Beautiful Romania – Our ancient Dacian origin

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.

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 ofBulgaria, 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. 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 theAncient 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„).

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.

1st century BC

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 Caesarstated 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

Dacia_82_BCStrabo, 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 theCostoboci/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).

Read about Burebista, Decebal, Trajan’s Dacian Wars in the full article here at Wikipedia-

For earlier events, see Prehistory of TransylvaniaPrehistory of Romania, and Celts in Transylvania.


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