following the running waves of the caspian

Stanley Greene

“A poor fishermen casts his line out into the Caspian sea in Baku, Azerbaijan, while right across the Caspian in Turkmenistan, a duck hunter wades into the oil slicked sea. Both perched on a bounty of an estimated 200 billion barrels of oil and gas reserves hidden beneath the Caspian Sea”.


On the sea and waves of the Caspian, one can get carried far away, because the waves sneak up on you, they cannot be seen. I have always seen the Caspian as something to marvel and fear, especially the giant waves that can pull you down, deep down it’s darkest depth. Those who live and survive from what the Caspian offers believe that the sea is a giant lake but most of us, the visitors, believe it is a running sea that follows ships, laying hidden, coming up behind boats and ships. You do not see it coming till it hits you from behind and pulls you down, sinking the vessel, or the swimmer. The rule of thumb if you suspect you are being followed by a running wave, you have to move faster than it, or keep your distance to prevent from drowning.


The Caspian is a mixture of Nationalism, religious fanaticism and the region itself a greasy, bloody mess, money, power and oil dominate the future of the Caspian. Just like a running wave; if we do not pay attention, it could drown us.


On the farthest eastern reaches of Europe lies the Caspian sea bordered by Russia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Iran. The Caspian sea is a milky green land locked sea, that some geologists believe is a lake. Sea or lake, the Caspian hides many treasures. 


The Caspian is famous for its sturgeon and the sea is the world’s main source of Caviar. The Sea also sits upon vast reserves of oil and gas worth trillions of dollars. The wealth of the Caspian sea basin, perhaps one of the last great untapped source of energy on the planet, will make it of vital strategic importance in decades to come and crucial to European Prosperity in the next millennium. The focus of oil in the Caspian goes very far back in its history, according to geologists “there has been oil beneath the Caspian and known for centuries”, the 13th century explorer Marco Polo reported that springs along the Caspian coasts bubbled with black goo that was good to burn. It literally bubbled straight out of the Earth. Natural gas that escaped through fissures in the rocky ground gave birth to one of the the world’s oldest religions, Zorasthrian fire worshippers, who built a temple around perpetual fire, burning now for thousands of years. The temple still stands today in what is now Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan.


Text by Stanley Greene

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  • Iran, Teheran Province, Teheran, 1994

Street scene.

Stanley Greene / NOOR
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