Last updated

c. 323 BC–3rd century AD
Map of Media Atropatene and neighboring countries in 1st century BC
Capital Ganzak
Historical era Antiquity
c. 323 BC
3rd century AD
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Blank.png Matiene
Parthian Empire Blank.png

Atropatene (in Middle Persian: Ātṛpātakāna; in Persian: آتورپاتکان; in Greek : Ἀτροπατηνή) was an ancient kingdom established and ruled under local ethnic Iranian dynasties, first with Darius III of Persia and later Alexander the Great of Macedonia [1] starting in the 4th century BC and includes the territory of modern-day northern Iran, [2] and a small part of the contemporary Azerbaijan Republic. Its capital was Ganzak. Atropatene also was the nominal ancestor of the name of the historic Azerbaijan region in Iran. [3]

Middle Persian also known as Pahlavi or Parsik, is the Middle Iranian language or ethnolect of southwestern Iran that during the Sasanian Empire (224–654) became a prestige dialect and so came to be spoken in other regions of the empire as well. Middle Persian is classified as a Western Iranian language. It descends from Old Persian and is the linguistic ancestor of Modern Persian.

Persian language Western Iranian language

Persian, also known by its endonym Farsi, is one of the Western Iranian languages within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and some other regions which historically were Persianate societies and considered part of Greater Iran. It is written right to left in the Persian alphabet, a modified variant of the Arabic script.

Greek language language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.



Following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC, the Macedonian's conquests were divided amongst the diadochi at the Partition of Babylon. The former Achaemenid satrapy of Media was divided into two states: The greater (southern) part – Media Magna was assigned to Peithon, one of Alexander's bodyguards. The smaller (northern) region, which had been the sub-satrapy of Matiene, became Media Atropatene under Atropates, the former Achaemenid governor of all Media, who had by then become father-in-law of Perdiccas, regent of Alexander's designated successor.

Alexander the Great King of Macedon

Alexander III of Macedon, commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king (basileus) of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon and a member of the Argead dynasty. He was born in Pella in 356 BC and succeeded his father Philip II to the throne at the age of 20. He spent most of his ruling years on an unprecedented military campaign through Asia and northeast Africa, and by the age of thirty he had created one of the largest empires of the ancient world, stretching from Greece to northwestern India. He was undefeated in battle and is widely considered one of history's most successful military commanders.


The Diadochi were the rival generals, families, and friends of Alexander the Great who fought for control over his empire after his death in 323 BC. The Wars of the Diadochi mark the beginning of the Hellenistic period from the Mediterranean to the Indus River Valley.

Partition of Babylon

The Partition of Babylon was the first of the conferences and ensuing agreements that divided the territories of Alexander the Great. It was held at Babylon in June 323 BC. Alexander’s death at the age of 32 had left an empire that stretched from Greece all the way to India. The issue of succession resulted from the claims of the various supporters of Philip Arrhidaeus, and the as-of-then unborn child of Alexander and Roxana, among others. The settlement saw Arrhidaeus and Alexander’s child designated as joint kings with Perdiccas serving as regent. The territories of the empire became satrapies divided between the senior officers of the Macedonian army and some local governors and rulers. The partition was solidified at the further agreements at Triparadisus and Persepolis over the following years and began the series of conflicts that comprise the Wars of the Diadochi.

Shortly thereafter, Atropates refused to pay allegiance to Seleucus, and made Media Atropatene an independent kingdom. It subsequently lost the Media prefix in the name and came to be known simply as Atropatene. The dynasty Atropates founded would rule the kingdom for several centuries, first independently, then as vassals of the Arsacids (who called it 'Aturpatakan'). It was eventually annexed by the Arsacids, who then lost it to the Sassanids, who again called it 'Aturpatakan'. At some time between 639 and 643 the Arabs under the Rashidun took control of the area during the reign of Umar. Atropatene formed a separate province of the early Islamic caliphate and was considered to have had strategic importance. It was during the Arab period that Middle Iranian (i.e. Parthian and Middle Persian) Aturpatakan became Adarbaygan, Adarbayjan or Azerbaijan.

Seleucus I Nicator Alexandrian general

Seleucus I Nicator was one of the Diadochi. Having previously served as an infantry general under Alexander the Great, he eventually assumed the title of basileus and established the Seleucid Empire over much of the territory in the Near East which Alexander had conquered.

Parthian Empire Iranian empire ruled by Arsacids

The Parthian Empire, also known as the Arsacid Empire, was a major Iranian political and cultural power in ancient Iran. Its latter name comes from Arsaces I of Parthia who, as leader of the Parni tribe, founded it in the mid-3rd century BC when he conquered the region of Parthia in Iran's northeast, then a satrapy (province) under Andragoras, in rebellion against the Seleucid Empire. Mithridates I of Parthia (r. c. 171–138 BC) greatly expanded the empire by seizing Media and Mesopotamia from the Seleucids. At its height, the Parthian Empire stretched from the northern reaches of the Euphrates, in what is now central-eastern Turkey, to eastern Iran. The empire, located on the Silk Road trade route between the Roman Empire in the Mediterranean Basin and the Han dynasty of China, became a center of trade and commerce.

Rashidun title

The Rashidun Caliphs, often simply called, collectively, "the Rashidun", is a term used in Sunni Islam to refer to the 30-year reign of the first four caliphs (successors) following the death of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, namely: Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman ibn Affan, and Ali of the Rashidun Caliphate, the first caliphate. The concept of "Rightly Guided Caliphs" originated with the later Abbasid Caliphate based in Baghdad. It is a reference to the Sunni imperative "Hold firmly to my example (sunnah) and that of the Rightly Guided Caliphs".

List of rulers

Although the below list is incomplete, they are the known ruling Kings of Media Atropatene.

Atropates Persian nobleman who served Darius III, then Alexander the Great

Atropates was a Persian trader and nobleman who served Darius III, then Alexander the Great, and eventually founded an independent kingdom and dynasty that was named after him. Diodorus (18.4) refers to him as 'Atrapes', while Quintus Curtius (8.3.17) erroneously names him 'Arsaces'.

Artabazanes Prince and King of the Persian Atropatene Kingdom of Armenia

Artabazanes of Media Atropatene was a Prince and King of the Atropatene Kingdom. He ruled in 221 BC or 220 BC and was a contemporary of the Seleucid Greek King Antiochus III the Great.

Antiochus III the Great Seleucid ruler

Antiochus III the Great was a Hellenistic Greek king and the 6th ruler of the Seleucid Empire. He ruled over the region of Syria and large parts of the rest of western Asia towards the end of the 3rd century BC. Rising to the throne at the age of eighteen in 222 BC, his early campaigns against the Ptolemaic Kingdom were unsuccessful, but in the following years Antiochus gained several military victories and substantially expanded the empire's territory. His traditional designation, the Great, reflects an epithet he assumed. He also assumed the title Basileus Megas, the traditional title of the Persian kings. A militarily active ruler, Antiochus restored much of the territory of the Seleucid Empire, before suffering a serious setback, towards the end of his reign, in his war against Rome.

Related Research Articles

Xerxes I Ancient Persian king

Xerxes I, called Xerxes the Great, was the fifth king of kings of the Achaemenid dynasty of Persia. Like his predecessor Darius I, he ruled the empire at its territorial apex. He ruled from 486 BC until his assassination in 465 BC at the hands of Artabanus, the commander of the royal bodyguard.

Artabanus III of Parthia ruler of the Parthian Empire ? – 38

Artabanus III of Parthia, flourished second half of 1st century BC – AD 38, was a Prince of Iranian and Greek ancestry. Artabanus III served as a King of Media Atropatene and later as King of Parthia.

Ariobarzanes is a male given name.

Media (region) region of Iran

Media is a region of north-western Iran, best known for having been the political and cultural base of the Medes. 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 due to the Partition of Babylon and became known as Atropatene, while the remaining region became known as Lesser Media.

Artavasdes IV of Armenia; also known as Artavasdes II of Atropatene; Artavasdes II of Media Atropatene and Armenia Major; Artavasdes II and Artavasdes was a Prince who served as King of Media Atropatene. During his reign of Media Atropatene, Artavasdes also served as a Roman Client King of Armenia Major.


Ganzak, is an ancient town founded in northwestern Iran. The city stood somewhere south of Lake Urmia, and it has been postulated that the Persian nobleman Atropates chose the city as his capital. The exact location, according to Minorsky, Schippmann, and Boyce, is identified as being near Leylan, Malekan County in the Miandoab plain.

Artavasdes I of Media Atropatene

Artavasdes I of Media Atropatene, also known as Artavasdes I of Atropatene, Artavasdes I and Artavasdes was a Prince who served as a King of Media Atropatene. Artavasdes I was an enemy of King Artavasdes II of Armenia and his son Artaxias II. He was a contemporary with the Ptolemaic Greek Queen Cleopatra VII and Roman Triumvir Mark Antony, as Artavasdes I was mentioned in their diplomatic affairs.

Mithridates I of Media Atropatene, sometimes known as Mithridates I and Mithridates of Media was a King of Media Atropatene.

Artavasdes is the Hellenized form of the Iranian name Artavazhda. Variant renderings in Greek include Artabazos, Artabazes, Artabazanes and Artabasdos; in Armenian Artavazd; and in Latin Ardabastus or Artabasdus.

Darius I of Media Atropatene

Darius I of Media Atropatene, also known as Darius I or Darius, was a Median prince who served as a king of Media Atropatene in c. 65 BC. Little is known of the life of Darius I, however he appeared to have succeeded his relative, Mithridates, who served as King of Media Atropatene one year earlier.

Ariobarzanes I of Media Atropatene, also known as Ariobarzanes I of Media, Ariobarzanes of Atropatene, Ariobarzanes I and Ariobarzanes was a Prince who served as a King of Media Atropatene.

Athenais was a Princess from the Kingdom of Commagene whom through marriage became a Queen of Media Atropatene and possibly of Sophene.

Asinnalus of Media Atropatene was a Prince who served as a King of Media Atropatene.

Darius II of Media Atropatene, also known as Darius was a Prince from the Kingdom of Media Atropatene who through marriage was a relation of the Arsacid Kings of Parthia.

Ariobarzanes II of Atropatene also known as Ariobarzanes of Media; Ariobarzanes of Armenia; Ariobarzanes II; Ariobarzanes II of Media Atropatene and Ariobarzanes was a Prince who served as King of Media Atropatene who ruled sometime from 28 BC to 20 BC until 4 and was appointed by the Roman emperor Augustus to serve as a Roman Client King of Armenia Major from 2 AD until 4.


Adurbadagan in Middle Persian and Parthian, Atropatene in Greek, and Atrpatakan in Armenian, was a Sasanian province in northern Iran which almost corresponded to the present day Iranian Azerbaijan. The capital of the province was Ganzak.

There is an incomplete list of governors of Azerbaijan, a region in northwestern Iran.


  1. Susan M. Sherwin-White, Amélie Kuhrt, "From Samarkhand to Sardis: a new approach to the Seleucid Empire", University of California Press, 1993. pg 78:"The independence of the area Media Atropatene, named after Atropates, satrap of Media under Darius and Alexander (now Azerbaijan), under local Iranian dynasts, was pre-Selecuid"
  2. Benson, Douglas S. (1995), Ancient Egypt's warfare: a survey of armed conflict in the chronology of ancient Egypt, 1600 BC-30 BC, D. S. Benson
  3. Yarshater, Ehsan (1983), The Cambridge history of Iran, Cambridge University Press, p. 1408, ISBN   978-0-521-20092-9, Atropatene see Azarbaijan
  4. ARTABAZANES, Encyclopædia Iranica
  5. García Sánchez, M (2005): "La figura del sucesor del Gran Rey en la Persia Aqueménida", in V. Troncoso (ed.), Anejos Gerión 9, La figura del sucesor en las monarquías de época helenística.
  6. Hallock, R (1985): "The evidence of the Persepolis Tablets", en I Gershevitch (ed.) The Cambridge History of Iran v. 2, p. 591.
  7. Cassius Dio, 36.14
  8. Azerbaijan iii. Pre-Islamic History, Atropates, Persian satrap of Media, made himself independent in 321 B.C. Thereafter Greek and Latin writers named the territory as Media Atropatene or, less frequently, Media Minor: Parthian period
  9. Ptolemaic Genealogy: Tryphaena, Footnote 13
  10. 1 2 3 Ptolemaic Genealogy: Affiliated Lines, Descendant Lines Archived July 16, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  11. 1 2 3 Swan, P.M. (2004), The Augustan Succession: An Historical Commentary on Cassius Dio's Roman History, Books 55-56 (9 B.C.-A.D. 14), p.114, Oxford University Press


Igrar Habib oglu Aliyev was a Soviet and Azerbaijani historian. Aliyev was the author of 160 peer reviewed journal publications and books. Many of his books are devoted to the Medes and Median Empire. Among his writings are: "The History Of Media"(Baku, 1960), "A Historical Survey of Atropatena", "History of Azerbaijan. "Nagorno Karabakh: History, Facts and Events", No. 22-34, "On Problems Related to the Ethnic History of the Azerbaijani People", "The History of Aturpatakan".

International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

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Coordinates: 37°N48°E / 37°N 48°E / 37; 48