BANDAR “harbor, seaport; commercial town.” The word is presumably derived from the root band “to bind” (Pers. bastan), but probably not in the sense of “binding,” i.e., “mooring” (ships) but rather as the enclosed (bound up) area of the harbor, like Ar. sadd “jetty, mole.” Vullers (Lexicon Persico-Latinum I, p. 267) suggests that bandar may be from band-dar “gateway of the jetty/mole.” The word for harbor has not yet been found in Middle Persian.

The concept of bandar probably continues an old Oriental tradition. Its double meaning of “harbor” on a river or a sea and “town, center of commerce and communications” (also in the inland) agrees well with that of Akkadian kārum from Sumerian kar “fortification (of a harbor), break-water.” The kārum of Kāniš in Anatolia, the present ruin of Kültepe near Kayseri, was famous. At this site thousands of Old Assyrian cuneiform business documents from the 2nd millennium b.c. have been found (see W. F. Leemans, “The Importance of Trade,” Iraq 39, 1977, pp. 1-10). Note also that in Thessalian Greek, the word limēn “harbor” has also acquired the meaning of “market.”

In Neo-Syriac šā(h)-bandar, lit. “harbor king,” is used as a title meaning “(Turkish) consul” while in Arabic it is still used as a family name. Both title and office resemble the Arabic malek-al-tojjār “king of merchants,” i.e., head of the merchants’ guild and its official representative at a market place. This title recalls the Old Babylonian office of wakil tamkāri (cf. Ar. wakīl “representative”).

(W. Eilers)

Originally Published: December 15, 1988

Last Updated: December 15, 1988

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Vol. III, Fasc. 7, p. 685