اسناد سازمان ملل متحد
UNITED NATIONS Working Paper
GROUP OF EXPERTS ON No. 61
Vienna, 28 March – 4 April 2006
Item 14 of the Provisional Agenda:
Activities relating to the Working Group
Historical, Geographical and Legal Validity of the Name: PERSIAN GULF
Prepared Working Group on Exonyms, Iran
Historical, Geographical and Legal Validity of the Name :
Geography, as the most ancient human knowledge is an applied science which has different
aspects. It studies the reciprocal relation of man and nature and provides the results to the
users in the form of documents in writing, books and maps.
The names of features and phenomena including natural or man made ones have been
considered by geographers for a long time, therefore similar features are distinguished by it.
The name of a feature can not be observed on the land like the feature itself. Thus, by
mentioning the case on maps, Atlases, and books, it will be protected during different eras as
a part of historical, cultural identity and saved as mans heritage.
For the same reason, any change, destruction, or alteration of the names registered in
historical deeds and maps is like the destruction of ancient works and is considered as an
improper action. Therefore, the names of geographical features profiting from a unique
historical identity, should not be utilized as political instruments in reaching a political, tribal,
and racial objective, or in any clash with national interests and other's values.
This paper provides a short study of the historical background of the name PERSIAN GULF
so that it might cast light on realities.
Geographical Specifications of PERSIAN GULF
The Persian Gulf is located in the southwest of the Asian Continent at 23 to 30 degrees
northern latitude and 48 to 56 degrees longitude on the south side of the vast country of Iran,
with a length of 1259 kilometer.
Karoun, Zohreh, Jarrahi Mond, Dalki, Hendijan, Kol and Minab are the largest and the most
watery rivers that flow into the PERSIAN GULF from the Iranian Plateau. The PERSIAN
GULF is a projection of water from the Indian Ocean into a part of the Iranian Plateau. The
whole northern part of it is covered by the Fars Province in Iran. T hus, if we were to presume
that the sea did not have a name during history and those geographers and specialists were to
select a name for this gulf, doubtlessly, they would find no better name than PERSIAN
GULF, because Iran (PERSIA) is the largest country adjacent to this water body which
possesses the longest coast. Besides, with a population of more than 70 million it is larger
than any country located at the south margin of Fars.
Name of PERSIAN GULF
The researchers, who have researched about the name of Persian Gulf, became unanimous
considering the name of Persian Gulf. During all the centuries, and at least during the past
2500 years, i.e. as of the time of the powerful Pars Empire there has never been seen such a
unanimity in the Middle East among writers and historians on one name during history.
Considering the historical background of the name Persian Gulf, Sir Arnold Wilson mentions
in a book, published in 1928 that:
"No water channel has been so significant as PERSIAN GULF to the geologists,
archaeologists, geographers, merchants, politicians, excursionists, and scholars whether in
past or in present. This water channel which separates the Iran Plateau from the Arabia Plate,
has enjoyed an Iranian Identity since at least 2200 years ago.
Name of PERSIAN GULF in Historical Documents
No written deed has remained since the era before the Pars Empire, but in the oral history and
culture, the Iranians have called the southern waters: Jam Sea, Iran Sea, Pars Sea.
During the years: 559 to 330 B.C. coinciding with sovereignty of the Pars Empire on the
Middle East area, especially the whole part of Persian Gulf and some parts of the Arabian
Peninsula, the name of Pars Sea has been widely written in the compiled texts.
In the travel account of Pythagoras, several chapters are related to description of his travels
accompanied by Darioush, a king of Achaemenid, to Shoush and Perspolis, and the area is
described. From among the writings of others in the same period, there is the inscription and
engraving of Darioush the great, installed at junction of waters of Arabian Gulf (Ahmar Sea)
and Nile river and Rome river (current Mediterranean) which belongs to the 5th century BC
where, Darioush, the king of Pars Empire has named the PERSIAN GULF Water Channel:
PARS SEA. From among the other significant deeds written in this field, the world map:
Hecataeus (472 to 509 B.C.) can be stated where PERSIAN GULF and Arabian Gulf (Red
Sea) have been clearly shown. Also a map has remained from Herodotus, the great historian
of Greece (425-484 B.C.) which introduces Red Sea as the Arabian Gulf.
In the world map of Diseark (285-347 B.C.) too, Persian Gulf and Arabian Gulf have been
clearly distinct. At the same time, many maps and deeds prepared up to the 8th century by the
scientists and geographical researchers such as Hecataeus, Herodotus (father of Science of
Geography), Hiparek, Claudius Batlamious, Krats Malous,…… and in the Islamic period,
Mohammad Ibn Mousa Kharazmi, Abou Yousef Eshagh Kandi, Ibn Khardazabeh, Harrani
(Batani), Masoudi, Abou Zeyd Balkhi, Estakhri, Ibn Houghal, Aboureyhan Birouni and
others, mention that there is a wide sea at south of Iran named Pars Sea, Pars Gulf, Fars Sea,
Fars Gulf, Bahre Fars, Sinus Persicus and Mare Persicum and so on.
In a book, named Persilus Aryateria, the Greek tourist of the 1st century A.D. has called the
Red Sea as Arabian gulf; the Indian ocean has been named Aryateria Sea; the waters at Oman
Coast is called Pars Sea; Barbarus region (between Oman and Yemen coast are called
belonging to Pars, and the Gulf located at south side of Iran is named: PERSIAN GULF. By
describing the water body, the life of Persians living at both sides have also been confirmed.
Before Christ, the Arabs were living more in Hejaz, Yemen, and coasts of Red Sea (Arabian
Gulf) and were not that much familiar with Persian Gulf. After Ardeshir, king of Iran during
Sassanid era campaigned to Yemen upon request of Seif Ibn Ziyazan, governor of Yemen to
suppress Abyssinian, the event lead to traffic of Arabs at the coasts of Persian Gulf. With the
emergence of Islam and expans