November 28, 2023

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Hegmataneh’s global registration to boost tourism in west Iran

TEHRAN – Tourism in the west of the country will benefit from the possible inclusion of ancient Hegmataneh on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

The possible global registration of ancient Hegmataneh in west-central Hamedan province will lead to double prosperity for the tourism axis in the west of the country, a local tourism official said on Saturday.

Before traveling to Iran, foreign tours prepare their itinerary and find out where most World Heritage sites are located, Ali Khaksar added.

Foreign tourists will bring economic prosperity to Hamedan, so the province will be introduced to the world as a travel destination, he explained.

Back in May, the official announced that a working group has been formed to identify, investigate and solve potential problems in the path of possible registration of Hegmataneh in the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Moreover, Hamedan authorities are ready to take preliminary measures to pave the way for the global registration of Hegmataneh and prepare it to be assessed by UNESCO evaluators, he said.

Earlier this year, a traffic fellow related to a nearby steel marketplace was declared as one of the major barriers faced with the possible registration based on UNESCO criteria.

Known in classical times as Ecbatana, Hamedan was one of the ancient world’s greatest cities. Pitifully little remains from antiquity, but significant parts of the city center are given over to excavations. Ecbatana was the capital of Media and subsequently a summer residence of the Achaemenid kings who ruled Persia from 553 to 330 BC.

Ecbatana is widely believed to be once a mysterious capital of Medes. According to ancient Greek writers, the city was founded in about 678 BC by Deioces, who was the first king of the Medes.

French Assyriologist Charles Fossey (1869 – 1946) directed the first excavation in Tepe Hegmataneh for six months in 1913. Erich Friedrich Schmidt (1897 – 1964), who was a German and American-naturalized archaeologist, took some aerial photos from Hamedan between 1935 and 1937.

According to the Greek historian Xenophon of Athens (c.430-c.355), Ecbatana became the summer residence of the Achaemenid kings. Their palace is described by the Greek historian Polybius of Megalopolis. He writes that the city was richer and more beautiful than all other cities in the world; although it had no wall, the palace, was built on an artificial terrace, according to Livius, a website on ancient history written and maintained since 1996 by the Dutch historian Jona Lendering.

Furthermore, an inscription unearthed in 2000 indicates that Achaemenid king Artaxerxes II Mnemon (404-358) built a terrace with columns in Ecbatana. Some twelve kilometers southwest of Hamedan is Ganjnameh, where Darius I and his son Xerxes had inscriptions cut into the rock.

Polybius, a Greek historian of the Hellenistic period noted for his work The Histories, tells that the builders used cedar and cypress wood, which was covered with silver and gold. The roof tiles, columns, and ceilings were plated with silver and gold. He adds that the palace was stripped of its precious metals in the invasion of the Macedonian king Alexander the Great and that the rest was seized during the reigns of Antigonus and Seleucus. Later, Ecbatana was one of the capitals of the Seleucid and the Parthian Empires, sometimes called Epiphaneia.

Around 1220 Hamedan was destroyed by the Mongol invaders. In 1386 it was sacked by Timur (Tamerlane), a Turkic conqueror, and the inhabitants were massacred. It was partly restored in the 17th century and subsequently changed hands often between Iranian ruling houses and the Ottomans.


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