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Rethinking the Hellenistic Gulf: The New Greek Inscription from Bahrain

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 September 2013

Paul Kosmin*
Harvard University
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The recent discovery in Bahrain of a Greek inscription, dating to the 120s BC, transforms our understanding of the Arab-Persian Gulf in the Hellenistic period. The inscription, recording the dedication of a shrine to the Dioskouroi on behalf of the first independent king of Characene, indicates that Bahrain was a garrisoned node within the Seleucid Empire and the centre of the previously unknown archipelagic administrative district ‘Tylos (Bahrain) and the Islands’. Seleucid and Characenian control of Bahrain is placed within the longue durée political history of relations between southern Mesopotamia and Dilmun. The cultic dedication to the Dioskouroi traces the consciously Hellenizing modalities of Characenian emancipation from the Seleucid Empire and the development of a coherent maritime religious network in the Gulf.

Research Article
Copyright © The Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies 2013