ALONG THE PERSIAN GULF COAST
SECTION i—BANDAR ABBAS AND THE ISLAND OF HORMUZ
BANDAR ABBAS, which with its open roadstead has succeeded Hormuz, both the old and the new, as the chiefP ort of trade near the mouth of the Persian Gulf, offered no inducement to make a long stay. There is nothing to show that the locality first known to Europeans by the name of Gombrûn, could claim any importance or historical interest before it was chosen for the town founded by Shah Abbas to serve as a counter-check upon the base which the Portuguese held on the island of Hormuz for their domination of the Gulf trade. Nor has the subsequent occupation of the site, during which it was the seat of English and Dutch trading factories for close on a century and a half, left behind any notable remains.'
It was hence not easy to reconcile myself to the serious delay which arrangements about transport for the onward journey along the coast entailed. For two years the coast, arid at all times and exceedingly poor in its agricultural resources, had seen no rain. The limited number of camels and donkeys ordinarily to be found there had been reduced still more by this prolonged drought. It caused conditions of real famine to prevail all along the coast, and also badly affected what scanty grazing it might otherwise be expected to offer for transport animals brought there. No wonder that caravans arriving from the Kerman side promptly vanished with their animals before they could be engaged for my proposed journey.
It was reassuring to find that orders issued from Bushire by the Governor-General of the Coastal Province as a result of the representations made at Tehran had secured us the friendly attention of the local authorities and removed the risk of such misapprehensions as had brought about interference with our work on the way from Kerman. All the same, the necessary arrangements for a fresh escort added to the delay. No official of the Department of Public Instruction was forthcoming to accompany us as the representative of the
1 For a well-documented account of Bandar Abbas, with extracts from the notices of European visitors since the early part of the seventeenth century, see Captain A. W. Stiffe's paper, `Ancient Trading Centres of the Persian Gulf', Geogr.
Journal, 1900, Aug., pp. 211 sqq. They all agree in referring to the excessive heat, unhealthiness, bad water and other drawbacks, such as have remained characteristic of the place to the present day.