Deioces or Dia—oku was the founder and the first shah as well as
priest of the Median government. His name has been mentioned in
different forms in various sources; including Herodotus, who has
written his name as Dēiokēs. Deioces' name is derived from the
Iranian word Dahyu-ka-, meaning "the lands" (above, on and beneath the
The exact date of the era of Deioces' rule is not clear and probably
covered most of the first half of the seventh century BC. According to
Deioces governed for 53 years.
Based on Herodotus's writings,
Deioces was the first Median king to
have gained independence from the Assyrians. He contemplated the
project and plan of forming a single Median government; and in an
anarchistic era in the Medes, he tried to enforce justice in his own
village and earn a credibility and fame as a neutral judge. Thus, the
territory of his activity was expanded and the peoples of other
villages also resorted to him until he eventually announced that this
place has been troublesome for him and he is not willing to continue
working. Following this resignation, theft and chaos increased and the
Medians gathered and chose him as the king this time.
Deioces' first action after coronation was to appoint guards for
himself and also constructing a capital. The city
Deioces chose for it
was called Hagmatāna in
Old Persian and
Ecbatana in Greek language,
believed to be
Ecbatana means "the gathering place" or
"a city for everyone" and indicates the gathering of the Median clans,
which were disunited previously. In the late eighth century BC, he had
a fortified castle constructed on a hill in the city to run all
military, government and treasury affairs within.
In 715 BC, Sargon II, the Assyrian king, learned that
allied with Rusa I, the Urartian king. He started watching
during his war with the Mannaeans, he entered the
Medes again so as to
end its "anarchy", as he claimed. He finally captured
exiled him along with his family to
Some Iranologists consider
Deioces the same as
Hushang in Shahnameh
due to the features
Herodotus states for the former and believe the
title Paradat or Pishdadian equal to "the first legislator". The
religious tradition considers
Hushang the first person to found
kingship in Iran. After Deioces, his son, Phraortes, succeeded him and
ruled for 22 years.
3 Foundation of the Median kingdom
Deioces in narrative Iranian history
7 External links
Deioces' name has been mentioned in various forms in different
sources. Herodotus, a Greek historian, has stated his name as
Dēiokēs Δηιόκης. In Assyrian texts, he has been mentioned as
Da-a-a-uk-ku; and in Elamite ones, as Da-a-(hi-)(ú-)uk-ka and
Deioces' name is derived from the Iranian word -Dahyu-ka, and is
the junior noun of the word -dahyu, meaning "the land". The old
Deioces was not uncommon even in the next era. In the
Achaemenid period, the
Old Persian form of
Deioces has been mentioned
in several Elamite inscriptions of the mud plates of Persepolis. Those
mentions apparently referred to different persons in separate
government regions; and one of them was an individual assigned to the
food rationing of the horses.
Friedrich von Spiegel believes that Dahayuku means "resident and
headman of the village" and in fact the older form of the word
"dehgan=farmer". Also following Spiegel's theory, Ferdinand Justi
believes that Deioces' name is his title and a shortened form of
Old Persian and danhupaiti in
acquired the suffix ka.
The era of Deioces' reign is subject to controversy.
Deioces ruled for 53 years and thus some assumptions have been
made about the era of his reign; but it seems that Herodotus's report
is based on a verbal narrative. Based on Herodotus's report, the
researchers have concluded that
Deioces was the founder of the Median
empire and also the first Median king having gained independence from
the Assyrians. But it should be noted that Herodotus's report is a
mixture of Greek and Oriental legends and is not historically
reliable. Also, it is assumed that the Median king whom Herodotus's
reports are about is the same Deioces, Phraortes' father; thus, it is
not possible to clarify the exact date of the period of his rule; but
it can be said that it probably covered most of the first half of the
7th century BC Igor Diakonoff says: "The state of the era of
Deioces' reign in Herodotus's writings is so different from the
picture of that time (745-675 BC) described by the Assyrian sources
that some historians have rejected Herodotus's statement."
Encyclopædia Iranica mentions the foundation of the
Medes in 708 BC
Ecbatana and by Deioces.
In Assyrian sources, 674 BC, there are mentions of the actions of a
person called Kashthrita, whom some researchers believe to be the same
Phraortes. Therefor, the year 674 BC can be considered the end of
Deioces' rule; and by reckoning his fifty-three-year old reign, the
beginning of the era of Deioces' rule should be around 728 BC.
Below is a list of the era of Deioces' reign based on the historians'
Therefore, we should search for confirmations of Cuneiform sources;
and actually previously in 1869, George Smith realized that in the
Neo-Assyrian texts in the period of the reign of
Sargon II (721 to 705
BC), a person called
Deioces is mentioned several times. In the
calendar of the eighth year of this king's reign (i.e. 715 BC) and in
the so-called Khersabad demonstrative inscription,
Deioces is named as
the governor of one of the provinces of Mannae, having somewhat
independently ruled a region bordering the kingdoms of
Mannae. The exact position of his domain is not clear, but has
probably been situated in the
Zarrin Rud Valley. Deioces, whose son
was captured by the Urartians, supported the king of Urartu, Rusa I,
against the ruler of Mannae, Ullusunu, but eventually failed for
Sargon intervened in the affair and finally captured
exiled him along with his family to
probably involved in a rebellion against the Mannaean king, Iranzu,
the preceding year for one of the governors listed in the Assyrian
calendar the same year is not named; and he was probably the very
Deioces; though the validity of the matter can not be authenticated
Foundation of the Median kingdom
A photo of the ancient hill of Ecbatana, Hamadan
In the ancient times, the
Medes was bounded by the Aras river and the
Alborz mountains to the north,
Dasht-e Kavir to the east and the
Zagros mountains to the west and south. What is learned from the
Assyrian texts is that from the ninth to seventh century BC, the
Medians had not been able to thrive enough to cause the convergance
and alliance and organization of the scattered Median tribes and clans
around a superior and single leader and lord who could be called the
king of all the Median lands. During their several invasions on the
Median settled territories, the Assyrian kings always encountered a
large number of "local shahs" and not a single king ruling all of the
Median lands. After the death of
Sargon II in 705 BC, the Assyrians
diverted their attention to another spot far from Iran. The
opportunity, along with the everlasting fear of the Assyrian invasion,
caused the formation of a union of Median princes and monarchs. The
leaders of the movement were Deioces' followers.
Based on Herodotus's writings, Deioces, son of Phraortes, was the one
who contemplated the idea and plan of forming a single Median
government; the Medians lived in separate autonomous villages or small
cities. In an anarchistic era in the Medes,
Deioces tried to
enforce justice in his own village and gained a credit and reputation
as a neutral judge; thus the territory of his activities expanded; and
the peoples of other villages resorted to him until he eventually
announced that the requests of the people are too much and the post is
troublesome and difficult for him and he is not ready to continue the
work. Following the resignation, theft and chaos increased; and the
Medians gathered and chose him him as the king in order to settle the
disagreements. Assyrian sources mention an independent Median
kingdom in 673 BC. for the first time.
Probably imitating the Assyrians,
Deioces held a ceremony for the
Herodotus states that
Deioces stayed in his palace; and
his connection was by sending to and receiving messages from the
outside; and no one was able to contact the king directly; and the
petitions and messages were performed only by the messengers; the
limitation was in order to make a sense of fear and respect among the
people. Besides, it was forbidden to laugh or expectorate in the
king's presence. Of his other actions was creating a group called
"The King's Eyes and Ears", which consisted of people assigned to spy
for the king himself; this organization and group existed until the
Diakonoff believes that
Deioces could not have been the king of the
whole Medes, and was not even the ruler of a large region, and was
just one of the small and numerous Median lords; but the illustrious
history of the successors shined on his face and gave him fame in
history. In the beginning,
Deioces made a wise move and placed his
weak and small and new government under the support of Mannae, which
was so powerful then, but later struggled to become completely
independent, and thus made an alliance with Urartu. The Assyrian
sources also call
Deioces "a ruler from Mannae" in the events of 715
Main article: Ecbatana
The modern view inside the
After coronation, Deioces' first action was to appoint guards for
himself and also construct a capital. The city which
Deioces chose for
it was called Hagmatāna in
Old Persian and
Ecbatana in Greek
language, considered to be
Ecbatana means "the
gathering place" or "a city for everyone" and indicates the
gathering of Median clans, which had been disunited before. In the
late eighth century BC, he had a fortified castle constructed on a
hill in the city to run all the military, government and treasury
Herodotus describes that the royal complex was made of
seven concentric walls, with each internal one higher than the
external one. Each of the seven walls were decorated with a specific
color: the first (external) wall was white, second wall black, third
one high red, fourth blue, fifth low red, sixth wall copper, and the
seventh and innermost wall gold. Such a coloring was the symbol of the
seven planets in Babylon, but was an imitation of
Ecbatana. The king's palace was situated within the last wall
along with its treasures. However, this narrative of
Herodotus's is not corroborated by what is written in Assyrian
sources, which imply the existence of various masters in the Medes
until years after Deioces, and the foundation of an independent
royal body and constructing several large royal complexes was not
something that the Assyrians could easily remain silent against; thus
these words from
Herodotus seem exaggerative, or depict an adapted and
modified picture of the periods after Deioces' reign. Nevertheles,
Polybius, a famous Greek historian, has mentioned this palace in his
book and description of Hamadan, stating the long age of this
According to some historians and archaeologists, the hill that is
currently situated in the city and known as the
Ecbatana Hill, was the
true place of the ancient city of Ecbatana.
Some historians, including Henry Rawlinson, believe that the Ecbatana
mentioned in Herodotus's writings is not the current Hamadan; and the
olden Median capital should be searched in
Takht-e Soleymān and in
the vicinity of
Lake Urmia to the south east. But some researchers,
like Jacques de Morgan, believe that Herodotus's
Ecbatana is the
Hamadan today; and the places of the seven castles of Fort
Ecbatana could be identified by the projections on the land and
Deioces in narrative Iranian history
Some Iranologists believe
Deioces to be the
to the features
Herodotus states for him and consider the title
"Paradat" or "Pishdadian" equal to "the first legislator". The
religious tradition considers
Hushang the first person to establish
kingship in Iran.
Among Herodotus's reports about
Deioces and those of
Avesta and Middle
Arabic and New Persian texts about Hushang, there are some
common features about the identities of
Hushang and Deioces; the most
important of them can be summarized in three points:
According to Herodotus,
Deioces was the headman of the village during
the time; and the name or title
Deioces meaning farmer must have been
given to him because of this; and Hushang, according to
Persian texts, made innovations in agriculture; and thus he probably
acquired the title farmer.
Hushang were the first legislator and the first king; and
Hushang was given the title Paradat or Pishdad or Bishdad and
Fishdad (Arabic), which was probably an imitation of the name and
title of the Assyrian king Sargon of Akkad, meaning "the lawful king".
Hushang developed housing and urban lifestyle and thus
Hushang acquired the name or title Heoshingeh or
Hushang or Ushhanj
After Deioces, his son, Phraortes, succeeded him and ruled for 22
years; though some researchers believe that he ruled for fifty-three
years (678-625 BC). During his reign, he conquered Persia and went to
war with other peoples of the Iranian Plateau. He invaded Assyria;
during these attacks, the Medians were defeated and
killed in the war.
^ a b c d Schmitt. . "DEIOCES". In Encyclopædia Iranica.
^ a b c d Schmitt. "DEIOCES". In Encyclopædia Iranica.
^ Khaleghi. "
Hushang and Deioces". Iranshenasi.
^ a b c d e Diakonoff. The Median History.
Deioces founding the Median empire".
^ Zarrinkoob. History of the Iranians.
^ Dandamayev and Medvedskaya. "MEDIA". In Encyclopædia Iranica.
^ a b Cameron. Persia in the Dawn of History.
^ Bryan. History of the Achaemenid Empire.
^ a b Frye. The Heritage of Persia.
^ a b "Encyclopædia Britannica Online".
^ a b c Huart.
Iran and the Iranian Civilization.
^ Khaleghi Motlag. Iranshenasi.
^ Hinz. Darius and the Persians.
^ a b c Pirnia. History of Ancient Iran.
^ Brown. "ECBATANA". In Encyclopædia Iranica.
^ a b Zarrinkub. History of the Iranian People.
^ Mohajerinezhad. The Median History.
^ Amouzgar. The Real and
Narrative History of Iran.
^ Khaleghi Motlag.
Hushang and Deioces.
^ Medvedskaya. "PHRAORTES". In Encyclopædia Iranica.
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Deioces (Deyaco, Diyako), a Kurdish given name for boys
Died: c. 675 BC
King of Medes
? – c. 675 BC
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