The town and province of Kermanshah (or Kermānšāhān) are located on the strategic travel route, later known as the “Khorasan Highway,” linking Mesopotamia to the Iranian plateau. This route was militarily and commercially important even in antiquity, as for example in the lapis lazuli and silk trade, and the surrounding area abounds in prehistoric and historic sites. Excavations made in local caves (see ḠĀR) reveal prehistoric human presence. The main site, at Bisotun, has been almost continuously occupied from prehistoric times. Excavations at Ḡār-e Ḵar, near the Bisotun inscriptions, found remains covering a span of 35,000 years. A small cave, located above the Hellenistic period statue of Hercules, provided evidence of habitation by Neanderthals (Matheson, p. 26). Archaeological remains from the site of Godin Tepe in the Kangavar valley, occupied from ca. 5000 to 500 BCE, bear comparison with findings in nearby sites, including Bābā Jān Tepe in northeastern Lurestan and Tepe Giyan near Nehāvand (Matheson, p. 122). An early Neolithic site at Ganj Dareh Tepe (see ECBATANA), some 10 km to the west of Harsin, datable to 8450 BCE, is claimed to have been one of the first known agricultural zones in the Zagros plain (Matheson, p. 120). These Neolithic testimonies precede the dawn of civilized zones in the areas later occupied by various peoples. Beginning in the third millennium BCE, the Babylon-Ecbatana road served as an avenue of military penetration into Media from the kingdom of Assyria.