The inhabitants of Media, in the western part of Iran, who played a key role in Mes-opotamian history in the first millennium B.C. The Medes, who spoke an Indo-European language, began as a group of loosely organized but culturally related tribes that migrated southward from central Asia into Iran around 1000 B.C.or shortly thereafter. The reasons these tribes began to unite into a sort of national unit are unclear; one major factor may have been raids into western Media conducted by the Assyrians, who were rising to power in the early first millennium B.C.Inany case, by the mid-700s b.c. the Medes were strong enough to return the favor and pose a moderate threat to the Assyrians. The annals of Assyria's King Tiglathpileser III (reigned 744-727 b.c.) and King Sargon (reigned 721-705 b.c.) record campaigns against the Medes, including carved reliefs showing Median fortresses with high battlements. These reliefs also depict the early Medes themselves. They wore their hair short and sported short, curled beards, tunics covered by sheepskin coats, and high-laced boots. Their weapons included a long spear and a rectangular wicker shield as well as bows employed with great skill by archers on horseback. These effective warriors, who gained the respect of the warlike Assyrians, soon became instrumental in the rise of the Median Empire, which eventually overcame Assyria and laid the groundwork for the larger Persian Empire.
   See also: Ecbatana; Media; Persian Empire

Ancient Mesopotamia dictioary. . 2015.

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