Media (country)

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Media ( Persian ماد, DMG Mād , ancient Persian Māda , Babylonian Umman-Mand , ancient Greek Μηδία ) consisted of Iranian sub-provinces, which in ancient times formed several changing confederations . The residents were grouped under the umbrella term Medes ( Mad-ai, Mād-y, Mand-a, Μῆδοι ). This is not a special popular name, the Cimmerians and Scythians were also sometimes called that.


Media (Country) (Iran)



Elburs Mountains
Kavir desert
Oshtoran cow
Oshtoran cow
Zard cow
Zard cow

Great Ararat
Great Ararat
Kūh-e Hazār
Kūh-e Hazār
Cow-e Palvar
Cow-e Palvar
Media (original location and later expansion) as well as the neighboring countries / regions surrounding it (shown in a relief map of present-day Iran )

Media's core area comprises the Zāgros Mountains , which are located in today's Iran-Iraq border area. The empire later expanded into Anatolia in the west and Iran in the east. There were significant gold deposits in the media that were exploited early on.

Historical sources

The Medes left no written sources. The most important sources for their history are archaeological finds, which are often difficult to assign to a specific tribe or political group, Assyrian and Babylonian sources and the reports of Greek writers.


Herodotus divided the Medes into the tribes of Buser, Paretakener, Struchaten, Arizanter, Budier and Mager . He also reported two battles that took place during an eclipse . Herodotus described the time of the first solar eclipse in detail: “When Phraortes was dead […] and Kyaxares fought against the Lydians , at that time, in the middle of the argument, night turned into day […] and then all of Asia above Halys was subjected… and was there To besiege Nineveh , a great Scythian army marched against him with Madyes , the son of Protothyes , who pursued the Cimmerians . The Medes met these Scythians, were conquered and lost their rule to the Scythians, who […] then marched against Psammetich I. ”In the period in question, there were similarities with a total solar eclipse that took place on June 27, 661 BC. As well as the note from Assurbanipal , who reported the invasion of the Iškuzaia , and the accession of Psammetich I in 664 BC. Chr.


Beginning of the 1st millennium BC The Medes, who perhaps immigrated from the northeast, settled parts of the Iranian plateau. They probably introduced riding on horseback , which would later have a special meaning in the media. The settlement areas later bordered on the neighboring regions of Mannäa on Lake Urmia , Gizilbunda , Sargatien , Gutium , Parsua , Ekbatana , Ellipi , Zāgros and across the Kavir desert to Damāvand .

Medes Confederation (715 BC to 550 BC)

Representation of a median from the palace of Xerxes in Persepolis

Kyaxares I.

Kyaxares I. is considered the founder of a larger confederation and resided in Ekbatana . Archaeological studies confirm the reports of cuneiform finds in neighboring countries, which make it clear that there was no cohesive state or kingdom of the media. Rather, it was about regions and small principalities that consisted of more than 100 tribal associations and allied under Kyaxares I to form a military unit. Changing allies repeatedly changed the territorial structures of the Medical Confederation.

Scythian rule

The rule of the Scythians brought the Medes above all the achievement of the Scythian art of archery on horseback. The equipping of horses has also improved continuously since the Scythian rule and even the quality of riding comfort has increased. The generosity of the Scythians is noteworthy, after they ruled in 653 BC. The Persians freed from the rule of the Medes to educate Persian boys in three things: horse riding, archery and speaking the truth, cf. Herodotus I, 136. In honor of the Scythians, the Persian king Teispes named one of his two sons with the name Ariaramna . Ariaramna, in turn, named his son Arsama to commemorate the exploits of the Scythians.

By and large, the medical process of learning Scythian horsemanship, according to Herodotus, lasted 28 years. Herodotus also reports on the arrogance and carelessness of the Scythians during their reign, when everything fell into disrepair: "They extorted taxes at their own discretion, and they also wandered the country and stole what they found."

Kyaxares II.

Kyaxares II ended the Scythian rule. Afterwards the Median Confederation reached its greatest extent through further military expansions. In 614 BC In an alliance with Babylonia, the Medes smashed the Empire of Assyria and destroyed the city of Assur , 612 BC. The old Assyrian capital Nineveh also fell .


Herodotus and the mention of the second solar eclipse

A war against the Lydians was triggered by a solar eclipse allegedly predicted by Thales of Miletus on May 28, 585 BC. Ended. Both sides were so terrified by the natural event that they made peace. Alyattes II gave his daughter Aryenis in marriage to the Median king Astyages .

The end of the Meder Confederation

553 BC The Median nobility allied themselves with the Persians , which was 550 BC. Led to the end of the rule of the Medes. The Medes Confederation was subjugated by Cyrus II , who thus laid the foundation for the Persian Empire . The Median aristocracy enjoyed many privileges in the Achaemenid Persian Empire and was involved in the administration.

Achaemenid Empire , represented in its maximum extent, with the satrapies as they existed under Darius I and Xerxes I , first half of the 5th century BC. Chr. , Named after the Behistun Inscription and persepolischen inscriptions (on a historical map ) . The satrapy "MEDIA" was entered in it.

Media became the satrapy of the Persian Empire under the Achaemenids . According to Herodotus , the media had to pay the great king a yearly tribute of 450 silver talents , animal skins, clothing, precious stones, vessels and weapons. Famous and sought-after were the "Nisean horses" from the area Herodotus called Hippobotus ("Rossweide"), which were later referred to as "heavenly horses" in Central Asia . The name of the horses comes from Nisaea, an ancient landscape somewhere in Media that was known for breeding horses.

Successor generations

Under the Seleucids , the country was divided into the Media centered around Ekbatana and the Media Atropatene located north of it . Media Atropatene was a part of the media that became independent under the former Achaemenid and later Alexandrian satrap Atropates , while the southern media initially remained under Seleucid rule.

Media held a prominent position under the Parthians and was administered by a member of the royal family.

Under the Sasanids , the most important sanctuary of the Zoroastrian religion, the fire temple of Adur Guschnasp, today's Tacht-e Suleiman , arose in Adarbaigan in the empire Atropatene , a part of Media that was now called "Mad" . During the Sasanid era, media disappeared as a political and geographical entity.

Speculation about the relationship between Kurds and Medes

The opinion held by some of the Kurds' medical descent was based on publications by Vladimir Minorsky , who based his claims on linguistic affinities , which, given the almost non-existent knowledge of the medical language, is not a serious linguistic science. Therefore, most Iranologists consider this hypothesis to be unprovable.

Median rulers

Chronology according to Herodotus

Herodotus chronology presents several problems. The original date of the year 700 BC For the reign of Deiokes it is too late, since as early as 716 BC. The banishment by Sargon II took place. Deiokes is described as the founder of the Medes dynasty with a 53-year reign, which has since been refuted. Phraortes is associated with the reign of Assurbanipal , which is true with the establishment of 647–625 BC. BC is consistent, but Herodotus knows only one Kyaxares. When these government data are taken over into the actual sequence, there is a time gap that can be filled by Herodotus' indication of a 28-year Scythian rule. Kyaxares I. receives the remaining 40 years from the 53 years of Deiokes.

The first Meder Confederation

  • Kyaxares I .: 715 to 675 BC BC (length of reign after Herodotus)
  • Phraortes : 675 to 653 BC BC (length of reign after Herodotus)

The Scythians

  • Scythian kings Arbaka, Arphaxad, Arbakes: 653 to 625 BC BC (length of reign after Herodotus)

The second Meder Confederation

  • Kyaxares II .: 625 to 585 BC BC (length of reign after Herodotus)
  • Astyages : 585 to 550 BC BC (length of reign after Herodotus)

Chronology according to Ktesias

The chronology of the Ktesias of Knidos is a historical construct that corresponds even less to historical reality. Nineveh was founded in 612 BC. Captured; a correction of the dates would put Astyages at about 350 BC. Begin.

  • Arbakes (833–805 BC) (capture of Nineveh and victory over Ashurbanipal)
  • Mandakes (805–755 BC)
  • Sosarmos (755–725 BC)
  • Artykas (725–675 BC)
  • Arbianes (675–653 BC)
  • Artaios (653–613 BC)
  • Artynes ​​(613-591 BC)
  • Artibaras (591–551 BC)
  • Aspadas (Astyages) (551-550 BC)


There are no medical texts available, which means that the identification of the language must largely be based on proper names. Usually it is considered an Iranian language . Karen Radner , however, questioned this assignment.

See also


  • Stuart C. Brown: Media and secondary state formation in the Neo-Assyrian Zagros: an anthropological approach to an Assyriological problem. In: Journal of Cuneiform Studies . Volume 38, 1986, pp. 107-119.
  • Jahanshah Derakhshani: The Aryans in the Middle Eastern sources of the 3rd and 2nd millennium BC Chr . 2nd edition, Tehran 1999.
  • Roman Ghirshman : L'Iran, des origines à l'Islam (= Bibliothèque historique ). Payot, Paris 1951; English: Iran. From The Earliest Times To The Islamic Conquest (= Pelican Books A239) Harmondsworth, Penguin Books 1954.
  • Mischa Meier , Josef Wiesehöfer u. a. (Ed.): Deiokes, King of the Medes. A Herodotus episode in its contexts (= Oriens et Occidens. Studies on ancient cultural contacts and their afterlife. Volume 7). Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart 2004.
  • Mario Liverani: Studies on the Annals of Ashurnasirpal II. Volume 2: Topographical Analysis (= Quaderni di Geografia Storica. Volume 4). Universita di Roma “La Sapienza”, Rome 1992.
  • Mario Liverani: The Medes at Esarhaddon's court. In: Journal of Cuneiform Studies. Volume 47, 1995, pp. 57-62.
  • Karin Radner: An Assyrian View on the Medes. In: Giovanni Lanfranchi, Michael Roaf, Robert Rollinger (Eds.): Continuity of Empire (?): Assyria, Media, Persia. Proceedings of the International Meeting in Padua, April 26th – 28th, 2001 (= History of the Ancient Near East Monographs. Volume 5). Sargon, Padua 2003, pp. 37-64.
  • Robert Rollinger: The Median Empire, the End of Urartu and Cyrus the Great Campaigne 547 BC Chr. In Nabonaid Chronicle II 16. In: Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Ancient Cultural Relations between Iran and West-Asia. Tehran 2004.
  • Robert Rollinger: The phantom of the medical "great empire" and the Behistun inscription. In: Edward Dabrowa (Ed.): Ancient Iran and its Neighbors. Studies in Honor of Prof. Jozef Wolski on Occasion of his 95th Birthday. Jagiellonian University Press, Krakow 2005.
  • Robert Rollinger: The Medes. In: Hubert Cancik (Ed.): DNP, Supplement Volume 1, lists of rulers. Stuttgart 2005.
  • Josef Wiesehöfer: Ancient Persia. Actual Edition. Albatros, Düsseldorf 2005.

Individual evidence

  1. Carola Metzner-Nebelsick: Kimmerier In: Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde , volume. 16 (2000), pp. 505-507.
  2. Herodotus , Historien I, 101 ( online )
  3. Herodotus I, 103 f.
  4. Total solar eclipse June 27, 661 BC. Chr.
  5. W. Eilers: Four bronze weapons. Persica 4, 1969, 43.10; see. Herodotus I, 73. Herodotus reported that the Medes had learned the Scythian language and the Scythian way of archery. (Peter Högemann, The old Middle East and the Achaemenids: a contribution to the Herodotus analysis, Reichert, 1992, p. 92)
  6. You are holding a Scythian-style bow in your hand. By the way, Herodotus (I, 73) emphasizes that the Medes took over archery from the Scythians. (Roman Ghirshman, Iran: Protoiranier, Meder, Achaemeniden, Volume 2, C. H. Beck, 1964, p. 88)
  7. That the riding culture of the Persians was ultimately taken over by the Medes, has u. a. Victor Hehn concluded (The Medes, in turn, probably took them over from the Scythians, with whom they were temporarily allied and sometimes enemies (Torsten Gaitzsch, Das Pferd bei den Indogermanen, LIT Verlag Münster, 2011, p. 131)
  8. The Medes did not fight as perfect horse bowers either, because they were not fused to the horse to the same extent as the freehand riding Scythians, Huns or Avars. (Heinz Meyer: Geschichte der Reiterkrieger. Kohlhammer, 1982, p. 24)
  9. Herodotus (Hist I, 73) knew to report that the Scythians instructed the Medes in archery. (Udo Rüterswörden, Dominium terrae: Studies on the Genesis of an Old Testament Idea, Walter de Gruyter, 1993, p. 146)
  10. The main enemies of the Assyrians were most likely the Medes. who were armed with bows and arrows of the "Scythian" type. (Askolʹd Igorevich Ivanchik, Kimmerier und Scythians, Публишед бы Палеограф-Пресс фор Герман Архаеологикал Институте, 2001, p. 69)
  11. ↑ The basic prerequisite for this type of archery is the art of riding in the sense of the highest level of horse control, because it is only freedom of movement that enables the rider to use the bow weapon during the ride (A. Hancar 1972, 18).
  12. The equipment of horse and rider is constantly being improved: the animals wear bronze headbands, chest and shoulder plates (VII, 1, 3), and riding is less strenuous for the practiced Persian than before, even more comfortable [...]. (Torsten Gaitzsch, The Horse among the Indo-Europeans, LIT Verlag Münster, 2011, p. 131)
  13. 653 BC The Persians were freed from the rule of the Medes by the Scythians [...]. (Sheets for German and International Politics, Volume 16, Paul-Rugenstein Verlag., 1971, p. 952)
  14. The young Persians are educated in three things, riding, archery and speaking the truth, cf. Herodot I, 136. (Johann Sehwers: Linguistic-cultural-historical investigations: mainly about the German influence in Latvian. Commission publisher O. Harrassowitz, 1936, p. 377)
  15. Herodotus I, 104-105
  16. Total solar eclipse May 28, 585 BC. Between 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
  17. Herodotus I, 74-75.
  18. See Harald Haarmann : Kurden. In: Small Lexicon of Nations. P. 202: “In the context of the family relationships of the iran. However, such associations cannot be proven in languages. "
  19. ^ Ran Zadok: The ethno-linguistic character of Northwestern Iran and Kurdistan in the Neo-Assyrian period. Iran 40, 2002, 91
  20. R. Schmitt: Medisch. RIA 7, pp. 617-618
  21. ^ K. Radner: A neo-Assyrian private archive of the goldsmiths of Assur. Saarbrücken 1999, p. 198