Some notes on the history of the Persian Gulf


Extract from Persian Gulf: history’s favorite by G Mirfendereski, published in

The present-day name of the gulf comes from the Greek and classical writers who, after calling it the Sea of Erythras for many decades, came to call this body of water Sinus Persicus, meaning the Gulf of Persis. Persis at the time referred to the part of the Iranian plateau which was Pars, today’s Fars province. There was also at the time the province of Carmania, whose remains today represent the much smaller Kerman Province, without frontage on the gulf. The term Persian Gulf is the Anglo-Saxon as well as other later European translations of Sinus Persicus or Mare Persicum (Persian Sea).

Something got lost in the translation because by the time the Europeans got around to it, the name Persis had evolved into Persia, describing the entire state governed by the state people (staatvolk) Persians, not necessarily by the people of Persis. To that extent, the Western practice lifted a provincial reference and made it into a national appellation.

Arab Nationalism & Drive For The Name Change

The first time Persian Gulf was called Arabian Gulf was by Gamel-Abdel Nasser. Nasser with his Pan-Arab vision was going to “eat breakfast at Cairo, lunch at Tel-Aviv and dinner at Tehran” but apparently choked on breakfast and didn’t make it. It is pathetic how much these people hate anything Iranian or Persian that cannot tolerate name Persian on their shorelines. This is how Greeks saw the world 2500 years ago. Check the Persian Gulf.