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Re: [ANE-2] No Medes at Ecbatana?

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  • Peter James
    Dear Trudy, One should also be careful of falling into an anti-Median trap. It is not only Herodotus who refers to Median Ecbatana. The Nabonidus
    Message 1 of 8 , Jan 1, 2007
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      Dear Trudy,

      One should also be careful of falling into an "anti-Median" trap. It is not only Herodotus who refers to Median Ecbatana. The "Nabonidus Chronicle", year 6 (?, but before year 7) states that Cyrus of Anshan defeated Ishtumegu (Astyages) and that he conquered the "country Agamtanu" (Ecbatana). In the Behistun inscription Darius refers to the execution of the rebel Median king Phraortes in Ecbatana. I see no good reason to doubt that Herodotus was correct in stating that Ecbatana was once the Median capital. If the hill of Hamedan has produced nothing earlier than the Parthians, then (along with Liz) I would assume that they are digging at the wrong part of the site, or the wrong site. Re the recent re-evaluations of Median archaeology, I don't think one can say that there is no material evidence for them in their homeland. Rather there is a lack of archaeological evidence for a Median empire. If the traditions of a Median "empire" have truth in them, then it was of a very different character to that of the Persians.

      Best, Peter James



      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Trudy Kawami
      To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Monday, January 01, 2007 5:08 PM
      Subject: RE: [ANE-2] No Medes at Ecbatana?


      Liz,
      You've fallen into the "Median trap": since Herodotus said it was the capital, then it must be. There certainly is (was) a "Persian," i.e. Achaemenid, period at Ecbatana including inscriptions, but the extensive stone construction which has visually dominated the site seems to date from the Parthian period. The massive terrace with it very Greek columns has prevented exploration of levels below that, as have the modern houses of parts of the city. The site is extremely complex when compared to the "single-level" sites of Persepolis & Pasargadae. Actually these sites do have other levels to them but it is relatively easy to seen that the initial constructions belonged to a specific historical period.
      Since it has proved impossible to identify objectively art works & architecture with the Medes, I was not at all surprised that Ecbatana has come up short as well.
      This also impacts on the current nation/tribe/clan thread. With the Medes we have a group credited with forming an Empire but NO material evidence for them in their supposed homeland. Even the Anatolian site of Kerkenes, once thought to be Median, is not. Keeping in mind the invention of the Achaemenid dynasty by Darius, even the idea of lineage gets slippery.
      Trudy Kawami

      ________________________________

      From: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com on behalf of Lisbeth S. Fried
      Sent: Sun 12/31/2006 3:33 PM
      To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [ANE-2] No Medes at Ecbatana?

      This strangely supports Clark Welton's theories.
      No Persian period in Ecbatana/Hamedan. Weird.
      No period earlier than the Parthians.
      Perhaps they are digging in the wrong place?
      Liz Fried

      >

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    • Clark Whelton
      ... archaeology, I don t think one can say that there is no material evidence for them in their homeland. What material evidence are you thinking of? ... for a
      Message 2 of 8 , Jan 1, 2007
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        From Peter James:
        >>>>>>Re the recent re-evaluations of Median
        archaeology, I don't think one can say that there
        is no material evidence for them in their homeland.


        What material evidence are you thinking of?


        >>>>>>Rather there is a lack of archaeological evidence
        for a Median empire. If the traditions of a Median "empire"
        have truth in them, then it was of a very different character
        to that of the Persians.


        And yet Heleen Sancisi-Weerdenburg (1990) made a similar point
        about the elusive nature of evidence for a Persian Empire.


        "In the Introductory Note to this workshop participants were asked to
        look at the Persian empire not from the top [i.e., Persia proper],
        but from below, at the level of everyday life among the subject
        populations; and, after two days of intensive discussion ,
        one thing has become clear: when one decides to look from the
        bottom, it is often hard to see the empire." ("The Quest for an
        Elusive Empire", in Heleen Sancisi-Weerdenburg, Amélie Kuhrt,
        eds., Achaemenid History IV: Centre and Periphery. Proceedings
        of the Groningen 1986 Achaemenid History Workshop, Leiden:
        Nederlands Instituut Voor Het Nabije Oosten, 1990, 263).


        Clark Whelton
        New York
      • Don Mills
        My attention was caught by another element of Liz s transmission of the CHN item: Head of the team of archeologists at Ecbatana Hill, Masoud Azarnoush told
        Message 3 of 8 , Jan 2, 2007
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          My attention was caught by another element of Liz's transmission of the CHN item:

          "Head of the team of archeologists at Ecbatana Hill, Masoud Azarnoush told CHN that stratigraphy works and dowsing operations in five places on the hill have only revealed evidence of the Parthian civilization (248 BC?224 AD)".

          Is dowsing now a respectable technique in archaeological exploration?

          Regards,

          -- Don Mills [London, England]

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        • Robert M Whiting
          ... Considering that the report comes from a non-native speaker being interviewed by a journalist not necessarily familiar with the technical terminology of
          Message 4 of 8 , Jan 2, 2007
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            On Tue, 2 Jan 2007, Don Mills wrote:

            > Is dowsing now a respectable technique in archaeological exploration?

            Considering that the report comes from a non-native speaker being
            interviewed by a journalist not necessarily familiar with the technical
            terminology of archaeology, I assumed that for "dowsing" one should read
            "soundings". Just an assumption on my part. Your mileage may vary.

            On the other hand, the use of Ground-Penetrating Radar (GPR) to locate and
            map buried features at archaeological sites (http://www.du.edu/~lconyer/)
            could be considered the modern equivalent of "dowsing". However, I don't
            know that GPR is being used at this particular site, nor is there any way
            for GPR to determine what period any potential underground structres
            belong to.

            Bob Whiting
            whiting@...
          • Trudy Kawami
            For those interested in the vexing question of the Medes identity, I would strongly recommend Continuity of Empire(?) Assyria, Media, Persia ed. by G.
            Message 5 of 8 , Jan 8, 2007
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              For those interested in the vexing question of the Medes' identity, I
              would strongly recommend "Continuity of Empire(?) Assyria, Media,
              Persia" ed. by G. Lanfranchi, M. Roaf & R. Rollinger, Padua, Sargon
              Editrice, 2003. The volume looks at the question from many points of
              view and has a strong emphasis on HOW the Medes functioned as seen by
              Mesopotamian sources. This is essential reading on the subject.
              Trudy Kawami


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            • Clark Whelton
              ... would strongly recommend Continuity of Empire(?) Assyria, Media, Persia ed. by G. Lanfranchi, M. Roaf & R. Rollinger, Padua, Sargon Editrice, 2003. The
              Message 6 of 8 , Jan 12, 2007
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                >>>>>>For those interested in the vexing question of the Medes' identity, I
                would strongly recommend "Continuity of Empire(?) Assyria, Media,
                Persia" ed. by G. Lanfranchi, M. Roaf & R. Rollinger, Padua, Sargon
                Editrice, 2003. The volume looks at the question from many points of
                view and has a strong emphasis on HOW the Medes functioned as seen by Mesopotamian sources. This is essential reading on the subject.
                Trudy Kawami




                If you don't have access to this important book, J.D. Muhly's excellent review can be found at

                http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/bmcr/2004/2004-11-11.html


                Clark Whelton
                New York

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