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Origin and history of the name Albania
One of the first written evidences of the use of the word " Albanoi " as the name of an Illyrian tribe in what is now north-central Albania goes back to the 130 A.D., in a work of Tolomeo. Albanopolis of the Albani, a place located on the map of Ptolemy (3.12.20) and also named on an ancient family epitaph at Scupi, which has been identified with the Zgėrdhesh hill-fort near Kruja in northern Albania. Moreover, Arbanon is just likely to be the name of a district - the plain of the Mat has been suggested - rather than particular place. An indication of movement from higher altitudes in a much earlier period has been detected in the distribution of place-names ending in -esh that appears to derive from the latin -enisis or -esis, between the Shkumbin and the Mat, with a concentration between Elbasan and Kruja.
The term Albanoi may have been slowly spread to other Illyrian tribes until its usage became universal among all the Albanian people. According to the Albanian scholar Faļk bey Konitza, the term "Albania" did not displace "Illyria" completely until the end of the fourteenth century. The word "Alba" or "Arba" seems to be connected with the town Arba (modern Rab, Croatia), in prehistoric times inhabited by the Illyrian Liburnians, first mentioned in 360 BC. The root of the name comes from Illyrian Arb ("dark", "green", "wooded") and is simply transposed into antique names of Arba, Arva, Arbia which are mentioned by the cartographers of the time.
The derivation of the name Albania is of considerable antiquity, dating back perhaps to the pre-Celtic alb (hill), from whence Alps, or possibly from the Indo-European albh (white), from whence albino and Albion. Approximately a millennium after, some Byzantine writers use the words “Albanon” and “Arbanon” to indicate the region of Kruja. Under the Angiņ, in the XIII century, the names “Albania “and “Albanenses” indicate the whole country and all the population, as it is demonstrated by the works of many ancient Albanian writers such as Budi, Blanco and Bogdano. We first learn of Albanians in their native land as the Arbanites of Arbanon in Anna Comnenas' account (Alexiad 4) of the troubles in that region caused in the reign of her father Alexius I Comneus (1081- 1118) by the Normans. In ‘History’ written in 1079-1080, Byzantine historian Michael Attaliates was first to refer to the Albanoi as having taken part in a revolt against Constantinople in 1043 and to the Arbanitai as subjects of the duke of Dyrrachium. The Italo-Albanians and the Albanian minorities (still present in Greece) have been called in different ways with the passing of the years: Arbėnuer, Arbėnor, Arbėneshė, Arbreshė. There seems to be no doubt that the root Alb- or Arb- is earlier than Shqip-, from which the modern name of the state (Shqipėria) derives, a name which appears only in the time of the Turkish invasions. The Albanian name of the country, Shqipėria, translates into English as "Land of the Eagles", hence the two-headed bird on the national flag and emblem, and because of the large presence of these animals in the mountainous zones of Albania.
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