Noilly Prattle: Persian Odyssey: Part IV – Hamadan

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Persian Odyssey: Part IV – Hamadan

Hamadan, like Damascus in Syria, is thought to be one of the oldest cities in the world, built, perhaps, as early as 3000 BC. Around the 6th Century BC it became one of the capitals of the first Persian Empire along with Susa and Persepolis under the Achaemenid kings Cyrus and Darius--both “the Great”. The main purpose of my trip (besides adventure) was to visit the archeological sites of these ancient cities. Hamadan was the first one on my itinerary.

              night view of Hamadan

I had arranged to meet up with one of my IIAA students and visit with his family. So I arrived in Hamadan and, following his written directions, managed to find his family's home. Teachers are held in high esteem in Iran and I was warmly welcomed and treated to every courtesy the family felt I was due as the teacher of their son. I was a little embarrassed at such attention, but secretly basked in it. I was informed that a banquet would be held in my honor that evening. Imagine, a banquet in my honor! Sounds like Thanksgiving turkey with all the trimmings, doesn't it?

My student and his cousin offered to show me around Hamadan. The most interesting artifact in town is the Ganj Nameh (treasure epistle) carved in granite on the side of Alvand Mountain dating from the 6th Century BC. The inscription is in cuneiform and basically praises the Zoroastrian god, Ahura Mazda (no relation to the automobile of the same name I presume), and brags about the accomplishments of Kings Darius and his son Xerxes. I believe this was before the arrival of a pissed off Alexander the Great. (There seem to have been a lot of “the Greats” around in those days.) They no doubt walked on piles of skeletons to achieve their greatness.

                      Ganj Nameh--Xerxes, how great thou art...

After checking out a few more monuments of more or less interest, we went to the bazaar so that I could buy a few provisions for the next leg of my journey. I was a little disappointed that there wasn't much of the ancient city left to see. Being continuously inhabited tends to obliterate the ruins of preceding eras as new construction is built over the older buildings.

                    suburb of Hamadan and Alvand Mountain and cousin

                       outside the Hamadan bazaar

inside the Hamadan bazaar

By late afternoon we returned to my students home where I got the first shock of my trip.

To be continued.... 


Anonymous said...

oh geez…don't stop NOW!!

Anonymous said...

oops…this was Ronnie