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date: 27 November 2022



  • Heleen Sancisi-Weerdenburg
  •  and Amélie Kuhrt


Media, the country of the Medes, was situated in mountainous country south-west of the *Caspian Sea. The Medes spoke a language akin to Old *Persian. Fragments of the language (as either loanwords or part of a Medo-Persian koinē) have been identified in OP inscriptions. No Median writing has been found. Medes are attested in the annals of *Assyria from the 9th cent. bce. Sargon II (722–705) and Esarhaddon (680–669) report on Medes and their kings causing trouble. At present, 7th-cent. archaeological evidence for the Medes consists of isolated citadels (Godin Tepe, Nush-i Jan, deserted in the 6th cent.); a Median style in art has so far not been identified. Excavation at Hamadan (*Ecbatana), the main city of the Medes, has revealed no Median period remains. Around 612 bce attacks on the major Assyrian cities by the Medes, under their king Umakištar (= Cyaxares), and Babylonians resulted in the fall of Assyria (Fall of Nineveh chronicle, Grayson (see bibliog. below)). The Babylonian Nabonidus chronicle reports that Ištumegu (Astyages) attacked *Cyrus(1) of Persia and was defeated.


  • Near East

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