One school of thought is so suspicious of Herodotus that those who would subscribe to it accuse him of distorting history in order to embellish a story. Others, to whom I incline, tend towards accepting Herodotus unless and until there is proof positive to reject him. The position is, of course, more complex. Herodotus was dependent on sources of varying authority. The further removed in time from the events described the more likely it is that errors crept in (not, in my opinion deliberate lies since, in this case, no motivation presents itself beyond perhaps dramatic embellishment). Herodotus was also attempting to write a coherent account, for whatever reasons, and thus wished to pull together various bits of information without, perhaps, the rigour that we might demand, but do not always get, from modern scholarship.

The material evidence for Median power in Anatolia exists indeed. The political geography fits very well with the account of Herodotus. Confrontation between Media and Lydia, two of the most aggressive and expansive powers of the ancient world, was perhaps inevitable. The conflict between Media and Lydia and the rise of Cyrus should not be discounted because Herodotus was sometimes mistaken, had occasional lapses of judgement, and was not beyond a certain indulgence in distortion or embellishment, either for dramatic effect, or to make a particular point. After all, Herodotus was writing his histories for a reason, not just for the sake of writing history. At Kerkenes, Herodotus' Pteria, we are beginning to provide a background against which Herodotus' account of the Median-Lydian war and the conquest of Cyrus can be set.

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