ECBATA'NA (Agbatana, Achmaa, Hagmatana), the ancient capital of Media, situated at a distance of 12 stadia (about 1 m. from Mt. Orontes, the modern Elwend. Its foundation was attributed by popular belief to Solomon or Semiramis, while the book of Judith ascribes it to Arphaxad (Phraortes?), and Herodotus to Deioces (728 c.). It lay upon a conical hill, crowned by a temple of the sun, and was inclosed by seven concentric walls, the innermost of which was gilded, and the next plated with silver; while the rest, in their order outwards, were painted orange, blue, scarlet, black, and white, respectively. As they rose in gradation towards the center, all the battlements with their gorgeous hues—probably representing, in Saban fashion, the seven planetary spheres or the seven climes—were visible at once. The city is reported to have been 250 stadia in circumference. Its principal buildings were the citadel—a stronghold of enormous dimensions, where also the archives were kept, in which Darius found the edict of Cyrus the great concerning the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem—and the royal palace. Cedar and cypress only were used for the woodwork, and the ceilings, beams, and rafters were overlaid with gold and silver. The mild climate and the mag nificence of its structure singled out E. as the favorite summer residence, first of the Median, then of the Persian, and, lastly, of the Parthian monarchs. After the battle of Arbela (331 u.c.), Alexander followed Darius thither, and secured an immense booty. It was again pillaged by the Seleucidm; but such were the riches of this place, that Antiochus the great still found 4,000 talents' worth of silver to carry away. E. subse
quently fell into the hands of the Parthians; and it has since so utterly sunk into decay, that notwithstanding the frequent mention that is made of it both in the Bible and in classical writings, its very site can no longer be fixed with certainty. Gibbon and Jones tried to identify it with Tabriz or Tauriz; Williams, with Ispahan; while recent explorers, such as Rennell, Mannert, Kinneir, Morier, and Ker Porter, generally agree that the present Hamadan, with the supposed tombs of 3Iordechai and Esther (see HAMADAN), occupies the site of ancient Ecbatana. Sir Henry Rawlinson assumes two Ecbatanas, one the present Hamadan, the other the present Takliti-Suleiman, 25 n. lat., 47° 10' w. long. Both the orthography of the scriptural AchmNa, and the cunei form Hagmatana in the Behistun inscriptions, which, by changing the m into b, became Agbatana in Greek, seem to point to Hamadan. Broken columns, a few cuneiform inscriptions, coins, medals, and a fragmentary stone lion, placed there, according to the Eastern legend, by the sorcerer Apollonius of Thyane,at the command of Nebuchad nezzar, in order to guard the town from excessive cold and snow—all dug out near Hamadan—are all that now remains of that once most royal of cities. There was another ECBATANA in Persis, which was given to the Magi; and a third in Syria, at the foot of Carmel, the present KaYffa, where Cambyses, the son of Cyrus, suddenly died 520 B.C.