The Stone Lion
Hamadan is one of the oldest cities of not only Iran but of the world. Its historical origins date back to several centuries before Christ. Hamadan was the Median Empire’s capital before they formed a union with the Persians and also served as the summer capital of the Achaemenid Empire was then called Ecbatana or Hagmatana; meaning a place of assembly. Monuments of that period, only a few remains are kept on the “Milk Ecbatana” Becky is the most important. “Stone lion” or “Milk Stone” in the Southern city of Hamadan Malayer is located along the old road.
The stone lion or Sang-Shir, as the Hamadanis call it, is a tremendous stone statue of a lion in the square of the same name in southeast Hamadan. It is 2.5 m long, 1.50 m wide and 1.20 m high. Today, the area surrounding this square is a city park. Formerly attributed to Parthian, Achaemenian, and Parthian periods, it is in fact the handiwork of Alexander’s craftsmen, built probably in commemoration of one of the Macedonia’s fallen generals, Hephaestion. It now rests upon a stone base that was provided for it in 1949 AD. During the Parthian period the statue was placed near one of the entrance gates to the town, which was thus called Bab ol-Asad or the Gate of the Lion.
Some Hamadanis believe that their city has been spellbound by the presence of this statue. In 931 AD when Mard Avij ot liar captured the city, he had the statue’s hands broken. After that incidents not much attention was paid to the monument until 1959 when the Archaeological Department arranged a suitable granite pedestal from mount Alvand for the statue in its new location. To the northeast of the statue is the Musalla Hill, where the ramparts of a Parthian fortress have been found.