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Initially the Medians, along with other new arrivals such as the Alans, Mannaeans, and the Persians, formed a state which was a very loose coalition of tribes, each with a leader or king of its own.
Consolidation came later, but all of these new arrivals contributed towards a more uncertain political sphere to the east of Babylonia and Assyria (who knew them as the Amadai).
The popular Greek forms of names of Median kings are shown below in , and many of the details regarding the later Median empire are Greek (largely from Herodotus).
In the eyes of some scholars they are not to be trusted, and Herodotus' theory of a great Median empire is total fiction designed to complete a gap in his view of a sequence of eastern empires.
Some documentation does exist thanks to other Greek authors which could point to the extent of Median domination towards the east.
Perhaps not an empire in the strict sense, the Medes were part of a chain of Indo-Iranian tribes or confederations of tribes which stretched back towards the Oxus.
Perhaps it can be better viewed as an opportunistic raid by the newly-arriving Medians as a test of local strength.It is highly possible that at this time they were simply the most dominant of those groups.Amongst regions claimed as being part of their 'empire' was Drangiana, whilst Bactria would also seem to have been linked to it, negating the existence of a fabled 'Chorasmian empire' that is imagined by some students of Zoroastrianism.The Medes co-operated with the Babylonians to destroy Assyria.They shared the captured territory between themselves, with Media assuming power in eastern Assyria, and north and east of the Tigris from 609 BC.
By now the kingdom's capital was at Ecbatana (modern Hamadan).