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Publication of Historical Maps of the Persian Gulf in Tehran


By Pejman Akbarzadeh, (Persian Gulf Organization's Rep. in Tehran)

According to historical and geographical documents and United Nations directives, the name of the waterway between the Persia (Iran) and the Arabian Peninsula is the Persian Gulf.  Since the 1960s, with the rise of Arab nationalism, serious efforts to change the historical name of this waterway began. These efforts and the Persians resistance in the face of it, in the autumn of 2004, reached a peak when the National Geographic Society published a fake term in parenthesis below the name Persian Gulf.  After a few months of heavy protests by Persians (Iranians), followed by partial success, the 18th Tehran International Book Fair devoted a pavilion for presenting the historical maps of the Persian Gulf (see article). An extensive report of this event, written by this author, was published in the Persian-language daily "Shargh" (No.486, May 27, 2005/ 7 Khordad 1384.  For this occasion, albeit with a few months delay, a precious book containing 123 historical maps of the Persian Gulf region has been published by the Sahab Geographic and Drafting Institute in Tehran.



These maps were selected from over 2,300 maps and documents from several museums, universities, libraries and private collections in Sahab archive. The maps published in this book are in chronological order.  The first map is a clay tablet from ancient Babylonia belonging to 2000 to 3000 B.C.  In this map, whose original is at the British Museum, Babylon and Assyria can be seen surrounding the Persian Gulf. Among other notable maps in this book are: the naval map of the world by Bochartus (1500-500 B.C.); the map of Jazirat al-Arab (Arabian Peninsula) by Ptolemy (87-150 A.D.); map of the Persian Sea by Istakhri (1325 A.D.); map of the Seven Seas by Biruni (1430 A.D.); map of the Persian Empire in the Safavid era, by Claudius (1700 A.D.); and the map of the eastern part of the Persian Gulf, produced by the British Naval Force in 1795, with which the book ends.


In some of the maps, in which the Persian Gulf represents part of the whole map, such as in maps of Asia and the Middle East, the image of the region under consideration is enlarged below the main map. In addition to high quality, all the maps possess precise descriptions in both English and Persian, including the original name of the map, its cartographer, and the date of the drawing. A separate and bilingual index of the maps published in this collection appears at the end of the book.


This work was compiled by the Geographical Research Department of the Sahab Institute, headed by Mohammad Reza Sahab, in  cooperation with Farhad Tehrani, Javad Safinejad, Houshang Ghassemi, and Ali Akbar Mahmoudian. M. R. Sahab has written a bilingual preface to this collection which contains interesting information about the history of

the Persian Gulf, how names came to be forged for this waterway, and the result of Persians efforts against it. Sahab writes: “In spite of the positive actions which have been taken by the people and government of Iran in the past 47 years, unfortunately we have always acted sporadically. Only when we have been assaulted, have we reacted. However, by taking

advantage of their petrodollars, some Arab governments have attempted to forge new names for the Persian Gulf. While they have been busy with such efforts, our activities have mostly been within the country, without much international effect.”


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