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Ca. 728-550 BCE

Ancient Iran /

Men from Media (relief from Persepolis)

Rulers (Kings)
Years BCE
Deioces 728-675
Phraortes 675-653
Cyaxares 625-585
Astyages 585-550

Ancient country of northwestern Iran and Azerbaijan, forming its own independent kingdom from late 8th century until 550 BCE, altogether 170-180 year.
Media is generally seen as the first Persian dynasty, although later dynasties emerged from countries never subjected by Media, like Anshan, and Media lies west of the Persian heartlands.
The people of Media were known as Medes, speaking a language known as Median. The religion of Media was largely Zoroastrianism.
Little of the Median society is known to us today, since modern scholars have very few Median objects at their disposal, and there are no written documents.
The main remains are a few rock tombs, in which there have also been found reliefs and some pottery. Their artistry appears to have been dominated by rich ornamentation and inspiration from Assyrian arts.
The society is assumed to have been modelled much according to Assyrian patterns. We do know that King Cyaxares in the late 7th century organized the army into sections of spearmen, bowmen and cavalry.
Although the Median Kingdom only had 75 years as a great power, Media's history as an important entity lasted much longer. Prior to the unificiation in 625, strong Median powers had lasted at least 90 years, although occasionally they had to pay tribute to Assyria.
Even after the founding of the Persian Empire in 550, Media had a special place in the empire and the Medes enjoyed an elevated position in society administration and military.

836 BCE: First recorded information about the Medes. In an Assyrian text, the people of Mada are mentioned.
Around 715: Suggested founding of Media, and founding of the capital Ectabana (Hamadan).
625: Media is united under King Cyaxares.
614: Cyaxares and his Median troops conquer and destroy Ashur.
612: In an alliance with Babylon, Cyaxares conquers Nineveh, thereby ending the Assyrian Empire. Assyria is divided into a few kingdom with Medians as rulers, while the northern parts become part of the Median Kingdom.
Around 610: Media conquers the kingdom of Mannai (in lands corresponding to today's northwestern Iran).
609: Conquers the lands of the Urartu (in lands corresponding to today's eastern Turkey).
590: A war is launched on the kingdom of Lydia.
585: Peace is arranged with Lydia, and the Halys River is set as the border between the two kingdoms.
550: Media is conquered by the king of Anshan, Cyrus 2, thereby effectively establishing the Persian Empire. Honouring the Medes, Ectabana is made summer capital.
— Media is divided into two satrapies, one southern with Ectabana as capital; and a northern with mainly non-Medes inhabitants.
330: Alexander the Great conquers the provinces of Media, and passes the southern reigons on to the Macedonian commander Peithon while the northern parts become the independent kingdom of Atropatene, with Gazaca (now Tabriz) as capital..
— Southern parts of Media become part of the Seleucid Empire.
152: Southern Media is conquered by the Parthian Empire.
226 CE: All of Media is occupied by the Sassanids.

By Tore Kjeilen