Map of the Roman Empire - Dacia

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Ancient Dacia During the first century Dacia was a barbarian region. Later Trajan crossed the Danube River and went to war with the Daci (101 AD), and after five years Dacia was incorporated into the Empire making it a Roman province.

Dacia (Δακία), as a Roman province, lay between the Danube and the Carpathian Mountains, and comprehended the modern Transylvania, Wallachia, Moldavia, and part of Hungary. The Daci were of the same race and spoke the same language as the Getae, and are therefore usually said to be of Thracian origin. They were a brave and warlike people. In the reign of Domitian they became so formidable under their king, Decebalus, that the Romans were obliged to purchase a peace of them by the payment of tribute. Trajan delivered the Empire from this disgrace. He crossed the Danube, and after a war of five years (A.D. 101-106) conquered the country, and made it a Roman province. At a later period Dacia was invaded by the Goths; and as Aurelian considered it more prudent to make the Danube the boundary of the Empire, he resigned Dacia to the barbarians, removed the Roman inhabitants to Moesia, and gave the name of Dacia (Aureliani) to that part of the province along the Danube where they were settled. - Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. New York. Harper and Brothers.

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Dacia DA´CIA
DA´CIA (Δακία: Eth. and Adj. Δάκος, Dacus, Dacicus). This country, the last of the Roman conquests in Europe, can only be considered as a geographical expression denoting the land of the Daci or Getae (ἡ τῶν Γετῶν γῆ, Strab. vii. p.295), till its incorporation with the empire by Trajan, when it received certain definite limits.

The GETAE (Γέται, sing. Γέτης, Steph. B. sub voce were in antiquity enumerated among the Thracian group of nations; and this opinion has been confirmed by the most competent among modern inquirers. (Schafarik, Slav. Alt. vol. i. p. 31.) It need hardly be added, that the theory which regarded the Getae and the “long-haired” Goths of Scandinavia as equivalent names, though supported by Procopius, Jerome, Vopiscus, and Spartian, but, above all, by Jornandes (De Reb. Get.), is entirely devoid of foundation. The seat of this people as they first appear in history must be placed to the N. of Mt. Haemus, and S. of the Ister. If we may trust Herodotus (4.92, foll. 5.3), the Getae were superior to the other Thracian barbarians. Our knowledge of the later Dacians partly confirms this statement, however much Grecian imagination might colour his sketch, or have originated the fables connected with their indigenous deity Zalmolxis or Zamolxis. Thucydides (2.96) describes them as living in the same district as that which they occupied when conquered by Dareius, and they were among the tribes who followed Sitalces to the field. In the expedition of Philip against Scythia (Just. 9.2), the Triballi, who had not long before been driven out of their ancient seats in the interior by the irruption of the Kelts, occupied the steppe between the Danube and the Balkan. It would seem that the Getae had been forced across the river by the Triballi, as Alexander, in the campaign of B.C. 335, found the Getae ranged upon the opposite side of the Ister to the number of upwards of 10,000 foot and 4000 horsemen. Under favour of night, Alexander crossed over the river unmolested, defeated the Getae, and took their town. (Arrian, Arr. Anab. 1.2; Strab. p. 301.) In B.C. 292, Lysimachus, in the aggressive warfare which he waged against the Getae, penetrated into [1.743] the heart of their country: in the plains of Bessarabia (ἡ τῶν Γετῶν ἐρημία, Strab. p. 305) his retreat was cut off, and he, with all his army, had to surrender. Lysimachus, however, was set free, and the generosity of Dromichaetes, the native king, found a place among all the collectors of anecdotes. (Strab. p. 302; Plut. Demetr. 39, 52; Polyaen. 7.5; comp. Paus. 1.9.5.) It is probable that the Dacian prince obtained a large treasure, either from the plunder of the camp, or the ransom of his prisoners, as on two separate occasions, once in 1545, and again rather more than twenty years since, many thousand gold coins were found near Thorda, some of them bearing the name of Lysimachus, and others with the epigraph ΚΟΣΩΝ. (Paget, Hungary and Transylvania, vol. ii. p. 105.)

When the Gauls occupied Eastern Europe, the Getae were involved in war with that people. (Just. 26.3.) They were defeated, and were sold in great numbers for slaves to the Athenians, who had formerly obtained their supplies from Phrygia and Caria, as is shown by Aristophanes and the elder comedians; while, after this period, the names of Davus (Dacus and Davus are convertible forms) and Geta appear as the names of slaves in the writers of the New Comedy and their Roman imitator Terence. (Strab. p. 304; Mém. de l'Acad. des Inscr. vol. xxv. pp. 34, foll.; Niebuhr, Klein. Schrift. pp. 3542--398; Schafarik, Slav. Alt. vol. i. p. 469.)

It is not known why and when the Getae changed their name to that of Daci. The ancients are unanimous in considering them as identical (Plin. Nat. 4.12; Paus. 1.12.4; D. C. 51.67; Appian, App. Praef. ch. 4; Just. 32.3.16), though Strabo (p. 304; comp. Senec. Nat. Quaest. 1) distinguishes them by saying that the Getae occupied the district towards Pontus and the E., the Daci that towards Germania and the sources of the Ister. Curio, the first Roman general who advanced in these regions as far N. as the Danube, was afraid to attack Dacia. (Flor. 3.4.6.) According to some, Julius Caesar, in the extensive schemes of conquest they assign to him, had meditated the invasion of Dacia. (Suet. Jul. 44.) The native prince Boerebistas, a contemporary of Augustus, and a man of great capacities, ventured to cross the Ister, and, by ravaging Thrace, and exterminating the people of the Boii and the Taurisci, had increased the power of the Getae to such extent as even to cause terror to the Romans. (Strab. pp. 298, 303.) In B.C. 10, Augustus sent Lentulus to attack their king Cotiso. The Romans appear to have marched up the valley of the Maros, but the expedition had no practical results. (Flor. 4.12.19; Strab. p. 304; D. C. 54.36; Hor. Carm. 3.8, 18; Suet. Oct. 21.) Ovid, in his exile, has given a picture of the Getae, with all their repulsive features, set off by the horrors of the inclement climate. The poet, however, learnt their language (Trist. 5.12, 58, ex Pont. 3.24), and composed a song of triumph for Augustus in the rude tongue of his barbarian neighbours (ex Pont. 4.13, 23). The only specimens of this ancient language are in the names of men and places, and in particular words scattered through the writers of Greece and Rome, or preserved by lexicographers, such as Hesychius and Suidas. Adelung (Mithridat. vol. ii. p. 344) has collected many of these words and terminations of words, such as the local ending in dava, which frequently occurs among Dacian towns. From this period the Dacians were engaged in frequent wars with the Romans. Fortune inclined to neither side, till at last they obtained, under their king Decebalus, so decided an advantage over the weakness of Domitian as to reduce that emperor to accept a peace, accompanied by the most disgraceful conditions, and, among others, the payment of a yearly tribute to Dacia. A full account of these two campaigns of Domitian is given in the Dict. of Biog. art. Decebalus. When Trajan assumed the imperial purple, he prepared to restore to its brightness the tarnished honour of the empire, and himself headed the expedition against Dacia. In A.D. 101, Trajan left Rome, and passing through Pannonia, and crossing the Theiss, followed the course of the Maros into Transylvania. His first great battle was on the Crossfield near Thorda. The Moldo-Wallachian peasant still calls the battle field by the name “Prat de Trajan” (Pratum Trajani); a remarkable instance of the tenacity of a people's recollections. For other curious examples of the honour in which the modern inhabitants hold the memory of the conqueror of Decebalus, see Revue des deux Mondes, vol. xxi. p. 110. Decebalus broke the humiliating conditions to which he had been subjected; but Dacia was doomed to become a Roman province, and in A.D. 104 Trajan, who had assumed the title of Dacicus, set out on his second campaign. The emperor, who was now better acquainted with the geography of the country, chose a nearer route, and one by which he might at once reach the capital of the enemy. On this occasion he crossed the Danube below the Iron Gate, where his famous bridge was afterwards built, and sending one part of his army along the Aluta, he himself followed the valley which now leads from Orsova by Mehadia and Karansebes over the Iron Gate pass--the deep mountain gorge which, standing at the entrance of Transylvania, has been alternately contested by Dacian, Roman, Christian, and Moslem. Taking this route, he marched direct upon the capital Sarmizegethusa.

The Dacians, unable any longer to defend their capital, set fire to it, and fled to the mountains. Decebalus, finding it impossible to escape his pursuers, stabbed himself, and many of his followers committed suicide, to avoid subjection to the Romans. Dio Cassius (68.6--14) has given the history of this famous war; but the Column of Trajan at Rome, upon which the chief events of the two campaigns are minutely figured, forms the best commentary on this final victory of Rome, which Caninius the poet (Plin. Ep. 8.4.1) had proposed to narrate in verse as an eternal monument to the illustrious Trajan. (Paget, Hungary and Transylvania, vol. ii. p. 107; Fabretti, de Column. Traj.; Mannert, Res Traj. ad Danub. gestae; Engel, Comm. de Exped. Traj. ad Danub.; Franke, Zur Geschich. Trajans, pp. 66--141.)

Dacia now became a Roman province, and received its definite political boundary; on the W. it was bounded by the Tysia, which divided it from the Iazyges Metanastae; on the N. by the Mons Carpatus; to the E. its limits were the Hierasus, up to its confluence with the Ister; while on the S. it was separated from Moesia by the Danube (Ptol. 3.8.4.) The whole circumference was calculated by Eutropius (8.2) at 1000 M. P., but this is below the mark, as it contained what is now the Banat of Temesvár, Hungary E. of the Theiss, the whole of Transylvania, the Bukowina, the S. point of Galicia, Moldavia W. of the Pruth, and the whole of Wallachia. [1.744]

After the subjugation of the country, Trajan turned his attention to securing his new province. The bridge over the Danube which was to afford a communication with the S. provinces, had been commenced probably about A.D. 103. Dio Cassius, governor of Pannonia under Alexander Severus, wrote an account of Trajan's bridge; but this part of his work has been lost, though an abridgment is given in the epitome of Xiphilinus. According to this writer, it was built by Apollodorus, the architect of the Forum Trajanum and of the Column at Rome, and consisted of 20 piers; each pier was 150 Roman feet high, 60 feet thick, and they were 170 feet distant from each other. At either end it was protected by towers, and the whole work was built of hewn stone. (D. C. 68.13.) The latter circumstance seems to be an exaggeration, and the account of the situation, depth of water, nature of the soil, and other particulars, contains many errors. A comparison of the other two ancient authorities--the large copper coin of Trajan with the bridge on the reverse, and the column, where part of the bridge is represented in the background--shows that the upper part of the bridge was of wood, while the piers are undoubtedly of stone. About A.D. 120 Hadrian destroyed the bridge, as it is said, to prevent the barbarians crossing over into the Thracian provinces. (Dio Cass. l.c.) The remains of this bridge are to be found a little below the miserable village of Scala Gladova. All that is now left is a solid shapeless mass of masonry on each bank, about 20 feet high; and between that and the river there is on each side a broken wall, with a level on the top of the banks, apparently forming the pier from which the first arches sprang. On both sides the banks are of a considerable height above the water. In the bed of the river, and in a direct line between these ruins, the surveyors--as will be seen by the accompanying plan, in which the upper line indicates the common height of the water, the lower that to which it sometimes falls, when the tops of


several of the pillars become visible--have traced the remains of 13 pillars. Not far from the middle, a kind of island has been formed which occupies the space of 4 pillars, and on the N. bank there is a second space, apparently filled up by deposits, which leaves room for one other pillar; thus making, in addition to those on the banks, the number 20. The distance between the pillars on either bank is about 3,900 English feet. The pillar on the N. bank is not built of hewn stone, but of a mass of shapeless materials joined together with Roman cement. It may have been encased in hewn stone which is now destroyed. On the Wallachian side are the remains of a tower, surrounded by a deep and circular fosse. (Paget, vol. ii. p. 57.)

Besides this great work Trajan constructed roads (the great agents for civilization): these were three in number, and were connected with the Via Trajana, which ran along the S. side of the Danube, partly cut in the rock and partly supported on wooden beams. The road which lay most to the W. quitted Viminacium,--or, more properly, the fortress on the opposite side of the river, Uj-Palanka,--and took a NE. direction up to Tiviscum (Temesvar). On this road the Peutingerian Table gives the following stations:--Arcidava, Centum Puteae, Bersovia, Azizis, Caput Bubali, Tiviscum. The middle road, quitting Orsova, followed the valley of the Czerna, closely hemmed in by its wooded hills, to Mehadia; and, pursuing the same course as the modern road, proceeded along the banks of the Temes, then crossed the narrow gorge where the Romans are said to have had literally an iron gate, which gave its name to the place. Its direction then turned towards the E., along the vale--or rather plain--of Hátzeg, over Hunyad and the level before Várhely, and the hill of Deva, and there fell into the beautiful valley of the Maros,--taking the route which, should Transylvania ever attain to a higher civilisation, will form the future great commercial road to unite the winegrowing districts of its well-watered volcanic slopes with the stream of the Danube. Still proceeding in a NE. direction along the Maros, it passed Karlsburg, Thorda, Maros Vasarheli, and so on to the frontier of Moldavia. Again, taking the guidance of the Peutingerian Table, the following stations lie on this road:--Tierna, Ad Mediam (Mehadia,--with the baths of Hercules, which were known to the Romans as early as the times of Hadrian, and were in high repute for their medicinal virtues), Praetorium, Ad Pannonios, Gaganae, Masclianae, Tiviscum, Agnavae, Pons Augusti, Sarmizegethusa, Ad Aquas, Germizera, Blandiana, Apula, Brucla, Salinae, Patavissa, Napoca, Optatiana, Langiana, Cersie, Parolissum.

The third road, which lay towards the E., left the neighbourhood of Scala Gladova,--probably crossing Trajan's Bridge,--passed along the valley of the Aluta (Alt), and, mounting the Rothenthurm pass, descended upon Karlsburg, where it fell in with the other road. The following are the stations up to Apula,--the mining capital of the Romans in Dacia, the seat of the Collegium Aurariorum, and the residence of the procurator or chief officer of the gold mines:--Drubetis, Amutria, Pelendova, Castra Nova, Romula, Acidava, Rusidava, Pons Aluti, Burridava, Castra Trajana, Arutela, Praetorium, Pons Vetus Stenarum, Cedonie, Acidava, Apula.

Ptolemy (3.8) has added the names of the following places which are not to be found on the great Roman roads, between the Tysia and the Aluta, in the direction from N. to S.:--Rucconium (Ῥουκκόνιον), Docidava (Δοκιδαύα), Ulpianum (Οὐλπιανόν), Ziridava (Ζιρίδαυα), Zurobara (Ζουρόβαρα), Lizizis (Λιζιζίς), Zeugma (Ζεῦγμα), Acmonia (Ἀκμωνία), Phrateria (Φρατερία). Then E. of the Aluta, in the direction from S to N.:--Arcinna (Ἄρκιν(ν)α), Pinum (Πινόν), Sornum (Σόρνον), Tiasum (Τίασον), Nentidava (Νεντίδαυα), Pirum (Πιρούμ), Hydata (Ὕδατα), Tiriscum (Τίρισκον), Marcodava (Μαρκόδαυα), Comidava (Κομίδαυα), Rhamidava (Ῥαμίδαυα), Zusidava (Ζουσίδαυα), Paloda (Πάλοδα), Angustia (Ἀγγουστία), Praetoria Augusta (Πραιτωρία Αὐγούστα), Sandava (Σάνδαυα), Utidava (Οὐτίδαυα), Petrodava (Πετρόδαυα), Carsidava (Καρσίδαυα), Patridava (Πατρίδαυα), Triphulum (Τρίφυλον), Arcobadara (Ἀρκοβάδαρα).

The rivers of Dacia which flowed into the Danube in the direction from W. to. E., were as follows:--Tisianus or Tysia, with its E. affluents Gerasus or Grissia, and Marisus; Tibiscus, springing from the Carpathians; Gifil; Alutas; and Hierasus which has been identified with the Πόρας or Πορετός of Herodotus (4.48). [1.745]

Dacia was made a consular province (Capitolin. Pertin. 2, 3) under a “legatus,” and divided into districts, as in 129 there appears “Dacia Inferior” under Hadrian, and in an inscription, the age of which is not known, “Dacia Apulensis” (Orelli, Inscr. n. 3888). Notwithstanding the resolution of Hadrian to contract the limits of the empire, and the steps he actually took for that purpose, the Romans seem to have remained masters of Dacia till, the time of Aurelian (A.D. 270--275); when they finally retired across the Danube, and left Dacia to the Goths. The Roman colonists were placed on the S. of the river, in a district lying between Upper and Lower Moesia, which bore the name of DACIA AURELIANI (Vopisc. Aurel. 39; Ruf. Brev. 8; Eutrop. 9.15), and which was afterwards divided into two parts:--DACIA RIPENSIS, on the Danube, with the capital RATIARIA; and DACIA MEDITERRANEI, with the capital SERDICA (Marquardt, Handbuch der Röm. Alt. p. 108.) An intercourse of commerce and language was gradually established between the opposite banks of the river; and Dacia, though serving a Gothic master, proved the firmest barrier against the barbarians of the north. In spite of the strong lines which the Visigoths were preparing to construct between the Pruth, Danube, and the mountains, they gave way before the destructive inroads of the Huns, about A.D. 376. (Ammian. 31.3; Jornand. de Reb. Get. 100.24; Schafarik, Slav. Alt. vol. i. p. 324.) After the death of Attila in A.D. 453, the old country of Dacia, from the Carpathian mountains to the Euxine, became the seat of a new power which was erected by Ardaric, king of the Gepidae. When the kingdom of the Gepidae was destroyed by the Lombards and Avars in A.D. 566, these districts were occupied without resistance by a new colony of Scythians. The Dacian empire of the “Chagans” lasted for upwards of 230 years, till it fell before the might and prowess of the great Charlemagne. The Wallachians--or “Rumunyi,” as they call themselves--are not to be confounded with the Vlakhi (Βλάχοι), which is a much older and wider-spread name, belonging to the Kelts. (Schafarik, Slav. Alt. vol. i. p. 235.) Both of the Wallachian stocks on either side of the Danube were of the same descent, and consisted of a mixture of Slaves, Getae, and Romans, who from the seventh to the tenth century sheltered themselves in the mountains of Dacia, Macedonia, Thessaly, and Albania; and when the times became more peaceable, spread themselves over the neighbouring plains. (Schafarik, Slav. Alt. vol. ii. p. 205; Fessler, Geschich. der Ungern, vol. i. p. 71.)

The Magyars had made themselves masters of Dacia before the tenth century: its later history falls without the province of this work. It is interesting to observe that Bethlén Gabor, the Protestant hero of Transylvania in the Thirty Years' War, had intended to have founded the ancient Dacian empire in favour of himself, but abandoned it in consequence, as it seems, of his being childless.

The dress, features, and whole appearance of the modern Wallacks, correspond entirely with the Dacians of Trajan's Column. They have the same arched nose, deeply-sunken eye, and long hair, the same sheepskin cap, the same shirt, bound round the waist and descending to the knee, and the same long loose trousers which the Roman chain is so often seen encircling at the ankles. It is more difficult to decide the claims of the Wallack to Roman descent; but an admixture of Romanr and Dacian blood--the conquerors and the conquered--may reasonably be inferred. Though the duration of the Roman empire only lasted for about 170 years in this country, yet in none has it left more lasting impression of its domination, especially in the language. That which is spoken by all the people of this nation is soft, abounding in vowels, and deriving most of its words from the Latin, mixed up with many forms of Slavish origin.

It is uncertain what coinage the Dacians used during their independence: they were probably tetradrachms, of rude workmanship, copied after the money of Philip of Macedon, great numbers of which have been found in Transylvania. Coins of the imperial period, from the time of Philip to that of Gallienus, are extant: the type constantly found is a woman, generally standing,--the symbol of Dacia,--with the epigraph PROVINCIA DACIA. (Eckhel, vol. ii. p. 4.)

(Sulzer, Gesch. Daciens; Ersch and Gruber, Encyclopädie, s. v. Dacia; Wilkinson, Wallachia and Moldavia; Paget, Hungary and Transylvania; Neigebauer, Dacien aus den Ueberresten des Klass. Alterthums.) - Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography, William Smith, LLD, Ed.


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The Roman Empire During the First Century AD

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