Hegmataneh, also known as Ecbatana, is a vast historical area in the center of the modern Iranian city of Hamadan. The site is a historical hill covering a vast area in the modern city. This hill, which is referred to as the most extensive ancient hill in Iran, is over 30 hectares.
However, the area would exceed 40 hectares if one takes into account the areas that were formerly part of the ancient hill but have now turned into residential buildings due to modern construction. It is an ancient place where archaeologists discovered palaces, mansions and other historical monuments related to Median and Achaemenid periods. According to Herodotus, Ecbatana was chosen as the Medes’ capital in the late 8th century BC by Deioces.
In Ecbatana historical hill, one can see the remains of monuments that belong to the pre-Christendom kings. At that time, architects constructed labyrinthine castles and massive structures with a variety of materials. Archaeologists have discovered traces of the people living than in the area.
Architects have used gold, silver, tiles, and decorative materials to build the palace of the kings there. Ecbatana was first excavated in 1913 by Charles Fossey. Excavations have been limited due to the modern town covering most of the ancient sites. In 1969 the Ministry of Culture and Art began buying property on the tell in support of archaeology, though excavation did not begin until 1983.
By 2007, 12 seasons of excavation had occurred. Historians and archaeologists now believe “the identification of Ecbatana with Hamadān is secure”. Earlier a lack of significant archaeological remains from the Median and Achaemenid periods had prompted suggestions of other sites for Ecbatana.