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Only 5pc of Bahrain's treasures unearthed.

Bahrain: Only five per cent of Bahrain's historical sites have been excavated - leaving many archaeological treasures hidden, claimed an international researcher.

A lack of funds is hindering major exploration work, said Greek historian Dr Andreas Parpas.

"Bahrain is very rich in history but unfortunately only 5pc of the historical sites have been excavated," he told the GDN.

"This is because only 5pc have been financed.

"Bahrain had earlier brought missions from Denmark and France but in recent years it seems that there are no funds to continue the excavation work.

"We historians believe that there is a lot under the ground in Bahrain."

He hoped major advances would be made to reveal the archaeological construction of Bahrain back from its oldest civilisation, Dilmun, which lasted from 3,200BC to 330BC.

Dr Parpas, who works as a general manager in a Swiss multinational company in Dubai, developed an interest in Bahrain after travelling in the Middle East extensively.

He spoke about Bahrain's history and the presence of Greeks on the island, at a seminar at the Bahrain History and Archaeology Society, Juffair, last night.

According to Dr Parpas, Bahrain was the main naval base of the Seleucid Empire's presence in the Gulf between 323BC and 140BC.

"The Seleucid Empire that succeeded Alexander the Great was not properly studied because people found other more interesting parts of history to research," he said.

"However, in the last 20 to 30 years, after the discovery of a number of cuneiforms in Iraq and other historical evidences, people started realising how important this empire was in the Gulf region.

History

"According to an inscription that was found in Shakhoora, Bahrain or Tylos was a command centre of the Hellenistic period, which started from the death of Alexander the Great in 323BC until the abolition of Ptolemaic Egypt in 63BC.

"However, the Seleucids presence in the Gulf ended in 140BC.

"At around 120BC, Athenian general Kephisodoros was believed to have been in Bahrain and had dedicated a temple to King Hyspaosines in Charax close to Basra, Iraq.

"Kephisodoros was the general of Tylos and the Islands, an indication that there was a prominent naval base in Bahrain.

"The fact that, in 205BC, King Antiochus III stopped at Tylos on his way to Gerrha, a place in Saudi Arabia, is also considered evidence of the presence of the naval base."

It is also said that Alexander the Great had sent admirals and missions to discover Bahrain, as part of his plans to transform the Gulf into a trading hub similar to the Phoenician Coast.

"When Alexander the Great conquered the Persian Empire he declared that he wanted to make the Gulf as rich in trading and development as the Phoenician Coast in the Mediterranean," Dr Parpas said.

"The reason he wanted to do that was to connect the naval empire in the Mediterranean with a naval empire in the Gulf and facilitate the trade that would come from the Gulf through Mesopotamia (Iraq) and all the way to the Mediterranean.

"Bahrain eventually became the centre of what was to become a maritime district called Tylos in the Islands."

Dr Parpas also suggested that Bahrain was once a home to an ancient cult that worshipped Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine and healing.

The claim has been made following the 1997 discovery of a small bronze plaque near Bahrain Fort depicting the god.

He says the plaque indicates that an ancient Greek healing temple must have existed here between the 2nd Century BC and 3rd Century BC, which would have been built by colonists to promote the cult of Asclepius.

Dr Parpas, born in Cyprus in 1950, studied engineering and business in the UK, as well as classical history in Athens.

During his professional life, he has travelled around the Middle East, including Iraq where he lived and worked from 1975 to 1990, and developed an interest in its history and people.

Book

His particular interests include Alexander the Great, the Hellenistic period and the presence of Hellenism in the Near East.

He wrote his first book Alexander the Great - The Dissolution of the Persian Naval Supremacy 334-331BC in 2011. Last year, he published his second book Alexander the Great in Erbil: The Military Battle of Gaugamela and the Political Victory at Arbela.

His third book The Greeks in the Gulf will be launched by the end of this year.

shahlaa@gdn.com.bh

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Geographic Code:7BAHR
Date:Feb 26, 2016
Words:751
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