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Roman Conquest of Dacia. Trajan's De Bello Dacico.



Trajan Column, Rome, Forum Trajani   Row III 4 1d, 11, 12, 13, 14. 

On March 25 of the year 101 Emperor Trajan left Rome to begin a war against the Dacians, with Roman troops, consisting of four principal legions (X Gemina, XI Claudia, II Traiana Fortis and XXX Ulpia Victrix), The River God Danuvius watching legionnaires cross the river on boat pontoons.,_Die_Reliefs_der_Traianss%C3%A4ule,_Tafel_VII_%28Ausschnitt_01%29.jpg 

 The kingdom of Dacia (modern Transylvania-Romania) was a hard nut for the Roman to crack. It irritated Rome for 150 years from the time of Julius Caesar before being conquered by Trajan – and then at the second or best putted the third attempt, the Romans dealt with this sophisticated and rich enemy.

 Table of Contents, Cuprins:

Rome at the Lower Danube

The Two Roman Wars

First War

Why did Decebalu attack Roman Moesia?  

Second War


Rome at the Lower Danube


 Rome at the Lower Danube

 Rome's early involvement in the Balkans came as a result of Philip V of Macedon's links with Hannibal. While Rome was fighting for its very existence it responded by supporting the Aetolian Greek states in their war with Philip and the Achaean league led by Philopoemen.

 In the Second Macedonian War (200-196 B.C.) Rome following the defeat of Hannibal contributed ground forces to the struggle. At the Battle of Kynoskephalia 197 B.C. the flexible legion defeated the phalanx in open battle. Philip was forced to withdraw to his Macedonian heartland.

Rome's war with Seleucid Syria spilt over into the Balkans when Antiochus III invaded Greece in 192 BC. with Aetolian support he attempted to hold the Roman army at Thermopylai. Elephants on both sides battled in the pass while a Roman force under Cato flanked the position causing the Seleucids to flee back to Asia Minor. The Romans went on to control Western Asia Minor after the decisive victory at Magnesia 190 BC.

 In 172 BC Rome entered the Third Macedonian War in support of its ally Pergamum. Perseus of Macedonia repulsed two Roman invasions from Illyria and bought off the Illyrian and Gallic tribes to the north. The decisive battle of the war took place at Pydna in the Elpeus valley (168 BC). Roman elephants broke the Macedonian left wing but their centre was forced back by the phalanx. Only when the phalanx hit rough ground and became disordered did the flexible maniples of the Roman legions gain the advantage. Macedonian losses of 25,000 ended the monarchy and Macedonia was split into four republics. In 146 BC the Achaean League was defeated at Corinth and all Greece  fell under Roman control.

 The Roman Civil War 88-82 BC provided an opportunity for rebellion in Greece supported by Mithridates VI of Pontus. A Roman army led by Sulla captured Athens (86 BC) and then defeated the Pontic armies at Chaeronea and Orchomenus.

 Internal Roman difficulties came to a conclusion at the Battle of Actium 31 BC (near Prevesa on the Ionian coast). Octavian's fleet commanded by Agrippa defeated the fleet of Anthony and Cleopatra.

 Imperial Rome

 The early AD years of the Balkans were dominated by the expanding Roman Empire. The frontier was on the Danube with the Balkans divided into the provinces of Illyricum, Pannonia, Moesia, Thracia, Macedonia and Achaea. There were numerous revolts against Roman rule (e.g. Pannonia AD6-9) and frontier fighting with the Dacians over the Danube.

 This period saw the strengthening of the legion to over 5,000 men divided into 10 cohorts. Each cohort consisted of 6 centuriae, somewhat confusingly, of 80 men. These reforms introduced by Augustus formed the basis for the Pax Romana of the next 200 years.


The Coming of Rome in the Dacian World

by Lica, Vasile an Associate Professor for Ancient History and Historiography of the University of Galati (Romania).

The Coming of Rome in the Dacian World provides a full and detailed account of the Roman policy being executed in the area of the Lower Danube. Besides, this book is the first analysis of the juridical forms of the Roman foreign policy in the Danube area, ranging from the first contacts to the establishment of the provincia Dacia. For the first time, the ancient sources are systematically and completely analysed in order to highlight the evolution of these forms from temporary, unofficial contacts to constant relations established through various agreements.
The relations between Pompeius and Burebista, the diplomatic and juridical consequences of the settlement at the frontier of the Empire under Augustus in the Danube area are presented in detail without neglecting the relations between the Julio-Claudian emperors - especially Nero - and the Getae and the Dacians.
The author minutely reconstructs the provisions of the two foedera in A.D. 89 and 102, pointing out their differences as well as their similarities. He concludes that Trajan intended to transform only parts of Decebalus' kingdom into a provincia in A.D. 102; the latter was to rule as rex socius over a kingdom that had been considerably lessened and was carefully watched. In the three appendices three special problems are being analysed: the relations between Pompeius, Mithradates and Oroles, the Dacian hostages taken by the Empire and the Roman captive hostages of the Dacians.
The author emphasises in the principal conclusion of the book that "in the Danube area Rome did not create - for its relations with the Dacorum gentes - a new form, atypical to its well-established pattern of having and maintaining relations with the externae gentes."

 Archaeology has furnished evidence for deliberate destruction of some Dacian sites, and the abandonment of hillforts, with resettlement on lower ground: a normal feature. Here, however, the re-settled peoples appear to have adopted local styles of buildings: conservative traditions seem to have continued. As a whole, the province experienced a considerable influx of both soldiers and civilians. In this new world, the natives are virtually invisible in the epigraphic record. Perhaps, as they were on the home territory, they saw no need to proclaim their identity. However, heroic names like Decebalus were used both in Dacia and elsewhere, while Dacian gods continued to be worshipped. In a stimulating essay Leo Rivet stated that one of the sources for the study of Roman Britain is ‘evidence by analogy’. This session, with speakers from Amsterdam, Vienna and Cluj-Napoca as well as Edinburgh, Manchester and York, and archaeological evidence from the Antonine Wall to the Lower Danube cited to support arguments, underlined this important point. The range of material evidence may be daunting, but the challenge is exciting

By David Breeze [email protected]



The Two Roman Wars

Two Roman Wars

In 97 AD Emperor Nerva appointed co-emperor the general Marcus Ulpius Trajan, who added Nerva to his name and for this reason was regarded as Nerva's adoptive son. The Senate ratified the decision by which for the first time the highest responsibility of the Empire was entrusted to a representative of the provinces (Trajan was born in Spain). The other remarkable aspect of the decision was the definition of a process for the appointment of the emperors ("succession by adoption") which lasted for more than eighty years and gave to Rome the greatest Emperors: Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius.

The emperors who ruled Rome in the Ist century AD had basically a policy of containment of the possible threats to the Empire: in Europe the threat came from the German tribes beyond the Rhine and the Danube, in Asia from the Persian or Parthian empire and in Africa from the Moors. The Roman policy was aimed at reducing these threats by establishing alliances with minor tribes (in Europe and Africa) or kingdoms (in Asia), rather than at expanding the borders of the Empire. Trajan, with the support of the Senate, changed this policy in favour of an expansion of the Empire, also to react to some economical difficulties arising from the cost of the military expenditure.

The target of the expansion was Dacia, a kingdom beyond the Danube which included a section of the Carpathian Mountains known for its rich gold and salt mines. In today's world Dacia corresponds to most of Romania plus eastern Hungary. In 64 AD Emperor Nero had diminished the gold content of the Roman coins and this had led to financial trouble with coins having the same official name, but different levels of gold. Trajan thought that the gold of Dacia could help in solving the economical difficulties of the Empire. The war erupted in March 101 and it was justified by raids of the Dacians in the Roman region of Mesia (today's Bulgaria), but Trajan had been preparing the war since 99 when he visited the region and approved the opening of a road on the right bank of the Danube and the fortification of several sites. The Romans defeated the Dacians at Tapae, set fire to several towns and moved towards Sarmizegetusa, the capital of the kingdom. At this point Decebalus, the king of Dacia, accepted the conditions imposed by the Romans (which included the disarmament of the Dacian fortresses along the Danube) and a peace treaty was signed. In 105 Trajan declared that Decebalus was in breach of the disarmament clause and sent him an ultimatum. Decebalus reacted by attempting to attack Mesia, but he was repelled and gradually forced to retreat to Sarmizegetusa. The Romans laid siege to the town and cut its water supply. The Dacians eventually surrendered and Decebalus committed suicide. Dacia became a Roman province.

Inscription celebrating Trajan (and the construction of his Forum).
Senatus Populusque Romanus
Imp(eratori) Caesari Divi Nervae f(ilio) Nervae
Traiano Aug(usto) Germ(anico) Dacico Pontif(ici)
Maximo Trib(unicia) Pot(estate) XVIII Imperatori VI Co(n)s(uli) VI P(atri) P(atriae)
ad declarandum quantae altitudinis
mons et locus tant(is ope)ribus sit egestus.
The Senate and people of Rome
to Emperor Caesar, son of blessed Nerva, Nerva
Trajan Augustus conqueror of Germany and Dacia, Highest Pontiff
17 times tribune, 6 times imperator, 6 times consul, Father of the Nation:
as an illustration of the height
which this hill and place attained, before they were removed for such great works as these.

The Dacian wars were celebrated in the Trajan's Column. The reliefs, apart from their artistic value, are an interesting example of war propaganda. Here below a short comment on some episodes described in the reliefs.

 The Fleet 
The Roman Fleet leaves Ancona at night and crosses the Adriatic Sea.

The Roman fleet was constituted by triremes, warships with three banks of oars, which allowed them to move regardless of the prevailing winds. The relief shows that Trajan was able to rapidly move across the seas. He is standing on the central trireme while he delivers a speech to the troops. The lamp near Trajan means that the Roman fleet could travel also at night and the high waves and the dolphins mean that the fleet did not move along the coast, but it was capable of crossing the open sea. All these details had the objective of highlighting the Roman capability of rapidly deploying troops in case of conflict. Notwithstanding the fact that Trajan's background was a military one and that he personally led the campaign, the reliefs show him in situations where he is not directly involved in battles. He is portrayed: a) in the ritual ceremonies which preceded the main war events; b) while he delivers speeches to the troops; c) while he is shown evidence of the Roman victories or he receives the surrender of the enemies. The intent was to put the emperor on a special footing where he was not involved in the specific events of the war, which as all wars do, had its ups and downs.

The enemy
The Dacians, violating the disarmament clause, gather into a fortress

The second Dacian war originated from the violation of a disarmament clause included in the peace terms which ended the first war. The relief shows the "smoking gun" i.e. the purported violation of the clause. We see the Dacians wearing weapons and gathering inside a fortress. The slightly taller man inside the fortress is Decebalus, the king of the Dacians: while the viewers were able to identify Trajan by his face, his opponent was made identifiable by his height. The costumes of the Dacians show that the Romans did not consider them a savage population, because they are shown wearing elaborate dresses and a hat.

 Coalition forces 
Coalition forces on both sides: Chivalry of the Moors and of the Sarmatians

In addition to Romans and Dacians the reliefs show some other troops: on the Roman side the relief above (left) shows the chivalry of the Moors: the viewers were able to identify them by their frizzly (almost "rasta") hair and by the fact that they rode without saddle. In other episodes the Romans are helped by German warriors (almost naked and with moustaches) and by archers wearing an elaborate Oriental costume (most likely Parthians). The fact that we see on the Roman side representatives of their fiercest enemies may mean that Rome was at peace at that time, that the borders of the empire were secure and that the Dacian war had the support of the whole world. On the Dacian side the reliefs show the Sarmatian chivalry: both the warrior and the horse wear a protection made of flakes. It is interesting to note that immediately above the relief showing the arrival of the Sarmatians, we see the body of a dead Sarmatian chevalier. In this way the viewer immediately sees the end of the enemies of Rome. This "trick" is used also in other episodes showing the Dacians on the attack and, immediately above this scene, their dead bodies or their rout. The Sarmatians lived in the vast plains of southern Russia and Poland.

 Securing the advance 
Securing the advance: legionaries at work

In 9 AD Arminius, a German officer in the Roman army, convinced General Publius Quintus Varus to make a punitive expedition against the German tribes which from time to time threatened the Roman colonies in the Rhine valley. Three Roman legions marched well into hostile territory and following the advice of Arminius they entered the deep Teutoburg forest (near today's Detholm). At this point Arminius abandoned the Romans and the Germans of his tribe (the Cherusci) attacked the legions in a series of ambushes. The Romans were unable to move in the forest and to use their superior military skills and equipment. The Germans spared just a few legionaries to let them bring the news to the emperor Augustus in Rome. The head of Publius Quintus Varus was sent to other German tribes to promote a general rebellion against the Romans. Eventually the head was sent to the Romans. According to Svetonius, Augustus cried out: Vare, legiones redde! (Varus give me back my legions). Seven years later the Romans took their revenge and Arminius was defeated by Julius Caesar, a nephew of the Emperor Tiberius, who is generally known as Germanicus, the additional name he was given for his victory. In the XVIIIth centuries Arminius was hailed as a national hero and a precursor of the German nation.

The defeat suffered by Varus had lasting consequences on the Roman expansion in Europe and its memory can be seen in the numerous reliefs of the column which show Roman legionaries in the act of cutting down trees and building fortified camps, reliefs aimed at reassuring the viewers that Trajan was not repeating the mistakes made by Varus.

 After the battle 
After the battle: prisoners and wounded soldiers

Some reliefs show the aftermath of war: Dacian prisoners are shown while they are being tied and blindfolded. The prisoners show a rather submissive attitude as if they were agreeing to these actions. The reliefs do not show casualties on the Roman side: the obvious question: what about our troops? is answered by reliefs showing Roman legionaries taking care of some wounded soldiers who are helped to walk or are bandaged.


The first Dacian war ended with a peace treaty: the event is celebrated in a very complex scene where we see desperate Dacians pleading for mercy, after having thrown away their weapons.

The Dacians are not portrayed as enemies, but rather as persons converted to a new faith. The relief shows the need for the winner to see his actions justified by the confession of those who surrender that they wrongly acted. The viewer is shown a religious ceremony and the processions of Romans and Dacians are both converging towards Trajan in the act of saying Pax (peace).

The verticality of the Roman military symbols balances the horizontal lines of the processions. On the left side the viewer sees the heads of Roman legionaries carrying bags and moving away from the scene: the first Dacian war was not meant to conquer Dacia, but just to curtail its power, so having achieved their objective the Romans are already leaving the occupied country.
The relief inspired many Renaissance and Baroque artists, including Velazquez, who after his stay in Rome painted the surrender of the Dutch city of Breda to the Spanish troops (see the painting).

In the year 271 AD Emperor Aurelianus, the same emperor who built the walls of Rome, decided to move out of Dacia, because it was too difficult and expensive to protect that province from the raids of the barbarian tribes.

The image in the background of this page shows Victory (not Truth) writing the history of the Dacian wars



The Dacian Kingdom and the Roman Empire

   The Dacian kingdom and the Roman Empire

Dacian Kingdom, during the rule of Burebista, 82 BC.
Dacia during the Roman Empire[dubious ]
Dacia Felix during Roman Empire 3rd century AD[dubious ]

Trajan receives homage from a Dacian chieftan who has betrayed Decebalus.

The Flavian dynasty, particularly Domitian (81-96), engaged Roman troops along the lower and middle Danube in what amounted to an opening skirmish against the Dacians.[11] But real hostilities did not begin in earnest until Trajan attacked the Dacians with the full weight of Roman might.[11] The Roman armies under Trajan's command crossed the Danube into the Dacian territory targeting directly the core are in the Orăştie Mountains.[5] In 102[4], after a series of encounters, a peace agreement was reached: Decebalus was to destroy his fortresses and a Roman garrison was installed at Sarmizegetusa Regia (Grădiştea Muncelului, Romania) to watch over the agreement.[5] Trajan also ordered his engineer, Apollodorus of Damascus[1] to design and build a bridge across the Danube at Drobeta (Drobeta-Turnu Severin, Romania).[4]

During Trajan's reign one of the most important Roman successes was the victory over the Dacians. The first important confrontation between the Romans and the Dacians took place in the year 87 and was initiated by Domitian. The praetorian prefect Cornelius Fuscus led five or six legions across the Danube on a bridge of ships and advanced towards Banat (in Romania). The Romans were surprised by a Dacian attack at Tapae (near the village of Bucova, in Romania). Legion V Alaude was crushed and Cornelius Fuscus was killed. The victorious general was originally known as Diurpaneus (see Manea, p.109), but after this victory he was called Decebalus (“the brave one”, a Romanian “Braveheart”).
In the year 88, the Romans resumed the offensive. The Roman troops were now led by the general Tettius Iulianus. The battle took place again at Tapae but this time the Romans defeated the Dacians. For fear of falling into a trap, Iulianus abandoned his plans of conquering Sarmizegetuza and, at the same time, Decebalus asked for peace. At first, Domitian refused this request , but after he was defeated in a war in Pannonia against the Marcomanni (a Germanic tribe), the emperor was obliged to accept the peace.
Because the Dacians represented an obstacle against Roman expansion in the east, in the year 101 the emperor Trajan decided to begin a new campaign against them. The first war began on 25 March 101 and the Roman troops, consisting of four principal legions (X Gemina , XI Claudia , II Traiana Fortis, and XXX Ulpia Victrix), defeated the Dacians. Although the Dacians had been defeated, the emperor postponed the final siege for the conquering of Sarmizegetuza because his armies needed reorganization. Trajan imposed on the Dacians very hard peace conditions: Decebalus had to renounce claim to some regions of his kingdom, including Banat, Tara Hategului, Oltenia, and Muntenia in the area south-west of Transylvania. He had also to surrender all the Roman deserters and all his war machines. At Rome, Trajan was received as a winner and he took the name of Dacicus, a title that appears on his coinage of this period. At the beginning of the year 103 A.D., there were minted coins with the inscription: IMP NERVA TRAIANVS AVG GER DACICVS.
However, during the years 103-105, Decebalus did not respect the peace conditions imposed by Trajan and the emperor then decided to destroy completely the Dacian kingdom and to conquer Sarmizegetuza. The siege for the conquering of Sarmizegetuza took place in the summer of the year 106. The Roman armies headed towards this fortress: the first part passed through Valea Cernei, Hateg, and Valea Streiului and destroyed the Dacian fortresses at Costesti, Blidaru, and Piatra Rosie; the second part climbed the Valea Jiului, passed through the Sureanu Mountains and arrived at Banita; the third part, led probably by Trajan, left from Drobeta and passed through Sucidava, Romula (now Resca, in Romania), and Valea Oltului and arrived at Tilisca before going then to Capalna; the rest of the troops left from Moesia Inferior and passed through Bran, Bratocea, and Oituz and destroying the Dacian fortresses between Cumidava (now Rasnov, in Romania) and Angustia (now Bretcu, in Romania). At the battle for the conquest of Sarmizegetuza the following legions participated: II Adiutrix, IV Flavia Felix, and a special detachment from Legio VI Ferrata (which until this war had been stationed in Judaea).
The first assault was repelled by the Dacians. The Romans attacked again with their war machines and, at the same time, after a while they built a platform to more easily attack the fortress. Then they destroyed the water pipes of Sarmizegetuza and obliged the defenders to retire before they set fire to their city. The Romans finally succeeded in entering the Dacian sacred enclosure, hailed Trajan as emperor and then destroyed the whole fortress. Legion IV Flavia Felix was stationed there to guard what remained of Sarmizegetuza. After the end of the siege, Bicilis, a confidant of Decebalus, betrayed his king and the Romans discovered the Dacian treasure which , according to Jerome Carcopino (p.73), consisted of 165,000 kilograms of pure gold and 331,000 kilograms of silver in the bed of the Sergetia River (Cassius Dio 68.14).
Legend has it that after Decebalus' defeat, his daughter Meda, with a handful of the Dacian elite soldiers, sought refuge in the Tilisca fortress where they were finally found by the Romans. After a siege, the Romans took Tilisca and burned it down. The Dacians fought to the last able body and Meda died with sword in hand, a warrior princess, worthy of her father.
Defeated, Decebalus retired to the mountains, but he was followed by the Romans and so was obliged to commit suicide. His head and his right arm were brought to Trajan who was at Ranistorum (modern location can not be identified). The Romans reorganized Dacia ( now Romania) as a Roman province and built another center of administration at a distance of 40 km from the old Sarmizegetuza. This center was named Colonia Ulpia Traiana Dacica Augusta Sarmizegetuza. This founding was celebrated at Rome by the minting by Senate order of a sestertius dedicated to the optimus princeps. The ancient city had an area of 32 hectares.
The region was inhabited since neolithic times. On Catanas hill existed a powerful Dacian castle, indicating the administrative center of a union of tribes, outpost of the castles from Orastie Mountains. Here the Dacians fought the Romans in their second battle (105 - 106), when the castle is conquered and partially destroyed. After the south - eastern part of Transylvania was subdued by Hungarian royal domination, Tilisca becomes part of Amlas Dukedom, that, in the times of Mircea cel Batran (Mircea the Old) (1386 - 1418) and of his descendants, will be in Wallachia's possession. At the end of the fifteenth century, it is part of the Chair of Saliste, belonging to the Chair of Sibiu and the Saxon University.

Manea, Mihai, Adrian Pascu and Bogdan Teodorescu. Istoria romanilor. Bucharest,1997.
Cassius Dio, Roman History, books 67-68.
Carcopino, Jerome. Points de vue sur l'ìmpérialisme romain. Paris, 1924.


Exploring the Roman Frontier

Exploring the Roman Frontier

Text at:

The historical landscape of Transylvania stands in testimony of the clashes between the Dacians (i.e. "The bravest of all the Thracians" - Herodotus, Histories) and the Roman Empire: every mighty "eagle nest" Dacian fortresses in the Carpathian Mountains has a roman castrum in the plains below as a "guardian". Whether it took the form of open conflict or not, there had been long standing animosity between Romans and Dacians. During the second half of the First Century AD, Dacian armies successfully attacked and pillaged Roman Moesia (former Geto-Dacian territory). The Roman punitive expedition ordered by Domitian in 87AD ended in disaster at the Battle of Tapae where a legion was completely destroyed and four other were decimated. The tenuous peace that resulted  from a more successful campaign in 88AD forced Rome to pay a tribute to the Dacian king Decebalus. Some historians see this humiliating treaty as the cause for Domitian's assasination in 96.

Further raids on Moesia and the defeat of another Roman army (and the execution of the imperial legate) culminated in the Roman invasion of Dacia under Trajan in two wars in 102AD and 106AD.  To defend newly conquered territory, Romans constructed a string of castra (military camps, forts) along the boundary known as the limes.

 In the 1st century a.D. Roman Empire was expanding toward East, and provinces were created in Moesia (6 a.D.), Pannonia (10 a.D.), Dalmatia (10 a.D.) and Thracia (46 a.D.). In 46 a.D. Dobruja is annexed to Moesia and the Danube became the border between the Roman Empire and the Dacian world, along 1,500 Km.


The First War

 A capable strategist, diplomat and politician, King Decebalus united the Getai, or Daci, once more under his rule (87-106 AD). He introduced a centralized administrative system, which led to the development of the most well-organized barbarian states in the first century AD. The fledgling Dacian state became a menace to Roman authority as Decebalus mobilized the tribes in a raid against the Roman garrisons of Moesia Inferior in 87 AD to reconquer lost territories.

 Oppius Sabinus, the Roman governor, along with his entire legion, were slain. He later repelled the Roman counter-offensive led by Cornelius Fuscus, capturing the Roman eagle. The line of victories ended at Tapae, where the Roman army of Tettius Iulianus finally defeated the army of Decebalus. The Roman Emperor Domitian was forced however to conclude a peace treaty with the Dacians in 89 AD. Dacia became a “client kingdom” and received Roman war machines, engineers and even financial assistance to improve the Dacian fortresses. When Marcus Ulpius Traianus became emperor in 98 AD, he decided to eliminate the Dacian kingdom. Apart from desire for vengeance, the new ruler needed to secure his flank along the Istros and gain the rich gold mines of the Apuseni mountains.

The result was a series of Daco-Roman wars (AD 101-102, 105-106), at the end of which Dacia would become a Roman province, bringing about the end of Zalmoxianism. The emperor's 150,000 men from Illyria and Moesia crossed a bridge of boats at Berzovia. The Dacians suffered a crushing defeat at Tapae. Only the break of winter halted the Romans from reaching the Dacian capital of Sarmisegetuza. In the spring the Dacians, aided by Roxolani Sauromatai, went on the offensive to relieve their capital. They failed as the Romans defeated them at Tropaeum Traiani and Nicopolis. Decebalus sued for peace. The peace terms were so humiliating for the Dacians that a new conflict was inevitable. Three years later the conflict broke out after Decebalus refused to dismantle his fortresses. Marching his troops on the bridge across the Danube, Trajan reached the walls of Sarmisegetuza a second time, this time aided by Mauran auxiliary cavalry who were more than competent at fighting uphill battles with the Getai. The capital fell to the Romans and Decebalus was forced to retreat north. Pursued by Roman cavalry the king chose to commit suicide rather than fall prisoner. Getia was no more; Rome became the sole authority in the Carpatho-Danubian region, pressed only by the wilder Getic tribes north of the mountains. Their colonists later merged with the shattered tribes to form the Romanian people of today.

Decebalu and two generations in the battle


 The Dacian Wars (101-102, 105-106) were two military campaigns fought between the Roman Empire and Dacia during Emperor Trajan's rule. The conflict was triggered by the constant Dacian threat on the Danubian Roman Province of Moesia and also by the increasing need of resources of the staggering economy of the Roman Empire.

Trajan turned his attention to Dacia, an area north of Macedon and Greece and east of the Danube that had been on the Roman agenda since before the days of Caesar[1][2] when they had beaten a Roman army at the Battle of Histria.[3] In AD 85, the Dacians had swarmed over the Danube and pillaged Moesia[4][5] and initially defeated an army the Emperor Domitian sent against them,[6] but the Romans were victorious in the Battle of Tapae in AD 88 and a truce was drawn up.[6]

Emperor Trajan recommenced hostilities against Dacia and, following an uncertain number of battles,[7] defeated the Dacian general Decebalus in the Second Battle of Tapae in 101.[8] With Trajan's troops pressing towards the Dacian capital Sarmizegethusa, Decebalus once more sought terms.[9] Decebalus rebuilt his power over the following years and attacked Roman garrisons again in 105. In response Trajan again marched into Dacia,[10] besieging the Dacian capital in the Siege of Sarmisegetusa, and razing it to the ground.[11] With Dacia quelled, Trajan subsequently invaded the Parthian empire to the east, his conquests taking the Roman Empire to its greatest extent. Rome's borders in the east were indirectly governed through a system of client states for some time, leading to less direct campaigning than in the west in this period.[12]

 Early clashes

Since the reign of Burebista, widely considered to be the greatest king of Dacia— He ruled between 82 BC and 44 BC —the Dacians represented a threat for the Roman Empire, Caesar himself had drawn up a plan to launch a campaign against Dacia. The threat was reduced when dynastic struggles in Dacia lead to a division into four separately governed tribal states after Burebista's death in 44 BC.

Then, after 130 years of relative peace along the Roman frontier, in the winter of 85 AD to 86 AD the army of King Duras attacked the Roman province of Moesia.

The Roman emperor Domitian himself lead legions into the ravaged province and re-organized the possession into Moesia Inferior and Moesia Superior, planning a future attack into Dacia the next campaign season. The next year, in 87 with the arrival of fresh legions, Domitian ordered a campaign against Dacia, the First Dacian War. The Roman general Cornelius Fuscus crossed the Danube into Dacia with 5 or 6 legions on a bridge across boats. The Roman army was ambushed and defeated at the First Battle of Tapae, by the Dacians led by Diurpaneus or Decebal (renamed Decebalus as a consequence; Dacian for "the Brave", which catapulted him to becoming the new king[13]). In 88, the Roman offensive continued, and the Roman army, this time under the command of Tettius Iulianus defeated the Dacians also at Tapae, which was a Dacian outlying fortress of Sarmizegetusa (Sarmizegetuza) near the current village of Bucova. After this battle, Decebalus now the king of the four reunited arms of the Dacians and the Emperor Domitian reached peace, mainly because the legions were needed along the Rhine.[14] Following the peace of 89 AD, Decebalus became a client of Rome, receiving money, craftsmen, and war machines from the Roman Empire, to defend the empire's borders. Some historians believe this to have been an unfavourable peace for Rome.


Causes of the first war

Throughout the 1st century, Roman policy largely dictated that threats from neighbouring nations and provinces were to be contained promptly, thus the peace treaty following the First Battles of Tapae an initial heavy defeat at the hands of the Dacian King Decebalus's skirmishing forces, followed by a costly victory on the same ground but a year later. Despite some co-operation on the diplomatic front with Domitian after an abortive invasion, Decebalus continued to oppose Rome. Thus, Dacia was considered one such threat. At the time, Rome was suffering from economic difficulties largely brought on by extensive military campaigns throughout Europe, in part due to a low gold content in Roman currency brought on by Emperor Nero. Confirmed rumors of Dacian gold and other valuable trade resources in part incited the conflict, as did the generally uncooperative behavior of the Dacian "Clients", as well, who for their part were defiantly "bowed and unbroken", and mostly complying with the absurd requests by the Roman Empire and its diplomatic and military factotums. As such, the new Emperor Trajan, himself an experienced soldier and tactician, began preparing for a war against Dacia.


Trajan's Early Years through the Dacian Wars

Trajan did not return immediately to Rome. He chose to stay in his German province and settle affairs on that frontier. He showed that he approved Domitian's arrangements, with the establishment of two provinces, their large military garrisons, and the beginnings of the limes. [[6]] Those who might have wished for a renewed war of conquest against the Germans were disappointed. The historian Tacitus may well have been one of these. [[7]]

Trajan then visited the crucial Danube provinces of Pannonia and Moesia, where the Dacian king Decebalus had caused much difficulty for the Romans and had inflicted a heavy defeat upon a Roman army about a decade before. Domitian had established a modus vivendi with Decebalus, essentially buying his good behavior, but the latter had then continued his activities hostile to Rome. Trajan clearly thought that this corner of empire would require his personal attention and a lasting and satisfactory solution. [[8]]

Trajan spent the year 100 in Rome, seeing to the honors and deification of his predecessor, establishing good and sensitive relations with the senate, in sharp contrast with Domitian's "war against the senate." [[9]] Yet his policies essentially continued Domitian's; he was no less master of the state and the ultimate authority over individuals, but his good nature and respect for those who had until recently been his peers if not his superiors won him great favor. [[10]] He was called optimus by the people and that word began to appear among his titulature, although it had not been decreed by the senate.

Yet his thoughts were ever on the Danube. Preparations for a great campaign were under way, particularly with transfers of legions and their attendant auxiliaries from Germany and Britain and other provinces and the establishment of two new ones, II Traiana and XXX Ulpia, which brought the total muster to 30, the highest number yet reached in the empire's history.

In 101 the emperor took the field. The war was one which required all his military abilities and all the engineering and discipline for which the Roman army was renowned. Trajan was fortunate to have Apollodorus of Damascus in his service, who built a roadway through the Iron Gates by cantilevering it from the sheer face of the rock so that the army seemingly marched on water. He was also to build a great bridge across the Danube, with 60 stone piers (traces of this bridge still survive). When Trajan was ready to move he moved with great speed, probably driving into the heart of Dacian territory with two columns, until, in 102, Decebalus chose to capitulate. He prostrated himself before Trajan and swore obedience; he was to become a client king. Trajan returned to Rome and added the title Dacicus to his titulature.

Decebalus, however, once left to his own devices, undertook to challenge Rome again, by raids across the Danube into Roman territory and by attempting to stir up some of the tribes north of the river against her.


 The first war


After gaining support in the Roman Senate and its blessing for war, by 101 Trajan was ready to advance on Dacia. This was a war in which the Roman military's ingenuity and engineering were well demonstrated. The Roman offensive was spearheaded by two legionary columns, marching straight to the heart of Dacia, burning towns and villages in the process. Trajan defeated a Dacian army at the Battle of Tapae, and in 102 Decebalus chose to make peace after some additional minor conflicts. The war had concluded with an important Roman victory. A stone bridge later known as Trajan's bridge was constructed across the Danube at Drobeta to assist with the legionaries' advance. This bridge, probably the biggest at that time and centuries to come was designed by Apollodorus of Damascus and it was meant to help the Roman army to advance faster in Dacia since the "peace" was actually lost by the Roman Empire. According to the peace terms, Decebalus got technical and military reinforcement from the Romans in order to create a powerful allied zone against the dangerous possible expeditions from the northern and eastern territories by hostile migrating peoples. The resources were, however, used to rebuild Dacian fortresses and strengthen the army. Soon thereafter Decebalus turned against the Romans once again.


Why did Decebalu attack Roman Moesia?

To liberate it from the Romans because was ancient Dacian land. He challenge Rome again, by raids across the Danube into Roman territory and by attempting to stir up some of the tribes north of the river against her.

In ancient geographical sources, Moesia was bounded to the south by the Haemus (Balkans) and Scardus (Šar) mountains, to the west by the Drinus (Drina) river, on the north by the Donaris(Danube) and on the east by the Euxine (Black Sea).

The region was inhabited chiefly by Thracians, Dacians (Thraco-Dacians), Illyrian and Thraco-Illyrian peoples. The name of the region comes from Moesi, Thraco-Dacian peoples who lived there before the Roman conquest.

Parts of Moesia belonged to the polity of Burebista, a Getae king who established his rule over a large part of the Northern Balkans between 82 BC and 44 BC. He led plunder and conquest raids across Central and Southeastern Europe, subjugating most of the neighbouring tribes. After his assassination in an inside plot, the empire was divided into several smaller states.

In 75 BC, C. Scribonius Curio, proconsul of Macedonia, took an army as far as the Danube and gained a victory over the inhabitants, who were finally subdued by M. Licinius Crassus, grandson of the triumvir and later also proconsul of Macedonia during the reign of Augustus c. 29 BC. The region, however, was not organized as a province until the last years of Augustus' reign; in 6 AD, mention is made of its governor, Caecina Severus (Cassius Dio lv. 29). As a province, Moesia was under an imperial consular legate (who probably also had control of Achaea and Macedonia).

In 86 AD the Dacian king Duras ordered his troops to attack Roman Moesia. After this attack, the Roman emperor Domitian personally arrived in Moesia and reorganized it in 87 AD into two provinces, divided by the river Cebrus (Ciabrus): to the west Moesia Superior - Upper Moesia, (meaning up river) and to the east Moesia Inferior - Lower Moesia (also called Ripa Thracia), (from the Danube river's mouth and then upstream). Each was governed by an imperial consular legate and a procurator.

From Moesia, Domitian began planning future campaigns into Dacia and by 87 he started a strong offensive against Dacia, ordering General Cornelius Fuscus to attack. Therefore, in the summer of 87, Fuscus led five or six legions across the Danube. The campaign against the Dacians ended without a decisive outcome, and Decebalus, the Dacian King, had brazenly flouted the terms of the peace (89 AD) which had been agreed on at the war's end.

Emperor Trajan later arrived in Moesia, and he launched his first military campaign into the Dacian Kingdom[4] c. March–May 101, crossing to the northern bank of the Danube River and defeating the Dacian army near Tapae, a mountain pass in the Carpathians (see Second Battle of Tapae). Trajan's troops were mauled in the encounter, however, and he put off further campaigning for the year to heal troops, reinforce, and regroup.[5]

During the following winter, King Decebalus launched a counter-attack across the Danube further downstream, but this was repulsed. Trajan's army advanced further into Dacian territory and forced King Decebalus to submit to him a year later.

Trajan returned to Rome in triumph and was granted the title Dacicus Maximus. The victory was celebrated by the Tropaeum Traiani. However, Decebalus in 105 undertook an invasion against Roman territory by attempting to stir up some of the tribes north of the river against the empire.[6] Trajan took to the field again and after building with the design of Apollodorus of Damascus his massive bridge over the Danube, he conquered part of Dacia in 106 (see also Second Dacian War).

Second Dacian War



Second Dacian War (105, 106 AD)

Following the first war, Decebalus complied with Rome for a time, but was soon inciting revolt among tribes against them and pillaging Roman colonies across the Danube. True to the intrepid and optimistic nature he had become renowned for, Trajan rallied his forces once more in AD 105 for a second war against the Kingdom of Dacia.
Dacian Water Pipe
Dacian Gold

Like the first conflict, the second war involved several skirmishes that proved costly to the Roman military who, facing large numbers of allied tribes, struggled to attain a decisive victory, resulting in a second temporary peace. Eventually, goaded repeatedly by the behavior of Decebalus and his repeated violations of the treaty, Rome again brought in legions, took the offensive and prevailed resuming the conflict in 105. The next year they conquered step by step the mountain fortresses system that surrounded the Dacian capital, Sarmisegetusa. The finaldecisive battle took place near the walls of Sarmisegetusa - the capital city, during the summer of 106 with the participation of the legions II ADIUTRIX and FLAVIA FELIX and a detachment (vexillatio) from Legio VI Ferrata.



The Dacians repelled the first attack, but the Romans, with the help of a local treacherous nobleman, found and destroyed the water pipes of the Dacian capital. Running out of water and food supplies the city felt and was burned to the ground. King Decebalus fled, but followed by the Roman cavalry committed suicide rather than face capture. Nevertheless, the war went on. Thanks to the treason of a confidant of the Dacian king, Bicilis, the Romans found Decebalus's treasure in the river of Sargesia/Sargetia - a fortune estimated by Jerome Carcopino at 165 tonnes of gold and 331 tonnes of silver. The last battle with the army of the Dacian king took place at Porolissum (Moigrad).

 Conclusion and aftermath



Denarius issued by Trajan to celebrate the winning of the Dacian Wars.
Front. Text: IMP TRAIANO AVG GER DAC PM TR P COS V PP. Image: Laureate head right; the legend abbreviates as Imperator. Trajan. Augustus. Germanicus. Dacicus. Pontifex Maximus. Tribuniciae Potestate. Consul V. Pater Patriae.
Reverse. Text: SPQR OPTIMO PRINCIPI. Image: Dacian soldier wearing the Dacian peaked cap, seated on shield in mourning, with the curbed Dacian Falx (sabre) below. The reverse abbreviates Senatus Populus Que Romanus. Optimo Principi.
Trajan was notorious for the length of his inscriptions, which are the longest of the imperial series. Here, the titles actually form a continuum on both sides of the coin. It all translates as "Imperator, Trajan the Augustus, victor over the Germans and Dacians, chief priest, with the power of a tribune, consul for the fifth time, father of his country, the Senate and People of Rome: best of emperors.". - Reference: RIC II 219, BMC 175, RSC 529.


The Dacian Wars were a huge triumph for Rome and its armies. Trajan announced a total of 123 days of glorious celebrations throughout the Empire. Dacia's rich gold mines were secured, which provided a helpful source of finance for Rome's future campaigns and assisted the rapid expansion of Roman towns throughout Europe. The remains of the mining activities are still visible, especially at Roşia Montană. One hundred thousand male slaves were sent back to Rome; and in order to discourage future revolts Legio XIII Gemina and Legio V Macedonica were permanently posted in Dacia, the veterans of these legions were given land in Dacia and married Dacian women. This would lead to the birth of the Romanians. The conquered half (southern) of Dacia was annexed, becoming a province while the northern part remained free but never formed a state. The two wars were notable victories in Rome's extensive expansionist campaigns, gaining the people's admiration and support for Trajan. The conclusion of the Dacian Wars marked a period of sustained growth and relative peace in Rome. An extensive building project was begun, which in turn improved Rome's civic infrastructure as a whole. Trajan became a true and honorable civil Emperor, thereby paving the way for further internal expansion and reinforcement within the Roman Empire as a whole.

The wars ended not only in the destruction of Dacia’s military might but also in a sudden drop in its population.[15] Crito reported that some 500,000 Dacians were taken prisoner, many to be sent to Rome to figure in the gladiatorial exhibitions (lusiones) that would form part of Trajan’s triumph, while the systematic ‘ethnic cleansing’ of the conquered territory began.[16] The empire followed an organized, official colonization policy, granting land even to those who were not Roman citizens.[17]

Photo below, Trajan's Column: Decebalu attack to reconquer lost territory in Moesia, the smoking gun, according with Roman propaganda.

 Decebalu and his son Diegis distributing poison  or water at Sarmisegethuza

Decebalu suicide  

The Funerary stone of Tiberius Claudiius Maximus, From Grammeni, Philippi, Macedonia, tells us that it was Maximus who beheaded and cut Decebalus right hand after he committed suicide. The tale of Maximus’ severing the king’s hand was widely held to be pure legend – until this stone was unearthed. Inscription: 

Tiberius Claudius Maximus, military veteran, took the care of making this dedication while he was still alive.  He served in the cavalry in the 7th legion Claudia loyal and faithful,(1) made financial officer of the cavalry, guard of the legionary legate, standard bearer of the cavalry in the same legion, awarded military decorations by the emperor Domitian for his courage in the Dacian war,(2) promoted to double-pay grade by the divine Trajan in the second ala of the Pannonians,(3) promoted to scout by Trajan in the Dacian war,(4) awarded military decorations twice by Trajan for his courage in the Dacian and Parthian wars,(5) made contingent officer by Trajan in the same ala because he captured Decebalus and brought his head to Trajan in Ranisstorum, served voluntarily after he was granted honorable discharge by Terentius Scaurianus, consular commander of the army in the new province of Dacia(?).(


His head and right hand were then taken to Traian by Claudius Maximus, in "Ranisstorium" (an unidentified Dacian village, perhaps Piatra Craivii ) when he was decorated and the trophy sent to Rome where it was thrown on Gemonian stairs[3]. Tiberius Claudius Maximus' tomb cites two occasions where the legionary was decorated for his part in the Dacian wars, one of which being the acquisition and recovery of Decebalus' head.  

Coin: TRAJAN. 98-117 AD. Æ "Medallic" Sestertius (30.52 gm). Struck circa 104-107 AD.
Obv: Laureate head right
Rev: Trajan on rearing horse right, spearing Dacian falling before. Tiber patina,
CNG Auction 67, lot 1413; Ex:Tony Hardy Collection.RIC II 536; Cohen 504
According to CNG catalogers, the rider on the reverse may not be Trajan. The Dacian king Decebalus is said to have committed suicide as he was about to be captured. Recent discoveries may indicate that the Roman Explorator or scout Ti. Claudius Maximus actually slew Decebalus and then brought his head back to Trajan - not nearly as "romantic" as the original version. The reverse scene on this coin may represent that event. 



The Legend of Decebalus

Decebalus became a legend to the entire Roman world and ceramics depicting him committing suicide became very popular in the Roman Empire.  The vessels were produced by one of the most famous ceramist of the Roman world,  L. Cosius.  We see here one of his terra sigilata with the scene of Decebalus suicide with bear  (106-119) from:

  La Graufeseneque, Gallia (Millau, Aveyron, France)" mce_src="" style="background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255); border: 1px solid rgb(221, 221, 221); padding: 10px;" height="342" width="300" border="1">

 On the same vase, on the opposite side there it is represented another person captive-Petru (maybe one of Decebalu sons)

"The Legend of Decebalus", L. De Ligt et al. (eds.), Roman Rule and Civic Life: Local and Regional Perspectives (Proceedings of the Fourth Workshop ... Impact of Empire, Leiden 2003), Amsterdam: Gieben 2004, 153-75, 431-33.

La Graufesenque, Millau (Aveyron, France)

View from the archaeological site of site of La Graufesenque towards the high plateau overlooking the valley of the Tarn. La Graufesenque is the most important producer of Gaulish sigillata during the first century AD.

Terra sigillata was manufactured at La Graufesenque (nr Millau, Aveyron/FR) from the Augustan period and the products achieved a wide distribution during the Tiberio-Claudian period. The height of the industry is reached during the mid-late 1st century AD, when the distribution covers most of the western Empire, the Mediterranean littoral, and beyond. 

C. Bruun (B.) seeks to recover the memory of Decebalus.

While the Romans considered the Dacian king a "wicked barbarian" (p. 174), in the Danube region, he would have been remembered as a hero. B. thoroughly combs the meager sources regarding the king, but, to this reviewer, the suggestion of an anti-Roman "Decebalus legend" rests on thin evidence.


  Capture of  Decebalu' family;jsessionid=84409D11D5F718D9818371F9DF6CAAE4.tomcat1?fromPage=online&aid=6214220

  Legend has it that after Decebalus' defeat, his daughter Meda, with a handful of the Dacian elite soldiers, sought refuge in the Tilisca fortress where they were finally found by the Romans. After a siege, the Romans took Tilisca and burned it down. The Dacians fought to the last able body and Meda died with sword in hand, a warrior princess, worthy of her father.

The Dacian Wars Beyond Trajan's Column

Jinyu Liu (DePauw University)

This paper investigates the regional versions of Trajan’s Dacian wars to the extent that documentary sources allow. Although these campaigns were undoubtedly among the greatest political and military endeavors in the first three centuries C.E., our knowledge about them is rather limited. Deprived of relevant literary works (Trajan’s Commentarii, Criton’s Getica, Appian’s Dakike, Dio Chrysostom’s Getika, Arrian’s Parthika), we rely heavily on Dio Cassius’ Roman History Book 68. Due to this general lack of literary sources, the scholarly discussion of these wars has been largely shaped by the imperial ideology expressed mainly through coins and monuments, especially the visual narrative on Trajan’s Column. But how was this imperial propaganda received in the provinces? How did the veterans and the immigrants to Dacia tell the stories of the Dacian Wars? These difficult questions are important for our understanding of various subjects ranging from the impact of the Roman empire on the provinces to our present conceptualization of the Roman achievement. Provincial materials, especially inscriptions, reveal views of the Dacian campaigns that diverge from the ‘official’ interpretation emanating from Rome. This paper examines such inscriptional and other documentary evidence from the provinces. Following Christer Bruun’s discussion of the ‘legend’ of Decebalus as an example of the provincial/peripheral visions of Roman conquest [in L. de Ligt (ed.) 2004], I demonstrate that, in the provinces, the Dacian wars were not perceived as an easy and comfortable victory as Trajan’s Column would have us believe.


Notes and citations

  1. ^ Goldsworthy, In the Name of Rome, p. 322
  2. ^ Matyszak, The Enemies of Rome, p. 213
  3. ^ Matyszak, The Enemies of Rome, p. 215
  4. ^ Matyszak, The Enemies of Rome, p. 216
  5. ^ Luttwak, The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire, p. 53
  6. ^ a b Matyszak, The Enemies of Rome, p. 217
  7. ^ Matyszak, The Enemies of Rome, p. 219
  8. ^ Luttwak, The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire, p. 54
  9. ^ Goldsworthy, In the Name of Rome, p. 329
  10. ^ Matyszak, The Enemies of Rome, p. 222
  11. ^ Matyszak, The Enemies of Rome, p. 223
  12. ^ Luttwak, The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire, p. 39
  13. ^ "De Imperatoribus Romanis". "Battle of Sarmizegetusa (Sarmizegetuza), A.D. 105. During Trajan's reign one of the most important Roman successes was the victory over the Dacians. The first important confrontation between the Romans and the Dacians took place in the year 87 and was initiated by Domitian. The praetorian prefect Cornelius Fuscus led five or six legions across the Danube on a bridge of ships and advanced towards Banat (in Romania). The Romans were surprised by a Dacian attack at Tapae (near the village of Bucova, in Romania). Legion V Alaude was crushed and Cornelius Fuscus was killed. The victorious general was originally known as Diurpaneus (see Manea, p.109), but after this victory he was called Decebalus ("the brave one")."
  14. ^ "De Imperatoribus Romanis". "In the year 88, the Romans resumed the offensive. The Roman troops were now led by the general Tettius Iulianus. The battle took place again at Tapae but this time the Romans defeated the Dacians. For fear of falling into a trap, Iulianus abandoned his plans of conquering Sarmizegetuza and, at the same time, Decebalus asked for peace. At first, Domitian refused this request , but after he was defeated in a war in Pannonia against the Marcomanni (a Germanic tribe), the emperor was obliged to accept the peace."
  15. ^ Köpeczi, Béla; Makkai, László; Mócsy, András; Szász, Zoltán; Barta, Gábor. History of Transylvania - From the Beginnings to 1606.
  16. ^ Bennett, Julian. Trajan: Optimus Princeps.
  17. ^ Georgescu, Vlad. The Romanians - A History.





 Trajan Æ Sestertius. 103-111 CE, (25.86 g, 36 mm)
Obv: IMP CAES NERVAE TRAINO AVG GER DAC PM TRP COS V PP, laureate bust left seen from back, draped and cuirassed
Rev: Pax standing left holding cornucopia and stomping on Dacian.
Ex. Eukratides RIC II 504 var.
Apparently unrecorded in RIC and Cohen - with this bust type





Dacian Warfare


Dacian Warfare

Infantry and Cavalry

The Dacian tribes, were part of the greater Thracian family of peoples. They established a highly militarized society and, during the periods when the tribes were united under one king (82 BC-44 BC, 86-106) posed a major threat to the Roman provinces of Lower Danube. Dacia was conquered (except for the Free Dacians) and transformed into a Roman province in 106 after a long, hard war.

Dacian scale armour

The most important weapon of the Dacian arsenal was the falx[citation needed]. This dreaded weapon, similar to a large sickle came in two variants: a shorter, one-handed falx called a sica[6], and a longer two-handed version. The shorter falx was called sica (sickle) in the Dacian language. The two-handed falx was a polearm. It consisted of a three-feet long wooden shaft with a long curved iron blade of nearly-equal length attached to the end. The blade was sharpened only on the inside, and was reputed to be devastatingly effective. However, it left its user vulnerable because, being a two-handed weapon, the warrior could not also make use of a shield. Alternatively, it might used as a hook, pulling away shields and cutting at vulnerable limbs.

Using the falx, the Dacian warriors were able to counter the power of the compact, massed Roman formations. During the time of the Roman conquest of Dacia (101 - 102, 105 - 106), legionaries had reinforcing iron straps applied to their helmets. The Romans also introduced the use of leg and arm protectors (greaves and manica[citation needed]) as further protection against the falxes.

A typical falx.
Sica,a small version of the falx

The Dacians were adepts[citation needed] of surprise attacks and skilful, tactical withdrawals using the fortification system. During the wars with the Romans, fought by their last king Decebal (87-106 ), the Dacians almost crushed the Roman garrisons South of the Danube in a surprise[citation needed] attack launched over the frozen river ( winter of 101-102 ). Only the intervention of Emperor Trajan with the main army saved the Romans from a major defeat. But, by 106 the Dacians were surrounded[citation needed] in their capital Sarmizegetusa.The city was taken after the Romans discovered and destroyed[citation needed] the capital's water supply line.Dacians decorated their bodies with tattoos like the Illyrians[7] and the Thracians[8].The Pannonians north of the Drava had accepted Roman rule out of fear of the Dacians[9].

As a result, the king committed[citation needed] suicide and Dacia became a Roman province until 271.

Marcus Annaeus Lucanus[10] 39 - 65 wrote of Dacian hordes;

Have poured her captains, and the troops who guard the northern frontier from the Dacian hordes

Dacians that could afford armor wore customised Phrygian type helmets with solid crests(intricately decorated), domed helmets and Sarmatian helmets.[11].They fought with spears,javelins,falxes, one sided battle axes and used "Draco" Carnyxe's as standards.Most used only shields as a form of defense.Cavalry would be armed with a spear, a long bronze La Tene sword and an oval shield.

Most[citation needed] of the infantry would wield a falx and perhaps a sica and would wear no armor at all even shunning shields.



Dacian mercenaries were uncommon in contrast to the Thracians and the Illyrians but they could be found in the service of the Greek Diadochi[12] and of the Romans[13].


A 2nd century AD chieftain would wear a bronze Phrygian type helmet,a corselet of iron scale armor,an oval wooden shield with motifs and wield a sword.[14]


There was no[citation needed] Dacian navy except perhaps boats to cross the Danube that don't qualify as navy.


remains of Fortress of Blidaru

Dacians had built fortresses all around Dacia with most of them being on the Danube[15].A scene from Trajan's column shows Romans attacking a Dacian fortification using the "testudo"[16].

The Dacians constructed stone strongholds, davas, in the Carpathian Mountains in order to protect their capital Sarmizegetusa. The fortifications were built on a system of circular belts. This allowed[citation needed] the defenders, after a stronghold was lost, to retreat to the next one using hidden escape gate


External influences

Scythian & Sarmatian


Dacian draco.jpg

The Dacian Draco was the standard of the ancient Dacian military.The draco was originally developed by the Sarmatians and Alans, cavalry peoples of the steppes.[citation needed]Sarmatians were part[17] of the Dacian army as allies.The Roxolani became part of the Dacians while the Iazyges fought against them trying to claim their own land[18].

Celtic & Germanic

Celtic iron spearheards and swords from La Tene[19].Many types of Hallstatt culture and Celtic swords[20].Wooden shields , sax knives.The Celtic Bastarnae[21] and Germans[17] were an important part of the Dacian army.Celtic weapons were used like long swords and round shields[22].The Celts played a very active role in Dacia[23].The Scordisci were among the allies used by the Dacians[24].


Hellenic and Hellenistic


Cothelas had become a vassal to ancient Macedon[citation needed].Some Kings of the Getae had been Hellenized[25] 



Roman province of Dacia with Roman settlements and legion garrisons included
Dacian armaments

Dacia became a Roman province at 106 AD.Dacians were eventually Romanized[26].After their defeat from the Roman a coin called Dacicus[27] was minted by Domitian.


Dacians were shown by Trajan as dignified[28] and heroic but still dangerous and unable to stand against the might of Rome.Horace (65 BC - 8 BC) the poet writes of them in one of his works and mentions them along with the Scythians as[29] as tyrants and fierce barbarians.Tacitus (56 - 117) a senator and a historian writes that they are a people that can never be trusted[30] and the Roman legions had nothing to fear from them.

The Ancient Greeks[3] expressed admiration and respect for Burebista.



List of Dacian battles

This is a list of battles or conflicts that Dacians had a leading or crucial role in- rarely as mercenaries.They were involved in massive battles against Roman legions.


See also


  1. ^ The Legionary (The Roman World Series) by Peter Connolly,1998,page 14: "... dynamic king Burebista, a century and a half earlier, the Dacians had become the most powerful nation in central Europe, but since his death the country had been split by civil war. ..."
  2. ^ Lewis et al. 2008, p. 773
  3. ^ a b Dacia: Land of Transylvania, Cornerstone of Ancient Eastern Europe by Ion Grumeza,2009,page 54,"The Greeks were so impressed with his achievements that they named him 'the first and greatest king of the kings of Thracia'"
  4. ^ De Imperatoribus Romanis". Retrieved 2007-11-08. "In the year 88, the Romans resumed the offensive. The Roman troops were now led by the general Tettius Iulianus. The battle took place again at Tapae but this time the Romans defeated the Dacians. For fear of falling into a trap, Iulianus abandoned his plans of conquering Sarmizegetuza and, at the same time, Decebalus asked for peace. At first, Domitian refused this request, but after he was defeated in a war in Pannonia against the Marcomanni (a Germanic tribe), the emperor was obliged to accept the peace."
  5. ^ A Companion to the Roman Army (Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World) by Paul Erdkamp,2007,page 218
  6. ^ Rome's Enemies (1): Germanics and Dacians (Men at Arms Series, 129) by Peter Wilcox and Gerry Embleton,1982,page 35
  7. ^ The Illyrians (The Peoples of Europe) by John Wilkes,1996,page 198,"their armor is Celtic but they are tattooed like the rest of the Illyrians and Thracians"
  8. ^ The World of Tattoo: An Illustrated History by Maarten Hesselt van Dinter ,2007,page 25: "... in ancient times. The Danube area Dacians, Thracians and Illyrians all decorated themselves with status-enhancing tattoos, ..."
  9. ^ The Oxford Classical Dictionary by Simon Hornblower and Antony Spawforth,2003,page 1106,"Pannonia north of the Drava appears to have accepted Roman rule without a struggle probably owing to fear of the Dacians to the east.
  10. ^ Luc. 8.331
  11. ^ Rome's enemies: Germanics and Dacians by Peter Wilcox,Gerry Embleton,ISBN-0850454735,1982,
  12. ^ The coming of Rome in the Dacian world,ISBN-387940707X,2000,page 83
  13. ^ The coming of Rome in the Dacian world,ISBN-387940707X,2000,page 115
  14. ^ Rome's Enemies (1): Germanics and Dacians (Men at Arms Series, 129) by Peter Wilcox and Gerry Embleton,1982
  15. ^ Dacia: Land of Transylvania, Cornerstone of Ancient Eastern Europe by Ion Grumeza, 2009, page 13, "The shores of the Danube were well monitored from the Dacian fortresses Acidava, Buricodava, Dausadava (the shrine of the wolves), Diacum, Drobeta (Turnu Severin), Nentivava (Oltenita), Suvidava (Corabia), Tsirista, Tierna/Dierna (Orsova) and what is today Zimnicea. Downstream were also other fortresses: Axiopolis (Cernadova), Barbosi, Buteridava, Capidava(Topalu), Carsium(Harsova), Durostorum(Silistra), Sacidava/Sagadava (Dunareni) along with still others..."
  16. ^ The Cambridge History of Greek and Roman Warfare: Volume 2, Rome from the Late Republic to the Late Empire by Philip Sabin, Hans van Wees, and Michael Whitby,2007,page 149: "... 4.5 Scene from Trajan's column depicting Roman troops attacking a Dacian fortification, using the famous testudo (tortoise) formation to shield themselves from ..."
  17. ^ a b Dacia: Land of Transylvania, Cornerstone of Ancient Eastern Europe by Ion Grumeza, 2009, page 170
  18. ^ Dacia: Land of Transylvania, Cornerstone of Ancient Eastern Europe by Ion Grumeza, 2009, page 134
  19. ^ Rome's enemies: Germanics and Dacians by Peter Wilcox,Gerry Embleton,ISBN-0850454735,1982,page 7
  20. ^ Rome's enemies: Germanics and Dacians by Peter Wilcox,Gerry Embleton,ISBN-0850454735,1982,page 9
  21. ^ Rome's enemies: Germanics and Dacians by Peter Wilcox,Gerry Embleton,ISBN-0850454735,1982,page 35
  22. ^ Dacia: Land of Transylvania, Cornerstone of Ancient Eastern Europe by Ion Grumeza, 2009, page 50
  23. ^ Dacia: Land of Transylvania, Cornerstone of Ancient Eastern Europe by Ion Grumeza, 2009, page 88
  24. ^ Strab. 7.5,"they often used the Scordisci as allies"
  25. ^ The Thracians, 700 BC - AD 46 by Christopher Webber,ISBN 1-84176-329-2, 9781841763293,2001,page 14,"It shows a Hellenised king of the Getae"
  26. ^ Quiles, Carlos. A Grammar of Modern Indo-European. Carlos Quiles Casas, 2007, ISBN 84-611-7639-1, p. 76. "Most of the Thracians were eventually Hellenised - in the province of Thrace - or Romanized - Moesia, Dacia, etc. -, with the last remnants surviving in remote areas until the 5th century.
  27. ^ Dacicus,"Dācicus,a gold coin of Domitian, conqueror of the Dacians, Iu."
  28. ^ The Barbarians Speak: How the Conquered Peoples Shaped Roman Europe. by Peter S. Wells,2001,page 105,"... so too the Emperor Trajan represented the Dacians as a strong threat to Roman authority on the lower Danube. The barbarian enemies are represented in heroic fashion, as dignified warriors unable ..."
  29. ^ Q. Horatius Flaccus (Horace),Odes John Conington, Ed.Hor. Carm. 1.35,"Thee Dacians fierce, and Scythian hordes,Peoples and towns, and Rome, their head,And mothers of barbarian lords,And tyrants in their purple dread,"
  30. ^ Tac. Hist. 3.46,"The Dacians also were in motion, a people which never can be trusted, and which, now that our legions were withdrawn from Mœsia, had nothing to fear. "
  31. ^ Celtic Warrior: 300 BC-AD 100 by Stephen Allen and Wayne Reynolds,2001,Front Matter,"... 60: Celtic Boii in Bohemia defeated by Dacian tribes from the lower Danube. 58-51: Caesar's campaigns in Gaul ..." Dacian reenactor with Falx


Military Gear Found in the Dacian Fortress of Racoşul de Jos–Piatra Detunată, Braşov County* by Florea Costea, Lucica Savu, Valeriu Sîrbu, RaduŞtefănescu, Angelica Bălos

  The current study introduces a number of artifacts that are encountered rather in the pre-Roman Dacian sites from Romania (settlements, fortresses, necropolises), namely military gear and weapons. 1. Helmet – nape guard 1a. Context of the discovery. The item was found in Section I/2002-2003, m. 9, at a depth of 40 cm, behind the fortress’s enclosure wall, in a closed complex, most likely the living quarters of soldiers from the guard of the fortress (Fig. 1/a). We are dealing with a space inhabited at all times, given the existence of a fireplace and a fitting out made of crushed local limestone, which extends the fireplace towards the center of the room. Further evidence consists of the very rich inventory, characteristic of a prosperous daily life, which was found together with the helmet fragment: wheel-modeled cups, mugs,ka nh a ro i of “the Celtic type”, fruit-bowls, as well as hand-modeled cups, mugs, jars, supply vessels etc. Most of the vessels are whole or broken in situ, but they can be reconstituted. Some of them were on top of the helmet fragment which, in turn, was above some of the skeleton of a sheep or goat, fallen over and next to the fireplace (Fig. 1/b).
The position of the entire inventory (over 100 items, mostly pottery) makes it clear that we are dealing with a wall that collapsed when the whole complex was on fire, at which time the items placed on shelves fell around and on top of the larger vessels on the floor, which were found in one piece and with the mouth upwards (two of them even with rush-light cups in them). Based on the position that the other materials had, the nape guard was definitely among the items on the shelves.
On top of the inventory there is a layer of burnt clay with traces of logs, thick planks and wattle, a layer that consists both of the room’s wall and of the cover of the fortress’s wall (large pieces of clay with the imprints of planks); the thickness of these layer ranged from 10 to 30 cm and was smaller as it went higher. On top of this layer is the wood’s soil, mixed with local limestone rocks, which varies in thickness depending on the slope and formed in time out of the earth slides from higher up and from rotting vegetation.
It must be said that the deposits covering the inventory, as well as the substructure of the complex (at a depth of 1–1.20 m) are “weaved” with the trees’ roots, some of them several hundred years old, and that this posed a great deal of difficulties for the research. As for the layer of burnt material covering the items, it is almost as certain that it is the result of a (first?) destruction of the Dacian fortification around the time of the Roman conquest, an event that we will not go into at this moment.
1b). Materials, technique. The nape guard is made of brass in the following composition: Cu = 88.81%, Zn = 10.75%, Fe = 0.24%, Sn = 0.19%, plus slight traces of arsenide, lead and silver (we would like to take this * We have a debt of gratitude to the colleagues R. Ardevan, for the help with the correct reading of the inscription and for offering most of the bibliography on it, Al. Suceveanu, the first one to be shown the inscription and who offered us some of the bibliography on the topic, and L. Petculescu, for the fruitful discussion regarding the item and the description as well as for the willingness to provide us with some of the bibliography on the Roman weaponry; warm thanks to our colleague T. Bader (Germany). for sending some books and studies which otherwise would not have been accessible to us.
Omagiu lui Gavrilă Simion la a 80-a aniversare, 2008, p. 154-169  Military Gear Found in the Dacian Fortress of Racoşul de Jos–Piatra Detunată, Braşov County 155 opportunity to rectify the statement made on the occasion of the publishing of this item inTyragetia where, in the absence of the metallographic analyses, we said we were dealing with lead). It was made by both casting and hammering. After being cast, the plate was modeled and finished while being warm, in several stages, by banging. Particular attention was paid to reinforcing the edge, an operation which created a flange with an “inner” groove, marked with a chisel at an angle, which left a mark ranging between 5 and 13 mm in length and 1-2 mm in width. Hammering was also used for bending the “collar”, which went up towards the calotte, as the marks of the tool are perfectly visible on both sides.
There are also details which raise some questions in regard to the craftsman’s skill. The most striking thing seems to be the line of the flange, which is far from linear, a defect that cannot be attributed to the hammering and the chiseling but rather to the lack of accuracy on the part of the matrix.
It seems that the varying thickness of the tin is also a result of the banging while being warm, as the nape guard is wider where the tin is thinner. In any case, the marks of a hammer with a very small convexity are visible all over the “inner” side (towards the wearer’s body), while the visible side shows only three marks, all of them in the lower part (left one) of the item.
There are no other visible fabrication marks, as the two sharp, isosceles dents that are close to the perforation are from a later period and can have various explanations: in any case, they were made when the item was cold.
We also need to state that the “anvil”-support used during the banging had a fine surface, as the upper part of the item bears the imprint of a very fine “porosity”, similar to sand. It is clear that the banging did not take place on a hard and flat surface.
1c). Size, weight. Based on our data, compared to other helmets, contemporary or not, the nape guard in question is among the large ones. The distance between the extremities, namely the “rounded corners”, is 320 mm, while the edge of the “neckline” is 215 mm long. The width of the ends was unequal from the beginning: 60 mm on the left side and 83 mm on the opposite side. Also unequal is the width of the “neckline”, which is 16 mm on the left side, compared to 26 mm on the other. This “defect”, plus the absence of bolts and perforations, suggests that the nape guard and the calotte were one and the same item and that, originally, they were not detachable. At some point, the nape guard was separated from the calotte and the edge was carefully polished. It is from this “neckline”, on the left side, that one took a 60 mm long strip, by striking with a chisel from both sides, most likely to use it as raw material. The operation is a sign not only of craftsmanship, but also of the care taken not to compromise the item, as the marks left by the chisel were removed by polishing. The operation might have been made by a jeweler, as the strip that was detached was large enough for a fibula or some piece of jewelry. The thickness of the strip is also a little unusual, larger than with the other helmets that we know of, hence the 296 grams of weight. The width varies, both on the nape guard itself (where it ranges between 0.70 and 2.50 m) and along the neckline (between 0.5 and 3 mm).
We believe that the nape guard was separated from the helmet’s calotte on site, in the fortification from Piatra Detunată, which means that the rest of the helmet might be in the settlement, whole or dismembered. 1d). The state in which it was preserved is acceptable, but the wider segment is broken and pierced by corrosion. The cause of the breaking could be an ancient blow. Because of the very strong secondary burning, the metal sheet warped and gained a very rich interplay of yellow-red nuances. 1e). The inscription on the item. On the upper, visible part of the item, 0.7–3.2 cm from the neckline, on a single row, one finds the name of the helmet’s owner. We are dealing with a simple inscription, with “standard” letters, paleographically speaking. The text was imprinted after the metal sheet cooled and hardened, with dotted letters made with a stamp whose tip was smaller than 1 mm. Although the letters are “standard”, they are disproportionate in size, having between 9 and 28 mm in height. The smallest one is the “O” from CORELVS, while the largest is the S from ACVSTVS. The writing might have been “dictated” and not with a matrix, meaning the author was literate.
As with other inscriptions on helmets, the text specifies from the beginning the unit to which the owner belongs, a unit designated by its commander (the Centurion –CL), after which comes the name of the owner (CORELIVS ACVSTVS). So, a mirrored “C” is short forcenturion orcenturia, followed by the usual abbreviation for theg en tilici u m Claudius (CL). This leads us to believe that the helmet’s owner was on active duty in acenturia (infantry), led by an officer named Claudius, hence: centuria CL(AUDII).
Next come, very clearly, the letters CORELIVS. Usually, they are theg en tiliciu m of the military that owned the helmet. However, the Roman onomastics does not record a nomen gentile as such, but only a  156 Florea Costea, Lucica Savu, Valeriu Sîrbu, RaduŞtefănescu, Angelica Bălos Corellius1. We know of oneeq u es and three consuls with the nomen gentile Corellia. Therefore, thegen tiliciu m Corellius is encountered2, but our item does not show two “L” letters. On the other hand, this could be the widespreadg en tiliciu m Cornelius, rarely attested as acogno m en as well3.
Therefore, the most reasonable reading, in our opinion, could be COR(N)ELIVS, an idea also supported by the inscription CI L XII 4694, discovered in Gallia Narbonensis, on which the name Cornelia appears as Cor<n>elia4.
Just as clear are the letters of the following word, ACVSTVS, and not AGVSTVS, the letter “C” being identical to the one from CORELIVS. At first glance, the cognomen ACVSTVS could seem standard and, as such, accepted, as it is not necessarily depreciative (“The sharp one”). However, besides the fact that such acog no m en is not known to us (we do have to mention, nevertheless, that we did not have access to the work of I. Kajanto (1965), a careful observation of the way the letters are arranged clearly shows that between the current “A” and “C” letters, there is not only enough, but in fact an ideal space for the letter that we think is missing, namely “V”. As a result, it is our opinion that we are dealing with neither the nameAcustus, which is not encountered in any of the authors mentioned, norAgustus. What is very frequent, however, is the cognomenAugustu s5, a reading that we do not find surprising at all, despite the fact that the letter “C” is correct, but it could be the result of the scribe’s lack of attention (“C” instead of “G”). We believe, therefore, that the author missed or forgot to write the letter “V” between “A” and “G”. This statement is supported by an inscription from Belgica6, where the name appears spelled asA (u )g u s tu s .
In light of the above, we believe that the clearest reading is: (centuria) Cl(audii) Cor(n)elius A(u)gustus = Cornelius Augustus, from the centuria of Claudiu. The owner of the helmet was, therefore, a military by the name of Cornelius Augustus, a Roman citizen from the infantry centuria led by the officer Claudius.
In the Roman world, in the time of the Republic or the Principate or later on, the dotted inscriptions on armory items or offensive or defensive gear are quite many and enjoy a rich bibliography, which we mention in part at the end of this study. In our country, we have two dotted inscriptions on military items: on the bronze mask for a parade helmet found in Comani, in Olt’s waters, close toRo mu la, kept for some time in the collection of A. Papazoglu, but currently found in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna7 and on an armor fitting whose discovery site and context are unclear8. Both of them are written on bronze, also when the material was cold. There are also the inscriptions from another category of military items, even smaller in size9.
2. Bronze ornament from the helmet (Fig. 2/c) (L = 32 mm, Dmax = 15 mm, Dmin(body) = 9 mm; MIBv – Inv. no. II 6793). It was made by casting and has the shape of a “spool” with bi-truncated ends and a cylindrical, hollow body; it is decorated at each end with two circular nervures, thin at the end of the bi-truncated areas, with one of them thicker at the maximum diameter, and two other thin, circular nervures on the cylindrical part of the body.
Alone or together with another two, the item wraps around the support for the crest of an officer’s helmet which, most of the times, was made of iron10. The ornament was discovered in the same place as the helmet’s nape guard, in the same layer of burnt material. 3. Dagger (Fig. 3-5). 3a). Context of the discovery. The offensive weapon found during the excavation campaign of the summer of 2007, in the divider between cassettes 2 and 3 (C2-3/2007), between m. 3-4, at a depth of 0.68 m. Same as with the helmet fragment, we are dealing with a closed complex – a dwelling, placed in the enclosure, 14 m away from the place the helmet was discovered (Fig. 3/a).
The dagger was covered with a layer of wall rough cast turned red by the fire and with stones from the wall of the fortress, a layer under which there was a large number of Dacian vessels broken on site, but which can be reconstituted. Nearby, there also was a large nail shaped like the letter “L”, 16.2 cm long. Here too, we
1 Mócsy et alii 1983, 88; Solin, Salomies 1994, 64; Lörincz 1999, 75; Klebs, Rohden, Dessau 1897-1898; Groag, Stein 1936. 2 Mócsy et alii 1983, 69; Solin, Salomies 1994, 61 sqq.; Lörincz 1999, 76-78. 3 Mócsy et alii 1983, 88; Solin, Salomies 1994, 64; Lörincz 1999, 76-78. 4 Lörincz 1999, 76. 5 Mócsy et alii 1983, 38; Solin, Salomies 1994, 298; Lörincz, Redö 1994, 228. 6 CIL XIII 7584. 7 IDR II, 378, with bibliography. 8 IDR II 660, cf. Petculescu 1974-1975, 83-84. 9 Gudea 1982, 59-68; Gudea 1991, 69-80. 10Bishop, Coulston 1993, fig. 58/4 etc.  Military Gear Found in the Dacian Fortress of Racoşul de Jos–Piatra Detunată, Braşov County 157 are dealing with a dwelling’s rich inventory, specifically, with items that were on shelves but fell on the floor, together with the wall the moment the fortress was set fire to, also around the Roman conquest. Same as with the pottery, the impact with the floor and the fire slightly upset the complex, as its parts are spread a little. We would like to draw attention to the absence of the organic part of the handle and the back of the scabbard, due to the nature of the material that they were made of, probably wood or leather, which were destroyed by the fire.
The parts that were preserved are as follows: the dagger itself, the visible part of the scabbard, the handle and the system to affix it to the belt. The dagger, handle and affixing hinge are made of iron. 3b1). The dagger (Fig. 4/a; 5/a), triangular in plane, elongated, with two sharp edges, has a total length of 255 mm, 200 mm of which is the blade; the maximum width, towards the handle, is 41 mm, and the thickness, at half-length, is 5 mm. At the handle, the blade has two small, sharp and triangular winglet-stoppers (one of them broken from ancient times), which secured it to the handle.
In section, the blade is a compressed oval. In length, on the middle, it has two grooves that surround a nervure. The latter is also the maximum thickness. The peduncle, which enters the handle, is rectangular in section, 55 mm long and slightly sharp. It still has the two grooves and the nervure, up to the middle rivet of the handle. 3b2). The handle (L=85 mm, Wmax=23 mm). Shaped like an upside-down “T”, it only has one of the two handle parts anymore; the length of the rivets left in it (16-17 mm) can be a decisive argument in favor of the statement that the pair of the iron handle part was made of some sort of hard wood, of such a size that it could be grabbed and handled normally (Fig. 4/c; 5/b).
Grooved along its entire length, the handle is trapezoidal at the upper end and it ends with a horizontal bar; towards the middle, it has a disc-like area, with an orifice in the middle. It came together with the wooden part with the help of five iron rivets; the one in the middle penetrated the knife’s peduncle and made it stable inside the handle. The ends of the rivets were in the shape of discs and, for practical or aesthetic reasons; they must have been covered in enamel, bronze or some noble material. As we said before, the handle’s pair might have been made of some sort of hard wood or leather, but it burnt completely. Based on the length of the rivets, one can estimate it was 17 mm thick. The handle was assembled with the help of five rivets, two at the ends and one in the middle.
The scabbard was assembled with 15 rivets, positioned as follows: four in each of the two lateral “winglets” towards the handle, three in each of the two “winglets” in the middle and one in the center of the disc at the extremity of the sharp end.
Grooved in order to allow the peduncle to go in, the handle is ornamented with geometrical motifs, shaped like continuous or zigzagging lines, plus vertical or oblique incisions, which could suggest wheat husks. 3b3). The scabbard (L = 218 mm, Lmax,towards the handle = 48 mm, and “at the middle” = 39 mm; thickness = 2 mm) (Fig. 3/c, 4/b, 5/c). The only preserved part is the one permanently visible. The shape of the scabbard is imposed by the blade and it is triangular, elongated, with a round end pierced by a rivet. Despite the fact that it went through a very strong fire, the metallic core was preserved relatively well. On the other hand, the burning generated a very thin and brittle oxide casing, partially exfoliated from ancient times. The metallographic analysis performed on the inside, towards the middle of the length, had the following results: Fe=80.74%, Sn=15.20%, Cu=1.70%; there is no As or Ag. On the outside, the analysis came up with: Fe=91.71%, Sn=7.98%, Pb=0.31%; traces of Cu, but no Ag.
Therefore, the tin was used as a film that imitates silver (argentarium), which covered the entire surface of the item, as revealed by a more constant layer in the decoration’s negative. The larger amount present on the inside is the result of the film’s “leaking’ from the upper to the lower part, something also confirmed by its “movement” toward the handle which was lower, where the composition is as follows: Fe=96.64%, Sn=3.91%, Pb=0.16%.11.
The scabbard, made by forging, pressing and hammering, is ornamented with geometric and vegetal motifs that, even though somewhat elegant, do not endow the piece with particular artistic qualities. The geometric motifs are placed towards the edge and are meant to highlight the central symbol, particularly the military one. From edge to the middle, the succession of motifs is as follows: a) groove on the scabbards contour, with perpendicular, uneven incisions; b) profiled strip with a zigzagging motif, made by hammering; and c) thing groove that also follows the shape of the item.
The central decoration consists of a stylized vegetal motif, with the leading part played by the acanthus leafs seen in profile, placed along a path like a meandering river, with volute on the way and at the upper ends, 11The metallographic analyses were performed by Dr. B. Constantinescu from the Metallographic Laboratory of the Romanian National Museum of History, in Bucharest.




Dacica, De Bello Dacico


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(De bello dacico)
LanguageClassical Latin
Subject(s)History, military history
Publication date? 100s AD

Dacica (or De bello dacico) is a Latin work by Roman Emperor Trajan, written in the spirit of Julius Caesar's commentaries like De Bello Gallico, and describing Trajan's campaigns in Dacia.

It is assume to be based on Criton of Heraclea's Getica[1], a work on the history of the Daco-Getae. Criton was Trajan's Greek chief physician and procurator, during the Dacian wars.

Based on the research so far, Dacica is considered lost. However, one sentence survived in the Latin grammar work by Priscian. To describe a grammatical rule, Priscian cites Trajan: inde Berzobim, deinde Aizi processimus , meaning We then advanced to Berzobim, next to Aizi. The phrase describes the initial penetration into Dacia by the Roman army. It also mentions two Dacian towns where later Roman castra were built: Berzovia and Aizis.



[edit] See also

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ Bennett 2001, p. 97.

[edit] References

[edit] External links





Trajan's Palace at Zavoi. Coud this be Ranistorum? Castrul Roman de la Zavoi.


Trajan's palace at Zavoi, Romania, Could this be Ranistorum?

Romanian archaeologists has discovered, in southeastern county of Caras-Severin, a complex structure estimated to be 2,000 years old belonging to the Roman culture, local media reported on Thursday.

Zăvoi is a commune in Caraş-Severin County, western Romania with a population of 4,343 people which includes 23 August, Măgura, Măru, Poiana Mărului, Valea Bistrei, Voislova and Zăvoi villages.

The archaeological discovery has a special importance because it was built very early, probably in the autumn of 101 during the first Dacian-Roman War of 101-102, before the actual Roman conquest of Dacia, the Carpathian-Danube region, modern day Romania.

The discovery will bring the village of Zavoi in Caras-Severin County to the attention of history researchers and archaeologists from around the world following the digging up of the ruins of a Roman palace with well-preserved structures, which is expected to offer so far unknown precious information about the Daco-Roman culture, according to the official Agerpres news agency.

The archaeological style of the building is unique in Romania, as it fully meets the Roman tradition for towering structures, according to local experts.

The Roman vestiges of Zavoi will be recovered, conserved and displayed to their real value with support from the local and central government and is expected to bring about the tourist development of the entire area.

The salvaging diggings so far will become systematic, and the entire location will turn into an archaeological site, according to the archaeological team headed by researcher Adrian Ardet of the Caransebes County Museum of Ethnography.  Is this Ranistorum?


Palatul lui Traian ? descoperit la Zavoi, Caras Severin-2009


O remarcabila descoperire arheologica va aduce localitatea Zavoi din Valea Bistrei in atentia istoricilor si arheologilor de pretutindeni. In urma unor sapaturi efectuate aici, au fost scoase la iveala vestigiile unui palat roman cu structuri foarte bine conservate, constructie care va aduce informatii pretioase si necunoscute pana acum de istorici, referitoare la cultura daco-romana.

Primarul comunei Zavoi, Antonie Bunei, care s-a implicat activ in faza incipienta in dezvoltarea sapaturilor din zona, a declarat pentru Agerpres ca l-a anuntat imediat pe arheologul caransebesean Adrian Ardet despre situatia aparuta. In aceste conditii, echipa condusa de cercetatorul stiintific dr. Adrian Ardet de la Muzeul Judetean de Etnografie si al Regimentului de Granita Caransebes a scos la lumina o constructie complexa estimata la doua milenii de existenta, apartinand culturii romane. Cel mai probabil, imobilul respectiv a fost construit in toamna anului 101, d.H., in timpul primului razboi daco-roman desfasurat intre anii 101 si 102. Descoperirea "Palatului Imparatului Traian" de la Zavoi este deosebit de importanta datorita faptului ca acesta a fost construit timpuriu, inainte de cucerirea efectiva a Daciei de catre romani. Imobilul, unic in Romania prin constructia sa, pastreaza in totalitate traditia latina de arhitectura pentru cladirile cu impozanta. In viitor, vestigiile romane din comuna Zavoi urmeaza sa fie restaurate, conservate si puse cu adevarat in valoare cu sprijinul Ministerului Culturii si Cultelor, Consiliului Judetean, Directiei Judetene pentru Cultura, Culte si Patrimoniul Cultural National, toate acestea ducand la dezvoltarea intregii zone din punct de vedere turistic. (D.M.)



 O inedită şi remarcabilă descoperire arheologică, de o importanţă istorică excepţională va aduce comuna Zăvoi din Valea Bistrei în atenţia cercetătorilor de pretutindeni. Aici au fost efectuate săpături care au scos la iveală vestigiile unui palat roman, cu structuri foarte bine conservate, care va aduce informaţii preţioase şi necunoscute până acum de istorici, referitoare la Cultura Daco-Romană.

Construcţia în cauză se află situată pe amplasamentul actualului cimitir comunal şi a fost descoperită la momentul efectuării unei gropi mortuare. Primarul comunei Zăvoi, Antonie Bunei, s-a implicat activ, în faza incipientă, în dezvoltarea săpăturilor din zonă, anunţându-l totodată pe arheologul caransebeşean Adrian Ardeţ despre situaţia apărută. Acesta din urmă, realizând la faţa locului amploarea descoperirii a luat legătura cu directorul Direcţiei judeţene pentru Cultură, Culte şi Patrimoniul Cultural Naţional Caraş-Severin, Ada Cruceanu Chisăliţă care a sprijinit financiar, prin intermediul instituţiei, continuarea săpăturilor şi a cercetărilor de aici.

În aceste condiţii, echipa condusă de cercetătorul ştiinţific doctor Adrian Ardeţ de la Muzeul Judeţean de Etnografie şi al Regimentului de Graniţă Caransebeş a scos la lumină o construcţie complexă estimată la două milenii de existenţă, aparţinând culturii romane. Cel mai probabil, imobilul respectiv a fost construit în toamna anului 101, după Hristos, în timpul Primului Război Daco-Roman desfăşurat între anii 101-102, după Hristos.

Conform izvoarelor istorice, în acel an, în zona fostei aşezării antice Agmonia care este situată (între Tibiscum şi Tapae) de lânga actuala localitate Zăvoi, în apropierea capitalei Daciei, împăratul roman Traian, a sosit cu peste 200.000 de militari, cu gândul să cucerească fortăreaţa Sarmizegetusa, după ce anterior, prin luptă, a supus triburile dacice de la nord de Dunăre, respectiv din zonele Olteniei şi Banatului.

Însă, din cauza drumului dificil către Sarmizegetusa şi Munţii Orăştiei dar şi a opoziţiei dace, ofensiva romană s-a oprit pe timpul iernii în Valea Bistrei, în zona noilor vestigii descoperite la Zăvoi, unde doveziile ieşite la iveală confirmă înfiinţarea unor aşezăminte. În actualul stadiu de cercetare, arheologul caransebeşean Adrian Ardeţ este de părere că, datorită complexităţii construcţiei, însuşi Împăratul Traian a folosit Palatul descoperit la Zăvoi în timpul iernii dintre anii 101-102, înainte de lupta decisivă cu Decebal şi cucerirea de către romani a Regatului Dac.
Între argumentele care conduc la susţinerea acestei afirmaţii se evidenţiază faptul că, până la această dată, o construcţie aproximativ asemănătoare cu amploarea celei noi descoperite se află numai la Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa, capitala ulterioarei Provincii romane Dacia ce servea drept sediu al Guvernatorului din aceea vreme, acest edificiu fiind construit abia în anul 160 după Hristos.


Descoperirea „Palatului Împăratului Traian” de la Zăvoi este cu atât mai importantă datorită faptului că acesta a fost construit timpuriu, înainte de cucerirea efectivă a Daciei, în anul 101, după Hristos. De menţionat faptul că, anticul imobil, unic în România prin construcţia sa păstrează în totalitate tradiţia latină de arhitectură pentru clădirile cu impozanţă. Astfel, zidurile au fost realizate din piatră de carieră fasonată, încăperile erau încălzite prin podea, respectiv procedura „Hipocaustum”- specifică doar clădirilor publice unde îşi desfăşurau activitatea, între alţii, şi cei mai înalţi funcţionari romani iar la băi s-a folosit pentru izolare o tehnică şi un amestec special de bucăţi de cărămidă şi mortar „Opus Signinum”, care nu permitea infiltrarea apei în ziduri. De asemenea, până la acest moment, arheologul Adrian Ardeţ a descoperit aici fundaţiile unei săli de aproximativ 100 de metri pătraţi, o baie, o piscină, intrarea în imobil, alături de o parte din curtea interioară unde se află canalele de scurgere ale apelor, pavate cu cărămidă şi, acoperite la rândul lor cu lespezi de piatră.

După primele cercetări desfăşurate, pentru Palatul antic descoperit în comuna Zăvoi a ieşit la iveală şi o excepţie vizavi de arhitectura romană şi anume faptul că între materialele de construcţie nu se regăseşte şi roca de marmură, iar explicaţia în acest sens constă în faptul că, până în anul 101 după Hristos, romanii încă nu descoperiseră Cariera din actuala localitate Bucova, acest lucru petrecând-se abia dupa cucerirea Daciei din anul 102, după Hristos.

Plecând de la această descoperire şi de la existenţa „Valurilor de Pâmânt” din comuna Zăvoi care au fost construite de romani cu rol de fortificaţie şi aveau o înălţime de zece metri, Adrian Ardeţ consideră că Bătălia de la Tapae pare să se fi desfăşurat în apropierea acestei zone. Tot aici, conform izvoarelor istorice, ar exista şi un monument altar, nedescoperit însă, dedicat victimelor acestei lupte. De menţionat că, Bătălia de la Tapae a fost bătălia decisivă a primului Război Daco-Roman, în care împăratul roman Traian l-a învins pe regele dac Decebal. Până la această dată, istoricii nu au reuşit să identifice cu exactitate zona câmpului de luptă.

Pe viitor, vestigiile romane din comuna Zăvoi urmează a fi restaurate, conservate şi puse cu adevărat în valoare cu sprijinul Ministerului Culturii şi Cultelor, Consiliului Judeţean, Direcţiei judeţene pentru Cultură, Culte şi Patrimoniul Cultural Naţional Caraş-Severin, toate acestea ducând la dezvoltarea întregii zone din punct de vedere turistic. În acelaşi timp, săpăturile cu caracter de salvare efectuate până în acest moment, se vor transforma în săpături sistematice iar întrega locaţie va fi constituită într-un sit arheologic, fiind probabile aici şi alte descoperiri de amploare.

Rămâne ca, după ce rezultatele cercetarilor de teren vor fi concretizate în studii ştiinţifice, manualele de istorie vor trebui să fie modificate şi completate.
Până atunci însă, către finele lunii în curs, Direcţia judeţenă pentru Cultură, Culte şi Patrimoniul Cultural Naţional şi Primăria comunei Zăvoi întenţionează să organizeze o masă rotundă pe tema descoperirii noilor vestigii romane din Valea Bistrei la care vor lua parte, între alţii, cunoscuţi oameni de ştiinţă de la Muzeele de Istorie din Bucureşti, Cluj Napoca şi Timişoara dar şi autorităţi judeţene şi locale.

Descoperirea recentă a ruinelor „Palatului Împăratului Traian” din comuna Zăvoi şi existenţa „Marilor Valuri de Pâmânt” în apropierea acestei localităţi care au fost construite de romani cu rol de fortificaţie şi aveau o dimensiune de 350 x 350 de metri şi înalte de zece metri, aduc noi indicii istoricilor de pretutindeni referitoare la Bătălia de la Tapae care pare să se fi desfăşurat în apropierea acestei zone. Tot aici, conform izvoarelor istorice de la Dio Cassius, ar exista şi un monument altar, nedescoperit însă până în prezent de arheologii români. În antichitate, aceste edificii, erau ridicate de romani la locul desfăşurării marilor bătălii iar aici erau oficiate an de an ceremoniale religioase şi procesiuni în memoria militarilor căzuţi în lupte.

De menţionat faptul că, Bătălia de la Tapae a fost bătălia decisivă a primului Război Daco-Roman desfăşurat între anii 101-102, după Hristos, în care împăratul roman Traian l-a învins pe regele dac Decebal şi a cucerit capitala acestuia, Sarmizegetusa, din Munţii Orăştiei. Până la această dată, istoricii nu au reuşit să identifice cu exactitate zona câmpului de luptă, avansând o serie de locaţii situate între comuna Zăvoi şi Porţile de Fier ale Transilvaniei.

„Agger”-ul sau „Valurile de Pământ” sunt acele construcţii ce au fost folosite de civilizaţia romană pentru apararea unui castru sau a unui alt obiectiv militar sau civil. Trebuie precizat faptul că, „Agger”-ul existent în apropierea comunei Zăvoi a fost cercetat pentru prima dată de academicianul doctor Constantin Daicoviciu în anii '60, însă renumitul arheolog, neavând cunoştiinţe la aceea perioadă despre Palatul roman recent descoperit în localitate, nu a putut explica ceea ce anume au protejat şi fortificat valurile de pământ de aici.
Arheologul caransebeşean Adrian Ardeţ consideră că, dovezile descoperite la locul construcţiei în cauză indică faptul că, însuşi Împăratul Traian a folosit Palatul de la Zăvoi în timpul iernii dintre anii 101-102, înainte de lupta decisivă cu Decebal şi cucerirea de către romani a Regatului Dac.

  Caraş-Severin este un judeţ în regiunea Banat din România, ce are ca reşedinţă oraşul industrial Reşiţa.  Zăvoi, Caraş-Severin,_Cara%C5%9F-Severin


Ministerul Culturii, Cultelor şi Patrimoniului Naţional
Repertoriul Arheologic Naţional (RAN) 


 Castrul roman de la Zăvoi. la km 22,200 pe şoseaua Caransebeş - Haţeg, în zona cimitirului din localitate


1. Benea D.,, Banatul în timpul lui Traian, AnB (SN), 3, 1994, 309-321, [Publicaţie]
2. DMASI, Proiectul Listei Monumentelor Istorice, 1991, [Proiect LMI] (sursă de sit)
3. Luca, Sabin Adrian, Repertoriul arheologic al judeţului Caraş Severin, 2004, 145, [Repertoriu] (sursă de sit)
4. Lista Monumentelor Istorice, MO nr. 646 bis /16/07/2004, Ordinul ministrului culturii şi cultelor nr. 2.314/ 2004, vol., 2004, poz. 302-304, p. 772, [Ordin MCC] (sursă de sit) castra from Romania.kmz

Biniş – aflat la 5 km de oraşul Bocşa din judeţul Caraş-Severin, vechi şi vestit centru bănăţean de ceramică nesmălţuită unde se mai practică încă olăritul.

Pe o lungime de 5 km, între satul Biniş şi oraşul Bocşa, se păstrează încă în bune condiţii, drumul roman Lederata-Tibiscum

Berzovia – localitate menţionată în singurul fragment rămas din cronica războiului purtat de Traian împotriva dacilor.

Ansamblul de relief cu climă, floră, faună, a favorizat apariţia staţiunii Poiana Mărului, situată într-un decor deosebit de pitoresc, dominat de păduri de conifere şi foioase, răspândite între Muntele Mic, Nedeia şi Vârful Pietrii. Din staţiune ni se oferă o perspectivă mai îndepărtată a munţilor Retezat şi Ţarcu. De aici pleacă mai multe trasee montane: prin Şaua Iepii (1727 m), între Masivul Bloju şi Baicu, spre Gura Apei, unde se află un mare lac de acumulare pentru hidrocentrala Râu de Mori; prin Valea Şucului, spre culmile Cuntu şi Ţarcu; pe valea pârâului Scorila, spre Muntele Mic; de la păstrăvărie, pe Culmea Nedeii, spre Vârful Nedeii.

LacDin legendele care abundă în zonă, credem tot mai mult că dacii aveau o viaţă religioasă ce se lega de munte şi de măreţia acestor înălţimi. Poiana Mărului a fost, de veacuri, locul de popas al oierilor ce urcau spre locurile de păşunat de pe aceste înălţimi, lucru ce a făcut ca locuitorii satelor ce-şi păşteau oile în zona masivului Gugu să poarte numele de gugulani („Gugulan cu car cu mere / Şi cu frumoasă muiere”, spune cântecul). Una dintre cele mai interesante legende ale zonei, se pare a fi aceea legată de comoara lui Scorilo. Pietrele Scorile, Cleanţul Scorilo, Cioaca (Creasta) Scorilo sunt nume vechi, încă din timpul dacilor, care au rămas şi s-au transmis peste veacuri, împreună cu credinţa că ar exista o comoară a regilor daci în această zonă. În urma unui sondaj printre ciobanii mai în vârstă, s-au desprins mai multe lucruri interesante, ce duc la o cunoaştere a locului din multe puncte de vedere. Ei spun că, în stânca lui Scorilo, cu un perete drept, se găseşte, undeva în centru, la o distanţă de 40 m de la poale şi 40 m de la culme, o peşteră unde este ascunsă o comoară. Locul ar fi marcat de prima rază de soare ce-şi trimite lumina peste creasta numită Buza Nedeii şi cade pe mijlocul peretelui, la răsăritul soarelui, în ziua de 21 iunie, ziua solstiţiului de vară. Acest lucru este destul de greu de acceptat. Într-o stâncă formată din şisturi cristaline, peşterile naturale nu se pot forma. Printr-o cercetare mai amănunţită a stâncii, nu a fost găsită decât o încăpere laterală ce pare că a fost săpată în stâncă, ca un adăpost pentru ciobanii ce urcau spre Muntele Mic. În urma unor observaţii amănunţite ale locului indicat, se poate vedea un fel de copertină, ca o adâncitură. Pentru elucidarea acestei legende, pot fi efectuate cercetări amănunţite ale acestui perete din stânca lui Scorilo. În general, ciobanii nu doresc să vorbească despre această zonă, considerând zona, o zonă tabu, zonă sacră. Acum, în urma descoperirilor de la Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa, ştim că a existat un rege dac cu numele Scorilo, iar numele lui s-a păstrat în zonă fără a fi schimbat.   


Autoarea prezinta, în baza unei foarte bogate documentari arheologice si istoriografice de specialitate, singurul atelier complex de realizare a margelelor din Imperiul roman, cunoscut pâna acum, si descoperit la Tibiscum – asezare din apropierea Caransebesului.




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