: the genuine orthography appears to be Ἀγβάτανα
, as it is now written in Herodotus, and as we learn from Steph. B. sub voce
it was written by Ctesias: Ἀποβάτανα
, Isid. Char
. p. 6, ed. Hudson: Ecbatana-ae, Hieron. Chron. Euseb.; Lucil. Satyr
. vii.), a celebrated ancient city of Media. Its foundation was popularly attributed, like those of many other very ancient places, to Semiramis, who is said to have made a great road to it from Assyria, by Mt. Zarcaeus or Zagros, to have built a palace there, and to have plentifully supplied the district in which it was situated with water, by means of an enormous tunnel or aqueduct. (Diod. 2.13
According to the same author (l.c.
), the city of Semiramis was seated in a place at the distance of twelve stadia from the Orontes (Mt. Elwend
), and would therefore correspond pretty nearly with the position of the present Hamadán.
Herodotus tells a different story: according to him, the city was of later origin, and was built by the command [p. 1.800]
of Deioces, who had been elected king by the people, after they had renounced their former independence. Herodotus describes with considerable minuteness the peculiar character of this structure,--which had seven concentric walls, each inner one being higher than the next outer one by the battlements only.
The nature of the ground, which was a conical hill, favoured this mode of building.
These battlements were painted with a series of different colours: the outermost was white, the second black, the third purple, the fourth blue, the fifth bright red, and sixth and seventh, respectively, gilt with silver and gold..
It has been conjectured that this story of the seven coloured walls is a fable of Sabaean origin, the colours mentioned by Herodotus being precisely the same as those used by the Orientals to denote the seven great heavenly bodies, or the seven climates in which they are supposed to revolve. (Rawlinson, J. R. Geogr. Soc.
vol. x. p. 128.) Herodotus adds, what is clearly improbable, that the size of the outer wall equalled in circumference that of the city of Athens.
He probably obtained his information from the Medes he met with at Babylon. Diodorus, on the other hand, states that Arbaces, on the destruction of Nineveh, transferred the seat of empire to Ecbatana (2.24--28), so that, according to him, it must have been already a great city. Xenophon, at the foot of the Carduchian hills, heard that there were two principal roads from Assyria; one to the S. into Babylonia and Media, and the other to the E. to Susa and Ecbatana.
It would seem pretty certain, that the former is the road by Kermanshh
the latter, that by Rowandiz
and Keli Shín
and thence through the valleys of Kurdistán
) and Laristán
He mentions that the great king passed his summer and spring respectively at Susa and Ecbatana (Anab.
3.5.15), and, in another place, that the Persian monarch spent generally two summer months at Ecbatana, three spring months at Susa, and the remaining seven months at Babylon (Cyrop.
The same fact is noticed by Strabo (xi. p.523
). During the period of the wars of Alexander the Great we have frequent mention of Ecbatana: thus, after Arbela, Dareius flies thither, taking, most likely, the second of the routes noticed by Xenophon (Arrian, Arr. Anab. 3.19.2
). Alexander marching in pursuit of him, comes to it from Susa (3.19.4), and transports thither as to a place of peculiar security the plunder which he had taken previously at Babylon and Susa, ordering Parmenio to place them εἰς τὴν ἄκραν τὴν ἐν Ἐκβατάνοις,
and to leave there a force of 6000 Macedonians under Harpalus as their guard (3.19.7). Again, when Alexander at last overtook and captured Bessus, he sends him to Ecbatana--as to the most important place in his new dominions, to be put to death by the Medes and Persians (4.7.3); arid, on his return from the extreme east, Alexander sacrifices at Ecbatana and exhibits games and musical contests (7.14.1). At Ecbatana, Alexander's favourite Hephaestion died, and the conqueror is said to have destroyed the famous temple of Aesculapius there, in sorrow for him; an anecdote, however, which Arrian does not believe (7.14.5). In Polybius we have a curious description of the grandeur of this ancient town, as it had existed up to the time of Seleucus.
He states that, of all the provinces of Asia, Media was the one best fitted, from natural causes, for the maintenance of a great and settled monarchy, the richness of its land being remarkable& and the abundance both of its inhabitants and of its. cattle.
He remarks of Ecbatana itself, that it was situated in the northern part of the province, adjoining the districts which extend thence to the Palus Maeotis and the Euxine,--and that it was under the roots of Mt. Orontes (Elwend
) in a rocky situation.
He adds that there were no walls round it, but that it had a citadel of enormous strength, and, adjoining the citadel, a royal palace full of rich and beautiful workmanship,--all the wood used being cedar or cypress, but wholly covered with silver and golden plates: most of these metallic ornaments, he subsequently states, had been carried away by the soldiers of Alexander, Antigonus and Seleucus, the temple of Aena (Anaitis
) alone preserving some of these decorations up to the. time when Antiochus came there; so that a considerable sum of money was coined from them.
The book of Judith
gives a remarkable account of the building of Ecbatana “in the days of Arphaxad who reigned over the Medes in Ecbatana,” from which it is evident that it was a place of great. strength (1.2--4).
It has not been quite satisfactorily made out who this Arphaxad was; and some have identified him with Phraortes and some with Deioces.
The former is, perhaps, the most probable conclusion, as the same book relates a few verses further his overthrow by Nebuchodonosor “in the mountains of Ragau” (5.14), which corresponds with Herodotus's statement, that this king fell in a battle with the Assyrians (1.102).
The place is also mentioned in 2 Maccab.
1.3, where it is stated that Antiochus died there, on his flight. from Persepolis; in Tobit,
2.7, 6.5, 7.1, where it is evidently a place of importance; and in Ezra,
6.2, under the name of Achmetha, when the decree of Cyrus for the restoration of the Jews was, found “in the palace that is in the province of the Medes.” Subsequently to the period of the wars of the Seleucidae, we find scarcely any mention of Ecbatana,--and it might be presumed that it had ceased to be a place of any note, or that its site had been occupied by a city of some other name: Pliny, however, alludes to it, stating that it was built (more probably, restored) by Seleucus (6.14. s. 17); adding, a little further on, that it was removed by Dareius to the mountains (6.26. s. 29), though it would seem, that his two statements can hardly apply to the same place. Curtius speaks of it as “caput Mediae,” remarking that it was (at the time when he was writing) under the domination of the Parthians (5.8.1); while Josephus preserves, what was probably a Jewish tradition, that Daniel built, at Ecbatana in Media, a tower of beautiful workmanship, still extant in his day, asserting that it was the custom for the kings both Persian and Parthian to be buried there, and for the custody of their tombs to be committed to a Jewish priest (Ant. Jud.
He states that it was in this tower that the decree of Cyrus was discovered. (Ant. Jud.
11.4.6.) Lastly, Ammianus places it in Adiabene (or Assyria Proper),--on the confines of which province he must himself have marched, when accompanying the army of Jovian (23.6).
Various theories have been propounded as to the origin of the name of Ecbatana, none of which are, we think, satisfactory. Bochart supposed that it was derived from Agbatha,
which, he says, means “variously coloured;” but it is more probable [p. 1.801]
that it should be derived from “Achmetha.” Herodotus and Ctesias write Agbatana.
There seems little doubt that the Apobatana of Isidorus refers to Ecbatana, and is perhaps only a careless mode of pronouncing the name; his words are curious.
He speaks of a place called Adrogiananta or Adrapananta, a palace of those among or in the Batani (τῶν ἐν Βατάνοις
), which Tigranes, the Armenian, destroyed, and then of Apobatana, “the metropolis of Media, the treasury and the temple where they perpetually sacrifice to Anaitis.” If the country of the Batani corresponds, as has been supposed, with Mesobatene, the position and description of Apobatana will agree well enough with the modern Hamadán.
(C. Masson, J. R. As. Soc.
xii. p. 121.)
The coincidence of the names of the deity worshipped there, in Polybius Aena, in Isidorus Anaitis, may be noticed; and there is little doubt that the “Nanea” whose priests slew Antiochus and his army (2 Maccab
1.13) was the goddess of the same place. Plutarch (Plut. Art. 100.27
) mentions the same fact, and calls this Anaitis, Artemis or Diana; and Clemens Alex. referring to the same place speaks of the shrine of Anaitis, whom he calls Aphrodite or Venus.
It is worthy of remark that Mr. Masson (l.c.
) noticed outside the walls of Hamadán
some pure white marble columns, which he conjectured might, very possibly, have belonged to this celebrated building.
It is, however, not a little curious that, though we have such ample references to the power and importance of Ecbatana, learned men have not been, indeed, are not still, agreed as to the modern place which can best be identified with its ancient position.
The reason of this may, perhaps, be, that there was certainly more than one town in antiquity which bore this name, while there is a strong probability that there were, in Media itself, two cities which, severally at least, if not at the same time, had this title. If, too, as has been suspected, the original name, of which we have the Graecised form, may have meant “treasury,” or “treasure-city,” this hypothesis might account for part of the confusion which has arisen on this subject.
It must also be remembered, that all our accounts of Ecbatana are derived through the medium of Greek or Roman authors, who themselves record what they had heard or read, and who, in hardly any instance, if we except the case of Isidorus, themselves had visited the localities which they describe.
The principal theories which have been held in modern times are those of Gibbon and Jones, who supposed that Ecbatana was to be sought at Tabríz;
of Mr. Williams (Life of Alexander
), who concluded that it was at Isfahán;
of the majority of scholars, and travellers, such as Rennell, Mannert, Olivier, Kinneir, Morier, and Ker Porter, who place it at Hamadán;
and of Colonel Rawlinson, who has contended for the independent existence of two capitals of this name, the one that of the lower and champaign country (known anciently as Media Magna), which he places at Hamadán,
the other that of the mountain district of Atropatene, which he places at Takht-i-Soleiman in
the province of Azerbáíjan,
in N. lat. 36° 25′ W., long. 47° 10 (J. R. Geog. Soc.
vol. x. pt. 1). Of these four views the two first may be safely rejected; but the last is so new and important, that it is necessary to state the main features of it, though it would be obviously impossible to do more in this place than to give a concise outline of Colonel Rawlinson's investigations.
It is important to remember the ancient division of Media into two provinces, Upper Media or Atropatene [ATROPATENE
], and Lower or Southern Media or Media Magna (Strab. xi. pp. 523, 524, 526, 529); for there is good reason for supposing that, in the early history, contemporary with Cyrus (as subsequently in Roman times), Media was restricted to the northern and mountainous district.
It was, in fact, a small province nearly surrounded by high ranges of hills, bearing the same relation to the Media of Alexander's aera which the small province of Persis did to Persia, in the wide sense of that word.
It is on this distinction that much of the corroborative evidence, which Colonel Rawlinson has adduced in favour of his theory, rests: his belief being, that the city of Deioces was the capital of Atropatene, and that many things true of it, and it alone, were in after-times transplanted into the accounts of the Ecbatana of Media Magna (the present Hamadán
). Colonel Rawlinson is almost the only traveller who has had the advantage of studying all the localities, which he attempts to illustrate, on the spot, and with equal knowledge, too, of the ancient and modern authorities to whom he refers.
In his attempt to identify the ruins of Takht-i-Soleimán
with those of the earliest capital of Media, Col. Rawlinson commences with the latest authorities, the Oriental writers, proceeding from them through the period of the Byzantine historians to that of the Greek and Roman empires, and thence, upwards, to the darkest times of early Median history.
He shows that the ruins themselves are not later than Tmúr's invasion in A.D. 1389; that they probably derive their present name from a local ruler of Kudistán,
Soleimán Shah Abúh, who lived in the early part of the thirteenth century A. D.; that, previous to the Móghels, the city was universally known as Shíz
in all Oriental authors, and that Shíz
is the same place as the Byzantine Canzaca, This is his first important identification, and it depends on the careful examination of the march of the Roman general Narses against the Persian emperor Bahrán, who was defeated by him and driven across the Oxus. (Theophylact. 5.5--10.) Canzaca is described by Theophanes, in the campaigns of Heraclius, as “that city of the East which contained the fire-temple and the treasuries of Croesus king of Lydia” (Chronogr.
ed. Goar. p. 258: see also Cedren, Hist.
p. 338; Tzetz. Chil.
3.66; and Procopius, Bell. Pers.
2.100.24); its name is derived from Kandzag, the Armenian modification of the Greek Gaza, mentioned by Strabo as the capital of Atropatene (xi. p. 523; Ptol. 6.18.4
The notice of the great fire-temple (of which ample accounts exist in the Oriental authorities which Col. Rawlinson cites), and the Byzantine legend of the treasuries of Croesus (in manifest reference to Cyrus; compare Hdt. 1.153
), are so many links in the chain which connect Shíz, Canzaca, and Ecbatana together. Colonel Rawlinson proceeds next to demonstrate that Canzaca was well known even earlier, as it is mentioned by Ammianus, under the form Gazaca, as one of the largest Median cities (23.100.6), and he then quotes a remarkable passage from Moses of Chorene, who (writing probably about A.D. 445) states that Tiridates, who received the satrapy of Atropatene in reward for his fidelity to the Romans in A.D. 297, when he visited his newly acquired province of Azerbáíján “repaired the fortifications of that place, which was named the second [p. 1.802]
Ecbatana, or seven-walled city” (2.100.84; compare also Steph. Byz. s. v. Gazaca, who quotes Quadratus, an author of the second century, for the name of what he calls “the largest city in Media,” and Arrian, who terms it “a large village” ). During the aera of the Parthian empire, and its conflicts with the Roman power, Col. Rawlinson proves, as we think, satisfactorily, that the names Phraata, Praaspa, Vera, Gaza, and Gazaca are used indifferently for one and the same city. (Compare, for this portion of the history, Plut. Anton.; D. C. 49.25
; Appian, Hist. Parth.
pp. 77, 80, ed. Schweigh.; Florus, 4.10
; and for the names, of Gaza and Vera, and the distinction between them, Strab. xi. p.523
The next point is to compare the distances mentioned in ancient authors. Now Strabo states that Gazaca was 2400 stadia from the Araxes (xi. p. 523), a distance equivalent to about 280 English miles; while Pliny, in stating that Ecbatana, the capital of Media founded by Seleucus, was 750 miles from Seleuceia and 20 from the, Caspian gates, has evidently confounded Ecbatana with Europus (now Verámin
) (6.14. s. 17).
The former measure Col. Rawlinson shows is perfectly consistent with the position of Takht-i-Soleimán.
Colonel Rawlinson demonstrates next, that the capital of Media Atropatene was in the most ancient periods called Ecbatana--assuming, what, is certainly probable, that the dynasty founded by Arbaces was different from that which, according to Herodotus, commenced with Deioces, a century later. Arbaces, on the fall of Nineveh, conveyed the treasures he found there to Ecbatana, the seat royal of Media, and it is clear that here the Ecbatana of Media Magna is meant. (Diod. 2.3
.) To the same place belongs the story of Semiramis, also recorded by Diodorus, and previously mentioned.
After five generations Artaeus ascends the throne at the same place. During his reign the Cadusians (who are constantly associated with the Atropatenians in subsequent history) revolt, under the leadership of Parsodes. Colonel Rawlinson happily suggests that this is no other than the Deioces of Herodotus, Parsodes or Phrazad being an affiliative epithet from, his father Phraortes. (Diod. l.c.; Hdt. 1.95
.) When we examine the narrative of Herodotus, it is clear that he is speaking of some place in Atropatene or Northern Media. Thus he states that “the pastures where they kept the royal cattle were at the foot of the mountains north of Agbatana, towards the Euxine sea.
In this quarter, toward the Sapires, Media is an elevated country, filled with mountains and covered with forests, while the other parts of the province are open and champaign.” (Hdt. 1.100.110
.) Colonel Rawlinson then shows that the existing state of Takht-i-Soleimán
bears testimony to the accurate information which Herodotus had obtained.
It is clear from his account that the Agbatana of Deioces was believed to be an embattled conical hill, on which was the citadel, and the town was round its base in the plain below. Colonel Rawlinson adds that there is no other position in Azerbáíján which corresponds with this statement, except Takht-i-Soleimán,
and cites abundant evidence from the Zend Avesta, as compared with the Byzantine and other writers to whom we have alluded, in reference to peculiarities, too important to have been only imagined, which mark out and determine this locality.
It is impossible here to state his arguments in their fulness; but we may add that from the Zend he obtains the word Var, the root of the βάρις
of the Greeks (see Hesych. and Suidas, s. v.), which is constantly used to denote the Treasure Citadel of Ecbatana; of the Vera of Strabo; of the Balaroth (i. e. Vara-rúd, river of Vara) of Theophylact, whence we have Βαρισμὰν
--the keeper of the Baris--the title used by the emperor Heraclius in reference to the governor of the fortress of this very place.
In conclusion, Colonel Rawlinson suggests that the Ecbatana of Pliny and Josephus refers to the Treasure Citadel of Persepolis; that there are grounds for supposing a similar treasury to have existed in the strong position of the Syrian Ecbatana on Mount Carmel (Hdt. 3.62
; Plin. Nat. 5.19.17
); and that, if there ever was (as some have supposed) an Assyrian place of the same name (Rich, Kurdistan,
i. p. 153), the castle of Amadiyáh--which, according to Mr. Layard (i. p. 161), retains the; local name of Ek-badan--will best suit it. (See also Journal of Education,
vol. ii. p. 305; and Thirlwall, Hist. of Greece,
vol. vi. Append. 2., where the site of Hamadán is ably defended.)