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Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf, Oman and Central Arabia

Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf, Oman and Central Arabia
6 Volume Hardback Set Including Boxed Maps and Genealogical Tables

Cambridge Archive Editions
  • Date Published: September 1986
  • availability: Temporarily unavailable - available from TBC
  • format: Mixed media product
  • isbn: 9781852070304

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  • This is the most important single source of historical material on the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia. Lorimer's Gazetteer was compiled with the original intention of providing British agents and policy-makers in the Gulf, India and London with 'a convenient and portable handbook to the places and interests with which they are likely to be concerned'. Better documentation was regarded as an essential prerequisite to the strengthening of British influence in the area during a period of increasing international tension. The original edition was issued as a secret document by the British Government in India in 1908 and 1915. The range of the Gazetteer is extensive and complex, with descriptive text supported by a variety of annexes and appendices, including historical analyses, texts of treaties and special essays on subjects of interest.

    • Facsimile collections of key documents from archive sources
    • Previously unknown or fragmented material now available in a coherent collection
    • Carefully selected and edited for maximum value to researchers and scholars
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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 1986
    • Format: Mixed media product
    • Isbn: 9781852070304
    • Length: 5000 pages
    • Dimensions: 443 x 402 x 223 mm
    • Weight: 10kg
    • Availability: Temporarily unavailable - available from TBC
    • Paper: Printed on acid free paper
    • Binding: Library bindings with gilt finish
    • Resume

      This is the most important single source of historical material on the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia. Lorimer's Gazetteer was compiled with the original intention of providing British agents and policymakers in the Gulf, India and London with "a convenient and portable handbook to the places and interests with which they are likely to be concerned". Better documentation was regarded as an essential prerequisite to the strengthening of British influence in the area during a period of increasing international tension. The original edition was issued as a secret document by the British Government in India in 1908 and 1915. The range of the Gazetteer is extensive and complex, with descriptive text supported by a variety of annexes and appendices, including historical analyses, texts of treaties and special essays on subjects of interest. 

    • Historical Overview


      The Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf, Oman and Central Arabia was compiled by officials of the British Government of India during the decade after Lord Curzon's Vice-regal tour of the Gulf in 1903. The original intention was to provide British agents and policymakers in the Gulf, India and London with 'a convenient and portable handbook to the places and interests with which they are likely to be concerned'. Better documentation was regarded as an essential prerequisite to the strengthening of British influence in the area during a period of increasing international tension. The resulting five thousand pages far exceeded both in quality and in quantity the expectations of the officials who had commissioned it.

      The work was planned in two huge 'volumes', Volume 1 comprising a history of the Gulf region and Volume II being a geographical dictionary. The second volume was actually completed and printed in 1908, seven years earlier than the historical volume which was not finally issued until 1915, a year after Lorimer's death.

    • Documentary Importance


      The Times Literary Supplement in a 1971 review described the historical volume of Lorimer as 'stupendous' in its coverage and the geographical gazetteer as 'without any modern substitute'. These judgements remain true.

      The Gazetteer volume describes much that did not change until the profound effects of the oil industry began to be apparent in the 1950s. The historical volume, even though it is primarily a British official handbook, based on British sources and written from a British perspective, nevertheless contains a sheer mass of factual information which no serious researcher can afford to be without.

      When the Gazetteer was first printed it was classified as Secret and For Official Use. Only a few dozen copies were printed for circulation to British government departments and agencies. This reprint makes internationally available one of the most important European primary sources for the study of the modern Gulf region from the seventeenth to the early twentieth century.

      The Gazetteer's legendary author

      John Gordon Lorimer, whose name has become inextricably linked with the Gazetteer, was an official of the Indian Civil Service, most of whose career had been on the North West Frontier. In November 1903 he was placed on special duty for a period of six months to compile the Gulf handbook. Lorimer was a conscientious worker with an obsessive appetite for detail. For the next ten years, aided by a small group of equally dedicated researchers, he worked systematically through the government archives in Bombay and Calcutta, carried out field trips and surveys in the Gulf and repeatedly petitioned the Government of India to extend his appointment in order to allow him to complete the work thoroughly.

      The Government of India acceded to his requests with a far-sightedness for which historians should be grateful, noting that Lorimer's 'zeal and industry have enabled him to accumulate a mass of fresh information ... and the Gazetteer will amply justify the amount of time and labour spent on it'.

      Volume I Historical

      The historical volume, based on Lorimer's own notes and on the copious summaries of archival and printed material produced by J.A. Saldanha, C.H. Gabriel and other British officers and civil servants in India and the Gulf, is divided geographically into twelve chapters. The first deals with the region as a whole and the remaining eleven with each individual area or political entity. Each of the chapters are then subdivided chronologically into shorter periods. Although there is no index, the reader is guided by the detailed tables of contents and the marginal summaries which are also included.

      The historical chapters are followed by nineteen appendices dealing with separate subjects relating to the region as a whole and including a long and comprehensive bibliography of official works of reference as well as printed monographs and articles in English and other European languages.

      Part III of the historical volume is a portfolio of genealogical trees of the ruling families.

      Volume II Geographical and Statistical

      Volume 2 consists of a two-thousand page geographical gazetteer of the region, much of the material for which was gathered by Lorimer and his assistants during their field trips. It sets out in alphabetical order details of tribes, districts, towns and villages as well as natural features. Each separate article includes a mass of diverse information ranging from trade and agriculture to religion, political and social administration, taxation, dialects, archaeology and architecture. There are numerous photographs and a large fold-out map including indexed place names prepared with the

    • Arrangement of Volumes


      The Archive Editions arrangement of volumes subdivides the two enormous text volumes of the original into five new volumes which are convenient for reference and fairly uniform in size. There is a detailed table of contents, which runs to 130 pages and acts virtually as an index, as in the original edition.

      The arrangement of volumes is as follows:

      Volume 1: Volume I (Historical), Part I: Chapters I–III;
      Volume 2: Volume I (Historical), Part I: Chapters IV–IX;
      Volume 3: Volume I (Historical), Part II: Chapters X–XII, and The Appendices;
      Volume 4: Volume I (Historical), Part III: Genealogical trees and maps;
      Volume 5: Volume II (Geographical & Statistical), Abadilah–Jinnah;
      Volume 6: Volume II (Geographical & Statistical), Jiri–Zubarah.

    • Key Documents


      Volume I (Historical), the range of the historical volume is extensive and complex, with descriptive text supported by a variety of annexes and appendices, including historical analyses, texts of treaties and special essays on subjects of interest.
      It includes the following:

      • History of Persian Gulf Region, 1507–1905
      • History of the Oman Sultanate, 1566–1907
      • History of Trucial Oman, 1600–1907
      • History of Qatar, 1766–1907
      • History of Bahrain, 1602–1907
      • History of Hasa, 1795–1907
      • History of Kuwait, 1716–1907
      • History of Najd or Central Arabia, 1691–1907
      • History of Turkish Iraq, 1603–1905
      • History of Arabistan, 1604–1905
      • History of the Persian Coast and Islands, 1763–1905
      • History of Persian Makran, 1614–1905
      • Appendices, Annexures and Family Trees including Meteorology and health;Geology of the Persian Gulf region; The pearl and mother-of-pearl fisheries of the Persian Gulf; Date production and the date trade; Fisheries and sailing craft; Religions and sects of the Persian Gulf region; Telegraphs and mail communications; Epidemics and sanitary organisation; The slave trade in the Persian Gulf region; The arms and ammunition traffic in the Gulfs of Persia and Oman; British and foreign diplomatic, political and consular representation in the countries bordering on the Persian Gulf; Books of reference; Internal histories of the principalities (the Emirates); Exclusive agreement of the Sheikhs of Trucial Oman with the British Government, 1892; Exclusive agreement of the Sheikh of Bahrain with the British Government, 1892; Agreement by the Sheikh of Kuwait regarding ... the non-cession of territory to Foreign Powers ..., 1889.

      Volume II (Geographical & Statistical), contains 2000 pages of detailed information, in alphabetical order from Abadilah–Zubarah. It includes 56 contemporary photographs, and hundreds of entries describing tribes, districts, towns, villages, natural features, systems of administration, religion, taxation, dialects, archaeology and architecture.

      MAPS
      Volume 6 of the Gazetteer consists of a portfolio of 23 genealogical tables and maps including a very large folding map of the Gulf region printed in four colours, now located in the map box. The genealogical tables of the ruling families in the Gulf at the turn of the century include the following:
      • The ruling Al Bu Saidi families of Oman and Zanzibar.
      • The ruling Qasimi family of Sharjah in Trucial Oman.
      • The ruling Al Bu Falah (Bani Yas) family of Abu Dhabi in Trucial Oman.
      • The ruling Al Bu Falasah (Bani Yas) family of Dibai in Trucial Oman
      • The ruling Al Ali family of Umm-al-Qaiwaim in Trucial Oman.
      • The ruling Al Bu Kharaiban (Naim) family of Ajman in Trucial Oman
      • The Qasimi family formerly ruling Lingeh.
      • The ruling Al Tani (Ma'adhid) family of Dohah in Qatar.
      • The ruling Al Khalifah (Atbi) family of Bahrain.
      • The ruling Al Subah (Atbi) family of Kuwait.
      • The ruling Al (Wahhabi) Al Sa'ud (Anizah) family of Southern Najd.
      • The ruling Al Rashid (Shammar) family of Jabal Shammar.
      • The ruling Al Abul Khail (Anizah) family of Buraidah in Qasim.
      • The ruling Sulaimi (Sabai) family of Anaizah in Qasim.
      • The Qadiriyah (Saiyid) family of the Naqibis of Baghdad in Turkish Iraq.

  • Author

    J. G. Lorimer

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