Median Archaeology: History and Method of Research

By: Professor David Stronach. The rise of the Medes and the Achaemenids, the first and second Iranian dynasties was in part a product of changes that took place far beyond the bounds of the ancient kingdoms of the Near East. The establishment of Indo-European populations on the steppe lands west of the Tien Shan, followed by the emergence of pastoral economies based on horse riding, served to bring successive waves of invaders into more fertile lands to the south. At least as early as 2000 BCE, the long-established Bronze Age settlements located southeast of the Caspian Sea became subject to external attack, and anywhere from five hundred to a thousand years later the main body of the Iranian tribes can be presumed to have established themselves on the upland plateau that today bears their name. Among such invaders it was the Medes of Iranian stock, close cousins of the Persians, who assumed the dominant role in the early 1st millennium BCE.

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