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|168 BC–106 AD|
Dacia during the reign of Burebista, 82 BC.
• beginning of the 2nd century BC
• first half of the 2nd century BC
• 82-44 BC
• 44–27 BC
• 27–29 BC/AD
• 29–69 AD
• 69–87 AD
• 87–106 AD
|Historical era||Classical antiquity|
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Dacia ( // , DAY-shə; Latin: [ˈd̪aːkija] ) was the land inhabited by the Dacians. The Greeks referred to them as the Getae (east of Dacia) and the Romans called them Daci.
Dacia was bounded in the south approximately by the Danubius river (Danube), in Greek sources the Istros, or at its greatest extent, by the Haemus Mons. Lower Moesia (Dobruja), a region south-east of the Danube, was a core area where the Getae lived and interacted with the Ancient Greeks. In the east it was bounded by the Pontus Euxinus (Black Sea) and the river Danastris (Dniester), in Greek sources the Tyras. But several Dacian settlements are recorded between the rivers Dniester and Hypanis (Southern Bug), and the Tisia (Tisza) to the west.
At times Dacia included areas between the Tisa and the Middle Danube. The Carpathian Mountains are located in the middle of Dacia. It thus corresponds to the present-day countries of Romania and Moldova, as well as smaller parts of Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and Ukraine.
A Dacian Kingdom of variable size existed between 82 BC until the Roman conquest in AD 106. The capital of Dacia, Sarmizegetusa, located in modern Romania, was destroyed by the Romans, but its name was added to that of the new city ( Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa ) built by the latter to serve as the capital of the Roman province of Dacia.
The Dacians are first mentioned in the writings of the Ancient Greeks, in Herodotus (Histories Book IV XCIII: "[Getae] the noblest as well as the most just of all the Thracian tribes") and Thucydides (Peloponnesian Wars, Book II: "[Getae] border on the Scythians and are armed in the same manner, being all mounted archers").
The extent and location of Dacia varied in its three distinct historical periods (see below):
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The Dacia of King Burebista (82–44 BC), stretched from the Black Sea to the source of the river Tisa and from the Balkan Mountains to Bohemia.During that period, the Geto-Dacians conquered a wider territory and Dacia extended from the Middle Danube to the Black Sea littoral (between Apollonia and Olbia) and from present-day Slovakia's mountains to the Balkan mountains. In 53 BC, Julius Caesar stated that the lands of the Dacians started on the eastern edge of the Hercynian Forest (Black Forest). After Burebista's death, his kingdom split in four states, later five.
Strabo, in his Geography written around AD 20, says:
″As for the southern part of Germany beyond the Albis, the portion which is just contiguous to that river is occupied by the Suevi; then immediately adjoining this is the land of the Getae, which, though narrow at first, stretching as it does along the Ister on its southern side and on the opposite side along the mountain-side of the Hercynian Forest (for the land of the Getae also embraces a part of the mountains), afterwards broadens out towards the north as far as the Tyregetae; but I cannot tell the precise boundaries″
On this basis, Lengyel and Radan (1980), Hoddinott (1981) and Mountain (1998) consider that the Geto-Dacians inhabited both sides of the Tisza river prior to the rise of the Celtic Boii, and again after the latter were defeated by the Dacians.The hold of the Dacians between the Danube and Tisza was tenuous. However, the archaeologist Parducz argued a Dacian presence west of the Tisa dating from the time of Burebista. According to Tacitus (AD 56 – AD 117) Dacians bordered Germania in the south-east, while Sarmatians bordered it in the east.
In the 1st century AD, the Iazyges settled West of Dacia, on the plain between the Danube and the Tisa rivers, according to the scholars' interpretation of Pliny's text: "The higher parts between the Danube and the Hercynian Forest (Black Forest) as far as the winter quarters of Pannonia at Carnutum and the plains and level country of the German frontiers there are occupied by the Sarmatian Iazyges, while the Dacians whom they have driven out hold the mountains and forests as far as the river Theiss".
Written a few decades after Emperor Trajan's Roman conquest of parts of Dacia in AD 105–106,Ptolemy's Geographia included the boundaries of Dacia. According to the scholars' interpretation of Ptolemy (Hrushevskyi 1997, Bunbury 1879, Mocsy 1974, Barbulescu and Nagler 2005) Dacia was the region between the rivers Tisza, Danube, upper Dniester, and Siret. Mainstream historians accept this interpretation: Avery (1972) Berenger (1994) Fol (1996) Mountain (1998), Waldman Mason (2006).
Ptolemy also provided a couple of Dacian toponyms in south Poland in the Upper Vistula (Polish: Wisla) river basin: Susudava and Setidava (with a manuscript variant Getidava).This could have been an "echo" of Burebista's expansion. It seems that this northern expansion of the Dacian language, as far as the Vistula river, lasted until AD 170–180 when the migration of the Vandal Hasdingi pushed out this northern Dacian group. This Dacian group, possibly the Costoboci/Lipița culture, is associated by Gudmund Schütte with towns having the specific Dacian language ending "dava" i.e. Setidava.
The Roman province Dacia Traiana, established by the victors of the Dacian Wars during AD 101–106, initially comprised only the regions known today as Banat, Oltenia, Transylvania, and was subsequently gradually extended to southern parts of Moldavia, while Dobruja and Budjak belonged the Roman province of Moesia.
In the 2nd century AD, after the Roman conquest, Ptolemy puts the eastern boundary of Dacia Traiana (the Roman province) as far east as the Hierasus (Siret) river, in the middle of modern Romania. Roman rule extended to the south-western area of the Dacian Kingdom (but not to what later became known as Maramureş), to parts of the later Principality of Moldavia east of the Siret and north of the Upper Trajan Wall, and to areas in modern Muntenia and Ukraine, except the Black Sea shore.
After the Marcomannic Wars (AD 166–180), Dacian groups from outside Roman Dacia had been set in motion. So were the 12,000 Dacians 'from the neighbourhood of Roman Dacia sent away from their own country'. Their native country could have been the Upper Tisa region, but other places cannot be excluded.
The later Roman province Dacia Aureliana , was organized inside former Moesia Superior after the retreat of the Roman army from Dacia, during the reign of emperor Aurelian during AD 271–275. It was reorganized as Dacia Ripensis (as a military province) and Dacia Mediterranea (as a civil province).
Ptolemy gives a list of 43 names of towns in Dacia, out of which arguably 33 were of Dacian origin. Most of the latter included the added suffix ‘dava’ (meaning settlement, village). But, other Dacian names from his list lack the suffix (e.g. Zarmisegethusa regia = Zermizirga) In addition, nine other names of Dacian origin seem to have been Latinised.
The cities of the Dacians were known as -dava, -deva, -δαυα ("-dawa" or "-dava", Anc. Gk.), -δεβα ("-deva", Byz. Gk.) or -δαβα ("-dava", Byz. Gk.), etc. .
Gil-doba, a village in Thracia, of unknown location.
Thermi-daua, a town in Dalmatia. Probably a Grecized form of *Germidava.
Pulpu-deva, (Phillipopolis) today Plovdiv in Bulgaria.
Geto-Dacians inhabited both sides of the Tisa river prior to the rise of the Celtic Boii and again after the latter were defeated by the Dacians under the king Burebista.It seems likely that the Dacian state arose as a tribal confederacy, which was united only by charismatic leadership in both military-political and ideological-religious domains. At the beginning of the 2nd century BC, under the rule of Rubobostes, a Dacian king in present-day Transylvania, the Dacians' power in the Carpathian basin increased after they defeated the Celts, who previously held power in the region.
A kingdom of Dacia also existed as early as the first half of the 2nd century BC under King Oroles. Conflicts with the Bastarnae and the Romans (112–109 BC, 74 BC), against whom they had assisted the Scordisci and Dardani, greatly weakened the resources of the Dacians.
Burebista (Boerebista), a contemporary of Julius Caesar, ruled Geto-Dacian tribes between 82 BC and 44 BC. He thoroughly reorganised the army and attempted to raise the moral standard and obedience of the people by persuading them to cut their vines and give up drinking wine.During his reign, the limits of the Dacian Kingdom were extended to their maximum. The Bastarnae and Boii were conquered, and even the Greek towns of Olbia and Apollonia on the Black Sea (Pontus Euxinus) recognized Burebista's authority. In 53 BC, Caesar stated that the Dacian territory was on the eastern border of the Hercynian Forest.
Burebista suppressed the indigenous minting of coinages by four major tribal groups, adopting imported or copied Roman denarii as a monetary standardDuring his reign, Burebista transferred Geto-Dacians capital from Argedava to Sarmizegetusa Regia. For at least one and a half centuries, Sarmizegetusa was the Dacians' capital and reached its peak under King Decebalus. The Dacians appeared so formidable that Caesar contemplated an expedition against them, which his death in 44 BC prevented. In the same year Burebista was murdered, and the kingdom was divided into four (later five) parts under separate rulers.
One of these entities was Cotiso's state, to whom Augustus betrothed his own five-year-old daughter Julia. He is well known from the line in Horace (Occidit Daci Cotisonis agmen, Odes, III. 8. 18).
The Dacians are often mentioned under Augustus, according to whom they were compelled to recognize Roman supremacy. However they were by no means subdued, and in later times to maintain their independence they seized every opportunity to cross the frozen Danube during the winter and ravaging the Roman cities in the province of Moesia, which was under Roman occupation.
Strabo testified: "although the Getae and Daci once attained to very great power, so that they actually could send forth an expedition of two hundred thousand men, they now find themselves reduced to as few as forty thousand, and they have come close to the point of yielding obedience to the Romans, though as yet they are not absolutely submissive, because of the hopes which they base on the Germans, who are enemies to the Romans."
In fact, this occurred because Burebista's empire split after his death into four and later five smaller states, as Strabo explains, "only recently, when Augustus Caesar sent an expedition against them, the number of parts into which the empire had been divided was five, though at the time of the insurrection it had been four. Such divisions, to be sure, are only temporary and vary with the times".
Decebalus ruled the Dacians between AD 87 and 106. The frontiers of Decebal's Dacia were marked by the Tisa River to the west, by the trans-Carpathians to the north and by the Dniester River to the east.His name translates into "strong as ten men".
When Trajan turned his attention to Dacia, it had been on the Roman agenda since before the days of Julius Caesarwhen a Roman army had been beaten at the Battle of Histria.
From AD 85 to 89, the Dacians under Decebalus were engaged in two wars with the Romans.
In AD 85, the Dacians had swarmed over the Danube and pillaged Moesia.In AD 87, the Roman troops sent by the Emperor Domitian against them under Cornelius Fuscus, were defeated and Cornelius Fuscus was killed by the Dacians by authority of their ruler, Diurpaneus. After this victory, Diurpaneus took the name of Decebalus, but the Romans were victorious in the Battle of Tapae in AD 88 and a truce was drawn up . The next year, AD 88, new Roman troops under Tettius Julianus, gained a significant advantage, but were obligated to make peace following the defeat of Domitian by the Marcomanni, leaving the Dacians effectively independent. Decebalus was given the status of "king client to Rome", receiving military instructors, craftsmen and money from Rome.
To increase the glory of his reign, restore the finances of Rome, and end a treaty perceived as humiliating, Trajan resolved on the conquest of Dacia, the capture of the famous Treasure of Decebalus, and control over the Dacian gold mines of Transylvania. The result of his first campaign (101–102) was the siege of the Dacian capital Sarmizegethusa and the occupation of part of the country. Emperor Trajan recommenced hostilities against Dacia and, following an uncertain number of battles,and with Trajan's troops pressing towards the Dacian capital Sarmizegethusa, Decebalus once more sought terms.
Decebalus rebuilt his power over the following years and attacked Roman garrisons again in AD 105. In response Trajan again marched into Dacia,attacking the Dacian capital in the Siege of Sarmizegethusa, and razing it to the ground; the defeated Dacian king Decebalus committed suicide to avoid capture. With part of Dacia quelled as the Roman province Dacia Traiana. Trajan subsequently invaded the Parthian empire to the east. His conquests brought the Roman Empire to its greatest extent. Rome's borders in the east were governed indirectly in this period, through a system of client states, which led to less direct campaigning than in the west.
The history of the war is given by Cassius Dio, but the best commentary upon it is the famous Column of Trajan in Rome.
Although the Romans conquered and destroyed the ancient Kingdom of Dacia, a large remainder of the land remained outside of Roman Imperial authority. Additionally, the conquest changed the balance of power in the region and was the catalyst for a renewed alliance of Germanic and Celtic tribes and kingdoms against the Roman Empire. However, the material advantages of the Roman Imperial system was attractive to the surviving aristocracy. Afterwards, many of the Dacians became Romanised (see also Origin of Romanians). In AD 183, war broke out in Dacia: few details are available, but it appears two future contenders for the throne of emperor Commodus, Clodius Albinus and Pescennius Niger, both distinguished themselves in the campaign.
According to Lactantius,the Roman emperor Decius (AD 249–251) had to restore Roman Dacia from the Carpo-Dacians of Zosimus "having undertaken an expedition against the Carpi, who had then possessed themselves of Dacia and Moesia".
Even so, the Germanic and Celtic kingdoms, particularly the Gothic tribes, slowly moved toward the Dacian borders, and within a generation were making assaults on the province. Ultimately, the Goths succeeded in dislodging the Romans and restoring the "independence" of Dacia following Emperor Aurelian's withdrawal, in 275.
In AD 268–269, at Naissus, Claudius II (Gothicus Maximus) obtained a decisive victory over the Goths. Since at that time Romans were still occupying Roman Dacia it is assumed that the Goths didn't cross the Danube from the Roman province. The Goths who survived their defeat didn't even attempt to escape through Dacia, but through Thrace.At the boundaries of Roman Dacia, Carpi (Free Dacians) were still strong enough to sustain five battles in eight years against the Romans from AD 301–308. Roman Dacia was left in AD 275 by the Romans, to the Carpi again, and not to the Goths. There were still Dacians in AD 336, against whom Constantine the Great fought.
The province was abandoned by Roman troops, and, according to the Breviarium historiae Romanae by Eutropius, Roman citizens "from the towns and lands of Dacia" were resettled to the interior of Moesia.Under Diocletian, c. AD 296, in order to defend the Roman border, fortifications were erected by the Romans on both banks of the Danube.
In 328 the emperor Constantine the Great inaugurated the Constantine's Bridge (Danube) at Sucidava, (today Celei in Romania)in hopes of reconquering Dacia, a province that had been abandoned under Aurelian. In the late winter of 332, Constantine campaigned with the Sarmatians against the Goths. The weather and lack of food cost the Goths dearly: reportedly, nearly one hundred thousand died before they submitted to Rome. In 334, after Sarmatian commoners had overthrown their leaders, Constantine led a campaign against the tribe. He won a victory in the war and extended his control over the region, as remains of camps and fortifications in the region indicate. Constantine resettled some Sarmatian exiles as farmers in Illyrian and Roman districts, and conscripted the rest into the army. The new frontier in Dacia was along the Brazda lui Novac line supported by Castra of Hinova, Rusidava and Castra of Pietroasele. The limes passed to the north of Castra of Tirighina-Bărboși and ended at Sasyk Lagoon near the Dniester River. Constantine took the title Dacicus maximus in 336. Some Roman territories north of the Danube resisted until Justinian.
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Victohali, Taifals, and Thervingians are tribes mentioned for inhabiting Dacia in 350, after the Romans left. Archeological evidence suggests that Gepids were disputing Transylvania with Taifals and Tervingians. Taifals, once independent from Gothia became federati of the Romans, from whom they obtained the right to settle Oltenia.
In 376 the region was conquered by Huns, who kept it until the death of Attila in 453. The Gepid tribe, ruled by Ardaric, used it as their base, until in 566 it was destroyed by Lombards. Lombards abandoned the country and the Avars (second half of the 6th century) dominated the region for 230 years, until their kingdom was destroyed by Charlemagne in 791. At the same time, Slavic people arrived.
Battle of Sarmizegetusa (Sarmizegetuza), AD 105. During Trajan's reign Rome achieved victory over the Dacians. The first important confrontation between the Romans and the Dacians took place in the year AD 87 and was initiated by Domitian. The praetorian prefect Cornelius 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).
The Bastarnae were an ancient people who between 200 BC and 300 AD inhabited the region between the Carpathian Mountains and the river Dnieper, to the north and east of ancient Dacia. The Peucini, described as a branch of the Bastarnae by Greco-Roman writers, occupied the region north of the Danube Delta.
Moesia was an ancient region and later Roman province situated in the Balkans south of the Danube River. It included most of the territory of modern-day Central Serbia, Kosovo and the northern parts of North Macedonia, the whole of Northern Bulgaria, Romanian Dobruja and small parts of Southern Ukraine.
Sarmizegetusa Regia, also Sarmisegetusa, Sarmisegethusa, Sarmisegethuza, Ζαρμιζεγεθούσα (Zarmizegethoúsa) or Ζερμιζεγεθούση (Zermizegethoúsē), was the capital and the most important military, religious and political centre of the Dacians before the wars with the Roman Empire. Erected on top of a 1200 m high mountain, the fortress, comprising six citadels, was the core of a strategic defensive system in the Orăştie Mountains.
The Dacians were a Thracian people who were the ancient inhabitants of the cultural region of Dacia, located in the area near the Carpathian Mountains and west of the Black Sea. This area includes mainly the present-day countries of Romania and Moldova, as well as parts of Ukraine, Eastern Serbia, Northern Bulgaria, Slovakia, Hungary and Southern Poland. The Dacians spoke the Dacian language, a sub-group of Thracian, but were somewhat culturally influenced by the neighbouring Scythians and by the Celtic invaders of the 4th century BC.
Decebalus and sometimes referred to as Diurpaneus was the last king of Dacia. He is famous for fighting three wars, with varying success, against the Roman Empire under two emperors. After raiding south across the Danube, he defeated a Roman invasion in the reign of Domitian, securing a period of independence during which Decebalus consolidated his rule.
Burebista was a Thracian king of the Getae and Dacian tribes from 82/61 BC to 45/44 BC. He was the first king who successfully unified the tribes of the Dacian Kingdom, which comprised the area located between the Danube, Tisza, and Dniester rivers, and modern day Romania and Moldova. In the 7th and 6th centuries BC it became home to the Thracian peoples, including the Getae and the Dacians. From the 4th century to the middle of the 2nd century BC the Dacian peoples were influenced by La Tène Celts who brought new technologies with them into Dacia. Sometime in the 2nd century BC the Dacians expelled the Celts from their lands. Dacians often warred with neighbouring tribes, but the relative isolation of the Dacian peoples in the Carpathian Mountains allowed them to survive and even to thrive. By the 1st century BC the Dacians had become the dominant tribe.
Dacian is an extinct language, generally believed to be Indo-European, that was spoken in the Carpathian region in antiquity. In the 1st century, it was probably the predominant language of the ancient regions of Dacia and Moesia and possibly of some surrounding regions. The language was probably extinct by the 7th century AD.
The Getae or Gets were several Thracian-related tribes that once inhabited the regions to either side of the Lower Danube, in what is today northern Bulgaria and southern Romania. Both the singular form Get and plural Getae may be derived from a Greek exonym: the area was the hinterland of Greek colonies on the Black Sea coast, bringing the Getae into contact with the ancient Greeks from an early date. Although it is believed that the Getae were related to their westward neighbours, the Dacians, several scholars, especially in the Romanian historiography, posit that the Getae and the Dacians were the same people.
The Dacian Draco was the standard ensign of troops of the ancient Dacian people, which can be seen in the hands of the soldiers of Decebalus in several scenes depicted on Trajan's Column in Rome, Italy. It has the form of a dragon with open wolf-like jaws containing several metal tongues. The hollow dragon's head was mounted on a pole with a fabric tube affixed at the rear. In use, the draco was held up into the wind, or above the head of a horseman, where it filled with air and gave the impression it was alive while making a shrill sound as the wind passed through its strips of material.
The Dacian Wars were two military campaigns fought between the Roman Empire and Dacia during Emperor Trajan's rule. The conflicts were triggered by the constant Dacian threat on the Danubian province of Moesia and also by the increasing need for resources of the economy of the Empire.
The Battle of Adamclisi was a major battle in the Dacian Wars, fought in the winter of 101 to 102 between the Roman Empire and the Dacians near Adamclisi, in modern Romania.
The military history of Romania deals with conflicts spreading over a period of about 2500 years across the territory of modern Romania, the Balkan Peninsula and Eastern Europe and the role of the Romanian military in conflicts and peacekeeping worldwide.
The Moesian Limes or Limes Moesiae is the modern term given to a collection of Roman fortifications between the Black Sea shore and Pannonia, present-day Hungary, consisting primarily of forts along the Danube to protect the Roman provinces of Upper and Lower Moesia south of the river.
Comosicus was a Dacian king and high priest who lived in the 1st century BC. The only reference to Comosicus is a passage in the writings of the Roman historian Jordanes.
Duras, also known as Duras-Diurpaneus, was king of the Dacians between the years AD 69 and 87, during the time that Domitian ruled the Roman Empire. He was one of a series of rulers following the Great King Burebista. Duras' immediate successor was Decebalus.
The history of Dacian warfare spans from c. 10th century BC up to the 2nd century AD in the region defined by Ancient Greek and Latin historians as Dacia, populated by a collection of Thracian, Ionian, and Dorian tribes. It concerns the armed conflicts of the Dacian tribes and their kingdoms in the Balkans. Apart from conflicts between Dacians and neighboring nations and tribes, numerous wars were recorded among Dacians too.
The appearance of Celts in Transylvania can be traced to the later La Tène period . Excavation of the great La Tène necropolis at Apahida, Cluj County, by S. Kovacs at the turn of the 20th century revealed the first evidence of Celtic culture in Romania. The 3rd–2nd century BC site is remarkable for its cremation burials and chiefly wheel-made funeral vessels.
Roman Dacia was a province of the Roman Empire from 106 to 271–275 AD. Its territory consisted of what are now the regions of Oltenia, Transylvania and Banat. During Roman rule, it was organized as an imperial province on the borders of the empire. It is estimated that the population of Roman Dacia ranged from 650,000 to 1,200,000. It was conquered by Trajan (98–117) after two campaigns that devastated the Dacian Kingdom of Decebalus. However, the Romans did not occupy its entirety; Crișana, Maramureș, and most of Moldavia remained under the Free Dacians.
This section of the timeline of Romanian history concerns events from Late Neolithic till Late Antiquity, which took place in or are directly related with the territory of modern Romania.
The Antiquity in Romania spans the period between the foundation of Greek colonies in present-day Dobruja and the withdrawal of the Romans from "Dacia Trajana" province. The earliest records of the history of the regions which now form Romania were made after the establishment of three Greek towns—Histria, Tomis, and Callatis—on the Black Sea coast in the 7th and 6th centuries BC. They developed into important centers of commerce and had a close relationship with the natives. The latter were first described by Herodotus, who made mention of the Getae of the Lower Danube region, the Agathyrsi of Transylvania and the Sygannae of Crişana.
Media related to Dacia at Wikimedia Commons
Prehistory of the Balkans
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