Book Series Indicopleustoi, vol. 1

Taprobanê: Ancient Sri Lanka as Known by Greeks and Romans

D.P.M. Weerakkody

  • Pages: 283 p.
  • Size:210 x 295 mm
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:1997

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-50552-7
  • Paperback
  • Available


"(...) this is an impressive work, and one that should be consulted by all those with an interest in contacts between the Greco-Roman world and the East. By collecting and evaluating all of the evidence for ancient Sri Lanka that occurs in the Greek and Roman texts, Weerakkody has done a great service for those with interests in both areas. His work will certainly form the foundation for much scholarship on the topic for many years to come." (N. C. Wilkie, in: Bryn Mawr Classical Review, 1999.08.08)


The author brings together the references to Sri Lanka (the island of Taprobanê in Greek and Latin texts) for the purpose of examining their value as sources for the study of ancient Sri Lanka. One of the main reasons for Sri Lanka to maintain political, religious and commercial relationships with the external world was its role as a great emporium in the long distance maritime trade, a result of its central position in the Indian Ocean, its numerous bays and harbours facilitating both sea-borne and inland trade and its holdings of high export value goods such as precious stones, textiles and spices. Any study of this commerce has to be based on literary and epigraphical sources on the one hand and archaeological evidence on the other. The range of the volume is vast and includes not only a critical assessment of all the notices by classical writers on Taprobanê (the author provides an up to date analysis), but also a chapter on Roman coins found in Sri Lanka and a chapter on alleged classical references in the interlinear inscriptions from Sri Lanka, which questions their genuineness. Through this book we have a recourse to a work of reference for any study on ancient Sri Lanka and its important position in the world of the Indian Ocean.