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The civilization of Delmon (Present Day Bahrain)

Updated on October 27, 2014

The great ancient trading civilization of Delmon, (also known as Dilmon) was centered in what is the present day Kingdom of Bahrain. If visiting Bahrain it is still possible to walk around some of the buildings from this time as they have been recently excavated. To get to them just ask for the Portugies fort which is just South of the Seef district of Manama, Bahrain's Capital. This fort was originaly built by the Portugies when they were the dominant power in the Gulf.

The Kingdom of Bahrain is made up of 33 islands, and is situated off the coast ofSaudi Arabia in the Arabian Gulf. Many of Bahrain's Islands are today connected to each other due to much recent reclamation of land and the building of bridges. The two main Islands are Bahrain Island itself which has the capital Manama on it and Muharaq to the North on which the international aiport has been built. A causeway connects Bahrain to Saudi Arabia, this was completed in the late 1970's. Bahrain is thought to have been torn from the Arabian peninsula around 6000BC. Bahrain is known to have been inhabited since prehistoric times.

The islands of Bahrain were once home to one of the great trading empires of the ancient world,the civilization of Delmon(also known as Dilmun). Delmon was founded during the Bronze Age at around 3000BC and lasted, in one form or another, for over 2000 years. Delmon developed as a trade center due to it's position along the trade route linking Mesopotamia, todays southern Iraq, and the Indus Valley, today's India and Pakistan.

The decline of the Delmon civilization dates from the fall of the Indus Valley civilization in the middle of the second millennium BC. This decline resulted in less trade between the two nations and this decline in trade thus took away the importance of Delmon as a trading centre.

Once the decline had set in it continued over the following centuries. There is mention of Delmon as a vassal of Assyria in the 8th century BC and by 600BC, it had been fully incorporated into the Babylonian empire.

Though the civilization of Delmon enjoyed considerable power and influence in its day, it is difficult for us to gauge exactly how much. There is little or no doubt that at one time or another Delmon controlled a large part of the western Gulf shore,present day Saudi Arabia, but there is doubt over how far north and inland its influence was felt. At various times in its history Delmon probably extended its control as far north as Kuwait,which would put it on the Southern edge of present day Iraq.

There is little information about what happened between Delmon's absorption by Babylon and the arrival of Nearchus, a general in the army of Alexander the Great. Nearchus was sent by Alexander to explore the Gulfand he established a colony on the island of Falaika off the coast of present day Kuwait in the late 4th century BC. It is known that he explored the Gulf at least as far south as Bahrain. By this time Bahrain was known by its Greek name of Tylos. It remained Tylos until the arrival of Islam in the 7th century AD. Between 300B.C. to 300A.D. Tylos prospered. In the first century A.D, Pliny mentioned that Tylos was famous for its pearls, this fame continued untill the modern era and the discovery of oil, this discovery, along with the cultured pearl. stopped the local pearl trade which is yet to recover. During these years Bahrain was strongly influenced and often directly ruled by various Persian civilizations; the islands of Bahrain were formally annexed by the Sassanian Persians in the 4th century A.D.

During the 3rd or 4th centuries many inhabitants of Bahrain appear to have adopted the ten new Christian faith. It is a fact that the Nestorian sect of Christianity was well-established in Bahrain and on the Arabian side of the Gulf by the early 5th century. Church records show that Bahrain was the seat of two of the five Nestorian bishoprics existing on the Arabian side of the Gulf at the time of the arrival of Islam. It is uncertain when the two bishoprics were dissolved though they are known to have survived until at least 835A.D.


Pre-history tombs in Bahrain (Grave Mounds)

Bahrain is also home to over 300,000 tombs from pre-history. The burial mounds cover a vast expanse of the Island. Over the years many have been destroyed and grave robbers looted some of them a long time ago. The Government has wisely decided to protect many of these arcialogical treasures which can be seen on both sides of the road on the drive to the BIC.

In the Village of A'Ali many of the large mounds are preserved with some having been hollowed out over the years and uesd by the local pottery industry. But mistery still sourounds the civilization which used Bahrain as a grave site. One of the main ideas is that the community living in present day Eastern Saudi Arabia buried their dead in Bahrain. The idea behind this is that as Bahrain, which means 'Two Seas' has historicaly been so green, with many fresh water springs, it was seen as a life source. Some even go as for as to claim that Bahrain was the sight of the Garden of Eden.Detractors ask what happened to the apple trees but the fact that Bahrain still has a speicial feel to it gives an insight to the truth.


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