This article is about an ancient Irish settlement. For other uses, see Eblana (disambiguation).

Eblana is the name of an ancient Irish settlement which appears in the Geographia of Claudius Ptolemaeus (Ptolemy), the Greek astronomer and cartographer, around the year 140 AD. It was traditionally believed by scholars to refer to the same site as the modern city of Dublin.[1] For example, the 19th-century writer Louis Agassiz[2] used Eblana as a Latin equivalent for Dublin. More recent scholarship however favours the north County Dublin seaside village of Loughshinny[3] due to its proximity to Drumanagh, an important trading site with strong links to Roman Britain; it has even been described as a bridgehead of a possible Roman invasion. There is no definitive proof to tie Eblana with any location, however, so its exact identity is still a matter of speculation.

Eblana as Dublin

If the reference to a settlement in Ireland called Eblana is in fact the earliest reference to Dublin, this would seem to give Dublin a just claim to nearly two thousand years of antiquity, as the settlement must have existed a considerable time before Ptolemy became aware of it.

Early Irish antiquarians, such as Sir John Ware and Walter Harris believed that the name Eblana in Ptolemy's Geographia was in fact a corruption of Deblana, itself a version of the Gaelic name Dubh Linn (Black Pool), from which the modern English language name Dublin derives. This seems not to be the only instance where Ptolemy truncated the initial letters of place names. For example, instead of Pepiacum, and Pepidii (in Wales), Ptolemy writes Epiacum and Epidii; and for Dulcinium (now Ulcinj, in Montenegro), he has Ulcinium.

There are several problems with this theory:

Eblana as other sites

At the time when Ptolemy wrote the Geographia there were two significant areas of activity in north County Dublin. One was at the mouth of the river Delvin where two substantial groups of chamber tombs would have been clearly visible from the sea for several thousand years. As noted above Ptolemy often dropped the initial letters of names and a shift from " Ebhlana" to "Delvin" could be seen as a phonic shift possibility. The second area of international activity was based around the promontory fort of Drumanagh south of present-day Loughshinny, which was probably a trading post but may have been used as a potential bridgehead by Agricola. Thus it is only fair to say that the identity of Ptolemy's Eblana is as yet unknown, and identification with the city of Dublin is at best problematic and highly speculative.

See also


  1. E.g. in Thomas Osmond Summers, ed. Dublin: an historical sketch of Ireland's metropolis, 1852, etc., and in Patrick Weston Joyce, The Origin and History of Irish Names of Places, 2 vols. 1869 (vol. I:79 in the 7th ed., 1901).
  2. Agassiz, Bibliographia zoologiæ et geologiæ: A general catalogue of all books, tracts and memoirs on zoology and geology, 1848, vol.1:74.
  3. Darcy, R.; Flynn, William: "Ptolemy's map of Ireland: a modern decoding." Irish Geography 41/1 (March 2008), pp. 49-69

External links

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/25/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.