|History of Greater Iran
Until the rise of modern nation-states
The Mannaeans // (country name usually Mannea; Akkadian: Mannai, possibly Biblical Minni, מנּי) were an ancient people who lived in the territory of present-day northwestern Iran south of lake Urmia, around the 10th to 7th centuries BC. At that time they were neighbors of the empires of Assyria and Urartu, as well as other small buffer states between the two, such as Musasir and Zikirta.
Their kingdom was situated east and south of the Lake Urmia, roughly centered around the Urmia plain in this part of what's today are named as "Azerbaijan region of Iran". Excavations that began in 1956 succeeded in uncovering the fortified city of Hasanlu, once thought to be a potential Mannaean site. More recently, the site of Qalaichi (possibly ancient Izirtu/Zirta) has been linked to the Mannaeans based on a stela with this toponym found at the site.
After suffering several defeats at the hands of both Scythians and Assyrians, the remnants of the Mannaean populace were absorbed by an Iranian people known as the Matieni and the area became known as Matiene. It was then annexed by the Medes in about 609 BC.
According to the Encyclopædia Iranica:
|“||It is unlikely that there was any ethnolinguistic unity in Mannea. Like other peoples of the Iranian plateau, the Manneans were subjected to an ever increasing Iranian (i.e. Indo-European) penetration. Boehmer's analysis of several anthroponyms and toponyms needs modification and augmentation. Melikishvili (1949, p. 60) tried to confine the Iranian presence in Mannea to its periphery, pointing out that both Daiukku (cf. Schmitt, 1973) and Bagdatti were active in the periphery of Mannea, but this is imprecise, in view of the fact that the names of two early Mannean rulers, viz. Udaki and Azā, are explicable in Old Iranian terms.||”|
According to the Archaeological Institute of America, 1964: 
|“||The Mannaeans, a little known people related linguistically to the Urartians and the Hurrians of northern Mesopotamia, were settled on the southeastern shore of Lake Urmia and southward into the mountain area of Urmia.||”|
The Mannaean kingdom began to flourish around 850 BC. The Mannaeans were mainly a settled people, practicing irrigation and breeding cattle and horses. The capital was another fortified city, Izirtu (Zirta).
By the 820s BC they had expanded to become the first large state to occupy this region since the Gutians, later followed by the unrelated Iranian peoples, the Medes and the Persians. By this time they had a prominent aristocracy as a ruling class, who somewhat limited the power of the king.
Beginning around 800 BC, the region became contested ground between Urartu, who built several forts on the territory of Mannae, and Assyria. During open conflict between the two, ca. 750-730 BC, Mannae seized the opportunity to enlarge its holdings. The Mannaean kingdom reached the pinnacle of its power during the reign of Iranzu (ca. 725-720 BC).
In 716 BC, king Sargon II of Assyria moved against Mannae, where the ruler Aza, son of Iranzu, had been deposed by Ullusunu with the help of the Urartians. Sargon took Izirtu, and stationed troops in Parsua (Parsua was distinct from Parsumash located further southeast in what is today known as Fars province in Iran). The Assyrians thereafter used the area to breed, train and trade horses.
According to one Assyrian inscription, the Cimmerians (Gimirru) originally went forth from their homeland of Gamir or Uishdish on the shores of the Black Sea in "the midst of Mannai" around this time. The Cimmerians first appear in the annals in the year 714 BC, when they apparently helped the Assyrians to defeat Urartu. Urartu chose to submit to the Assyrians, and together the two defeated the Cimmerians and thus kept them out of the Fertile Crescent. At any rate, the Cimmerians had again rebelled against Sargon by 705, and he was killed whilst driving them out. By 679 they had instead migrated to the east and west of Mannae.
The king Ahsheri, who ruled until the 650s BC, continued to enlarge the territory of Mannae, although paying tribute to Assyria. However, Mannae suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the Assyrians around 660 BC, and subsequently an internal revolt broke out, continuing until Ahsheri's death. Also in the 7th century BC, Mannae was defeated by the advancing Scythians, who had already raided Urartu and been repelled by the Assyrians. Somewhat later (585 BC) destroying Mannae. This defeat contributed to the further break-up of the Mannaean kingdom.
King Ahsheri's successor, Ualli, as a vassal of Assyria, took the side of the Assyrians against the Iranian Medes (Madai), who were at this point still based to the east along the southwest shore of the Caspian Sea and revolting against Assyrian domination. The Medes and Persians were subjugated by Assyria. However, the Neo Assyrian Empire which had dominated the region for three hundred years began to unravel, consumed by civil war after the death of Ashurbanipal in 627 BC. The upheavals in Assyria allowed the Medes to free themselves from Assyrian vassalage and make themselves the major power in ancient Iran at the expense of the Persians, Mannaeans and the remnants of the indigenous Elamites whose kingdom had been destroyed by the Assyrians. The Mede kingdom conquered the remnants of Mannae in 616 BC and absorbed the populace.
In the Hebrew Bible (Jeremiah 51:27) the Mannaeans are called Minni. In the Jewish Encyclopedia (1906), Minni is identified with Armenia, but it could refer to one of the provinces in ancient Armenia; Minni, Ararat and Ashkenaz. According to examinations of the place and personal names found in Assyrian and Urartian texts, the Mannaeans, or at least their rulers, spoke Hurrian, a non-Semitic and non-Indo-European language related to Urartian, with no modern language connections.
- Encyclopædia Britannica. "Mahābād". Retrieved Oct 3, 2011.
There are a number of unexcavated tells, or mounds, on the plain of Mahābād in this part of the Azerbaijan region. The region was the centre of the Mannaeans, who flourished in the early 1st millennium BC.
- The Cambridge history of Iran, Volume 2 by William Bayne Fisher, Ilya Gershevitch, Ehsan Yar-Shater, Peter Avery, pages 256-257
- Archaeology at the north-east Anatolian frontier, I.: an historical geography and a field survey of the Bayburt Province by A. G. Sagona, Claudia Sagona, pages 41-48,
- "Encyclopedia Iranica, "Mannea", by R. Zadok"
- Archaeology. p. 3.
- Jewish Encyclopedia, Leopold Zunz, Moritz Steinschneider, Solomon Schechter, Wilhelm Bacher, J.L. Rapoport, David Zvi Hoffman, Heinrich Graetz, etc; Funk and Wagnalls, 1906;http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/1787-armenia
- The Biblical Geography off Central Asia: With a General Introduction to the Study of Sacred Geography, including the Antediluvian Period, Volume 2, Ernst Friedrich Carl Rosenmüller, 2011, Nabu Press, ISBN 978-1245629010
- Missionary Researches in Armenia: Including a Journey Through Asia Minor, and Into Georgia and Persia, with a Visit to the Nestorian and Chaldean Christians of Oormiah and Sarmas, Smith, Eli; Conder, Josiah and Dwight, Harrison Gray Otis, ISBN 9781147547535
- Cyclopaedia of Biblical, theological, and ecclesiastical literature Volume 1, John McClintock, James Strong; (orig. 1923, 2010), Nabu Press, ISBN 978-1177267625
- Iranian Identity in Ancient Times Richard N. Frye Iranian Studies, Vol. 26, No. 1/2 (Winter - Spring, 1993), pp. 143-146