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|At the height of Burebista's power, his kingdom stretched from the Black Sea to the Adriatic and from the Balkan Mountains to Bohemia.|
|Languages||Dacian, Greek, Latin(bureaucracy)|
|Government||Non-hereditary Monarchy and Theocracy.|
|-||beginning of the 2nd century BC||Rubobostes|
|-||first half of the 2nd century BC||Oroles|
|Comosicus(later a king)|
|Historical era||Classical antiquity|
|-||Established||1st century BC|
|-||Domitian's Dacian War||84-88 AD|
|-||Trajan's Dacian Wars||101-106 AD|
|-||Disestablished||2nd century AD|
|Today part of||Romania Moldova Bulgaria Serbia Ukraine Hungary Slovakia Poland|
|This article is part of the Dacia series|
|Sarmizegetusa Argidava Capidava Ziridava Moesia Scythia Minor|
|People Language Religion Construction Pottery Art Warfare|
Dromichaetes Burebista Decebalus Other kings Moesii TribesConflict with Rome
Trajan's Dacian Wars Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa Porolissum CastraDacia Aureliana Free Dacians
In ancient geography, especially in Roman sources, Dacia was the land inhabited by the Dacians or Getae as they were known by the Greeks—a branch of the Thracians north of the Haemus range.
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 (the Balkan Mountains). Moesia (Dobrogea), a region south 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 (Bug River), and the Tisia (Tisza) to the west.
At times Dacia included areas between the Tisza and the Middle Danube. The Carpathian Mountains were 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, and Ukraine.
Dacians (or Getae) were North Thracian tribes. Dacian tribes had both peaceful and military encounters with other neighboring tribes, such as Celts, Ancient Germanics, Sarmatians, and Scythians, but were most influenced by the Ancient Greeks and Romans. The latter eventually conquered, and linguistically and culturally assimilated the Dacians.
A Dacian Kingdom of variable size existed between 82 BC until the Roman conquest in 106 AD. 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.
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The Dacians, situated north of the lower Danube in the area of the Carpathians and Transylvania, are the earliest named people on the present territory of Romania. They are first mentioned in the writings of the Ancient Greeks, in Herodotus (Histories Book IV XCIII: " the noblest as well as the most just of all the Thracian tribes") and Thucydides (Peloponnesian Wars, Book II: " border on the Scythians and are armed in the same manner, being all mounted archers").
Later, the Dacians were mentioned in Roman documents: (Caesar's De Bello Gallico, Book VI 25,1: "The Hercynian Forest stretches along the Danube to the areas of the Daci and Anarti"), and also under the name Geta (plural Getae). Strabo in his Geography, Book VII 3,12, tells about the Daci-Getae division "Getae, those who incline towards the Pontus and the east, and Daci, those who incline in the opposite direction towards Germany and the sources of the Ister". In Strabo's opinion, the original name of the Dacians was "daoi", which Mircea Eliade in his De Zalmoxis à Genghis Khan explained with a possible Phrygian cognate "Daos", the name of the wolf god. This assumption is supported by the fact that the Dacian standard, the Dacian Draco, had a wolf head. The late Roman map Tabula Peutingeriana indicates them as Dagae and Gaete.Middle Ages
Much later, in the Late Middle Ages, the Roman Catholic Church on a few occasions used the term Dacia to denote Denmark, and referred to several notables from Denmark as "of Dacia". The term did not catch on, and fell into disuse soon after its (re)introduction, so normally there is no confusion with the original usage.GeographyDacia cf. Strabo (ca. 20 AD) The map of Dacia by Brue Adrien Hubert (1826)View of the sanctuary from Dacians' capital Sarmizegetusa RegiaDacia map cf. Ptolemy (2nd c. AD)Onomastic range of the Dacian towns with the dava ending, covering Dacia, Moesia, Thrace and Dalmatia
The extent and location of the geographical entity Dacia varied in its three distinct historical periods (see History, below):Periods For earlier events, see Prehistory of Transylvania, Prehistory of Romania, and Celts in Transylvania.
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The Dacia of King Burebista (82–44 BC), stretched from the Black Sea to the river Tisza 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.
Around 20 AD, Strabo wrote Geographica , which delineates the regions inhabited by Dacians at that time. On its 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 Tisza 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 Tisza 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”.1st century AD
Strabo, in his Geography written between 20 BC – 23 AD, 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
Towards the west Dacia may originally have extended as far as the Danube, where it runs from north to south at Vác. In the 1st century BC, at the time of the Dacian Kingdom of Burebista, Julius Caesar in his De Bello Gallico (book 6) speaks of the Hercynian forest extending along the Danube to the territory of the Dacians.2nd century AD Main articles: Trajan's Dacian Wars and Roman Dacia
Written a few decades after the Roman conquest of Dacia 105–106 AD, 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/Lipiţa 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 101–106 AD, initially comprised only the regions known today as Banat, Oltenia, Transylvania, and was subsequently gradually extended to 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 modern Romania. Roman rule extended to include 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 (166-180 AD), 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 Tisza region but some 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 271–275. It was reorganised as Dacia Ripensis (as a military province) and Dacia Mediterranea (as a civil province).Cities Main articles: Davae and List of Dacian towns
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. . There is a list of Dacian davas 1 and, more actual, at SOLTDM:
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.Political entities
The migrations of the forebears of Ancient Greece (c. 750 BC or earlier) are thought to have originated from periodically swelled populations in the fertile plains of the region. Such migrations would have occurred in prehistoric times, and therefore no documentation exists about them. There may have been trade with communities along the Danube via the Black sea, even in Minoan times (2700 to 1450 BC).Rubobostes Main article: Rubobostes
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 under the king Burebista. It seems likely that the Dacian state arose as an unstable tribal confederacy, which was united only fitfully 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.Oroles Main article: Oroles
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 Main article: Burebista
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 standard During 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.Cotiso Main articles: Cotiso and Koson
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 of crossing the frozen Danube during the winter and ravaging the Roman cities in the province of Moesia.
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 Main article: DecebalusDecebal, detail on the Trajan's Column, Rome
Decebalus ruled the Dacians between 87 AD and 106 AD. The frontiers of Decebal's Dacia were marked by the Tisza River to the west, by the Carpathians to the north and by the Dniester River to the east. His name translates into "strong as ten men".Roman conquest Main articles: Domitian's Dacian War, Trajan's Dacian Wars, and Roman DaciaFiery battle scene between the Roman and Dacian armies, Trajan's Column, Rome
Trajan turned his attention to Dacia, an area north of Macedonia and Greece and east of the Danube that had been on the Roman agenda since before the days of Julius Caesar when a Roman army had been beaten at the Battle of Histria. In 85 AD, the Dacians had swarmed over the Danube and pillaged Moesia and initially defeated an army the Emperor Domitian sent against them, but the Romans were victorious in the Battle of Tapae in 88 AD and a truce was drawn up.
From 85 to 89 AD, the Dacians under Decebalus were engaged in two wars with the Romans.
In 87 AD, the Roman troops 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. The next year, 88 AD, new Roman troops under Tettius Iullianus, gained a significant advantage, but were obliged 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 from Rome military instructors, craftsmen and even money.
Emperor Trajan recommenced hostilities against Dacia and, following an uncertain number of battles, defeated the Dacian general Decebalus in the Second Battle of Tapae in 101 AD. 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 105 AD. In response Trajan again marched into Dacia, attacking the Dacian capital in the Siege of Sarmizegethusa, and razing it to the ground. With Dacia quelled, 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.Roman Dacia and Moesia Inferior.
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. The second campaign (105–106) ended with the suicide of Decebalus, and the conquest of the territory that was to form the Roman province Dacia Traiana. The history of the war is given by Cassius Dio, but the best commentary upon it is the famous Column of Trajan in Rome.Dacia and environs
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. Thus, most of the Romanian historians and linguists believe that many of the Dacians became Romanised (see also Origin of Romanians). In 183 AD, 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 (249-251 AD) 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".Dacian prisoner on the Arch of Constantine
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 268-269 AD, 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 301–308 AD. That makes it probable that Roman Dacia was left in 275 AD by the Romans, to the Carpi again, and not to the Goths. There were still Dacians in 336 AD, 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. However, some historians maintain that the bulk of the civilian population remained and a surviving aristocratic Dacian line revived the kingdom under Regalianus. The unreliable Historia Augusta says he was a Dacian, a kinsman of . Nonetheless, the Gothic aristocracy remained ascendant and through intermarriage soon dominated the kingdom, which was absorbed into their large empire.
Under Diocletian, c. 296 AD, in order to defend the Roman border, fortifications were erected by the Romans on both banks of the Danube. By 336 AD, Constantine the Great had reconquered the lost province. He took the title Dacicus Maximus ("The great Victor over the Dacians") when he restored Dacia back to the Roman Empire in 336 AD. However following his death, the Romans abandoned Dacia permanently.Roman Empire as The Dacian Empire
According to Lactantius, emperor Galerius(c. 260 – April or May 311) affirmed his Dacian identity and avowed himself the enemy of the Roman name once made emperor, even proposing that the empire should be called, not the Roman, but the Dacian Empire, much to the horror of the patricians and senators. He exhibited anti-Roman attitude as soon as he had attained the highest power, treating the Roman citizens with ruthless cruelty, like the conquerors treated the conquered, all in the name of the same treatment that the victorious Trajan had applied to the conquered Dacians, forefathers of Galerius, two centuries before.