Ecbatana, an ancient city, capital of the Median empire, and the favorite summer residence of the kings of Persia. Its foundation was attributed to Semiramis; but Herodotus makes Deioces its founder, and describes particularly its position on a conical hill, and its enclosure by seven concentric walls, each inner one being higher than the next outer one, which were painted with different colors, the innermost wall being gilded, and the next plated with silver. An account of the building of the city by Artaphaxad is given in the book of Judith, and it is mentioned by Ezra under the name of Achmetha. It is probable that this city was founded and flourished subsequently to Babylon and Nineveh, and that it occupied the position ascribed to it by Diodorus and others, near the site of the modern city of Ha-madan. Its citadel was of enormous strength, and adjoining it was the royal palace, rivalling the noblest edifices of the East. The fragrant cedar and the cypress were the only kinds of wood that entered into its construction, and its columns, beams, and ceilings were covered with golden and silver plates.
Its splendid architecture and spacious apartments, its fountains and gardens, and the mild climate of the place, attracted to it, even after the fall of the Median empire, the sovereigns of Persia, to repose during the summer months. Darius fled from his defeat at Arbela to Ecbatana, and Alexander the Great, having become master of the town, bore away a rich booty. Under the Se-leucidae its edifices and palaces were plundered, and its ramparts began to crumble away. It subsequently fell to the Parthians, and was the frequent residence of their kings; but its ruin was completed amid the revolutions which preceded the establishment of the new Persian empire. Of its former magnificence only a few broken columns, cuneiform inscriptions, medals, and fragments of sculpture, dug from the earth in the vicinity of Hamadan, now remain. (See Hamadan.)