ADRAPANA, the third station from the western border of “Upper Media” recorded by Isidore of Charax in the 1st century A.D. (Parthian Stations 6, ed. and tr. W. H. Schoff, Philadelphia, 1914, pp. 6-7, 28). It was a royal residence (basíleia) and had been destroyed by Tigranes the Great of Armenia (95-55 B.C.); no doubt this occurred during his great campaign against Parthia begun in 87 B.C., when for a time the highway from Media into Mesopotamia was cut. Adrapana lay 12 schoeni west of [Ec]batana (Hamadān) on this highway, a distance conformable to that of modern Asadābād. W. Tomaschek plausibly regarded the latter as the site of Adrapana (“Zur historischen Topographie von Persien I,” Sb. Ak. Wiss. Wien 102, 1883, p. 152). Four schoeni farther west lay Bazigraban (in the vicinity of modern Manderābād), whose name derives from its function as an Arsacid (and presumably earlier) customshouse (Old Persian *bajī-gṛbana). At another three schoeni was Concobar (modern Kangāvar). Adrapana was speciously identified with the village of Ārtīmān (to the south of the Kūh-e Alvand), on the basis of partial sound similarity, by G. Rawlinson (The Five Great Monarchies of the Ancient Eastern World, 2nd ed., New York, 1871, II, p. 276). This claim has simply been repeated by Schoff (loc. cit.) and N. C. Debevoise (A Political History of Parthia, Chicago, 1938, p. 51). Less happy was Tomaschek’s identification of Adrapana with the Beltra of the Peutinger Tables; the revision of this itinerary by K. Miller removes the need for such a problematic equation (Itineria Romana, Stuttgart, 1916, col. 792).

The importance of Ecbatana and Concobar as temple centers goes back to Seleucid and presumably late Achaemenid times (cf. under Ardwīsūr). The name “Adrapana” may imply that this site also had some significance in the Achaemenid state cult, if the name derives directly from Old Persian *ātṛpāna, “Having the protection of [the divinity] Fire.” Cf. the more familiar compound *Ātṛpāta (Avestan Ātərəpāta, Greek Atropates), “Protected by Fire (M. Mayrhofer, Onomastica Persepolitana, Vienna, 1973, no. 8.491). The same alternation is found in the proper names *Bagapāna (Greek Megapanes, ibid., no. 8.188), “Having the protection of the god,” and *Bagapāta (Megapates), “Protected by the god;” and a similar formation is *Ṛtapāna, “Having the protection of Truth” (ibid., no. 8.575). If Adrapana were already a cult center, it would have been all the more logical for the Arsacids to locate there both an “out-of-town” palace adjoining Ecbatana and perhaps a dynastic fire foundation as well, as the kingdom expanded westward in the mid-second century B.C. (On the dynastic fires, see under Ātaš.) Alternatively, the town may essentially have been a new foundation of the Parthians, whose location was determined by its convenience to the main highway.

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(C. J. Brunner)

Originally Published: December 15, 1983

Last Updated: July 22, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 5, p. 471

Cite this entry:

C. J. Brunner, “Adrapana,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/5, p. 471; an updated version is available online at (accessed on 28 February 2014).