This is the introduction to the history of Cyrus, looking at the world in which he started his career. I go from the Mediterranean to China and back to Mesopotamia, surveying the Eurasian world in 550 BCE or so, as well as making some preliminary remarks about Cyrus himself.
Check out the Bibliography for items added for this subject.
The world in the sixth century BCE (a bit idealistic, but gives you some ideas)
Dioces: the “founder” of the Median Empire according to Herodotus (possibly inspired by the Mannean Diakku, mentioned in Assyrian annales)
Phraortes: his son, possibly the chief Kashtariti mentioned in the chronicle of Essarhaddon
Cyaxares: the greatest of the Median kings, according to Herodotus, and the “conqueror” of Assyria. Possibly Umakishtar who is mentioned in the Gadd Chronicle and said by the Babylonian chronicles to be the person who sacked Assur/Ashur.
Astyages: the last of the Median Emperors, possibly Ishtumigu of the Babylonian chronicles.
Modern, Artist’s imagination of the “Hanging Gardens of Babylon”
This, sort of, is just the beginning. The Indo-European, the Aryan, and the Indo-Iranian languages and terms are such thorny issues, and I cannot even pretend to have answered them all. Hopefully this will set the stage for future discussions, and some questions, comments, and discussions here.
Notice that I tend to spell the word Ariia in order to name the “Indo-Iranians” as they are, and to distinguish it from the Aryan, which is used in a modern, political sense.
Check out the Bibliography for some book and article suggestions…
Schematic map of major Indo-European language groups
Map showing the extent of the Andronovo and BMAC cultures