Ganjnameh Inscription - Hamedan

Ganjnameh Inscriptions and Waterfall (Ganjnameh Tourist Resort Complex)

Ganjnameh is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Hamedan city. The Ganjnameh Complex is, in fact, a combination of three historical, natural, and recreational sections. Here, as well as a beautiful waterfall, you can visit a great ancient treasure carved on the rocky face of Mount Alvand. The pleasant weather of the foothill, the astonishing nature and the inscriptions of Ganjnameh will amaze you. Join us in this article to explore this great tourist site together.

Where is Ganjnameh?

Located 5 kilometers away from the modern-day Hamedan, this site is within reach through a short drive. The site is at the Abbas Abad valley in the west part of the city, where a river and a beautiful waterfall are located. The waterfall, which is called with the same name, is 12-meter high and is among the most famous waterfalls of Iran. As well as visiting this natural attraction, you will have the opportunity to hike on the sides of Mount Alvand. Besides, many climbers reach its 3580m summit in a day trip on summer. If you continue your way 4 kilometers more, you will reach Tarik Darreh ski resort which is a great option for snowy days of winter.


The history of Ganjnameh

Hamedan is one of the oldest cities of Iran and according to historians, the city is on the site of the ancient Ecbatana. Medes founded the city and it served as the capital of many empires since then. During the Achaemenid era, Hamedan was one of its several capitals. It became the summer capital during Parthian and Sassanid times. The historical remaining of these periods reveals the great history of the city. Ganjnameh inscriptions, for instance, are one of the great examples of the glory of Achaemenids imperial.


The imperial road of Achaemenids was connecting Ecbatana (the Achaemenid capital) to Babylonia. Since this route was one of the main branches of the imperial road, it became one of the most important pathways of that time. So, the fourth Persian king of the Achaemenid empire, Darius (486-522 B.C) ordered a relief here. Before that, he had ordered another relief in Bisotoun Mountain in Kermanshah. Because of it, Darius is now famous for being the first known historian of Persia. Later on, his son, Xerxes (465-486 B.C), ordered another relief to be carved next to his father’s inscription. 

Ganj-Nameh literally means a letter describing a treasure. For years, people assumed that these two inscriptions are a guide to a hidden treasure. They also believed that they might narrate the story of wars. The languages of the reliefs remained unknown to people until a French archaeologist started to study them. 

This happened in the 19th century. But it was the British archaeologist, Henry Rawlinson who could decode the language of these reliefs. It helped him to understand the cuneiform characters of other reliefs like Bisotoun as well.

The Stone Reliefs

You will see the reliefs carved on the rocky face of Mount Alvand. There are holes around them which suggest that a metal cover was protecting them. Both of them are in rectangular shapes and have a depth of 30 centimeters. The relief of Darius is on the left. It is 2.90 meters long and 1.90 meters wide and it is a little bit higher than the Xerxes’s. His inscription at the right is 2.70 meters long and 1.90 meters wide. They share a similar content and begin with the praise of Ahura Mazda (Zoroastrian God). The rest explains the lineage, deeds and conquests of these two Achaemenid kings.

Each relief has twenty lines and is written in three languages: Neo-Babylonian, Neo-Elamite, and Old Persian. The first left column is in Old Persian, the middle one in Babylon or Akkadian and the last one in the right is in Elamite. They all are written in the cuneiform alphabet. So, they have served as a kind of Rosetta stone to decode the cuneiform characters of the era. The columns start with the word “bagn” meaning God.  In Xerxes’s inscription, only the name of Xerxes replaces the name of Darius and the other parts are almost the same.


The decoded content suggests that the right inscription belonging to Xerxes I, reads:

“The Great God is Ahura Mazda. Greatest of all the gods, who created the earth and the sky and the people. He made Xerxes king, and outstanding king as outstanding ruler among innumerable rulers. I am the great king Xerxes, king of kings, king of lands with many inhabitants.  King of this vast kingdom with far-away territories. Son of the Achaemenid monarch Darius.”

Ganjnameh Tourist Resort Complex

The site can entertain you for a few hours. You will enjoy an amazing nature in a very pleasant environment while you are traveling back in time observing these ancient reliefs.