Atropatene (in Old Iranian: Ātṛpātakāna; in Greek: Ἀτροπατηνή), also known as Media Atropatene, was an ancient kingdom established and ruled under local ethnic Iranian dynasties, first with Darius III of Persia and later Alexander the Great of Macedonia starting in the 4th century BC and includes the territory of modern-day northern Iran. Its capital was Ganzak. Atropatene also was the nominal ancestor of the name of the historic Azerbaijan region in Iran.
Following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC, the Macedonian's conquests were divided amongst the diadochi at the Partition of Babylon. The former Achaemenid satrapy of Media was divided into two states: The greater (southern) part – Media Magna was assigned to Peithon, one of Alexander's bodyguards. The smaller (northern) region, which had been the sub-satrapy of Matiene, became Media Atropatene under Atropates, the former Achaemenid governor of all Media, who had by then become father-in-law of Perdiccas, regent of Alexander's designated successor.
Shortly thereafter, Atropates refused to pay allegiance to Seleucus, and made Media Atropatene an independent kingdom. It subsequently lost the Media prefix in the name and came to be known simply as Atropatene.
The dynasty Atropates founded would rule the kingdom for several centuries, first independently, then as vassals of the Arsacids (who called it 'Aturpatakan'). It was eventually annexed by the Arsacids, who then lost it to the Sassanids, who again called it 'Aturpatakan'. At some time between 639 and 643 the Arabs under the Rashidun took control of the area during the reign of Umar. Atropatene formed a separate province of the early Islamic caliphate and was considered to have had strategic importance. It was during the Arab period that Middle Iranian (i.e. Parthian and Middle Persian) Aturpatakan became Adarbaygan, Adarbayjan or Azerbaijan.
List of rulers
Although the below list is incomplete, they are the known ruling Kings of Media Atropatene.
Artabanus (flourished second half of 1st century BC – 38 AD), grandson of Artavasdes I, ruled from 6 until 10
Vonones II (flourished second half of 1st century BC – 51 AD), brother of Artabanus and ruled from 11? until 51
Pacorus II (flourished 1st century & first half of 2nd century), son of the above named and ruled from 51 AD until 78 AD
^Susan M. Sherwin-White, Amélie Kuhrt, "From Samarkhand to Sardis: a new approach to the Seleucid Empire", University of California Press, 1993. pg 78:"The independence of the area Media Atropatene, named after Atropates, satrap of Media under Darius and Alexander (now Azerbaijan), under local Iranian dynasts, was pre-Selecuid"