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Hamadan, Iran - Ecbatana, Ancient Media

Hamadan, Iran - Ecbatana, Ancient Media Archeological Wonders Geography Ancient Places and/or Civilizations

There was once an ancient kingdom called Media.  Scholars believe it was located in the western area of the country we know today as Iran, and its residents were called “Medes.”  The "Medes" were often referenced together with "The Persians."

The capital of Media was Ecbatana (the modern town of Hamadan).  Herodotus tells us something about Ecbatana in his Histories (split into separate paragraphs here for easier reading):

Deioces [the legendary founder and first king of Media] bade them build for him a palace worthy of the royal dignity and strengthen him with a guard of  spearmen. And the Medes did so: for they built him a large and strong palace in that part of the land which he told them [...].

He built large and strong walls, those which are now called Ecbatana, standing in circles one within the other. And this wall is so contrived that one circle is higher than the next by the height of the battlements alone. And to some extent, I suppose, the nature of the ground, seeing that it is on a hill, assists towards this end; but much more was it produced by art, since the circles are in all seven in number. And within the last circle are the royal palace and the treasure-houses.

The largest of these walls is in size about equal to the circuit of the wall round Athens; and of the first circle the battlements are white, of the second black, of the third crimson, of the fourth blue, of the fifth red: thus are the battlements of all the circles colored with various tints, and the two last have their battlements one of them overlaid with silver and the other with gold. These walls then Deioces built for himself and round his own palace, and the people he commanded to dwell round about the wall.  (See Herodotus, Histories, 1.98-99.)

This image depicts today’s Hamadan and excavations in the town.  The photo, by Marco Prins, shows the terrace wall of Ecbatana.

Ecbatana is also famous for something else.  It is the place where Hephaestion (Alexander's close friend and leader of the Macedonian cavalry) died.


Media Credits

Image, described above, depicting a photo by Marco Prins.  Online via Livius.org.

 

 

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