Bahrain Authority
for Culture and Antiquities

Bahrain History Timeline

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Flint
Djebel Dukhan area
Late Neolithic period
5000-4000 B.C.

Flint
Djebel Dukhan area
Late Neolithic period
5000-4000 B.C.

Numerous sites dating from the Late Neolithic period (5000-4000 B.C.) were found in the vicinity of Djebel Dukhan.

Excavations across the Gulf have uncovered a significant number of Prehistoric settlements. The increased number of sedentary settlements in the 6th millennium was accompanied by the introduction of new technologies and sets of values. The abundance of Ubaid period material (5000 BC – 3400 BC) -in reference to the Mesopotamian Ubaid civilization – in the Arabian Gulf marks a transition to sedentary life and the establishment of interregional contacts.

The earliest mention of Dilmun dates to 3300 B.C. and coincides with the first evidence of writing in Sumer. Archaic texts from Mesopotamia often refer to the land of Dilmun in association with copper trade.

Early Bronze Age

This Early Bronze Age period, which precedes the development of the Dilmun culture in Bahrain has been up to now a poorly known period of the archaeology of Bahrain. At that time, the political and economic center of Dilmun is definitly situated on the mainland, in the present Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. We may suppose that the island of Bahrain had not yet established any strong links with Mesopotamia and remained rather isolated.

Somewhere between 2300 and 2000 B.C. the political centre of Dilmun moved from continental Eastern Arabia to Bahrain and the island became the only market place for long distance trade via the Gulf. Around this period, heavy occupation was attested across the island.

The earliest Dilmun city was uncovered at the site of Qal’at Al-Bahrain (Bahrain Fort, “City 1”). It consisted of small houses separated by a network of roads and alleyways.

2100 - 2000 BC.

The first temple in the Barbar complex was built atop a rectangular platform, with a sacrificial altar in the middle of the main terrace. To the west of the altar was a room connected by staircase to a freshwater well, a main element of the cult. The well was closely associated with the worship of Enki, the god of fresh water and wisdom in Mesopotamian civilizations.

The main development of the smaller Dilmun city at Saar date to the same period. This settlement was organized along a wide main road with side alleys and houses lined on either side of them. The houses were built from locally sourced limestone, and were only partially roofed with wooden beams and palm fronds as evidenced by the uneven and muddy grounds

A rampart, made of rock cut ashlar blocks, was erected around the newly developed city (City II) at the site of Qalat al Bahrain (Bahrain Fort), henceforth considered as the capital of Dilmun. Around the same period, a palatial complex was built at the center of the town. The archaeological discoveries, which include many imported artefacts, bear witness of the important activity of the harbour of the city.

A second temple (Temple II) was built on the ruins of the first temple in Barbar. Though larger, it still had the same architectural layout, and was built using limestones imported from Jidda Island off the western coast of Dilmun Island

After the demolition of the Temple II in Barbar, a third structure (Temple III) was erected. Whilst the first two building phases recall Mesopotamian religious architecture, the third temple presents a break in tradition. Built almost a century after the demolition of Temple II, Temple lll featured a 4m2 high platform and no evidence for a wing structure (i.e. the well chamber and the sacrificial enclosure). This remarkable deviation in the layout suggests a probable change in ritual practices.

For unknown reasons, the inhabitants of Saar abruptly abandoned their homes and sealed their entrances with large rocks. Soon thereafter, the temple was abandoned and never been rebuilt.

Pottery
Madinat Hamad site
Early Dilmun period
1900-1800 B.C

Copper
Barbar, Temple II
Early Dilmun period
2000 B.C

Chlorite
Abu Saybi necropolis
Early Dilmun period
1900-1800 B.C

Chlorite
Barbar temple
Early Dilmun period
1900-1800 B.C

Alabaster
Barbar, Temple II
Early Dilmun period
2000 B.C

Early Dilmun period
between 2050 and 1750 B.C

Barbar temple
Early Dilmun period
2000 B.C

A'ALI site
Early Dilmun period
2000 /1800 B.C.

The end of the 3rd millennium was characterized by flourishing settlements and maritime trade. The use of Dilmun seals became more commonplace and widely used in the region from the Indus Valley to Mesopotamia and Iran.
During this period, many temples were discovered in Bahrain, in addition to the thousands burial mounds that dominate the landscape today. The capital of Dilmun (the city at Qalat al-Bahrain) reached its apex at the beginning of the 2nd millennium B.C. as it became the center for trade between Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley.

The Kassites assigned a governor to Bahrain and developed what would become known as the “City III” built at the site of Qalat al Bahrain around the 15th century BC. Cuneiform writing was introduced and a period of economic prosperity followed. At the beginning of the 14th century a massive fire destroyed the Kassite Palace as attested by the archaeological record.

Clay
Qal’at al-Bahrain site
Kassite palace
Middle Dilmun period
1450 B.C.

Clay
Qal’at al-Bahrain site
Kassite palace
Middle Dilmun period
1450 B.C.

Pottery
Qal’at al-Bahrain site
Kassite palace
Middle Dilmun period
1300. B.C.

This period, which corresponds to the Middle Bronze Age, is mostly known in Bahrain for the phase between 1500 BC to 1350 BC, when the island was placed under the control of the Babylonian power. The Kassite dynasty, which already reigned over neighbouring Babylonia for almost one century, expanded its territory and settled in Dilmun. This peaceful occupation of Bahrain was mainly dictated by the probable wish to control the maritime route and the lucrative trade in lapis-lazuli, a highly valuable economic and diplomatic resource at the time.

800-700 BC.
At the dawn of the 1st millennium B.C. the charred ruins of the Kassite Palace were razed and an expansive structure was built in its place. The building was subsequently modified several times in the following years. A stage of this building could likely correspond to the palace of King Uperi who ruled Dilmun at the end of the 8th century B.C. as recorded in the official inscriptions of King Sargon II of Assyria in Khorsabad (Iraq).

Mesopotamia was seized by the Achaemenids of Persia, who expanded their empire to most likely include the islands of Bahrain. This period and its distinctive material culture is attested in the archaeological record in City VI at Qal’at al Bahrain

Pottery
Late Dilmun period
9th / 8th cent. B.C.

Clay
Qal’at al-Bahrain site
Late Dilmun period
9th / 8th cent. B.C.

Clay
Qal’at al-Bahrain site
Late Dilmun period
9th / 8th cent. B.C.

Clay
snake bones
Qal’at al-Bahrain site
Late Dilmun period
7th / 6th cent. B.C.

Clay
snake bones
Qal’at al-Bahrain site
Late Dilmun period
7th / 6th cent. B.C.

Clay
glazed pottery
Hillat Abdul Saleh necropolis
Late Dilmun period
6th / 5th cent. B.C.

Qal’at al-Bahrain
The main street
Late Dilmun period
between 10th and 7th cent. B.C.

The Late Dilmun period corresponds to the development of the Iron Age in Bahrain, a particularly active and wealthy phase all over the Arabian Gulf. If not directy controlled by the Mesopotamian power, Bahrain is heavily influenced by the material culture and burial customs of Babylonia, notably at Qal’at al-Bahrain site ‘City IV’. Strong links also exist at this period with the contemporaneous Iron Age culture of the Oman Peninsula, as witnessed by the presence in the Bahrain graves of imported pottery, stone vessels and seals from this area.

The growing fortune of the islands of Bahrain could not have escaped the interest of Alexander the Great. Seemingly, the Greek conqueror had planned to conquer Arabia on his return from India. Around 325 BC, one of Alexander’s maritime scouting expeditions reached Tylos and left a detailed description of the archipelago.

300 BC. - 200 AD.
The Hellenistic period in Bahrain is above all known through the numerous necropoles discovered across the island. Archaeological investigations uncovered a settlement at the site of Qalat al Bahrain that was continuously inhabited from around 300 B.C. to 200 B.C. These architectural remains represent one of the rare excavated urban agglomerations from this period. The excavation revealed generally simple domestic buildings. There is no longer anything to indicate that the city still fulfills the role of the island’s capital. However, it remains the island's major port as reflected by nature of the finds.

Within their expanded territory, the Parthians probably assumed control over the Bahrain islands.

100 BC - 100 A.D
The archaeological record confirms the international character of the Tylos culture that was in constant interaction with different parts of the Hellenized Near East and must have played a significant role in the dissemination of Greek culture.

200 - 622 AD
The Arabian Peninsula was subjected to a wave of extreme drought. This was coupled with a shift in the mindset of tribal chiefs of the Arab Adnan and Qahtan clans towards independence, as well as the need to expand due to overpopulation. A number of the larger clans decided to expand to the Levant frontier of the Arabian Peninsula. Historical sources mention the so-called Tanukh alliance between these tribal leaders in which they swore to reside in Tylos and defend one another in case of attack. The alliance successfully liberated Tylos from the oppressive rule of the Jarha’ites, sending Tylos into its final throes and the dawn of the kingdom of Awal.

A perfectly symmetrical square costal fort, equipped with towers and loopholes, was constructed at the site of Qalat al Bahrain during the 3rd century AD, soon after the abandonment of the Tylos city. During this period, the Sasanian sovereigns dominated the eastern coast of Arabia and administered it through Arab client tribes. The Coastal Fortress must have been part of this military-administrative complex.

410 - 647 AD
The last centuries preceding Islam also saw the development of Christian communities in the Arabian Gulf, which appeared there from at least the 4th century A.D. In Bahrain the Nestorian bishopric of Masmahig, a name which probaby indicates Muharraq island, is regularly mentionned in the historical sources from 410 to 647 A.D.

Glazed pottery
Saar necropolis
Tylos period
2nd / 3rd cent. A.D.

Terracotta
Qal’at al-Bahrain site
Tylos period
1st cent. B.C.

Gold
Shakhoura necropolis
Tylos period
End of 2nd / 1st cent. B.C.

Glazed pottery
Saar necropolis
Tylos period
1st cent. A.D.

Limestone
Shakhoura necropolis
Tylos period
2nd/3rd cent. A.D.

Glazed pottery
Qal’at al-Bahrain site
Tylos period
2nd / 1st. cent. B.C.

Silver
Qal’at al-Bahrain site
Tylos period
2nd. cent. B.C.

Glazed pottery
Qal’at al-Bahrain site
Tylos period
1st cent. B.C.

AL-HAJJAR site
Tylos period
1st /2nd cent. A.D.

Made of GOLD and FINE STONES.
Shakhura
Tylos period
end of 2nd/1st cent. B.C.

Made of GOLD and FINE STONES
Shakhura
Tylos period
2nd cent /1st cent. B.C.

Al-Maqsha
Tylos period
2nd/1st cent. B.C.

Around 325 B.C., the island of Bahrain, hereafter known as Tylos, was accosted by one of Alexander the Great’s maritime expeditions. Tylos witnessed an exceptional phase of prosperity under the tutelage of the Seleucid Empire in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC. It was probably an autonomous domain used as a port of call for the Greek military fleet in the Gulf. Following the fall of the Seleucid Empire in the middle of the second century BC, the Characene Kingdom established itself in Mesopotamia and extended its influence over the Gulf and Bahrain.

633 A.D – 663 A.D

Following the death of Al-Munthir bin Sawa Al-Tamimi, many of those who had previously embraced Islam rejected the religion. Bishr bin Amro Al-Abdi (aka Al-Jaroud) of the Abdul Qays clan successfully pleaded with his people to remain steadfast in their new religion. The rest of the population, led by Al-Hatam bin Dhubay’a, renounced Islam and pledged allegiance to Al-Munthir bin Al No’man (aka Al-Gharoor). When the news reached the Caliph Abu Bakr, he sent a small army led by Al-Ala’a bin Al-Hadrami. The two sides faced off at Joatha – which was the main fort of Bahrain at the time – in a fierce battle that lasted several days and ended in the defeat of the apostates. Bahrain as a result was returned under Islamic rule.

633 A.D. – 754 A.D.

The Righteous Caliphs held the province of Bahrain in high esteem. Its importance grew further during the Umayyad Caliphate thanks to its strategic location and proximity to the eastern frontiers of the Islamic Empire and its relationship with India and Persia. It was also an important source of income thanks to its prosperous economy and trade. In the year 44 of the Hijra, the Umayyad Caliph Mu’awiya assigned Ziad bin Abaih as governor of Basra, then expanded his governorship to include Khorasan and Sijistan, followed soon thereafter by Sind (Indus), Bahrain, and Oman. As a result, Bahrain became a base for military conquests of Persia and southern Iran. The latter remained under Muslim rule until the reign of the Umayyad Caliph Abd Al-Malik bin Marwan when it was invaded by Abu Fudaik Al-Khariji in year 72 of the Hijra. The Caliph immediately dispatched a large army which defeated the Kharijite forces and killed their leader Abu Fudaik, and thus Bahrain was restored under Umayyad rule in the year 73 of the Hijra.

685 A.D. – 705 A.D.

According to historians, the Umayyad Empire faced a revolution led by Abdullah bin Al-Zubayr in Hijaz and Iraq which weakened its grip on Bahrain and Al-Yamama. This in turn prompted the Kharijites to also seize the window of opportunity and engage in numerous revolts which culminated in the successful takeover of Bahrain led by Najdah bin A’amer Al-Hanafi. The rebellion in Bahrain strained its relation with Hijaz, and prompted Abdullah ibn Al-Zubayr to boycott Bahrain economically – a fact which underlines Bahrain’s economic importance. The Umayyad Empire was ultimately able to overcome the rebellions and regain its foothold over Bahrain.

717 A.D. – 720 A.D.

Khamis Mosque, built during the reign of the Umayyad Caliph Omar bin Abdul-Aziz, is considered one of the oldest mosques in Bahrain and one its treasured Islamic landmarks. The mosque is situated in what is known today as Al-Bilad Al-Qadeem, a historic area which was an important economic trade center during the 10th century after Hijra (16th centery A.D.). The mosque features many unique architectural elements, with elegant columns and archways, an exterior wall (28 meters x 25 meters), as well as a prayer area and three adjacent courtyards.

754 A.D. – 1258 A.D.

In the year 151 after Hijra, the Caliph Abu Ja’afar Al-Mansour sent a large army led by Uqba bin Saleem to Bahrain. The army defeated and killed the local leader Sulaiman bin Hakim Al-Abdi and its treasures were sent to Baghdad, the capital of the Abbasid Empire. Uqba bin Saleem was appointed as ruler of Bahrain, and the island remained under Abbasid rule until the year 249 after Hijra.

754 A.D. – 1258 A.D.

The Zanj Rebellion started in Samarra in present-day Iraq and from there spread to Al-Ahsa’a region in eastern Arabia. The rebellion was led by Ali bin Muhammad who took the title Sahib Al-Zanj (friend of the Zanj), and was so influential that he forced territories such as Bahrain to pay him taxes. The region remained under his control until his death in the year 270 after Hijra, after which the Abbasids regained control and thus remained until the reign of the Caliph Al-Muktafi.

899 A.D. (286 after Hijra)

The Qarmatian Rebellion originated in Kufa in present-day Iraq on the hands of Hamdan Qarmat. in the year 286 after Hijra, his followers crossed the sea from Al-Qatif in present-day Saudi Arabia to the island of Bahrain. The forces plundered the island and remained in control until internal disputes weakened their power following the death of their leader Abu Sa’id Al-Hassan bin Bahram Al-Janabi in the year 301 after Hijra. The Qarmatians were effectively wiped out in the year 371 after Hijra.

Middle of the 5th century after Hijra (1258 A.D.)

The weakened Qarmatians were challenged by the Uyunids, an Arab clan from Al-Ahsa’a in present-day Saudi Arabia led by Abdullah bin Al Ibrahim Al-Uyuni to usurp control of the region. Other Arab clans entered into an alliance with him to form an army of around 4,000 men. Together they waged a fierce war against the Qarmatians for about 7 years which ended with a resounding victory for Al-Uyuni and his allies. The Uyunid dynasty held power for nearly 300 years, and had around 20 rulers.

After the Seljuk Empire collapsed, the Zankeelgids used Mount Kiloweh as a base to attack and conquer Persia, which they eventually did in the year 546 after the Hijra. In the year 633 after Hijra, they marched to Bahrain and took control of the island. The Zangid leader Abu Bakr bin Sa’ad Zangi ruled Bahrain, and was succeeded upon his death by his son Sa’ad bin Abu Bakr bin Sa’ad Zangi.

The Zangid control of Bahrain ended following the Mongol invasion of Iraq and destruction of Baghdad at the hands of Hulagu Khan’s powerful armies.

1520 – 1783 A.D.

During the early years of the 16th century the Portugese where drawn by the wealth of
the pearl fisheries of Bahrain, then under the hegemony of the Princes of Hurmuz. The first seize of the island began in 1 521 and was followed by many attempts to wrest control of the island. The Ottoman Turks also attempted, unsuccessfully to seize power in 1 559. In 1 602, the Persian Empire took control of Bahrain and retained it until the Omanis invaded at the end of the 17th century. A second Omanis invasion in 1 738 was followed by a Persian regain of rule.

1521 A.D. – 1602 A.D.

Around 1515 A.D. (921 after Hijra), the Portuguese Empire established control of most of the Arabian Gulf, including Bahrain, which lasted for around 80 years. Local emir Muqrin bin Zamil Al-Jabri tried to thwart their attack but was killed in battle. Following its annexation, the Portuguese monarchy bestowed a victory medal upon Admiral Antonio Correia who had led the successful campaign, and ordered that the island’s name be changed from Barem (as the Portuguese referred to it) to carry his name. They also built a huge fort at the site of Bahrain Fort and established a garrison to defend their interests.
In 1527 A.D. (928 after Hijra), the Portuguese captured Manama following a successful military campaign in which they bombarded the city and destroyed large parts of it. Residents of Manama and Bahrain however, remained steadfast in their rejection of Portuguese rule and resisted the occupying forces by all available means.

The Ottoman provincial ruler of Al-Hasa Mustafa Pasha looked to consolidate his power in the region, and set his eyes on the tremendous natural resources and wealth in the neighboring independent territory in Bahrain. He tried to annex it by force in 1559 A.D., but his attempt was thwarted as Bahrain’s ruler at the time Jalaluddin Murad sought help from the Portuguese. Bahrain remained under Portuguese control who later assigned one of the relatives of the King of Hormuz to run the island. The population however ultimately overthrew the Portuguese after defeating the garrison and capturing Bahrain Fort.

With the Ottomans preoccupied with large-scale wars in the European fronts, the Safavids of Persia successfully seized control of Bahrain in 1620. After assuming power, they assigned loyal governors until 1679 when it splintered off under the governorship of Shaikh Jubayr.

When Nadir Shah ascended to the Safavid throne, he ordered the governor of Shiraz to take back Bahrain from Shaikh Jubayr. The governor succeeded in his task and became ruler of Bahrain in 1737, but the situation under his rule deteriorated quickly. Sensing this advantage, the Sultan of Muscat Saif bin Sultan captured Bahrain in 1739. Nader Shah quickly took it back and killed Saif bin Sultan, and this time appointed a ruler from the Arab Al-Madhkur family to run local affairs.

Glazed pottery
Sacred well at Barbar Temple
Islamic period
9th/10th cent. A.D.

Gold
Khamis Mosque
Islamic period
10th cent. A.D.

Copper
Qal’at al-Bahrain site
Islamic period
10th cent. A.D.

Copper
Qal’at al-Bahrain site
Islamic period
10th cent. A.D

Suq Al-Khamis
Islamic period
between 8th and 14th cent. A.D.

Limestone
Khamis Mosque
Suq al-Khamis
Islamic period
14th cent. A.D.

Muharraq
Islamic period
19th cent. A.D.

Muharraq
Islamic period
19th cent. A.D.

Muharraq
Islamic period
15th/16th cent. A.D.

Riffa fort (compléter)

Bahrain was converted to Islam in the 7th year of Hijra. From the early 10th century to around 1077 A.D., the island was closely associated with the Carmathian state. From the middle of the 13th century onwards, different regional dynasties have successively ruled in Bahrain.

The Bani Utbah clan launched a marine offensive on Bahrain led by Ahmed Al-Fateh, the chieftain of the Al Khalifa family. The campaign defeated its ruler Nasr Al-Mathkoor and Bahrain was declared independent. During their reign, Bahrain became secure, and trade, shipping, and pearl diving flourished.

1820 - 1971

Great Britain kept Bahrain’s status as an independent state and dispatched a fleet to safeguard the territory. The rulers of Bahrain entered into a treaty relationship with the British government – the first of which was a marine treaty in 1820 – which culminated with signing the Perpetual Truce of Peace and Friendship in 1861. Bahrain remained a British protectorate until 1971.

Bahrain gained full independence from Great Britain. The State of Bahrain was ruled by the late emir Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa.

The State of Bahrain became a constitutional monarchy under the rule of His Majesty King Hamad bin Salman Al Khalifa.

Bahrain declared a Kingdom

Al-Khalifa Family rules Bahrain since 1 783. It took its independence in 1971 and was declared a Kingdom in 2002. Today, Bahrain is a flourishing financial harbour in the heart of the Arabian Gulf.

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