archaeological sites such as
Persepolis Persepolis (; peo, 𐎱𐎠𐎼𐎿, ; ) was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, , translit=Xšāça, translation=The Empire), also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient based in foun ...

Persepolis
, where they are shown to have a major role and presence in the military of the
Achaemenid Empire The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, translit=Xšāça, translation=The Empire), also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient Iranian Iranian may refer to: * Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and offi ...

Achaemenid Empire
.


History


Prehistory

At the end of the 2nd millennium BC, the Iranian tribes emerged in the region of northwest Iran. These tribes expanded their control over larger areas. Subsequently, the boundaries of Media changed over a period of several hundred years.
Iranian Iranian may refer to: * Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subreg ...
tribes were present in western and northwestern Iran from at least the 12th or 11th centuries BC. But the significance of Iranian elements in these regions were established from the beginning of the second half of the 8th century BC. By this time the Iranian tribes were the majority in what later become the territory of the Median Kingdom and also the west of Media proper. A study of textual sources from the region shows that in the Neo-Assyrian period, the regions of Media, and further to the west and the northwest, had a population with Iranian speaking people as the majority. This period of migration coincided with a power vacuum in the
Near East The Near East ( ar, الشرق الأدنى, al-Sharq al-'Adnā, he, המזרח הקרוב, arc, ܕܢܚܐ ܩܪܒ, fa, خاور نزدیک, Xāvar-e nazdik, tr, Yakın Doğu) is a geographical term which roughly encompasses a transcontinental ...
with the
Middle Assyrian Empire The Middle Assyrian Empire is the period in the history of Assyria Assyria (), also called the Assyrian Empire, was a Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَ ...
(1365–1020 BC), which had dominated northwestern Iran and eastern
Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia and the westernmost protrusion of the Asian continent. It makes up the majority of modern-day Turkey. The region ...
and the
Caucasus The Caucasus (), or Caucasia (), is a region spanning Europe and Asia. It is situated between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea and mainly occupied by Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia (country), Georgia, and parts of Southern Russia. It is home to ...
, going into a comparative decline. This allowed new peoples to pass through and settle. In addition
Elam Elam (; Linear Elamite: ''hatamti''; Cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronz ...

Elam
, the dominant power in Iran, was suffering a period of severe weakness, as was
Babylonia Babylonia () was an and based in central-southern which was part of Ancient Persia (present-day and ). A small -ruled state emerged in 1894 BCE, which contained the minor administrative town of . It was merely a small provincial town dur ...
to the west. In western and northwestern Iran and in areas further west prior to Median rule, there is evidence of the earlier political activity of the powerful societies of Elam, Mannaea,
Assyria Assyria (), also called the Assyrian Empire, was a Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of We ...

Assyria
and
Urartu Urartu () is a geographical region commonly used as the exonym An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country loc ...

Urartu
. There are various and up-dated opinions on the positions and activities of Iranian tribes in these societies and prior to the "major Iranian state formations" in the late 7th century BC. One opinion (of Herzfeld, ''et al.'') is that the ruling class were "Iranian migrants" but the society was "autonomous" while another opinion (of Grantovsky, ''et al.'') holds that both the ruling class and basic elements of the population were Iranian.


Rise and fall

From the 10th to the late 7th centuries BC, the western parts of Media fell under the domination of the vast
Neo-Assyrian Empire The Neo-Assyrian Empire (Assyrian cuneiform Assyrian may refer to: * Assyria, a major Mesopotamian kingdom and empire * Assyrian people, an ethnic group indigenous to the Middle East * Assyrian Church (disambiguation) * Assyrian language (disam ...

Neo-Assyrian Empire
based in northern
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in th ...

Mesopotamia
, which stretched from
Cyprus Cyprus ; tr, Kıbrıs (), officially called the Republic of Cyprus,, , lit: Republic of Cyprus is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or poli ...

Cyprus
in the west, to parts of western Iran in the east, and
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
and the north of the
Arabian Peninsula The Arabian Peninsula (; ar, شِبْهُ الْجَزِيرَةِ الْعَرَبِيَّة, , "Arabian Peninsula" or , , "Island of the Arabs") is a peninsula of Western Asia, situated northeast of Africa on the Arabian Plate. At , the ...
. Assyrian kings such as
Tiglath-Pileser III Tiglath-Pileser III (Neo-Assyrian cuneiform Cuneiform is a logo up Chiswick_Press.html"_;"title="Coat_of_arms_of_the_Chiswick_Press">Coat_of_arms_of_the_Chiswick_Press_ A_logo_(abbreviation_of_logotype,_from__el.html" ;"title="Chiswick_ ...
,
Sargon II Sargon II (Neo-Assyrian cuneiform Cuneiform is a logo up Chiswick_Press.html"_;"title="Coat_of_arms_of_the_Chiswick_Press">Coat_of_arms_of_the_Chiswick_Press_ A_logo_(abbreviation_of_logotype,_from__el.html" ;"title="Chiswick_Press_.ht ...
,
Sennacherib Sennacherib (Neo-Assyrian cuneiform Cuneiform is a logo up Chiswick_Press.html"_;"title="Coat_of_arms_of_the_Chiswick_Press">Coat_of_arms_of_the_Chiswick_Press_ A_logo_(abbreviation_of_logotype,_from__el.html" ;"title="Chiswick_Press_. ...

Sennacherib
,
Esarhaddon Esarhaddon, also spelled Essarhaddon, Assarhaddon and Ashurhaddon (Neo-Assyrian cuneiform Cuneiform is a logo up Chiswick_Press.html"_;"title="Coat_of_arms_of_the_Chiswick_Press">Coat_of_arms_of_the_Chiswick_Press_ A_logo_(abbreviatio ...

Esarhaddon
,
Ashurbanipal Ashurbanipal, also spelled Assurbanipal, Asshurbanipal and Asurbanipal (Neo-Assyrian cuneiform Cuneiform is a logo up Chiswick_Press.html"_;"title="Coat_of_arms_of_the_Chiswick_Press">Coat_of_arms_of_the_Chiswick_Press_ A_logo_(abbrevi ...
and
Ashur-etil-ilani Ashur-etil-ilani, also spelled Ashur-etel-ilani' and Ashuretillilani ( Neo-Assyrian cuneiform: ''Aššur-etil-ilāni'', meaning " Ashur is the lord of the gods"),' was the king of the Neo-Assyrian Empire The Neo-Assyrian Empire ( Assyrian cuneifo ...
imposed ''Vassal Treaties'' upon the Median rulers, and also protected them from predatory raids by marauding
Scythians The Scythians (from grc, Σκύθης , ) or Scyths, also known as Saka and Sakae ( ; egy, 𓋴𓎝𓎡𓈉 The ancient Egyptian Hill-country or "Foreign land" hieroglyph (𓈉) is a member of the sky, earth, and water hieroglyphs. A ...
and
Cimmerians The Cimmerians (also Kimmerians; Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is appro ...
. During the reign of
Sinsharishkun Sinsharishkun or Sin-shar-ishkun (Neo-Assyrian cuneiform: ''Sîn-šar-iškun'' or ''Sîn-šarru-iškun'',' meaning "Sin (mythology), Sîn has established the king")' was the penultimate king of Assyria, reigning from the death of his brother and pr ...
(622–612 BC), the Assyrian empire, which had been in a state of constant civil war since 626 BC, began to unravel. Subject peoples, such as the Medes, Babylonians,
Chaldea Chaldea () was a small country that existed between the late 10th or early 9th and mid-6th centuries BCE, after which the country and its people were absorbed and assimilated into the indigenous population Babylonia. Semitic language, Semitic-s ...
ns,
Egyptians Egyptians ( arz, المصريين, ; cop, ⲣⲉⲙⲛ̀ⲭⲏⲙⲓ, remenkhēmi) are an ethnic group of people originating from the country of Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a spanning t ...
, Scythians, Cimmerians,
Lydians The Lydians (known as ''Sparda'' to the Achaemenids The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, translit=Xšāça, translation=The Empire), also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient Iranian Iranian may refer to: * Iran ...
and
Arameans The Arameans (Old Aramaic Old Aramaic refers to the earliest stage of the Aramaic language Aramaic ( Classical Syriac: ''Arāmāyā''; Old Aramaic: ; Aramaic alphabet, Imperial Aramaic: ; Hebrew alphabet, square script ) is a language t ...
quietly ceased to pay tribute to Assyria. Neo-Assyrian dominance over the Medians came to an end during the reign of Median King Cyaxares, who, in alliance with King Nabopolassar of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, attacked and destroyed the strife-riven Neo-Assyrian empire between 616 and 609 BC. The newfound alliance helped the Medes to capture Nineveh in 612 BC, which resulted in the eventual collapse of the Neo-Assyrian Empire by 609 BC. The Medes were subsequently able to establish their Median Kingdom (with
Ecbatana Ecbatana (; peo, 𐏃𐎥𐎶𐎫𐎠𐎴 ''Hagmatāna'' or ''Haŋmatāna'', literally "the place of gathering"; Elamite language, Elamite: 𒀝𒈠𒁕𒈾 ''Ag-ma-da-na''; Middle Persian: 𐭠𐭧𐭬𐭲𐭠𐭭; Parthian language, Parthian: ...

Ecbatana
as their royal capital) beyond their original homeland and had eventually a territory stretching roughly from northeastern Iran to the Kızılırmak River in
Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia and the westernmost protrusion of the Asian continent. It makes up the majority of modern-day Turkey. The region ...
. After the fall of Assyria between 616 BC and 609 BC, a unified Median state was formed, which together with Babylonia,
Lydia Lydia (Lydian language, Lydian: ‎𐤮𐤱𐤠𐤭𐤣𐤠, ''Śfarda''; Aramaic: ''Lydia''; el, Λυδία, ''Lȳdíā''; tr, Lidya) was an Iron Age Monarchy, kingdom of western Asia Minor located generally east of ancient Ionia in the mod ...

Lydia
, and ancient Egypt became one of the four major powers of the
ancient Near East The ancient Near East was the home of early civilization A civilization (or civilisation) is any complex society that is characterized by urban development, social stratification, a form of government, and symbol A symbol is a mark ...
. Cyaxares was succeeded by his son King Astyages. In 553 BC, his maternal grandson
Cyrus the Great Cyrus II of Persia (; peo, wikt:𐎤𐎢𐎽𐎢𐏁, 𐎤𐎢𐎽𐎢𐏁, translit=Kūruš), commonly known as Cyrus the Great and also called Cyrus the Elder by the Ancient Greece, Greeks, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire, the Histo ...

Cyrus the Great
, the King of Anshan (Persia), Anshan/Persia, a Median vassal, Persian Revolt, revolted against Astyages. In 550 BC, Cyrus finally won a decisive victory resulting in Astyages' capture by his own dissatisfied nobles, who promptly turned him over to the triumphant Cyrus. After Cyrus's victory against Astyages, the Medes were subjected to their close kin, the Persians. In the new empire they retained a prominent position; in honour and war, they stood next to the Persians; their court ceremony was adopted by the new sovereigns, who in the summer months resided in
Ecbatana Ecbatana (; peo, 𐏃𐎥𐎶𐎫𐎠𐎴 ''Hagmatāna'' or ''Haŋmatāna'', literally "the place of gathering"; Elamite language, Elamite: 𒀝𒈠𒁕𒈾 ''Ag-ma-da-na''; Middle Persian: 𐭠𐭧𐭬𐭲𐭠𐭭; Parthian language, Parthian: ...

Ecbatana
; and many noble Medes were employed as officials, satraps and generals.


Median dynasty

The list of Median rulers and their period of reign is compiled according to two sources. Firstly, Herodotus who calls them "kings" and associates them with the same family. Secondly, the Babylonian Chronicle which in "Gadd's Chronicle on the Fall of Nineveh" gives its own list. A combined list stretching over 150 years is thus: * Deioces (700–647 BC) * Phraortes (647–625 BC) * Scythians, Scythian rule (624–597 BC) * Cyaxares (624–585 BC) * Astyages (585–549 BC) However, not all of these dates and personalities given by Herodotus match the other near eastern sources. In Herodotus (book 1, chapters 95–130), Deioces is introduced as the founder of a centralised Median state. He had been known to the Median people as "a just and incorruptible man" and when asked by the Median people to solve their possible disputes he agreed and put forward the condition that they make him "king" and build a great city at Ecbatana as the capital of the Median state. Judging from the contemporary sources of the region and disregarding the account of Herodotus puts the formation of a unified Median state during the reign of Cyaxares or later.


Culture and society

Greek references to "Median" people make no clear distinction between the "Persians" and the "Medians"; in fact for a Greek to become "too closely associated with Iranian culture" was "to become Medianized, not Persianized". The Median Kingdom was a short-lived Iranian state and the textual and archaeological sources of that period are rare and little could be known from the Median culture which nevertheless made a "profound, and lasting, contribution to the greater world of Iranian culture".


Language

Median people spoke the Median language, which was an Old Iranian language.
Strabo Strabo''Strabo'' (meaning "squinty", as in strabismus Strabismus is a condition in which the eyes do not properly align with each other when looking at an object. The eye that is focused on an object can alternate. The condition may be pre ...

Strabo
's ''
Geographica The ''Geographica'' (Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek ...
'' (finished in the early first century) mentions the affinity of Median with other Iranian languages: "The name of'' Ariana ''is further extended to a part of Persia and of Media, as also to the Bactrians and Sogdians on the north; for these speak approximately the same language, but with slight variations". No original deciphered text has been proven to have been written in the Median language. It is suggested that similar to the later Iranian practice of keeping archives of written documents in Achaemenid Iran, there was also a maintenance of archives by the Median government in their capital Ecbatana. There are examples of "Median literature" found in later records. One is according to Herodotus that the Median king Deioces, appearing as a judge, made judgement on causes submitted in writing. There is also a report by Dinon on the existence of "Median court poets". Median literature is part of the "Old Iranian literature" (including also Saka, Old Persian, Avestan) as this Iranian affiliation of them is explicit also in ancient texts, such as Herodotus's account that many peoples including Medes were "universally called Iranian". Words of Median origin appear in various other Iranian dialects, including
Old Persian Old Persian is one of the two directly attested Old Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of the Indo-Iranian languagesIndo-Iranian may refer to: * Indo-Iranian languages * Indo-Iranians, the various peoples speaking ...
. A feature of Old Persian inscriptions is the large number of words and names from other languages and the Median language takes in this regard a special place for historical reasons. The Median words in Old Persian texts, whose Median origin can be established by "phonetic criteria", appear "more frequently among royal titles and among terms of the chancellery, military, and judicial affairs". Words of Median origin include: *''*čiθra-'': "origin". The word appears in ''*čiθrabṛzana-'' (med.) "exalting his linage", ''*čiθramiθra-'' (med.) "having mithraic origin", ''*čiθraspāta-'' (med.) "having a brilliant army", etc. *''Farnah'': Divine glory ( ae, Khvarenah, khvarənah) *''Paridaiza'': Paradise *''Spaka-'' : The word is Median and means "dog". Herodotus identifies "Spaka-" (Gk. "σπάχα" – female dog) as Median rather than Persian. The word is still used in modern Iranian languages including Talysh language, Talyshi, also suggested as a source to the Russian word for dog sobaka. *''vazṛka-'': "great" (as Western Persian ''bozorg'') *''vispa-'': "all" (as in Avestan). The component appears in such words as ''vispafryā'' (Med. fem.) "dear to all", ''vispatarva-'' (med.) "vanquishing all", ''vispavada-'' (Median-Old Persian) "leader of all", etc. *''wikt:𐏋#Old Persian, xšayaθiya-'' (king) *''xšaθra-'' (realm; kingship): This Median word (attested in ''*xšaθra-pā-'' and continued by Middle Persian wikt:𐭱𐭲𐭫𐭩#Middle Persian, ''šahr'' "land, country; city") is an example of words whose Greek form (known as romanized "satrap" from Gk. σατράπης ''satrápēs'') mirrors, as opposed to the tradition, a Median rather than an Old Persian form (also attested, as ''wikt:𐎧𐏁𐏂𐎶#Old Persian, xšaça-'' and ''wikt:𐎧𐏁𐏂𐎱𐎠𐎺𐎠#Old Persian, xšaçapāvā'') of an Old Iranian word. * ''zūra-'': "evil" and ''zūrakara-'': "evil-doer".


Religion

There are very limited sources concerning the religion of Median people. Primary sources pointing to religious affiliations of Medes found so far include the archaeological discoveries in Tepe Nush-e Jan, personal names of Median individuals, and the Histories of Herodotus. The archaeological source gives the earliest of the temple structures in Iran and the "stepped fire altar" discovered there is linked to the common Iranian legacy of the "cult of fire". Herodotus mentions Magi#In Iranian sources, Median Magi as a Median tribe providing priests for both the Medes and the Persians. They had a "priestly caste" which passed their functions from father to son. They played a significant role in the court of the Median king Astyages who had in his court certain Medians as "advisers, dream interpreters, and soothsayers". Classical historians "unanimously" regarded the Magi as priests of the Zoroastrian faith. From the personal names of Medes as recorded by Assyrians (in 8th and 9th centuries BC) there are examples of the use of the Indo-Iranian word ''arta-'' (lit. "truth") which is familiar from both Avestan and Old Persian and also examples of theophoric names containing ''Maždakku'' and also the name "Ahura Mazdā". Scholars disagree whether these are indications of Zoroastrian religion amongst the Medes. Diakonoff believes that "Astyages and perhaps even Cyaxares had already embraced a religion derived from the teachings of Zoroaster" and Mary Boyce believes that "the existence of the Magi in Media with their own traditions and forms of worship was an obstacle to Zoroastrian proselytizing there". Boyce wrote that the Zoroastrian traditions in the Median city of Ray probably goes back to the 8th century BC. It is suggested that from the 8th century BC, a form of "Mazdaism with common Iranian traditions" existed in Media and the strict Zoroastrianism, reforms of Zarathustra began to spread in western Iran during the reign of the last Median kings in the 6th century BC. It has also been suggested that Mithra is a Median name and Medes may have practised Mithraism and had Mithra as their supreme deity.


Kurds and Medes

Russian historian and linguist Vladimir Minorsky suggested that the Medes, who widely inhabited the land where currently the Kurds form a majority, might have been forefathers of the modern Kurds. He also states that the Medes who invaded the region in the eighth century BC, linguistically resembled the Kurds. This view was accepted by many Kurdish nationalists in the twentieth century. However, Martin van Bruinessen, a Dutch scholar, argues against the attempt to take the Medes as ancestors of the Kurds.Hakan Özoğlu, ''Kurdish notables and the Ottoman state: Evolving Identities, Competing Loyalties, and Shifting Boundaries'', SUNY Press, 2004
p. 25.
/ref>
"Though some Kurdish intellectuals claim that their people are descended from the Medes, there is no evidence to permit such a connection across the considerable gap in time between the political dominance of the Medes and the first attestation of the Kurds" - van Bruinessen
Contemporary linguistic evidence has challenged the previously suggested view that the Kurds are descendants of the Medes. Gernot Ludwig Windfuhr, professor of Iranian Studies, identified the Kurdish languages as Parthian language, Parthian, albeit with a Median language, Median substratum. David Neil MacKenzie, an authority on the Kurdish language, said Kurdish was closer to Persian and questioned the "traditional" view holding that Kurdish, because of its differences from Persian, should be regarded as a Northwestern Iranian language. The Kurdology, Kurdologist and Iranian studies, Iranologist Garnik Asatrian stated that "The Central Iranian dialects, and primarily those of the Kashan area in the first place, as well as the Azari dialects (otherwise called Tati language (Iran), Southern Tati) are probably the only Iranian dialects, which can pretend to be the direct offshoots of Median... In general, the relationship between Kurdish and Median is not closer than the affinities between the latter and other North Western dialects – Baluchi, Talishi, South Caspian, Zaza, Gurani, Kurdish(Soranî, Kurmancî, Kelhorî) Asatrian also stated that "there is no serious ground to suggest a special genetic affinity within North-Western Iranian between this ancient language [Median] and Kurdish. The latter does not share even the generally ephemeric peculiarity of Median." According to Alireza Shapour Shahbazi: "The Aryan tribes including the Medes (ancestors of many Iranians, particularly the Kurds), Persians, Hyrcanians (...)". According to ''The Cambridge History of the Kurds'',


See also

*Greater Iran *Iranian Plateau *Linear Elamite – a script possibly used to write Median language *List of monarchs of Persia *List of rulers of the pre-Achaemenid kingdoms of Iran *Madai *Qanat – water management system


Notes


References


Sources

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Further reading

*
Mede
" ''Encyclopædia Britannica''. 2008. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 16 January 2008. *


External links


Median Empire
at Iran Chamber Society website. {{coord missing, Iran Medes, Historical Iranian peoples States and territories established in the 7th century BC States and territories disestablished in the 6th century BC 7th century BC in Iran Ancient Near East Empires and kingdoms of Iran Former empires in Asia Ancient Armenia History of Turkey Ancient history of the Caucasus 1st-millennium BC establishments in Iran 549 BC 6th century BC in Iran 6th-century BC disestablishments 1st-millennium BC disestablishments in Iran Superpowers Historical geography of Iran