The Past

200-20 million years ago

The UAE is often considered a maritime nation for it borders the sea on both its western and eastern sides and has a great tradition of seafaring. But the Arabian Gulf and Arabian Sea did not always exist. Two hundred million years ago, long before the creation of the Arabian Gulf, the Earth's great ocean belt was known as Tethys.

Tethys is the name given to a former equatorial ocean which separated the northern mega-continent known as Laurasia from its southern counterpart, Gondwana, from c. 245 to 66.4 million years ago. The name Tethys was originally that of the sister of the Greek god of the ocean (Oceanus), and was chosen in 1893 by by the Austrian geologist Eduard Suess to describe this primeval body of water. Subsequent study has shown that there were two major Tethyan oceans. The elder of these, known as the Palaeo or Old Tethys Sea, was formed about 320 million years ago. Remains of it can be seen in Vietnam, China, northern Tibet, Iran, Afghanistan, the Caucasus, and Turkey. The Neo or Tethys Sea finally disappeared about 66.4 million years ago as a result of continental drift and the growth of the Indian and Atlantic oceans.

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