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The Medes / midz / (from the ancient Persian Mādā) were an ancient Iranian people living in an area known as a medium, which spoke a north-western Iranian language, called the median language. Their arrival in the region is marked by the first wave of Iranian tribes in the late 2nd millennium BC. (Bronze Age collapse) by the beginning of the 1st millennium BC. Connected.

 Median_Empire map

From the 10th to late 7th centuries BCE, the Iranian Medes and Persians fell under the domination of the Neo-Assyrian Empire based in Mesopotamia.
After the fall of the Assyrian Empire, between 616 BC and 605 BC, a unified median state was formed, which together with Babylonia, Lydia and Egypt became one of the four great powers of the ancient Near East. An alliance with the Babylonians and the Scythians helped the Medes conquer Nineveh in 612 BC, which led to the collapse of the neo-Assyrian empire. The Medians were later able to establish their median kingdom (with Ecbatana as their royal center) beyond their original home (Central-West Iran) and finally had an area that stretched from north-eastern Iran to the Halys River in Anatolia. The Mediterranean Empire was conquered by Cyrus the Great in 550 BC, who founded the next Iranian dynasty - the Persian Achaemenid empire.
A few archaeological sites (discovered in the "Median Triangle" in western Iran) and sources of text (from contemporary Assyrians and Greeks in later centuries) provide a short documentation of the history and culture of the median state. These architectural sources, religious temples, and literary references show the importance of median continuous contributions (such as the Safavid-Achaemenid-Median link of the tradition of the "pillory pubic halls") with Iranian culture. A series of words from the median language are still in use, and there are languages which are geographically and comparatively derived from the north-western Iranian language of the median. The Medians had an ancient Iranian religion (a form of pre-Zoroastrian Mazdaism or Mithra worship) with a priesthood named "Magi". Later and during the reign of the last Median kings, the reforms of Zarathustra spread in western Iran.

Alongside Ecbatana (modern Hamedan), the other media were in Laodicea (modern Nahavand) [7] and the hill, which is the largest city of the Medes, Rhages (also called Rey), on the edge of Shahr Rey south of Tehran. The fourth city of Media was Apamea, near Ecbatana, whose exact location is unknown. In later periods, Medes and above all Mede soldiers are identified and portrayed prominently in ancient Persian archaeological sites such as Persepolis, where they are shown to have an important role and presence in the military of the Persian Empire's Achaemenid dynasty.
According to the Histories of Herodotus, there were six Median tribes:
Thus Deioces collected the Medes into a nation, and ruled over them alone. Now these are the tribes of which they consist: the Busae, the Paretaceni, the Struchates, the Arizanti, the Budii, and the Magi.
The six median tribes lived in Media, the triangle between Ecbatana, Rhagae and Aspadana, in modern Iran, the area between Tehran, Isfahan and Hamadan. Of the median tribes lived the magicians in Rhaga, modern Tehran. [12] It was a kind of sacred caste that served the spiritual needs of the Medes. The Paretaceni tribe lived in and around Aspadana, the modern Isfahan, the Arizanti lived in and around Kashan and the busae tribe lived in and around the future Median capital of Ecbatana, modern Hamadan. The Struchate and the Budii lived in villages in the Middle Delta.




The original source for various words that call the Mediterranean, its language and home is a directly transmitted ancient Iranian geographical name, which is attested as the ancient Persian "Māda-" (sing masc.). The meaning of this word is not precisely defined. The linguistic scientist W. Skalmowski proposes the proto-Indo-European word "med (h) -", meaning "central, fitting in the middle", referring to ancient Indian "madhyan" and old Iranian "maidiia" meaning With descendants, including Latin medium, Greek méso, and German means.
The Median people are mentioned by that name in many ancient texts. According to the Histories of Herodotus;
The Medes were called anciently by all people Aryans; but when Medea, the Colchian, came to them from Athens, they changed their name. Such is the account which they themselves give.

Historical geography of Media
The original population of the median was West Iran and named after them as "media". At the end of the 2nd millennium BC the median tribes (one of several Iranian tribes) emerged in the region, which they later called the media. These tribes extended their control over larger areas later, and, over a period of several hundred years, moved the boundaries of the media.

Ancient textual sources
An early description of the territory of the media by the Assyrians dates from the end of the ninth century BC to the beginning of the 7th century BC. The southern border of the media, at this time, is called as the Elamite region of Simaški in today Lorestan. From west and north-west it was bordered by the Zagros mountains and from the east by Dasht-e Kavir. The region of the media was governed by the Assyrians, and the region stretched along the Great Khorasan Road from the east of Harhar to Alwand and probably further north through the non-Iranian state of Mannea in the south of Ellipi. "The location of Harhar is proposed to be" the central or eastern "Mahidasht in Kermanshah province.
In the East and Southeast of the media, as described by the Assyrians, another country with the name "Patušarra" appears. This country was located near a mountain range called the "Bikni" by the Assyrians and referred to as "Lapis Lazuliberg". There are different opinions about the location of this mountain. Damavand of Teheran and Alvand of Hamadan are two proposed markings of this position. This place is the most remote eastern area that the Assyrians, during their expansion up to the beginning of the 7th century BC,

In the sources of Achaemenid Iran, and especially from the inscription on Behistun (2.76, 77-78), the capital of the media is called "Hamgmatāna" in ancient Persian (and as Elamite "Agmadana", Babylonian "Agamtanu" . The classical authors reported this as Ecbatana. This site is the modern Hamadan province.

 Archaeological evidence
The median archaeological sources are rare. The discoveries of median locations happened only after the 1960er years. For some time after 1960, the search for median archaeological sources for most parts was concentrated in an area known as the "median triangle", which is found in the region of Hamadān, Malāyer (in the province of Hamdan) and Kangāvar (in The province of Kermanshah). Three major sites from central western Iran in the Iron Age III period (the 850-500 BCE) are:

Tepe Nush-i Jan (a primarily religious site of Median period),



The site is located 14 km west of Malāyer in the province of Hamadan. The excavations began in 1967 with D. Stronach as a director. The remains of four main buildings on the site are "the central temple, the western temple, the fortress and the pillared hall", which were probably built in Stronach in the order mentioned and predict this last occupation of the first half of the 6th century BC . According to Stronach, the central temple, with its crisp design, "provides a remarkable, if silent, expression of religious belief and practice".
A series of ceramics from the Mediterranean of Tepe Nush-i Jan were found, which are connected with the time (the second half of the 7th century BC) The median consolidation of their power in the Hamadān areas. These results show four different goods known as "common goods" (buff, cream, or light red in color and with gold or silver mica), including various size glasses, the largest of which is a form of ribbed pithoi. Smaller and more elaborate vessels were found in "gray goods" (these show a smoothed and browned surface). The "cooking ware" and "crumbly ware" are also recognized in individual handmade products.

• Baba Jan (probably the seat of a lesser tribal ruler of Media).
The site is located in northeastern Luristan with a distance of roughly 10 km from Nūrābād in Lurestan province. The excavations were conducted by C. Goff in 1966-69. The level II of this site probably dates to 7th century BCE.
These sources have both similarities (in cultural features) and differences (due to functional differences and diversity among the median strains). The architecture of these archaeological finds, which may be dated to the Median period, reveals a link between the tradition of the pillar halls, often found in Achaemenid Iran (eg in Persepolis) and also in Safavid Iran ("Forty Columns" And the median architecture.

• Godin Tepe (its period II: a fortified palace of a Median king or tribal chief),

Godin Tepe About 5,200 years ago, a mud-brick oval enclosure was built

Godin Tepe About 5,200 years ago,

a mud-brick oval enclosure was built

The site is located 13 km east of the town of Kangāvar on the left bank of the river Gamas Āb. The excavations begun in 1965 were directed by TC Young, Jr., who, according to D. Stronach, apparently has a significant Bronze Age construction, which was eventually re-inhabited before the Iron III period began. The Young excavations show the remains of a part of a single residence Local ruler, who later became quite significant, similar to those often mentioned in Assyrian sources.

The materials that were found in Tepe Nush-i Jan, Godin Tepe and other places in Media along with the Assyrian reliefs, show the existence of urban settlements in media in the first half of the 1st millennium BC, as centers For the production of handicrafts And also from an agricultural and livestock economy of a secondary type. For other historical documents, the archaeological evidence, though rarely, allow along with wedge-shaped records of Assyria, regardless of Herodotus accounts, to establish some of the early history of the Median.

Rise to power
Pre-dynastic history
Iranian tribes were in western and northwestern Iran at least from the 12th or 11th century BC. The importance of Iranian elements in these regions has been increasing since the beginning of the second half of the 8th century BC. At this time, the Iranian tribes were the majority in what later became the territory of the empire Median and also the West of the media. A study of regional sources reveals that in the neo-Assyrian period, the media regions, and further west and northwest, had a population with Iranian-speaking people as the majority.
In western and northwestern Iran and in areas west of these and before the median rule, there have been political activities of powerful societies of Elam, Mannaea, Assyria and Urartu (Armenia). There are various and updated opinions on the positions and activities of the Iranian tribes in these societies and before the "great Iranian state formation" in the late seventh century BC An opinion (by Herzfeld et al.) Is that the ruling class is "Iranian Migrants ", but the society was" autochthonous ", while another opinion (by Grantovsky et al.) That both the ruling class and the basic elements of the population goods were Iranian.
During the period of the Neo Assyrian Empire (911-612 BC) the Medes, Persians and other Iranian peoples of northern and western Iran were subject to Assyria. This changed during the reign of Cyaxares, who in alliance with Nabopolassar of Babylon and the Scythians attacked and destroyed the strife riven empire between 616 and 605 BC.

Median dynasty
The list of Median rulers and their dates compiled according to A: Herodotus who calls them "kings" and associates them with the same family, and B: Babylonian Chronicle which in "Gadd's Chronicle on the Fall of Nineveh" gives its own list, is:

Deioces (reign 700-647 BCE)
Phraortes (reign 647-625 BCE)
Scythian (reign 624-597 BCE)
Cyaxares (reign 624-585 BCE) and
Astyages (reign 585-549 BCE),
a total of 150 years. Not all of these dates and personalities given by Herodotus match the other near eastern sources

In Herodotus (Book 1, Chapter 95-130) Deioces is introduced as the founder of a centralized median state. He was known to the Median as a "just and incorruptible man," and when he was asked by the Medians to resolve their possible conflicts, he agreed that they would make him a "king" and a great city in Ecbatana as the capital of Median condition. To judge and ignore the contemporary sources of the region, the representation of Herodotus represents 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 "too closely linked to Iranian culture" was "medianized, not persianized." The median kingdom was a short-lived Iranian state and the textual and archaeological sources of that time are rare and little could be known from the median Culture, which has nevertheless made a "deep and lasting contribution to the wider world of Iranian culture".


There are very limited sources about the religion of the Medians. Primary sources pointing to religious affities of Medes and so far found include the archaeological discoveries in Tepe Nush-e Jan, personal names of Median individuals and the histories of Herodotus. The archaeological source discovers the earliest of the temple structures in Iran and the "kicked fire tale" discovered there is connected to the common Iranian legacy of the "cult of fire". Herodotus mentions Median Magi as a median tribe, the priest 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 certain medians in his court as a "consultant, dream interpreter and fortune-teller". Classical historians "unanimously" regarded the magicians as priests of the Zoroastrian faith. From the personal names of Medes recorded by Assyrians (in the 8th and 9th centuries BC), there are examples of the use of the Indian-Iranian word arta (lit. "truth"), both of Avestan as Also from the Old Persian and also from examples is known from theophoric names, the Maždakku and also the name "Ahura Mazdā". The scholars disagree whether these are references to the Zoroastrian religion of the Medes. Diakonoff believes that "Astyages and perhaps even Cyaxares had already adopted a religion derived from the teachings of Zoroaster," which was not identical with the doctrine of Zarathustra, and Mary Boyce believes that "the existence of magicians in the media with their Own traditions and forms of worship was an obstacle for Zoroastrian proselytizing there ". Boyce wrote that the Zoroastrian tradition in the median city of Ray probably dates back to the 8th century BC. It is suggested that from the 8th century BCE, a form of "Mazdaism with common Iranian traditions" existed in Media and the strict reforms of Zarathustra began to spread in western Iran during the reign of the last Median kings in 6th century BCE.
It is also suggested that "Mithra" has a Median name and Medes may have practised Mithraism and had Mithra as their supreme deity.
In 553 BC, Cyrus the Great, King of Persia, rebelled against his grandfather, the Mede King, Astyages son of Cyaxares; he finally won a decisive victory in 550 BC resulting in Astyages' capture by his own dissatisfied nobles, who promptly turned him over to the triumphant Cyrus.
After the victory of Cyrus against Astyages, the Medes were subjected to their kinsmen, the Persians. In the new empire they maintained a prominent position; In honor and war they stood beside the Persians; Their court ceremony was taken over by the new Sovereigns who lived in Ecbatana during the summer months; And many noble Medes were employed as officials, satraps and generals. Interestingly, the Greek historians referred at the beginning to the Achaemenid empire as a medieval age.


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