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Historical Roots of Iran's Ownership of Tunb Islands



Sunday, 02 May 1999

The following is the first part of an article written by Dr.Ahmad Mousavi, a Tehran University professor, which was published in the Persian daily Jomhouri Eslami on April 29. There is no exact information about the Persian Gulf islands in the ancient times. The Mesopotamian rulers (Assyrians, Babylonians, Somarids) and, in the same era, the Elamites of Khuzestan Province controlled the coasts and some islands of the Persian Gulf in the 2nd and 3rd millennium B.C. The archaeological discoveries in Kish, Qeshm, Bahrain and Oman indicate the influence of Iranian culture over those regions.

The Elamite harbor of Lian (Boushehr) had a key role in the Elamite government's control over the Persian Gulf waters. During the Achaemenid dynasty ( 559 to 330 B.C.), especially during the rein of Darius I ( 522-486 B.C.), the sphere of influence of Iran over the sea territories extended to the Indian Ocean. Simultaneously, a plan to make a canal to join the Nile river to the Caspian Sea was taken into consideration.

The voyage of Eskilaks was conducted on the order of the king in line with such a plan in order to promote the naval commerce in the ancient times. The naval aggression headed by Nearkos on the order of Alexander in 326 B.C. was, in fact, motivated by this same objective. According to the writings of the Greek Historian, Arian, this military aggression started from the Island of Oarakta (possibly Qeshm island) and, before passing the desert island of Pilora (Farur island), they landed on another island which, in the opinion of William Saint (1792), must have been the Greater Tunb. Ptolemy recalled some islands called Tabiana, which sounds similar to Tunb. On a European map of the 19th century, there are two islands named Tabiana at the entrance to the Persian Gulf. In addition, the names Pilora and Fora (Farus) are observable on this 19th century map just a bit to the east.

During the Parthian dynasty (248 B.C.-224 A.D.) and the Sasanid dynasty (224 A.D.-651 A.D.), with the emergence of the Roman naval power, the politics and commerce in the Persian Gulf waters and the Arabian Sea served the interests of both Iran and the Eastern Roman Empire. In the sixth century A.D., with the victory of the Iranian troops over Yemen, Iran became the main power in the region.

In this era, Iranian migrants settled in those islands, and the relics of their fire-temples still exist in Bahrain and other islands in the Persian Gulf.








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