Achaemenid Satrapies > Satrapy of Media
Satrapy of Media
Media (Old Persian: Māda, Middle Persian: Mād) is a region of north-western Iran, best known for having been the political and cultural base of the Medes.[N 1] During the Achaemenid period, it comprised present-day Azarbaijan, Iranian Kurdistan and western Tabaristan. As a satrapy under Achaemenid rule, it would eventually encompass a wider region, stretching to southern Dagestan in the north. However, after the wars of Alexander the Great, the northern parts were separated and became known as Atropatene, while the remaining region became known as Lesser Media.
In 678 BC, Deioces united the Median tribes of Media and made the first Iranian empire. His grandson Cyaxares managed to unite all Iranian tribes of Ancient Iran and made his empire a major power. When Cyaxares died he was succeeded by his son, Astyages, who was the last king of the Median empire. In 553 BC, Cyrus the Great, King of Persia, rebelled against his grandfather, the Median King, Astyages son of Cyaxares; he finally won a decisive victory in 550 BC resulting in Astyages' capture by his own dissatisfied nobles, who promptly turned him over to the triumphant Cyrus. The Ganj Nameh (lit.: Treasure epistle) in Ecbatana. The inscriptions are by Darius I and his son in Xerxes I.
After Cyrus's victory against Astyages, the Medes were subjected to their close kin, the Persians. In the new empire they retained a prominent position; in honor and war, they stood next to the Persians; their court ceremony was adopted by the new sovereigns, who in the summer months resided in Ecbatana; and many noble Medes were employed as officials, satraps and generals. Interestingly, at the beginning the Greek historians referred to the Achaemenid Empire as a Median empire.
After the assassination of the usurper Smerdis, a Mede Fravartish (Phraortes), claiming to be a scion of Cyaxares, tried to restore the Mede kingdom, but was defeated by the Persian generals and executed in Ecbatana (Darius I in the Behistun inscription). Another rebellion, in 409 BC, against Darius II was of short duration. But the Iranian tribes to the north, especially the Cadusii, were always troublesome; many abortive expeditions of the later kings against them are mentioned.
Under Persian rule, the country was divided into two satrapies: the south, with Ecbatana and Rhagae (Rey near modern Tehran), Media proper, or Greater Media, as it is often called, formed in Darius I the Great's organization the eleventh satrapy, together with the Paricanians and Orthocorybantians; the north, the district of Matiane, together with the mountainous districts of the Zagros and Assyria proper (east of the Tigris) was united with the Alarodians and Saspirians in eastern Armenia, and formed the eighteenth satrapy.
Caucasian Albania (roughly comprising modern-day Azerbaijan and southern Dagestan) was rapidly incorporated by the Achaemenid Persians and were under the command of the satrapy of Media in the later period. When the Persian empire decayed and the Cadusii and other mountainous tribes made themselves independent, eastern Armenia became a special satrapy, while Assyria seems to have been united with Media; therefore Xenophon in the Anabasis always designates Assyria by the name of "Media".