Persian Gulf Ancient History in Durham University

Saturday, July 5, 2008

In a two day conference the UK's Durham University has studied the Persian Gulf and the ancient trading habits of the seafaring Persians.

The conference started July 2 at Durham University in northern England and taking a multi-disciplinary approach, it looked at the key role the vital waterway has played in the development of human settlements in the region from the pre-historic to the present.

Speakers presenting papers included British academics as well as scholars from Australia, Italy, the US and France and the Iranian Centre of Archaeological Research (ICAR) in Tehran.

In their in-depth probe into the regions seafaring developments, the nature of commodities being traded within the Persian Gulf and the techniques used to identify them the academics found that the Persians battled the waves of the Persian Gulf more than 5,000 years ago.

They also established that the waterway was once dry, leading to the conclusion that the first Persians must have come to the land now known as Iran on foot.

Also worth noting is the importance of Siraf; a legendary ancient port located on the north shore of what is now the Iranian coast on the Persian Gulf. Dating back to the 4th century, Siraf was used as a boat route between the Arabian Peninsula, India and later, China.

In past archaeological excavations Discovered Siraf has yielded ivory objects from east Africa, pieces of stone from India, and lapis from Afghanistan. Siraf dates back to the Parthian era.

Deputy head of Iran Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHTO), Hamid Baghaee, believes the Persian Gulf not only performed a historically vital role, it had global significance in linking the East and the West and should be added to the UNESCO list of Cultural Heritage.

The two-day international conference was sponsored by the Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicraft and Tourism Organization, the British Institute of Persian Studies, and Durham University, which hosts a Centre for Iran Studies.

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