INTRODUCTION OF MEDIA (ANCIENT COUNTRY)
Media (ancient country), ancient country of Asia, corresponding to the northeastern section of present-day Iran. The inhabitants, who were known as Medes, and their neighbors, the Persians, spoke Indo-Iranian languages that were closely related to Old Persian. Historians know very little about the Median culture except that a polytheistic religion was practiced, and a priestly caste called the Magi existed.
Beginning about 835 BC the Median tribes became subject intermittently to the kings of Assyria. About 715 BC the Median chieftain Dayaukku, known to the Greek historian Herodotus as Deïoces, led the Medes in an unsuccessful rebellion against the Assyrian king Sargon II (reigned 722-705 BC). The later rulers of Media considered Dayaukku the founder of the Median dynasty. Subsequently, another chieftain named Khshathrita (r. about 675-653 BC), known to the Greeks as Phraortes, united the Median tribes and expelled the Assyrians. Khshathrita was killed by the Scythians, who invaded Media from the northwest.
Khshathrita’s son Cyaxares (r. 625-585 BC) chose as his capital the city of Ecbatana (present-day Hamadān, Iran). In 625 he drove the Scythians out of Media and imposed his rule over the Persians. He attacked the Assyrians next and captured (614 BC) the city of Ashur. In 612, in alliance with the newly independent kingdom of Babylonia, he captured the city of Nineveh and overthrew the Assyrian Empire. Thereafter Cyaxares extended the territory of his kingdom to include all of eastern Anatolia. Cyaxares was succeeded by his son Astyages (r. about 584-c. 550 BC). The Persians, under Cyrus the Great, revolted against him about 550 BC. Joined by a portion of the Median army under a chief named Harpagus, they took Ecbatana and deposed the Median king. From that time Media was politically subservient to Persia; the Persians, however, regarded the Medes as equals, and thenceforth the two peoples were considered as one.