The Medes (/midz/) (from Old Persian Māda-) were an ancient Iranian people who lived in Iran in an area known as Media and spoke a northwestern Iranian language referred to as the Median language. Their arrival to the region is associated with the first wave of Iranic tribes in the late second millennium BCE (the Bronze Age collapse) through the beginning of the first millennium BCE.

From the 10th century BCE to the late 7th century BCE, the Iranic Medes and Persians fell under the domination of the Neo Assyrian Empire based in Mesopotamia.

After the fall of the Assyrian Empire, between 616 BCE and 605 BCE, a unified Median state was formed which together with Babylonia, Lydia, and Egypt became one of the four major powers of the ancient Near East. An alliance with the Babylonians and the Scythians helped the Medes to capture Nineveh in 612 BCE which resulted in the collapse of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. The Medes were subsequently able to establish their Median kingdom (with Ecbatana as their royal centre) beyond their original homeland (central-western Iran) and had eventually a territory stretching roughly from northeastern Iran to the Halys River in Anatolia. The Median kingdom was conquered in 550 BCE by Cyrus the Great who established the next Iranian dynasty—the Persian Achaemenid Empire.

A few archaeological sites (discovered in the "Median triangle" in western Iran) and textual sources (from contemporary Assyrians and also Greeks in later centuries) provide a brief documentation of the history and culture of the Median state. These architectural sources, religions temples, and literary references show the importance of Median lasting contributions (such as the Safavid-Achaemenid-Median link of the tradition of "columned audience halls") to the Iranian culture. A number of words from the Median language are still in use and there are languages being geographically and comparatively traced to the northwestern Iranian language of Median. The Medes had an Ancient Iranian Religion (a form of pre-Zoroastrian Mazdaism or Mithra worshipping) with a priesthood named as "Magi". Later and during the reigns of last Median kings the reforms of Zarathustra spread in western Iran.

Besides Ecbatana (modern Hamedan), the other cities existing in Media were Laodicea (modern Nahavand) and the mound that was the largest city of the Medes, Rhages (also called Rey), on the outskirts of Shahr Rey, south of Tehran. The fourth city of Media was Apamea, near Ecbatana which its precise location is not known. In later periods, Medes and especially Mede soldiers are identified and portrayed prominently in ancient Persian archaeological sites such as Persepolis, where they are shown to have a major role and presence in the military of the Persian Empire's Achaemenid dynasty.

According to the Histories of Herodotus, there were six Median tribes:

Thus Deioces collected the Medes into a nation, and ruled over them alone. Now these are the tribes of which they consist: the Busae, the Paretaceni, the Struchates, the Arizanti, the Budii, and the Magi.

The six Median tribes resided in Media proper, the triangle between of Ecbatana, Rhagae and Aspadana, in today's central Iran, the area between Tehran, Isfahan and Hamadan. Of the Median tribes, the Magi resided in Rhaga, modern Tehran. It was a sort of sacred caste, which ministered to the spiritual needs of the Medes. The Paretaceni tribe resided in and around Aspadana, modern Isfahan, the Arizanti lived in and around Kashan and the Busae tribe lived in and around the future Median capital of Ecbatana, modern Hamadan. The Struchates and the Budii lived in villages in the Median triangle.

Read more about Medes:  Name, Historical Geography of Media, Culture and Society, Kurdologists and Medes

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