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Cadusians: nomad tribe in ancient Iran, living in the western Elburz mountains, between the heartland of Media and the Caspian Sea, in the modern provinces Zanjan and Azerbaijan in Iran.

The Zanjan Rud
The Zanjan Rud
According to the Greek historian Ctesias of Cnidus, the Medes subdued the Cadusians. When the Medes were in their turn subdued by the Persian king Cyrus the Great (550 BCE), the Cadusians became part of the Achaemenid empire. However, they are not mentioned in the catalogues of Persian subjects of the Greek researcher Herodotus of Halicarnassus, who is usually reliable when he quotes Persian administrative texts (an overview of these catalogues can be found here). This suggests that the mountain tribe had retained or regained something of its former independence.

At an unknown moment in the fifth century BCE, the Cadusians were subjected by the Persians. However, in 406, they revolted. A son of king Darius II Nothus, Cyrus the Younger, was sent against them and was probably successful, because in 403, the Cadusian chief Artagerses was fighting in the army of the Persian king Artaxerxes II Mnemon (who had succeeded Darius). During the battle at Cunaxa, Cyrus the Younger killed Artagerses.

Disk with a deity with a mythological scene
Disk with a deity with a mythological scene
From then on, the Cadusians were one of the main concerns of the Persian government. Sometimes, they were loyal, sometimes not. At a later stage of his reign, Artaxerxes II was forced to invade the country of the Cadusians again. (One of his officers was Datames.) The Greek author Plutarch of Chaeronea offers a description of the expedition and the Cadusian country.

In his expedition against the Cadusians, Artaxerxes went himself in person with three hundred thousand footmen and ten thousand horse, and making an incursion into their country, which was so mountainous as scarcely to be passable, and withal very misty, producing no sort of harvest of grain or the like, but with pears, apples, and other tree-fruits feeding a war-like and valiant breed of men, he unawares fell into great distresses and dangers. For there was nothing to be got, fit for his men to eat, of the growth of that place, nor could anything be imported from any other. All they could do was to kill their beasts of burden, and thus an ass' head could scarcely be bought for sixty drachmas. In short, the king's own table failed; and there were but few horses left; the rest they had spent for food.

Cadusian arrowheads
Cadusian arrowheads
Then Teribazus, a man often in great favor with his prince for his valor and as often out of it for his buffoonery, and particularly at that time in humble estate and neglected, was the deliverer of the king and his army. There being two kings amongst the Cadusians, and each of them encamping separately, Teribazus, after he had made his application to Artaxerxes and imparted his design to him, went to one of the princes, and sent away his son privately to the other. So each of them deceived his man, assuring him that the other prince had deputed an ambassador to Artaxerxes, suing for friendship and alliance for himself alone; and, therefore, if he were wise, he told him, he must apply himself to his master before he had decreed anything, and he, he said, would lend him his assistance in all things. Both of them gave credit to these words, and because they supposed they were each intrigued against by the other, they both sent their envoys, one along with Teribazus, and the other with his son. All this taking some time to transact, fresh surmises and suspicions of Teribazus were expressed to the king, who began to be out of heart, sorry that he had confided in him, and ready to give ear to his rivals who impeached him. But at last he came, and so did his son, bringing the Cadusian agents along with them, and so there was a cessation of arms and a peace signed with both the princes.note

In 358, Artaxerxes III Ochus had to pacify the Cadusians again. During this war, the future king Darius III Codomannus defeated a Cadusian leader in a duel. As a consequence, they were on the Persian side during his reign. Commanded by Atropates, they fought against the Macedonian conqueror Alexander the Great in the battle at Gaugamela (1 October 331). They were pacified by his general Parmenion.

The Cadusians were still a recognizable ethnic unit in the first century BCE, when the Roman general Marc Antony fought against them during his Parthian campaign.

The Cadusians are probably not identical to the Cardusians, who lived more to the west.

This page was created in 2001; last modified on 15 September 2014.