Medes

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The Medes, Greek Μῆδοι, from Old Persian ماد Mādai) were an ancient Iranian people[2] who lived in the western and central portions of present-day Iran. This area is known as Media (also Medea; Greek Μηδία, Old Persian Māda; the English adjective is Median, antiquated also Medean). They entered this region with the first wave of Iranian tribes, in the late second millennium BC (the Bronze Age collapse). By the 6th century BC, after having together with the Babylonians defeated the Neo-Assyrian Empire, the Medes were able to establish their authority, lasting for about sixty years, from the sack of Nineveh in 612 BC until 549 BC when Cyrus the Great established the Achaemenid Empire by defeating Astyages, king of Media.

Contents

Name

According to 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".[3]

Medea is the sorceress daughter of King Aeëtes of Colchis in the Greek myth of Jason and the Argonauts. There is not a clear Indo-European etymology for the name of Medes, Mâda.[4] Herodotus, i. 101, lists the names of six Median tribes, three of which have Iranian etymologies[5]:

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