Attested: Ptolemy 2,3,32 Θουλη; Tacitus (Agricola 10) Thule
Where: Ptolemy's coordinates match the island of Smøla, off the Norwegian coast near Trondheim, according to Kleineberg et al. (2010). Tacitus' Thule “seen in the distance” was probably the Shetland Isles.
Name origin: From PIE *dhel- ‘curve, hollow’ whose descendants also include θολος ‘dome’, θαλαμος ‘inner room’, and German Thal ‘valley’. Ancient Greek navigators were well aware that the Earth is spherical, and that there must be a North Pole effectively at the top of a dome.
Notes: Many ancient writer picked up the notion of Thule as ‘the furthest north anyone can go’, apparently tracing the idea back to the voyage to Britain of Pytheas the Greek.
You may copy this text freely, provided you acknowledge its source as www.romaneranames.uk, recognise that it is liable to human error, and try to offer suggestions for improvement.
Last edited 8 April 2020 to main Menu