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Quest for Median Evidence at Ecbatana Hill Turns Hopeless

By Maryam Tabeshian

Archeological findings continue to refute Ecbatana Hill to be Median as archeologists at this ancient hill announced that the only evidence observed in the area under studies belong to the Parthian dynastic era while surprisingly no such evidence from the Median Empire was found.

Ecbatana (Hegmataneh) Hill,
present day Hamedan province

Tehran, 30 December 2006 (CHN) -- Contrary to what archeologists and historians had previously believed about the existence of Medians at Ecbatana Hill, latest archeological studies at this ancient hill have so far revealed no single evidence from the Median Empire (728 BC-550 BC).

Announcing this news, head of the team of archeologists at Ecbatana Hill, Masoud Azarnoush told CHN that stratigraphy works and dowsing operations in five places on the hill have only revealed evidence of the Parthian civilization (248 BC-224 AD). "Last year, excavations were conducted in a single spot which failed to yield any indications of the existence of the Medians in this archeological hill. Therefore, we made trenches in 5 other areas on the hill, but the result confirmed that of last year," explained Azarnoush, adding that archeologists are now certain that "no single evidence suggesting existence of other civilizations besides the Parthians has not been found in Ecbatana Hill."

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 previous theories suggesting this hill to have belonged to the Medians under question. For this reason, one of the main objectives set for the third season of excavations, which is now coming to closure, was to confirm or disprove last year's conclusion.

"We continued our stratigraphy operations until we reached virgin soil, and we saw nothing but evidence of the Parthian era," added Azarnoush.

This archeologist further said that since Ecbatana Hill is spread over a 35-hectare area, the possibility to find other archeological layers beside the ones observed so far in other parts of the hill can not be totally neglected. "The present theory is proposed based on findings in the area in which soundings were made and it is possible to find evidence of the Medes somewhere else on the hill," said team director Azarnoush.

Ecbatana Hill is located in present-day Hamedan province. Prior to the start of archeological excavations on this ancient hill, Hamedan was commonly taken as a Median city. However, latest archeological studies and sounding works in Ebatana proved that the hill was inhabited during the Parthian period and was most probably constructed around the Parthian era.

In addition to remains of the Parthian period, there are several reports on the existence of Achaemenid constructions in Hamedan. French archeologist, Jacques De Morgan, was able to find remains of carvings dated to the Achaemenid dynastic period after only 24 days of studying Ecbatana Hill. However, archeological excavations conducted after De Morgan wrapped up his studies in the region have so far resulted in unearthing Parthian remains only.

This is while according to prominent Greek historians Herodotus and Xenophon, prior to the Achaemenids, the Medians had erected 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, yet to be proved by archeological studies.

Hegmataneh (Ecbatana in Greek) has been introduced in historic texts as the capital of the Median Empire. However, recent archeological studies on this hill do not go in line with historic recordings and have thus called previous theories into question.

Ecbatana, or Hegmataneh meaning 'gathering place' where feudal chiefs gathered to discuss political affairs, has been mentioned in Greek texts as the capital of the Median, Achaemenid (550 BC-330 BC), Seleucid (333 BC-248 BC), Parthian, and Sassanid (224-651 AD) empires. Yet the city's origin and historic periods have remained hazy to this date.

... Payvand News - 1/1/07 ... --

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