Trans Eurasia travel

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Hegmataneh Hill

(Tappeh-ye Hegmataneh; 8am-4pm Tue-Sun, 8am-noon Mon) In the mud beneath this scraggy low hill lies Hamadan's ancient Median and Achaemenid city site, built over the site of Ecbatana. Small sections of the total area have been fitfully excavated by several teams over the last century, most extensively in the 1990s.

The most interesting of several shed-covered 'trenches' allows you to walk above the excavations of earthen walls using plank walkways on wobbly scaffolding. The walls' gold and silver coatings are long gone of course and it's hard to envisage the lumpy remnants as having once constituted one of the world's great cities. A nicely presented museum tries to fill the mental gap, showing some of the archaeological finds including large amphorae, Seljuk fountains, Achaemenid pillar-bases and Parthian coffins. Sang-e Shir, or Stone Lion, a statue tentatively dated to the Parthian dynasty can be seen in a park in the southeast of town.

A few decades ago when the government relocated inhabitants from the hill and demolished their homes in the name of archaeology, they spared a pair of XIX century churches, which remain at the southern edge of the site.