35. New research Dacia

35. New research Dacia

Dr. Rada Varga

Affiliation: Babes-Bolyai University

The present session brings forth a series of new researches and undertakings regarding the limes and military life in province Dacia. Ranging from questions of provincial borders to analyses of Roman camps, and from contextualization of small finds to interpretation of monumental inscriptions, the presentations highlight multiple aspects of the Roman military presence throughout the history of Dacia.

Time Presenter (s) Presentation
09.00 Introduction
09.20 Felix Marcu A battlefield of the Dacian Wars
09.40 Zsolt Visy Die Ausdehnung und die Grenzen der Provinz Dakien
10.00 Rada Varga The Batavian riders of Roman Dacia: between ethnic and cultural identity


10.50 George Cupcea Revealing the function of a building through inscriptions: the case of the carcera in the fortress of Apulum, Dacia
11.10 Florin-Gheorghe Fodorean Weapons discovered in the legionary fortress at Potaissa (Turda, Romania)
11.30 Silviue Ene Figurative pieces for lighting discovered in the province of Dacia
11.50 Adjournment


A battlefield of the Dacian Wars
Felix Marcu, The National Museum of Transylvanian History

Much has been written on the annexation of Dacia and the subsequent organization of the conquered territory into a Roman province, being a topic of choice recurrent in the scientific debate. By the exceptional number of the involved forces, the Roman army’s effort in the Dacian campaigns most likely exceeded that of the famous Jewish War. The main battle was fought, once again, at Tapae and Trajan won a bitter victory. He spent highly probably the winter in a large marching camp located in the area of the future Colonia Dacica Sarmizegetusa, We have little information on Dacian and Roman fortifications in general and even less on the events of 101-102 AD, when the Romans spread in Țara Hațegului, after the victory of Tapae. Only in one case the location seems certain, as it is for instance at Cioclovina-Ponorici where a very complex system of earthen works was registered. Here impressive traces are mentioned already in the first half of the 20th when I. Martian noted the existence of ‘remains of cyclop walls’. Nonetheless, the most interesting situation is found in the vicinity, at Ponorici, where beside the Dacian fortress from Piatra Roșie traces of defensive ramparts rows are also signalled, probably dating from the Dacian wars. The ramparts are a few kilometres long and probably belong to the moment of the Roman siege. We will present an analysis of the recent Lidar measurements, aerial photography and field survey works which have brought to light many other interesting building works of the Romans, indicating that here was the main hotspot of the Dacian Wars.

Die Ausdehnung und die Grenzen der Provinz Dakien
Zsolt Visy, University of Pécs

Die Erforschung der Ausdehnung und der genauen Grenze der Provinz Dazien hat eine lange Geschichte, aber dank der neueren Forschungen und Überlegungen lassen sich diese Fragen als gelöst betrachtet werden. Dieser Beitrag nimmt die östliche Grenzlinie und den sogenannten “Limes Transalutanus” unter Lupe, und beweist, dass dieser Linie nie eine Provinzgrenze war, sondern ein seit geräumiger Zeit benutzter Weg, der von Donau zu Donau führte, welcher in der Römerzeit die Gegend von Nicopolis ad Istrum mit Troesmis zusammenschloss.

The Batavian riders of Roman Dacia: between ethnic and cultural identity
Rada Varga, Babeș-Bolyai University, George Bounegru, National Museum of Alba Iulia, Cristina Crizbășan, University of Exeter, Imola Boda

Identities are situational constructs which often mould on specific historical experiences, resulting into continuously changing concepts that adapt to background situations and phenomena. In the case of auxiliary units, their identities were constantly transformed under the phenomenon known as mobility, which led to their transfers across the Empire over time, bearing consequences on their identities. This paper aims to understand the identity construction process in the auxilia under the pressure of mobility, by exploring the link between people and objects in the context of ala I Batavorum milliaria in Dacia. The ala was stationed here from 136/138 (AE 1997, 1782), up until – most probably – the abandonment of the province, during Aurelian’s reign. The seat of the ala was the present-day Războieni-Cetate (Alba County), situated approximately halfway between the headquarters of legio XIII Gemina at Apulum/Alba Iulia and the fort of legio V Macedonica at Potaissa/Turda. Excavations commencing in 2017 until present have provided data regarding the site’s planimetry, pottery production and imports, epigraphy, and numismatics. The present research uses their material culture in order to address its pertinence to identity and resolve questions on Batavian background and its preservation within their later auxilia throughout the 2nd and 3rd c. AD. Was there a Batavian nucleus preserved, even during the 3rd C? Are the prominent Batavian military families still present in the auxilia during the late 2nd – 3rd centuries and can we find material traces of their presence? What did the Batavian troops materially bring from the Low Rhine, and why? Which artefacts are identity defining from our point of view, and which were from theirs? How did the units influence the (material) culture of their new homes, and (how) can we see the local recruitment and local specificities?

Revealing the function of a building through inscriptions: the case of the carcera in the fortress of Apulum, Dacia
George Cupcea, National History Museum of Transylvania

Extensive rescue excavations of the last decade in the Citadel of Alba-Iulia, which overlaps the legionary fortress of Legio XIII Gemina, have produced several interesting archaeological and historic results. One of these cases is a one-room extension of an apparent barrack block in the retentura dextra, researched in 2010, in which several iconographic and epigraphic monuments have been found. All of them, being cult dedications, to Nemesis and Mars, have lead the authors of the excavations to believe that the place in discussion is some kind of a sanctuary, erected by soldiers, inside the fortress. However, by assessing the information provided by epigraphic texts, more precisely the ranks of the dedicators and the divinities, I have reached completely different conclusions. By gathering similar evidence from other legionary fortresses in the Empire (e.g. Lambaesis, Carnuntum etc.), of dedications to Nemesis, inside the fortress and of dedications made by this particular type of officers (evocati and salariarii), I propose that the space has a totally different function – that of a seclusion, penitentiary space, in which the sentenced to death would spend the last part of their life awaiting for the execution, in this case performed by soldiers, in the military arena.

Weapons discovered in the legionary fortress at Potaissa (Turda, Romania)
Florin-Gheorghe Fodorean, Babeș-Bolyai University Cluj-Napoca

The fortress from Potaissa (today Turda, Cluj County, Romania) garrisoned the legio V Macedonica from circa 170 AD to 271 AD. Its ruins were first unearthed in 1958. After this, during the last century, starting with 1971, without any interruptions, the archaeological investigations revealed entirely or partially several important internal buildings of the fortress, such as the principia, the thermal complex and a part of the palestra, sectors from the soldiers’ barracks, porta decumana, porta principalis dextra, parts from horrea, the north-western bastion, the curtain bastion on the western side, and other edifices. During 45 years of archaeological excavations, numerous artefacts were recovered, including some interesting discoveries. We aim to present at the limes congress in 2022 a part of the militaria found in the legionary fortress from Potaissa: the weapons. These finds are common types, utilized by the legions all throughout the Imperial period: spearheads, spear sockets, pilum heads, pilum catapultarium heads, arrowheads, pugiones, a discus pertaining to a dagger handle, gladii, and stimuli. Evidently, these finds are more frequent in the principia than the ones discovered in the legionary baths or the barracks situated in the praetentura sinistra.

Figurative pieces for lighting discovered in the province of Dacia
Silviu Ene, Vasile Pârvan Institute of Archaeology, Romania, Simona Regep, West University of Timișoara

An important category within the Roman discoveries is highlighted by the large number of lighting pieces and the variety of their shapes. They come from various archaeological contexts, be they civil, military or funerary. From the various categories of lighting objects (lamps, chandeliers, candlesticks), we will focus on the figurative lighting pieces. Analyzed so far from a typological perspective, we will try to present them from an iconographic / artistic perspective. From an iconographic point of view, the themes encountered can be divided into four main categories of representations: deities, anthropomorphic, zoomorphic and vegetal. Regarding the representations of deities, we find mainly figures of Silenus and Liber Pater / Dionysus, among the anthropomorphic representations are figures of Africans, “Phrygian masks” and anatomical parts, among the zoomorphic representations are the bovine heads, and the representations of plants are rendered by pine cones. Made of clay or bronze, these pieces are distinguished by a special artistic execution. Such pieces are discovered especially in the important sites of Roman Dacia such as: Potaissa, Apulum, Porolissum, Romula and others. The circulation of these lighting pieces extends over the period of the II-III centuries AD.