Medes and Persians

Hamadan

On the way to Hamadan , we drive through huge grain-growing areas. The road climbs steadily until we reach our next destination, Hamadan, which lies at an altitude of around 1800m. It is correspondingly cold and the overcast sky makes us fear that it could snow at any time.

At a filling station on the outskirts of the city, we finally get 160 liters of the diesel we have been waiting for. We can also refill our water tanks here free of charge. Four years ago, we already received good and friendly service here. The gas station attendant still remembers our vehicle from back then and there is great mutual joy.

As last time, we spend the night at a pick-nick park. Back then, we were completely unmolested. But this time a group of 4 or 5 teenagers come to harass us in the worst possible way. They climb up the vehicle, shout at us and make a huge noise. I get out of the vehicle, try to calm them down, talk to them, but nothing helps. As darkness falls, we drive to the nearest hotel and are allowed to park in the guarded parking lot there. The next morning we discover that they have unscrewed and stolen our air pressure sensors. Luckily we have spare valve covers with us, but they were stolen again by teenagers in Kashan…. We never experienced anything like this on our first visit four years ago.

Ekbatana – Medes and Persians

Not far from the center of Hamadan lies the largest mound of ruins in Iran, covering around 300,000 m2. If you include the part that is still built on, it would be around 400,000 m2. In Babylonian times, Ekbatana was called “Hegmataneh”, which means “meeting place”.

Ekbatana was the capital and center of power of the Medes’ empire. The important trade route from Persepolis to Sardis (Turkey) ran through Ekbatana. Around 600 BC, Ekbatana was conquered by the Persian king Cyrus II, who from then on was also king of the Medes.

The continuous, consistent rectangular and repetitive structures of buildings and paths are striking in Ekbatana. The town was built using brick and clay brick technology. To protect the excavated and exposed clay walls, they were boarded and plastered. However, those in the covered hall were left in their original state.

Excavation site

Some of the artefacts from the excavations are on display in the museum, but the most important are in Berlin, London, New York, the Tehran Museum or even in private hands. Strange world. Apparently anyone could help themselves in the past.

An important artifact for us is the skeleton of a warrior who was about 3 m tall. Unimaginable for us today. In any case, I wouldn’t necessarily want to have to face one.

Museum of Ekbatana

For once, we are led by a guide. She stands lonely and deserted at the entrance in foggy, cold weather and we think we can brighten her day with a job. And it’s worth it, we experience a great tour with her.

Towards the end of the tour, we meet a class of girls from school. As always: fresh and cheerful. They immediately recognize that we are foreigners and want to take our picture. Of course we want that too.

There are two Armenian churches on the Ekbatana site in the former Armenian quarter. The “Stephan Gregor Church” was built by refugees from Western Armenia during the First World War, among others. The church was built according to Armenian tradition, without taking local conditions into account, with an entrance door facing east and large windows.
With the use of the church, however, it soon became apparentthat the entrance to the east was unfavorable because of the strong winter wind from the east and the large windows because of the cold in winter.
The Armenians therefore built a second church right next to it, modeled on the local mosques, with a sheltered entrance to the north and smaller windows only to the west.

Armenian churches

Through the bazaar to the center

We walk through the extensive bazaar to the center of Hamadan and on to the tomb of Esther and Mordechai.

Tomb of Esther and Mordechai

The two are known from the“Book of Esther” in the Old Testament of the Bible. Mordecai was a court official of the Persian king at the time of Darius the Great and Esther was the Jewish wife of his son Xerxes.
Ekbatana was the summer residence of the Persian kings. Many inscriptions and reliefs carved into the rock of the surrounding mountains confirm this.
Mordechai made a name for himself at the royal court because he warned the king of a plot, while Esther prevented a massacre of the many Jews who had been expelled from Israel and were living in the Persian Empire at the time.

The gravesite is quiet and the atmosphere is dignified and contemplative. The grave can only be entered in a crouched position

Hamadan

There is still a lot to see in Hamadan. But due to the cold and the cloudy sky, we decided against it. After all, we had already visited Hamadan four years ago. If you are interested:

HAMADAN 2019

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