The name by which ancient Greeks referred to the area of today's Bahrain

Bahrain was referred to by the Greeks as Tylos. It was the centre of pearl trading, when Nearchus came to discover it serving under Alexander the Great.[1] From the 6th to 3rd century BC Bahrain was in the Persian Empire.[2] The Greek historian, Theophrastus, states that much of the islands were covered in cotton trees. Tylos was famous for selling walking canes that were carried in Babylon.[3] Ares was worshipped by the ancient Baharna and the Greek colonists.[4]

It is not known whether Bahrain was part of the Seleucid Empire.[5] Alexander planned to settle the eastern shores of the Persian Gulf with Greek colonists. The upper classes spoke Greek.[6] Tylos even became the site of Greek athletic contests.[7]

With the lessening of Greek power, Tylos was added into Characene or Mesenian. From the third century BC to the arrival of Islam in the seventh AD, Bahrain was controlled by two other Iranian dynasties of Parthians and Sassanids.


  1. Life and Land Use on the Bahrain Islands: The Geoarcheology of an Ancient Society By Curtis E. Larsen p. 13
  2. Security and Territoriality in the Persian Gulf: A Maritime Political Geography By Pirouz Mojtahed-Zadeh, page 119
  3. Arnold Heeren, ibid, p441
  4. See Ares, Ares in the Arabian Peninsula section
  5. Classical Greece: Ancient histories and modern archaeologies, Ian Morris, Routledge, p184
  6. Phillip Ward, Bahrain: A Travel Guide, Oleander Press p68
  7. W. B. Fisher et al. The Cambridge History of Iran, Cambridge University Press 1968 p40