Ecbatana (/ɛkˈbætənə/; Old Persian: 𐏃𐎥𐎶𐎫𐎠𐎴
Hagmatāna or Haŋmatāna, literally "the place of gathering",
Aramaic: אַחְמְתָא, Ancient Greek: Ἀγβάτανα in
Aeschylus and Herodotus, elsewhere Ἐκβάτανα, Akkadian:
𒆳𒀀𒃵𒋫𒉡 kura-gam-ta-nu in the Nabonidus Chronicle) was an
ancient city in Media in western Iran. It is believed that
in Tell Hagmatana (Tappe-ye Hagmatāna), an archaeological mound in
According to Herodotus,
Ecbatana was chosen as the Medes' capital in
the late 8th century BC by Deioces. Under the
kings, Ecbatana, situated at the foot of Mount Alvand, became a summer
residence. Later, it became the capital of the Parthian kings, at
which time it became their main mint, producing drachm, tetradrachm,
and assorted bronze denominations. It is also mentioned in the Hebrew
Bible (Ezra 6.2) under the name Achmetha (also spelled Ahmetha, e.g.
In 330 BC,
Ecbatana was the site of the murder of the Macedonian
Parmenion by order of Alexander the Great.
2 Historical descriptions
4 See also
7 External links
Ecbatana was first excavated in 1913 by Charles Fossey. Another
excavation was conducted in 1977.
Excavations have been limited due to the modern town covering most of
the ancient site.
Excavations at Kaboutar Ahang have revealed stone age tools and
pottery from 1400 to 1200 BC.
The Tell Hagmatana (thought to correspond to the ancient citadel of
Ecbatana) has a circumference of 1.4 kilometres, which corresponds to
a report from Polybius, although the ancient Greek and Roman accounts
likely exaggerate Ecbatana's wealth, splendor, and extravagance.
Relatively few finds thus far can be firmly dated to the Median era.
There is a "small, open-sided room with four corner columns supporting
a domed ceiling," similar to a Median-era structure from Tepe Nush-i
Jan, interpreted as a
Zoroastrian fire temple. Excavations have
revealed a massive defensive wall made of mud-bricks, and dated to the
Median period based on a comparison to Tepe Nush-i Jan and Godin Tepe.
There are also two column bases from the
Achaemenid period, and some
mud-brick structures thought to be from the Median or Achaemenid
period. A badly-damaged stone lion sculpture is of disputed date: it
Achaemenid or Parthian. Numerous Parthian-era constructions attest
to Ecbatana's status as a summer capital for the Parthian rulers.
In 2006, excavations in a limited area of Hagmatana hill failed to
discover anything older than the Parthian period, but this does not
rule out older archaeological layers existing elsewhere within the
The Greeks thought
Ecbatana to be the capital of the
Medes empire and
credited its foundation to
Deioces (the Daiukku of the cuneiform
inscriptions). It is alleged that he surrounded his palace in Ecbatana
with seven concentric walls of different colours. In the 5th century
Herodotus wrote of Ecbatana:
Medes built the city now called Ecbatana, the walls of which are
of great size and strength, rising in circles one within the other.
The plan of the place is, that each of the walls should out-top the
one beyond it by the battlements. The nature of the ground, which is a
gentle hill, favors this arrangements in some degree but it is mainly
effected by art. The number of the circles is seven, the royal palace
and the treasuries standing within the last. The circuit of the outer
wall is very nearly the same with that of Athens. On this wall the
battlements are white, of the next black, of the third scarlet, of the
fourth blue, the fifth orange; all these colors with paint. The last
two have their battlements coated respectively with silver and gold.
All these fortifications
Deioces had caused to be raised for himself
and his own palace."
Herodotus' description is corroborated in part by stone reliefs from
the Neo-Assyrian Empire, depicting Median citadels ringed by
Although historians and archaeologists now believe that "the
Ecbatana with Hamadān is secure," earlier visitors
to the site were unable to find significant remains of the Median and
Achaemenid periods, which led them to suggest other sites as the
location of Ecbatana.
Assyrian sources never mention Hagmatana/Ecbatana. Some scholars
believed the problem can be resolved by identifying the
Ecbatana/Hagmatana mentioned in later Greek and
with the city Sagbita/Sagbat frequently mentioned in Assyrian texts,
since the Indo-Iranian sound /s/ became /h/ in many Iranian languages.
The Sagbita mentioned by Assyrian sources was located in the proximity
of the cities Kishesim (Kar-Nergal) and Harhar (Kar-Sharrukin).
It is now proposed that the absence of any mention of
Assyrian sources can be explained by the possibility that Assyria
never became involved as far east as the
Alvand mountains, but only in
the western Zagros.
Sir Henry Rawlinson
Sir Henry Rawlinson attempted to prove that there was a second and
Ecbatana in Media
Atropatene on the site of the modern
Takht-i-Suleiman. However, the cuneiform texts imply that there was
only one city of the name, and that Takht-i Suleiman is the Gazaca of
Ecbatana is the supposed capital of
Astyages (Istuvegü), which was
taken by the Persian emperor
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great in the sixth year of
Nabonidus (549 BC).
Ancient Near East portal
Cities of the Ancient Near East
Cartele Abad, village 80 miles to the north
^ Stausberg, Michael; Vevaina, Yuhan Sohrab-Dinshaw (2015-04-27). The
Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Zoroastrianism. John Wiley & Sons.
^ a b c d e f g h "ECBATANA". Iranica. Retrieved 10 April 2014.
^ N. Chevalier, Hamadan 1913, Une mission oublie?e, Iranica Antiqua,
vol. 24, pp. 245–53, 1989
^ Neil Asher Silberman (ed.), The Oxford Companion to Archaeology,
Volume 1 (2012), p. 121]
^ Michael Stausberg, Yuhan Sohrab-Dinshaw Vevaina (eds.), The Wiley
Blackwell Companion to Zoroastrianism (2015), p. 394
^ CHN News Archived 2007-02-18 at the Wayback Machine.
^ I.N. Medvedskaya, Were the Assyrians at Ecbatana?, Jan, 2002
^ Medvedskaya, I.N. (2002). "Were the Assyrians at Ecbatana?".
International Journal of Kurdish Studies. Archived from the original
Perrot and Chipiez, History of Art in Persia (Eng. trans., 1892);
M Dieulafoy, L'Art antique de Ia Perse, pt. i. (1884);
J. de Morgan, Mission scientifique en Perse, ii. (1894).
Peter Knapton et al., Inscribed Column Bases from Hamadan, Iran, vol.
39, pp. 99–117, 2001
This article incorporates text from a publication now in
the public domain: Sayce, A. H. (1911). "Ecbatana". In Chisholm,
Hugh. Encyclopædia Britannica. 8 (11th ed.). Cambridge University
Press. p. 846. Please update as needed.
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