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A British Archaeologist in Search of Parthian City



06 August 2005


British archaeologist David Stronach is to come to Iran in early September in order to give a report on the studies he has carried out in search of Hecatompylos in the area of modern-day Shahr-e Qumis near Damghan, Iran over the years, the director of the Damghan Cultural Heritage and Tourism Office said on Friday.


“Iran’s Archaeological Research Center has invited Stronach to travel to Iran to give the report and guide Iranian archaeologists in searching for the Parthian city,” Masumeh Davudian added.


“Due to old age, he will not be able to directly take part in the operation, but his guidance will be very effective for upcoming excavations,” she noted.


Stronach is recognized as one of the pioneers of archaeology in Iran. Educated at Cambridge, Stronach was director of the British Institute of Persian Studies for twenty years beginning in 1961, during which time he also conducted excavations throughout the Middle East.


He has directed and co-directed a number of excavations in Iraq (at Ras al 'Amiya and Nineveh), in Iran (at Pasargadae, Nushijan Tepe, and Shahr-i Qumis), and in the Caucasus (at Horom and Velikent).


Shahr-i Qumis was known to the Greeks as Hecatompylos or "the Hundred Gated City."


Hecatompylos is one of the Parthian royal capitals in western Khorasan. It might have already fallen into decline when the Seleucids revived it as a military outpost about 300 BC. By about 200 BC it was the Arsacid (Parthian) capital and is mentioned as such by Pliny, Strabo, and Ptolemy.


Hecatompylos lay on the Silk Road trade route between the Near East and China. Although it is thought to have been situated somewhere between the present-day Iranian cities of Damghan and Shahrud, its exact location has not been established.


Modern Damghan is a city in the Parthian district of Traxiane, later known as Khorasan. It has been inhabited since prehistoric times and was the original capital of the ancient province of Qumis.  




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