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Failaka Island … proof of ancient history in Kuwait

Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem hosts mission of Danish archaeologists

KUWAIT CITY, Aug 29, (KUNA): Failaka Island or Ikarus is located at the entrance of Kuwait Bay, adjacent to Kuwait City on the east side and 20 km away in the sea. The island has a fertile soil good for agriculture and has a reserve of groundwater.

Failaka was inhabited by people since the ancient times and was a key commercial stop between Mesopotamia and other civilizations along the Gulf coast, according to a book titled “special researches on Kuwait’s history,” issued by the Center For Research And Studies On Kuwait and supervised by Dr Abdullah Al-Ghunaim. Excavation operations discovered a civilization dating back to the 3rd millennium BC until the Hellenistic Age, where Alexander the Great built a Greek colony called “Ikarus” towards the end of the fourth century BC. Among the most important discoveries in the island was a house containing 12 rooms and a Greek fortress where a number of Greek Gods’ statues were found.

The first appearance of Failaka on maps was in 1596 under the name “I. Dagoada”, which was Portuguese meaning the “water island”, referring to the groundwater the island had. The same name appeared in later maps like Vingboons’s map in 1660 and Mortier- Jaillot’s marine map in Holland in 1692, where Failaka was referred to as “Isle de Aguada,” the center said. The island was also mentioned by several Greek historians, noting that it has so many trees and animals including goats and holy deers, which were not allowed to be hunted, as well as the temple of goddess Artemis.

Moreover, a large number of seals of different shapes, representing civilizations were found in Failaka, the book said. The center also noted that Imam Malik’s “Muwatta” book was the oldest book coming from Failaka Island in recent ages. This copy of the book was written by Musaid bin Ahmad bin Musaad bin Salem in Failaka in 1682.

It is a proof of the development of the culture and science fields in Kuwait in that era. As for the relation between Failaka and Kuwait, the book said that a number of the Island’s merchants had houses or relatives in Kuwait, while Kuwaiti leaders including Sheikh Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem Al-Sabah had vacation homes in the island. After the discovery of oil in Kuwait, the island had beautiful modern buildings and houses, schools and public services centers. However, the Iraqi invasion forced its residents to leave the island in 1990, planting it with mines.

By Reem Al-Barjas

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