Ecbatana: photo exhibit, workshop to spotlight 22 seasons of excavation

August 29, 2022 - 19:30

TEHRAN— Ecbatana, which was once a summer residence for the Persian Achaemenid kings, will be hosting a workshop and a photo exhibition in a bid to mark 22 archaeological seasons conducted on the ancient Iranian city so far.

“In line with education and promotion, a workshop will be held soon with the presence of expert professors in the field of restoration and archeology. Moreover, a photo exhibition dedicated to Hegmataneh’s archaeological activities will open to the public here,” CHTN quoted the director of the archaeological site as saying on Sunday.

“Ninety-one years ago, on the 10th of Shahrivar 1310, (September 2, 1931 (, the historical site of Hegmataneh (Ecbatana) was registered on Iran’s national cultural heritage list under the number 28,” Hassan Soltani said.

Organized to mark 22 chapters of archaeological excavations on Hegmataneh, the event will be turning the spotlight on the scientific and specialized concepts of protection and restoration conducted on the discovered ruins and relics, the official stated.

Situated in modern Hamedan, west-central Iran, Ecbatana was one of the ancient world’s greatest cities. Pitifully little remains from antiquity, but significant parts of the city center are given over to excavations. Ecbatana was the capital of Media and subsequently a summer residence of the Achaemenid kings who ruled Persia from 553 to 330 BC.

Ecbatana is widely believed to be once a mysterious capital of Medes. According to ancient Greek writers, the city was founded in about 678 BC by Deioces, who was the first king of the Medes.

French Assyriologist Charles Fossey (1869–1946) directed the first excavation in Tepe Hegmataneh for six months in 1913. Erich Friedrich Schmidt (1897–1964), who was a German and American-naturalized archaeologist, took some aerial photos from Hamedan between 1935 and 1937.

As mentioned by the Greek historian Xenophon of Athens (c.430-c.355), Ecbatana became the summer residence of the Achaemenid kings. Their palace is described by the Greek historian Polybius of Megalopolis. He writes that the city was richer and more beautiful than all other cities in the world; although it had no wall, the palace, was built on an artificial terrace, according to Livius, a website on ancient history written and maintained since 1996 by the Dutch historian Jona Lendering.

Moreover, an inscription unearthed in 2000 indicates that Achaemenid king Artaxerxes II Mnemon (404-358) built a terrace with columns in Ecbatana. Some twelve kilometers southwest of Hamedan is Ganjnameh, where Darius I and his son Xerxes had inscriptions cut into the rock.

Polybius, a Greek historian of the Hellenistic period noted for his work The Histories, tells that the builders used cedar and cypress wood, which was covered with silver and gold. The roof tiles, columns, and ceilings were plated with silver and gold. He adds that the palace was stripped of its precious metals in the invasion of the Macedonian king Alexander the Great and that the rest were seized during the reigns of Antigonus and Seleucus. Later, Ecbatana was one of the capitals of the Seleucid and the Parthian Empires, sometimes called Epiphaneia.

In c. 1220, Hamedan was destroyed by the Mongol invaders. In 1386, it was sacked by Timur (Tamerlane), a Turkic conqueror, and the inhabitants were massacred. It was partly restored in the 17th century and subsequently changed hands often between Iranian ruling houses and the Ottomans.


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