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.CAIS NEWS©

ARCHAEOLOGICAL & CULTURAL NEWS OF THE IRANIAN WORLD

 

Archaeologists in Quest for Median Ecbatana,

instead Discovered Parthian Ecbatana

 

04 November 2006

 

 

 

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  Hamedan Stone Lion (Click to enlarge)

LONDON, (CAIS) -- Last year, archeologists started their excavations in the historic Ecbatana (Ecbātānā - Hegmataneh) hill in Iran’s Hamedan province, looking for evidence of the first Iranian dynasty, the Medes which is believed to have occupied this area sometime between 728 BCE and 550 BCE. Instead, excavations in the lower layers of this hill resulted in the discovery of a number of historic remains which archeologists believe to have belonged to the third Iranian dynasty, the Parthians (248 BCE– 224 CE) and surprisingly no single evidence from the Medians was found, making archeologists suspicious of the existence of the Medians in this hill at all.

 

The new season of excavations recently opened up in this ancient city to discover and study more Parthian remains. In addition, since this ancient hill is believed to have also been an active city during the reign of the Achaemenid dynasty (550–330 BCE), archeologists are hoping to find remains of this rich civilization in the lower layers of the ground where Parthian evidence had previously been observed.

 

Directing the third season of excavations in Ecbatana, the Internationally renowned Iranian archaeologist Dr Masoud Azarnush said: “Last year’s stratigraphy works in a 100 meter area revealed remains of the Parthian dynastic era pointing to the existence of civil constructions on this ancient hill during that time. The new findings brought the previous theories suggesting this hill to have belonged to the Medians under question. For this reason, one of the main objectives of the third season of excavations is to confirm or disprove last year’s conclusion.”

 

Commenting on the reasons that brought delays to this season of excavations in Ecbatana Hill, Azarnush said that the reason this excavation season is starting later than planned was due to the fact that the report from the outcomes of the previous season was not ready on time. “This is why I did not submit my new research plan to the Archeology Research Center to keep up the promises I gave to my fellow colleagues when I was in charge of the Research Center myself which was to present the full report of the outcomes of prior studies on this site before the start of the new season,” continued Azarnush.

 

A number of clay vessels, more likely kitchen utensils, belonging to the Parthian era and well as bronze coins also from this historic period were found during the second season of excavations on this site.‌ Archeological studies also revealed that the architectural structures of this ancient hill were most probably built during either the Parthian Empire or post-Achaemenid period (4th-3rd century BCE). However, unlike what experts had anticipated, stratigraphy works and sounding activities did not show any evidence of the existence of other ancient civilizations in this hill.

 

Azarnush explained that the Parthian city was built on a natural mound which could have been one inhabited even prior to that time. The Parthians used layers of soil to level off the hill. This way they prepared the hill for constructing their city by adding soil to the slopes of the hill and leveling its surface. It is possible that they also shoveled off parts of this hill to help leveling the surface. According to Azarnush, this theory will also be examined by archeologists during this season of excavations.

 

The historic Hegmataneh or Ecbatana hill is located in Hamedan and covers an area of 30 hectares. Hamedan, known as Hegmataneh in historic texts, was the capital of the Median Empire. It later became one of the main seats of their successors, the Achaemenid Empire, though Persepolis near Shiraz was considered the center of the throne. Ecbatana was also a strategic place during the Parthian and Sassanid (224–651 CE) empires.

 

Regarding the first archeological findings of the Achaemenid dynastic era in this historic hill, Azarnush said: “There are several reports on the existence of Achaemenid constructions in Hamedan. French archeologist, Jacques De Morgan, who was one of the archeologists who studied this city, was able to find remains of carvings dated to the Achaemenid dynastic period after only 24 days. We have selected different spots for stratigraphy studies on this hill during this stage of excavations to find out in the shortest time whether this hill was inhabited during the time of the Achaemenids or not.”

 

According to Herodotus and Xenophon, prior to the Achaemenid dynasty, the Medians had established several administrative buildings in Hamedan. These historical accounts also suggest the existence of an immense city in Hamedan left from the time of the Medians.

 

“Our goal is to excavate the Ecbatana hill but so far, we have not observed any historic layers from the time of the Medians in our archeological excavations. However, if we could prove that no layers from the Achaemenid or the Median dynasties exist in Ecbatana hill, this would not mean that this historic period with such glory as accounted by the historians never existed in Hamedan. It could be that the Median city existed on another hill close to Hamedan that has never been excavated until now … Finding out whether the Medians or the Achaemenids were settled somewhere else in Hamedan requires a separate research plan to be conducted and we are only planning to search the Ecbatana hill to see if we can find evidence of these historic periods,” said head of the excavation team at Ecbatana hill.

 

According to historical accounts, in the autumn of 324 BCE, when Macedonian army was stationed in the city of Ecbatana for the winter, Alexander's companion, Hephaestion, fell sick and died there. It is claimed that the Stone Lion of Hamedan have been erected by Alexander (the Great), upon the death of his male-lover.

 

 

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Extracted From/Source: Cultural Heritage News Agency (CHN)

Please note the above-news is NOT a "copy & paste" version from the mentioned-source. The news/article above has been modified with the following interventions by CAIS: Spelling corrections; -Rectification and correction of the historical facts and data; - Providing additional historical information within the text; -Removing any unnecessary, irrelevant & repetitive information.

     All these measures have been taken in order to ensure that the published news provided by CAIS is coherent, accurate and suitable for academics and cultural enthusiasts who visit the CAIS website.

 

 

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