The DACIANS (/ˈdeɪʃənz/ ;
Latin : Daci,
Ancient Greek :
Δάκοι, Δάοι, Δάκαι ) were an Indo-European people,
part of or related to the
Dacians were the ancient
Dacia , located in the area in and around the
Carpathian Mountains and west of the
Black Sea . This area includes
the present-day countries of
Moldova , as well as parts of
Eastern Serbia ,
Northern Bulgaria ,
Slovakia , Hungary
Poland . The
Dacians spoke the
Dacian language ,
believed to have been closely related to Thracian , but were somewhat
culturally influenced by the neighbouring
Scythians and by the Celtic
invaders of the 4th century BC .
This article is part of a series on
* Other kings
* Conflict with Rome
* Trajan\'s Dacian Wars
Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa
Part of a series on
* List of
Paleo-Balkan Dacian Illyrian Liburnian Messapian Mysian
Paeonian Phrygian Thracian
* Phonology : Sound laws , Accent , Ablaut
* Proto-Balto-Slavic (
* Proto-Indo-Iranian (Proto-Iranian )
* Gaulish epigraphy
* Runic epigraphy
* Old Irish glosses
Alternative and fringe
Paleolithic Continuity Theory
Paleolithic Continuity Theory
* Baltic homeland
Chalcolithic (Copper Age)
Domestication of the horse
* Steppe cultures
* Sredny Stog
* Corded ware
* Multi-cordoned ware
Globular Amphora culture
Globular Amphora culture
* Corded ware
* Gandhara grave
* Painted Grey Ware
Northern Black Polished Ware
Northern Black Polished Ware
Peoples and societies
* Hellenic peoples
Balkans /Anatolia :
Religion and mythology Reconstructed
Winter solstice /
Indo-European studies Scholars
Copenhagen Studies in Indo-European
Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture
The Horse, the Wheel and Language
Journal of Indo-European Studies
Indogermanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch
Indo-European Etymological Dictionary
* 1 Name and etymology
* 1.1 Name
* 1.2 Etymology
* 1.2.1 Early history of etymological approaches
* 1.2.2 Modern times
* 1.3 Mythological theories
* 2 Origins and ethnogenesis
* 3 Identity and distribution
* 3.1 Linguistic affiliation
* 3.2 Tribes
* 3.2.2 Carpi
* 3.3 Physical characteristics
* 4 History
* 4.1 Early history
* 4.2 Relations with
* 4.3 Relations with
* 4.4 Relations with
* 4.5 Relations with Persians
* 4.6 Relations with
* 4.7 Relations with
* 4.8 Dacian kingdoms
* 4.8.1 The kingdom of
* 4.8.2 The kingdom of
Decebalus 87 – 106
* 4.9 Conflict with Rome
* 4.10 Roman rule
* 4.11 After the
* 5 Society
* 5.1 Occupations
* 5.2 Currency
* 5.3 Construction
* 6.1 Language
* 6.2 Symbols
* 6.3 Religion
* 6.4 Pottery
* 6.5 Clothing and science
* 7 Warfare
* 7.1 Weapons
* 8 Notable individuals
* 9 Trivia
* 10 See also
* 11 Notes
* 12 References
* 13 Sources
* 13.1 Ancient
* 13.2 Modern
* 14 External links
NAME AND ETYMOLOGY
Dacians were known as Geta (plural Getae) in Ancient Greek
writings, and as Dacus (plural Daci) or
Getae in Roman documents, but
also as Dagae and Gaete as depicted on the late Roman map Tabula
Peutingeriana . It was
Herodotus who first used the ethnonym
his Histories . In Greek and Latin, in the writings of Julius Caesar
Strabo , and
Pliny the Elder , the people became known as 'the
Dacians were interchangeable terms, or used with
some confusion by the Greeks.
Latin poets often used the name Getae.
Vergil called them
Getae four times, and Daci once,
three times and Daci twice,
Horace named them
Getae twice and Daci
five times, while
Juvenal one time
Getae and two times Daci. In AD
Hadrian used the poetic term
Getae for the Dacians. Modern
historians prefer to use the name Geto-Dacians.
Strabo describes the
Dacians as distinct but cognate tribes, but also states that
they spoke the same language. This distinction refers to the regions
Pliny the Elder also state that
Dacians spoke the same language.
By contrast, the name of Dacians, whatever the origin of the name,
was used by the more western tribes who adjoined the
therefore first became known to the Romans. According to Strabo's
Geographica , the original name of the
Dacians was Δάοι "Daoi".
The name Daoi (one of the ancient Geto-Dacian tribes) was certainly
adopted by foreign observers to designate all the inhabitants of the
countries north of
Danube that had not yet been conquered by Greece or
The ethnographic name Daci is found under various forms within
Greeks used the forms Δάκοι "Dakoi" (
Dio Cassius , and
Dioscorides ) and Δάοι "Daoi" (singular Daos).
The form Δάοι "Daoi" was frequently used according to Stephan
of Byzantium .
Latins used the forms Davus, Dacus, and a derived form Dacisci
(Vopiscus and inscriptions).
There are similarities between the ethnonyms of the
Dacians and those
Dahae (Greek Δάσαι Δάοι, Δάαι, Δαι, Δάσαι
Dáoi, Dáai, Dai, Dasai;
Latin Dahae, Daci), an Indo-European people
located east of the
Caspian Sea , until the
1st millennium BC E.
Scholars have suggested that there were links between the two peoples
since ancient times. The historian
David Gordon White has,
moreover, stated that the "
Dacians ... appear to be related to the
Dahae". (Likewise White and other scholars also believe that the
names Dacii and
Dahae may also have a shared etymology – see the
section following for further details.)
By the end of the first century AD, all the inhabitants of the lands
which now form
Romania were known to the Romans as Daci, with the
exception of some Celtic and
Germanic tribes who infiltrated from the
Sarmatian and related people from the east.
The name Daci, or "Dacians" is a collective ethnonym . Dio Cassius
reported that the
Dacians themselves used that name, and the Romans so
called them, while the
Greeks called them Getae. Opinions on the
origins of the name Daci are divided. Some scholars consider it to
originate in the Indo-European *dha-k-, with the stem *dhe- "to put,
to place", while others think that the name Daci originates in *daca
– "knife, dagger" or in a word similar to daos, meaning "wolf" in
the related language of the
One hypothesis is that the name
Getae originates in the Indo-European
*guet- 'to utter, to talk'. Another hypothesis is that "Getae" and
"Daci" are Iranian names of two Iranian-speaking Scythian groups that
had been assimilated into the larger Thracian-speaking population of
the later "Dacia".
Early History Of Etymological Approaches
In the 1st century AD,
Strabo suggested that its stem formed a name
previously borne by slaves: Greek Daos,
Latin Davus (-k- is a known
suffix in Indo-European ethnic names). In the 18th century, Grimm
proposed the Gothic dags or "day" that would give the meaning of
"light, brilliant". Yet dags belongs to the
Sanskrit word-root dah-,
and a derivation from Dah to Δάσαι "Daci" is difficult. In the
19th century, Tomaschek (1883) proposed the form "Dak", meaning those
who understand and can speak, by considering "Dak" as a derivation of
the root da("k" being a suffix); cf.
Sanskrit dasa, Bactrian daonha.
Tomaschek also proposed the form "Davus", meaning "members of the
clan/countryman" cf. Bactrian daqyu, danhu "canton".
A link between the
Proto-Indo-European language roots *dhe- meaning
"to set, place" and dheua → dava ("settlement") and Dhe-k → Daci
is supported by Russu (1967).
A possible connection with the Phrygian daos, meaning "wolf" was
suggested by Decev in 1957. The Phrygian meaning is supported by
Hesychius 's notes. This hypothesis has had a large diffusion due to
Mircea Eliade . In later times, some Roman auxiliaries
recruited from the Dacian area were referred to as
Phrygi . Moreover,
an endonym linked to wolves has been demonstrated or proposed for
other ancient Indo-European tribes, including the
Hyrcanians , and
Dahae . Scholars such as David Gordon
White have directly linked the
Dacians and the Dahae. The suggestion
that Daoi means wolf may also be supported by one of the Dacian
Dacian Draco , that prominently featured a wolf head.
The German linguist
Paul Kretschmer explained "daos" with the root
dhau, meaning to press, to gather, or to strangle (as wolves often use
a neck bite to kill their prey). According to Romanian historian and
Alexandru Vulpe , the Dacian etymology explained by daos
(wolf) has little plausibility, as the draco was not unique to
Dacians, while the transformation of daos into dakos is phonetically
improbable. He thus dismisses it as folk etymology .
The form "Daus" or "Davus" could be also compared to a similar
ethnonym in Old Persian "Daos" and to a Phrygian deity also called
Dacian Draco as from
Mircea Eliade attempted, in his book From
Genghis Khan ,
to give a mythological foundation to an alleged special relation
Dacians and the wolves:
Dacians might have called themselves "wolves" or "ones the same
with wolves", suggesting religious significance.
Dacians draw their name from a god or a legendary ancestor who
appeared as a wolf.
Dacians had taken their name from a group of fugitive immigrants
arrived from other regions or from their own young outlaws, who acted
similarly to the wolves circling villages and living from looting. As
was the case in other societies, those young members of the community
went through an initiation, perhaps up to a year, during which they
lived as a "wolf". Comparatively, Hittite laws referred to fugitive
outlaws as "wolves".
* The existence of a ritual that provides one with the ability to
turn into a wolf. Such a transformation may be related either to
lycanthropy itself, a widespread phenomenon, but attested especially
Carpathian region, or a ritual imitation of the
behavior and appearance of the wolf. Such a ritual was presumably a
military initiation, potentially reserved to a secret brotherhood of
Männerbünde ). To become formidable warriors they
would assimilate behavior of the wolf, wearing wolf skins during the
ritual. Traces related to wolves as a cult or as totems were found in
this area since the
Neolithic period, including the Vinča culture
artifacts: wolf statues and fairly rudimentary figurines representing
dancers with a wolf mask. The items could indicate warrior
initiation rites, or ceremonies in which young people put on their
seasonal wolf masks. The element of unity of beliefs about werewolves
and lycanthropy exists in the magical-religious experience of mystical
solidarity with the wolf by whatever means used to obtain it. But all
have one original myth, a primary event.
ORIGINS AND ETHNOGENESIS
See also: Prehistoric
Evidence of proto-
Thracians or proto-
Dacians in the prehistoric
period depends on the remains of material culture . It is generally
proposed that a proto-Dacian or proto-Thracian people developed from a
mixture of indigenous peoples and Indo-Europeans from the time of
Proto-Indo-European expansion in the Early
Bronze Age (3,300–3,000
BC) when the latter, around 1500 BC, conquered the indigenous
peoples. The indigenous people were Danubian farmers, and the
invading people of the BC 3rd millennium were
from the Ukrainian and Russian steppes.
Indo-Europeanization was complete by the beginning of the Bronze Age.
The people of that time are best described as proto-Thracians, which
later developed in the
Iron Age into Danubian-
as well as
Thracians of the eastern Balkan Peninsula.
Between BC 15th–12th century, the Dacian-
Getae culture was
influenced by the
Bronze Age Tumulus-Urnfield warriors who were on
their way through the
Balkans to Anatolia. When the
La Tène Celts
arrived in BC 4th century, the
Dacians were under the influence of the
Alexander the Great attacked the
Getae in BC 335 on the lower Danube,
but by BC 300 they had formed a state founded on a military democracy,
and began a period of conquest. More
Celts arrived during the BC 3rd
century, and in BC 1st century the people of
Boii tried to conquer
some of the Dacian territory on the eastern side of the Teiss river.
Dacians drove the
Boii south across the
Danube and out of their
territory, at which point the
Boii abandoned any further plans for
IDENTITY AND DISTRIBUTION
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North of the Danube,
Dacians occupied a larger territory than
Ptolemaic Dacia, stretching between Bohemia in the west and the
Dnieper cataracts in the east, and up to the Pripyat ,
Vistula , and
Oder rivers in the north and northwest. In BC 53, Julius Caesar
stated that the Dacian territory was on the eastern border of the
Hercynian forest . According to Strabo's
Geographica , written around
AD 20, the Getes (Geto-Dacians) bordered the
Suevi who lived in the
Hercynian Forest , which is somewhere in the vicinity of the river
Duria, the present-day Vah (Waag).
Dacians lived on both sides of the
Danube. According to
Strabo , Moesians also lived on both sides of
the Danube. According to Agrippa ,
Dacia was limited by the Baltic
Ocean in the North and by the
Vistula in the West. The names of the
people and settlements confirm Dacia's borders as described by
Agrippa. Dacian people also lived south of the Danube.
Dacian language See also:
Davae and List of Dacian
Getae were always considered as
Thracians by the
ancients (Dio Cassius, Trogus Pompeius,
Strabo and Pliny the
Elder), and were both said to speak the same Thracian language. The
linguistic affiliation of Dacian is uncertain, since the ancient
Indo-European language in question became extinct (?) and left very
limited traces (?), usually in the form of place names, plant names
and personal names.
Thraco-Dacian (or Thracian and Daco-Mysian) seems
to belong to the eastern (satem) group of Indo-European languages.
There are two contradictory theories: some scholars (such as Tomaschek
1883; Russu 1967; Solta 1980; Crossland 1982; Vraciu 1980) consider
Dacian to be a
Thracian language or a dialect thereof. This view is
supported by R. G. Solta, who says that Thracian and Dacian are very
closely related languages. Other scholars (such as Georgiev 1965,
Duridanov 1976) consider that Thracian and Dacian are two different
Indo-European languages which cannot be reduced to a
common language (?). Linguists such as Polomé and Katičić
expressed reservations about both theories.
Dacians are generally considered to have been Thracian speakers,
representing a cultural continuity from earlier
Iron Age communities
loosely termed Getic. Since in one interpretation, Dacian is a
variety of Thracian, for the reasons of convenience, the generic term
‘Daco-Thracian" is used, with "Dacian" reserved for the language or
dialect that was spoken north of Danube, in present-day
eastern Hungary, and "Thracian" for the variety spoken south of the
Danube. There is no doubt that the
Thracian language was related to
Dacian language which was spoken in what is today Romania, before
some of that area was occupied by the Romans. Also, both Thracian and
Dacian have one of the main satem characteristic changes of
Indo-European language, *k and *g to *s and *z. With regard to the
term "Getic" (Getae), even though attempts have been made to
distinguish between Dacian and Getic, there seems no compelling reason
to disregard the view of the Greek geographer
Strabo that the Daci and
the Getae, Thracian tribes dwelling north of the
Danube (the Daci in
the west of the area and the
Getae further east), were one and the
same people and spoke the same language.
Another variety that has sometimes been recognized is that of Moesian
(or Mysian) for the language of an intermediate area immediately to
the south of
Danube in Serbia, Bulgaria and Romanian Dobruja: this and
the dialects north of the
Danube have been grouped together as
Daco-Moesian. The language of the indigenous population has left
hardly any trace in the anthroponymy of Moesia, but the toponymy
indicates that the Moesii on the south bank of the Danube, north of
Haemus Mountains, and the Triballi in the valley of the Morava,
shared a number of characteristic linguistic features with the Dacii
south of the Carpathians and the
Getae in the Wallachian plain, which
sets them apart from the
Thracians though their languages are
The Australian writer Tome Egumenoski explains that the
no written language (?), this is also common with many other tribes
living in the Balkan regions between the 6th and 8th Century. Dacian
culture is mostly followed through Roman sources. Ample evidence
suggests that they were a regional power in and around the city of
Sarmizegetusa. Sarmizegetusa was their political and spiritual
capital. The ruined city lies high in the mountains of central
Vladimir Georgiev disputes that Dacian and Thracian were closely
related for various reasons, most notably that Dacian and
names commonly end with the suffix -DAVA , while towns in Thrace
proper (i.e. South of the
Balkan mountains ) generally end in -PARA
Dacian language ). According to Georgiev, the language spoken by
Dacians should be classified as "Daco-Moesian" and regarded
as distinct from Thracian.Template:Georgiev Georgiev also claimed that
names from approximately Roman
Moesia show different and
generally less extensive changes in Indo-European consonants and
vowels than those found in
Thrace itself. However, the evidence seems
to indicate divergence of a Thraco-
Dacian language into northern and
southern groups of dialects, not so different as to qualify as
separate languages. Polomé considers that such lexical
differentiation ( -dava vs. para) would, however, be hardly enough
evidence to separate Daco-
Moesian from Thracian.
Main article: List of
Dacian tribes Roman era
An extensive account of the native tribes in
Dacia can be found in
the ninth tabula of Europe of Ptolemy's Geography. The Geography was
probably written in the period AD 140–150, but the sources were
often earlier; for example, Roman Britain is shown before the building
of Hadrian's Wall in the AD 120s. Ptolemy's Geography also contains a
physical map probably designed before the Roman conquest, and
containing no detailed nomenclature. There are references to the
Tabula Peutingeriana , but it appears that the Dacian map of the
Tabula was completed after the final triumph of Roman nationality.
Ptolemy's list includes no fewer than twelve tribes with Geto-Dacian
The fifteen tribes of
Dacia as named by Ptolemy, starting from the
northernmost ones, are as follows. First, the
Anartes , the Teurisci
and the Coertoboci/
Costoboci . To the south of them are the Buredeense
(Buri /Burs ), the
Cotini and then the
Albocense , the
Potulatense and the
Sense , while the southernmost were the
Ciaginsi and the
Piephigi . To the south of them were Predasense
Rhadacense /Rhatacenses, the
Caucoense (Cauci) and
Biephi . Twelve out of these fifteen tribes listed by
ethnic Dacians, and three are Celt Anarti, Teurisci, and Cotense.
There are also previous brief mentions of other
Getae or Dacian tribes
on the left and right banks of the Danube, or even in Transylvania, to
be added to the list of
Ptolemy . Among these other tribes are the
Some peoples inhabiting the region generally described in Roman times
as "Dacia" were not ethnic Dacians. The true
Dacians were a people of
Thracian descent. German elements (Daco-Germans), Celtic elements
(Daco-Celtic) and Iranian elements (Daco-Sarmatian) occupied
territories in the north-west and north-east of Dacia. This region
covered roughly the same area as modern
Romania plus Bessarabia
Moldova ) and eastern Galicia (south-west Ukraine),
Ptolemy places Moldavia and
Bessarabia in Sarmatia Europaea,
rather than Dacia. After the Dacian Wars (AD 101-6), the Romans
occupied only about half of the wider Dacian region. The Roman
Dacia covered just western
Wallachia as far as the Limes
Transalutanus (East of the river Aluta, or Olt ) and
Transylvania , as
bordered by the Carpathians.
The impact of the Roman conquest on these people is uncertain. One
hypothesis was that they were effectively eliminated. An important
clue to the character of Dacian casualties is offered by the ancient
sources Eutropius and Crito. Both speak about men when they describe
the losses suffered by the
Dacians in the wars. This suggests that
both refer to losses due to fighting, not due to a process of
extermination of the whole population. A strong component of the
Dacian army, including the Celtic
Bastarnae and the Germans, had
withdrawn rather than submit to Trajan. Some scenes on Trajan's
Column represent acts of obedience of the Dacian population, and
others show the refugee
Dacians returning to their own places.
Dacians trying to buy amnesty are depicted on Trajan\'s Column (one
Trajan a tray of three gold ingots). Alternatively, a
substantial number may have survived in the province, although were
probably outnumbered by the Romanised immigrants. Cultural life in
Dacia became very mixed and decidedly cosmopolitan because of the
colonial communities. The
Dacians retained their names and their own
ways in the midst of the newcomers, and the region continued to
exhibit Dacian characteristics. The
Dacians who survived the war are
attested as revolting against the Roman domination in
Dacia at least
twice, in the period of time right after the Dacian Wars, and in a
more determined manner in 117 AD. In 158 AD, they revolted again, and
were put down by M. Statius Priscus. Some
Dacians were apparently
expelled from the occupied zone at the end of each of the two Dacian
Wars, or otherwise emigrated. It is uncertain where these refugees
settled. Some of these people might have mingled with the existing
Dacian tribes beyond the Carpathians (the
Costoboci and Carpi).
After Trajan's conquest of
Dacia there was recurring trouble
involving Dacian groups excluded from the Roman province, as finally
defined by Hadrian. By the early third century the "Free Dacians", as
they were earlier known, were a significantly troublesome group, then
identified as the Carpi, requiring imperial intervention on more than
one occasion. In 214
Caracalla dealt with their attacks. Later,
Philip the Arab
Philip the Arab came in person to deal with them; he assumed the
triumphal title Carpicus Maximus and inaugurated a new era for the
Dacia (July 20, 246). Later both Decius and Gallienus
assumed the titles Dacicus Maximus. In 272,
Aurelian assumed the same
title as Philip.
In about 140 AD,
Ptolemy lists the names of several tribes residing
on the fringes of the Roman
Dacia (west, east and north of the
Carpathian range), and the ethnic picture seems to be a mixed one.
North of the Carpathians are recorded the Anarti,
Anarti (or Anartes) and the
Teurisci were originally
probably Celtic peoples or mixed Dacian-Celtic. The Anarti, together
with the Celtic
Cotini , are described by
Tacitus as vassals of the
Quadi Germanic people. The
Teurisci were probably a group of
Taurisci from the eastern
Alps . However, archaeology has
revealed that the Celtic tribes had originally spread from west to
east as far as Transylvania, before being absorbed by the
the 1st century BC.
The main view is that the
Costoboci were ethnically Dacian. Others
considered them a Slavic or
Sarmatian tribe. There was also a Celtic
influence, so that some consider them a mixed Celtic and Thracian
group that appear, after Trajan's conquest, as a Dacian group within
the Celtic superstratum. The
Costoboci inhabited the southern slopes
of the Carpathians.
Ptolemy named the Coestoboci (
Costoboci in Roman
sources) twice, showing them divided by the Dniester and the Peucinian
(Carpathian) Mountains. This suggests that they lived on both sides of
the Carpathians, but it is also possible that two accounts about the
same people were combined. There was also a group, the Transmontani,
that some modern scholars identify as Dacian Transmontani
the extreme north. The name Transmontani was from the Dacians'
Latin, literally "people over the mountains". Mullenhoff identified
these with the Transiugitani, another Dacian tribe north of the
Based on the account of
Dio Cassius , Heather (2010) considers that
Hasding Vandals, around 171 AD, attempted to take control of lands
which previously belonged to the free Dacian group called the
Costoboci. Hrushevskyi (1997) mentions that the earlier widespread
view that these
Carpathian tribes were Slavic has no basis. This would
be contradicted by the Coestobocan names themselves that are known
from the inscriptions, written by a Coestobocan and therefore
presumably accurately. These names sound quite unlike anything Slavic.
Scholars such as Tomaschek (1883), Shutte (1917) and Russu (1969)
consider these Costobocian names to be Thraco-Dacian. This
inscription also indicates the Dacian background of the wife of the
Costobocian king "Ziais Tiati filia Daca". This indication of the
socio-familial line of descent seen also in other inscriptions (i.e.
Diurpaneus qui Euprepes Sterissae f(ilius) Dacus) is a custom attested
since the historical period (beginning in the 5th century BC) when
Thracians were under Greek influence. It may not have originated with
the Thracians, as it could be just a fashion borrowed from
specifying ancestry and for distinguishing homonymous individuals
within the tribe. Shutte (1917), Parvan, and Florescu (1982) pointed
also to the Dacian characteristic place names ending in '–dava'
Ptolemy in the Costoboci's country.
The Carpi were a sizeable group of tribes, who lived beyond the
north-eastern boundary of Roman Dacia. The majority view among modern
scholars is that the Carpi were a North Thracian tribe and a subgroup
of the Dacians. However, some historians classify them as Slavs.
According to Heather (2010), the Carpi were
Dacians from the eastern
foothills of the
Carpathian range – modern Moldavia and Wallachia
– who had not been brought under direct Roman rule at the time of
Trajan's conquest of
Transylvania Dacia. After they generated a new
degree of political unity among themselves in the course of the third
century, these Dacian groups came to be known collectively as the
Carpi. Dacian cast in
Pushkin Museum , after original in Lateran
Museum . Early second century AD.
The ancient sources about the Carpi, before 104 AD, located them on a
territory situated between the western side of Eastern European
Galicia and the mouth of the Danube. The name of the tribe is
homonymous with the
Carpathian mountains. Carpi and
Dacian words derived from the root (s)ker- "cut" cf. Albanian Karp
Sanskrit kar- "cut". A quote from the 6th-century
Zosimus referring to the Καρποδάκαι
(Latin: Carpo-Dacae or "Carpo-Dacians"), who attacked the Romans in
the late 4th century, is seen as evidence of their Dacian ethnicity.
In fact, Carpi/Carpodaces is the term used for
Dacians outside of
Dacia proper. However, that the Carpi were
Dacians is shown not so
much by the form Καρποδάκαι (Latin: Carpo-Dacae) of Zosimus
as by their characteristic place-names in –dava, given by
their country. The origin and ethnic affiliations of the Carpi have
been debated over the years; in modern times they are closely
associated with the
Carpathian Mountains, and a good case has been
made for attributing to the Carpi a distinct material culture, "a
developed form of the Geto-Dacian La Tene culture", often known as the
Poienesti culture, which is characteristic of this area.
Roman monument commemorating the
Battle of Adamclisi clearly
shows two giant Dacian warriors wielding a two-handed falx
Dacians are represented in the statues surmounting the Arch of
Constantine and on Trajan\'s Column . The artist of the Column took
some care to depict, in his opinion, a variety of Dacian people—from
high-ranking men, women, and children to the near-savage. Although the
artist looked to models in
Hellenistic art for some body types and
compositions, he does not represent the
Dacians as generic barbarians.
Classical authors applied a generalized stereotype when describing
the "barbarians"—Celts, Scythians, Thracians—inhabiting the
regions to the north of the Greek world. In accordance with this
stereotype, all these peoples are described, in sharp contrast to the
"civilized" Greeks, as being much taller, their skin lighter and with
straight light-coloured hair and blue eyes. For instance, Aristotle
wrote that "the
Scythians on the
Black Sea and the
straight-haired, for both they themselves and the environing air are
moist"; according to
Clement of Alexandria ,
Xenophanes described the
Thracians as "ruddy and tawny". On Trajan's column, Dacian soldiers'
hair is depicted longer than the hair of Roman soldiers and they had
Body-painting was customary among the Dacians. It is probable that
the tattooing originally had a religious significance. They practiced
symbolic-ritual tattooing or body painting for both men and women,
with hereditary symbols transmitted up to the fourth generation.
Getae on the World Map according to
In the absence of historical records written by the
Thracians) themselves, analysis of their origins depends largely on
the remains of material culture. On the whole, the Bronze Age
witnessed the evolution of the ethnic groups which emerged during the
Eneolithic period, and eventually the syncretism of both autochthonous
and Indo-European elements from the steppes and the Pontic regions.
Various groups of
Thracians had not separated out by 1200 BC, but
there are strong similarities between the ceramic types found at Troy
and the ceramic types from the
Carpathian area. About the year 1000
BC, the Carpatho-Danubian countries were inhabited by a northern
branch of the Thracians. At the time of the arrival of the Scythians
(c. 700 BC), the Carpatho-Danubian
Thracians were developing rapidly
Iron Age civilization of the West. Moreover, the whole of
the fourth period of the
Bronze Age had already been
profoundly influenced by the first
Iron Age as it developed in Italy
and the Alpine lands. The Scythians, arriving with their own type of
Iron Age civilization, put a stop to these relations with the West.
From roughly 500 BC (the second Iron Age), the
Dacians developed a
distinct civilization, which was capable of supporting large
centralised kingdoms by 1st BC and 1st AD.
Since the very first detailed account by Herodotus,
acknowledged as belonging to the Thracians. Still, they are
distinguished from the other
Thracians by particularities of religion
and custom. The first written mention of the name "Dacians" is in
Roman sources, but classical authors are unanimous in considering them
a branch of the Getae, a Thracian people known from Greek writings.
Strabo specified that the Daci are the
Getae who lived in the area
Pannonian plain (
Transylvania ), while the
gravitated towards the
Black Sea coast (
Scythia Minor ).
RELATIONS WITH THRACIANS
Since the writings of
Herodotus in the 5th century BC, Getae/Dacians
are acknowledged as belonging to the Thracian sphere of influence.
Despite this, they are distinguished from other
particularities of religion and custom. Geto-
Dacians and Thracians
were kin people but they were not the same. The differences from the
Thracians or from the neighboring
Scythians were probably
faint, as several ancient authors make confusions of identification
with both groups.
In the 19th century, Tomaschek considered a close affinity between
Thracians and Getae-Dacians, an original kinship of both
people with Iranian peoples. They are
Aryan tribes, several centuries
before Scolotes of the Pont and
Sauromatae left the
Aryan homeland and
settled in the
Carpathian chain, in the
Haemus (Balkan) and Rhodope
mountains. The Besso-
Thracians and Getae-
Dacians separated very early
from Aryans, since their language still maintains roots that are
missing from Iranian and it shows non-Iranian phonetic characteristics
(i.e. replacing the Iranian "l" with "r"). He considered that the
Dacians and Besso-
Thracians would represent a new layer of people
that extended in the autochthonous fund, probably Illyrian or Armenian
RELATIONS WITH CELTS
Transylvania , Gallic invasion of the
Burebista , List of Celtic
Dacia , and
Púchov culture Diachronic
distribution of Celtic peoples:
core Hallstatt territory, by the 6th century BC maximal Celtic
expansion, by 275 BC
Dacians inhabited both sides of the
Tisa River before the rise
of the Celtic
Boii , and again after the latter were defeated by the
Dacians under king Burebista. During the second half of the 4th
century BC, Celtic cultural influence appears in the archaeological
records of the middle Danube, Alpine region, and north-western
Balkans, where it was part of the Middle
La Tène material culture.
This material appears in north-western and central Dacia, and is
reflected especially in burials. The
Dacians absorbed the Celtic
influence from the northwest in the early third century BC.
Archaeological investigation of this period has highlighted several
Celtic warrior graves with military equipment. It suggests the
forceful penetration of a military Celtic elite within the region of
Dacia, now known as Transylvania, that is bounded on the east by the
Carpathian range. The archaeological sites of the third and second
centuries BC in
Transylvania revealed a pattern of co-existence and
fusion between the bearers of
La Tène culture and indigenous Dacians.
These were domestic dwellings with a mixture of Celtic and Dacian
pottery, and several graves in the Celtic style containing vessels of
Dacian type. There are some seventy Celtic sites in Transylvania,
mostly cemeteries, but most if not all of them indicate that the
native population imitated Celtic art forms that took their fancy, but
remained obstinately and fundamentally Dacian in their culture.
Replica of the raven-totem helmet from
Satu Mare County
The Celtic Helmet from Satu Mare ,
Romania (northern Dacia), an Iron
Age raven totem helmet, dated around the 4th century BC. A similar
helmet is depicted on the Thraco-Celtic
Gundestrup cauldron , being
worn by one of the mounted warriors (detail tagged here). See also an
illustration of Brennos wearing a similar helmet. Around 150 BC, La
Tène material disappears from the area. This coincides with the
ancient writings which mention the rise of Dacian authority. It ended
the Celtic domination, and it is possible that
Celts were driven out
of Dacia. Alternatively, some scholars have proposed that the
Celts remained, but merged into the local culture and
thus ceased to be distinctive.
Archaeological discoveries in the settlements and fortifications of
Dacians in the period of their kingdoms (1st century BC and 1st
century AD) included imported Celtic vessels, and others made by
Dacian potters imitating Celtic prototypes, showing that relations
Dacians and the
Celts from the regions north and west of
Dacia continued. In present-day
Slovakia , archaeology has revealed
evidence for mixed Celtic-Dacian populations in the
Nitra and Hron
Dacians subdued the Celtic tribes, the remaining Cotini
stayed in the mountains of Central Slovakia, where they took up mining
and metalworking. Together with the original domestic population, they
Puchov culture that spread into central and northern
Slovakia, including Spis , and penetrated northeastern
southern Poland. Along the
Bodrog River in Zemplin they created
Celtic-Dacian settlements which were known for the production of
RELATIONS WITH GREEKS
Decree of Dionysopolis , List of Greek cities in
Dacia , and
Greek and Roman chroniclers record the defeat and capture of the
Lysimachus in the 3rd century BC by the Getae
(Dacians) ruled by Dromihete , their military strategy, and the
Lysimachus following a debate in the assembly of the Getae.
RELATIONS WITH PERSIANS
Herodotus says: "before Darius reached the Danube, the first people
he subdued were the Getae, who believed that they never die". It is
possible that the Persian expedition and the subsequent occupation may
have altered the way in which the
Getae expressed the immortality
belief. The influence of thirty years of
Achaemenid presence may be
detected in the emergence of an explicit iconography of the "Royal
Hunt" that influenced Dacian and Thracian metalworkers, and of the
practice of hawking by their upper class.
RELATIONS WITH SCYTHIANS
Scythia Minor ,
Roxolani , and
The Scythians' arrival in the
Carpathian mountains is dated to 700
Transylvania had been mentioned by Herodotus
(fifth century BC), who regarded them as not a Scythian people, but
closely related to them. In other respects their customs were close to
those of the Thracians. The
Agathyrsi were completely denationalized
at the time of
Herodotus and absorbed by the native Thracians.
The opinion that the
Agathyrsi were almost certainly Thracians
results also from the writings preserved by
Stephen of Byzantium , who
explains that the
Greeks called the
Agathyrsi , and we know
Trausi lived in the
Rhodope Mountains . Certain details from
their way of life, such as tattooing, also suggest that the Agathyrsi
were Thracians. Their place was later taken by the Dacians. That the
Dacians were of Thracian stock is not in doubt, and it is safe to
assume that this new name also encompassed the Agathyrsi, and perhaps
other neighboring Thracian people as well, as a result of some
RELATIONS WITH GERMANIC TRIBES
Marcomannic Wars , and
Chernyakhov culture Map showing the Dacian-speaking Carpi place
in invading Roman
Dacia in AD 250-1, under the Gothic leader Kniva
Goths , a confederation of east German peoples, arrived in the
Ukraine no later than 230. During the next decade, a large
section of them moved down the
Black Sea coast and occupied much of
the territory north of the lower Danube. The Goths' advance towards
the area north of the
Black Sea involved competing with the indigenous
population of Dacian-speaking Carpi, as well as indigenous
Sarmatians and Roman garrison forces. The Carpi,
often called "Free Dacians", continued to dominate the anti-Roman
coalition made up of themselves, Taifali, Astringi, Vandals, Peucini,
Goths until 248, when the
Goths assumed the hegemony of the loose
coalition. The first lands taken over by the
Goths were in
Moldavia, and only during the fourth century did they move in strength
down into the Danubian plain. The Carpi found themselves squeezed
between the advancing
Goths and the Roman province of Dacia. In 275
Aurelian surrendered the Dacian territory to the Carpi and the
Goths. Over time, Gothic power in the region grew, at the Carpi's
expense. The Germanic-speaking
Goths replaced native Dacian-speakers
as the dominant force around the
Carpathian mountains. Large numbers
of Carpi, but not all of them, were admitted into the Roman empire in
the twenty-five years or so after 290 AD. Despite this evacuation of
the Carpi around 300 AD, considerable groups of the natives
Sarmatians and others) remained in place under
In 330 the Gothic
Thervingi contemplated moving to the Middle Danube
region, and from 370 relocated with their fellow Gothic Greuthungi to
new homes in the Roman Empire. The
Ostrogoths were still more
isolated, but even the
Visigoths preferred to live among their own
kind. As a result, the
Goths settled in pockets. Finally, although
Roman towns continued on a reduced level, there is no question as to
In 336 AD, Constantine took the title Dacicus Maximus ("The great
victory over Dacians"), implying at least partial reconquest of Trajan
Dacia. In an inscription of 337, Constantine was commemorated
officially as Germanicus Maximus, Sarmaticus, Gothicus Maximus, and
Dacicus Maximus, meaning he had defeated the Germans, Sarmatians,
Goths, and Dacians.
Dacia Further information:
Dacian kingdom during the reign of
Burebista , 82 BC
Dacian states arose as a confederacy that included the Getae, the
Daci, the Buri, and the Carpi (cf. Bichir 1976, Shchukin 1989),
united only periodically by the leadership of Dacian kings such as
Decebal . This union was both military-political and
ideological-religious on ethnic basis. The following are some of the
attested Dacian kingdoms:
The kingdom of
Cothelas , one of the Getae, covered an area near the
Black Sea, between northern
Thrace and the Danube, today Bulgaria, in
the 4th century BC. The kingdom of
Rubobostes controlled a region in
Transylvania in the 2nd century BC.
Gaius Scribonius Curio (proconsul
75–73 BC) campaigned successfully against the Dardani and the Moesi
, becoming the first Roman general to reach the river
Danube with his
army. His successor, Marcus Licinius
Lucullus , brother of the famous
Lucullus , campaigned against the Thracian
Bessi tribe and the
Moesi, ravaging the whole of
Moesia , the region between the Haemus
(Balkan) mountain range and the Danube. In 72 BC, his troops occupied
the Greek coastal cities of
Scythia Minor (the modern
Romania and Bulgaria), which had sided with Rome's Hellenistic
Mithridates VI of Pontus , in the Third Mithridatic
War . Greek geographer
Strabo claimed that the
been able to muster a combined army of 200,000 men during Strabo's
era, the time of Roman emperor
The Kingdom Of Burebista
The Dacian kingdom reached its maximum extent under king Burebista
(ruled 82 – 44 BC). The capital of the kingdom was possibly the city
Argedava , also called Sargedava in some historical writings,
situated close to the river Danube. The kingdom of
south of the Danube, in what is today Bulgaria, and the Greeks
believed their king was the greatest of all Thracians. During his
Burebista transferred the Geto-Dacians' capital from Argedava
to Sarmizegetusa . For at least one and a half centuries,
Sarmizegethusa was the Dacian capital, reaching its peak under king
Burebista annexed the Greek cities on the Pontus.(55–48
Augustus wanted to avenge the defeat of Gaius Antonius Hybrida
Histria (Sinoe) 32 years before, and to recover the lost standards.
These were held in a powerful fortress called
Genucla (Isaccea, near
modern Tulcea, in the
Danube delta region of Romania), controlled by
Zyraxes , the local Getan petty king. The man selected for the task
Marcus Licinius Crassus
Marcus Licinius Crassus , grandson of Crassus the triumvir , and
an experienced general at 33 years of age, who was appointed proconsul
of Macedonia in 29 BC.
The Kingdom Of
Decebalus 87 – 106
By the year AD 100, more than 400,000 square kilometers were
dominated by the Dacians, who numbered two million.
Decebalus was the
last king of the Dacians, and despite his fierce resistance against
the Romans was defeated, and committed suicide rather than being
marched through Rome in a triumph as a captured enemy leader.
CONFLICT WITH ROME
Main articles: Domitian\'s Dacian War and Trajan\'s Dacian Wars
Burebista's Dacian state was powerful enough to threaten Rome, and
Caesar contemplated campaigning against the Dacians. Despite this,
the formidable Dacian power under
Burebista lasted only until his
death in 44 BC. The subsequent division of
Dacia continued for about a
century until the reign of
Scorilo . This was a period of only
occasional attacks on the Roman Empire's border, with some local
The unifying actions of the last Dacian king
87–106 AD) were seen as dangerous by Rome. Despite the fact that the
Dacian army could now gather only some 40,000 soldiers , Decebalus'
raids south of the
Danube proved unstopable and costly. In the Romans'
eyes, the situation at the border with
Dacia was out of control, and
Domitian (ruled 81 to 96 AD) tried desperately to deal with
the danger through military action. But the outcome of Rome's
disastrous campaigns into
Dacia in AD 86 and AD 88 pushed
settle the situation through diplomacy.
Trajan (ruled 97–117 AD) opted for a different approach and
decided to conquer the Dacian kingdom, partly in order to seize its
vast gold mines wealth. The effort required two major wars (the Dacian
Wars), one in 101–102 AD and the other in 105–106 AD. Only
fragmentary details survive of the Dacian war: a single sentence of
Trajan's own Dacica; little more of the
Getica written by his doctor,
T. Statilius Crito; nothing whatsoever of the poem proposed by
Caninius Rufus (if it was ever written), Dio Chrysostom's
Appian's Dacica. Nonetheless, a reasonable account can be pieced
together. Dacian wars depicted on Trajan\'s column
In the first war,
Dacia by crossing the river Danube
with a boat-bridge and inflicted a crushing defeat on the
Second Battle of Tapae in 101 AD. The Dacian king
forced to sue for peace.
Decebalus then concluded a peace
treaty which was highly favourable to the Romans. The peace agreement
Dacians to cede some territory to the Romans and to
demolish their fortifications. Decebalus' foreign policy was also
restricted, as he was prohibited from entering into alliances with
Decebalus considered this only a temporary
truce, and readied themselves for renewed war.
Trajan had Greek
Apollodorus of Damascus construct a stone bridge over the
Danube river, while
Decebalus secretly plotted alliances against the
Romans(citation needed) . In 105,
Trajan crossed the
Danube river and
besieged Decebalus' capital, Sarmizegetusa , but the siege failed
because of Decebalus' allied tribes. However,
Trajan was an optimist.
He returned with a newly constituted army and took Sarmizegetusa by
Decebalus fled into the mountains, but was cornered by
pursuing Roman cavalry.
Decebalus committed suicide rather than being
captured by the Romans and be paraded as a slave, then be killed. The
Roman captain took his head and right hand to Trajan, who had them
displayed in the Forums . Trajan\'s Column in Rome was constructed to
celebrate the conquest of Dacia. Death of
Column, Scene CXLV)
The Roman people hailed Trajan's triumph in
Dacia with the longest
and most expensive celebration in their history, financed by a part of
the gold taken from the Dacians. For his triumph,
Trajan gave a
123-day festival (ludi ) of celebration, in which approximately 11,000
animals were slaughtered and 11,000 gladiators fought in combats. This
surpassed Emperor Titus's celebration in AD 70, when a 100-day
festival included 3,000 gladiators and 5,000 to 9,000 wild animals.
Main article: Roman
Dacia See also:
Only about half part of
Dacia then became a Roman province, with a
newly built capital at
Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa , 40 km away from
the site of Old Sarmizegetusa, which was razed to the ground. The name
of the Dacians' homeland, Dacia, became the name of a Roman province,
and the name
Dacians was used to designate peoples of varying ancestry
in the region. Roman Dacia, also
Dacia Traiana or
Dacia Felix, was a
province of the
Roman Empire from 106 to 271 or 275 AD. Its
territory consisted of eastern and southeastern Transylvania, and the
Oltenia (located in modern Romania).
organised from the beginning as an imperial province , and remained so
throughout the Roman occupation. It was one of the empire's Latin
provinces; official epigraphs attest that the language of
administration was Latin. Historian estimates of the population of
Dacia range from 650,000 to 1,200,000. Roman
Moesia Inferior ,
Moesia Superior and other
Dacians that remained outside the
Roman Empire after the Dacian wars
of AD 101–106 had been named Dakoi prosoroi (
Latin Daci limitanei),
"neighbouring Dacians". Modern historians use the generic name "Free
Dacians" or Independent Dacians. The tribes Daci Magni (Great
Costoboci (generally considered a Dacian subtribe), and
Carpi remained outside the Roman empire, in what the Romans called
Dacia Libera (Free Dacia). By the early third century the "Free
Dacians" were a significantly troublesome group, by now identified as
the Carpi. Bichir argues that the Carpi were the most powerful of the
Dacian tribes who had become the principal enemy of the Romans in the
region. In 214 AD,
Caracalla campaigned against the Free Dacians.
There were also campaigns against the
Dacians recorded in 236 AD.
Dacia was evacuated by the Romans under emperor
Aurelian made this decision on account of barbarian
pressures on the Empire there caused by the Carpi, Visigoths,
Sarmatians, and Asding Vandals; the lines of defence needed to be
Dacia was deemed not important enough given the demands
on available resources. Roman power in Thracia rested mainly with the
legions stationed in Moesia. The rural nature of Thracia's
populations, and the distance from Roman authority, encouraged the
presence of local troops to support Moesia's legions. Over the next
few centuries, the province was periodically and increasingly attacked
by migrating Germanic tribes. The reign of
Justinian saw the
construction of over 100 legionary fortresses to supplement the
Romanized , while those
Byzantine empire were their Hellenized descendants that had
mingled with the Greeks.
AFTER THE AURELIAN RETREAT
Free Dacians ,
Carpi (people) ,
Costoboci , and Origin of
the Romanians Dacian on the Constantine Arch
Dacia was never a uniformly Romanised area. Post-Aurelianic Dacia
fell into three divisions: the area along the river, usually under
some type of Roman administration even if in a highly barbarized form;
the zone beyond this area, from which Roman military personnel had
withdrawn, leaving a sizable population behind that was generally
Romanised; and finally what is now the northern parts of Moldavia,
Crisana, and Maramures, which were never occupied by the Romans. These
last areas were always peripheral to the Roman province, not
militarily occupied but nonetheless influenced by Rome as part of the
Roman economic sphere. Here lived the free, unoccupied Carpi, often
called "Free Dacians".
Aurelian retreat was a purely military decision to withdraw the
Roman troops to defend the Danube. The inhabitants of the old province
Dacia displayed no awareness of impending disaster. There were no
sudden flights or destruction of property. It is not possible to
discern how many civilians followed the army out of Dacia; it is clear
that there was no mass emigration, since there is evidence of
continuity of settlement in Dacian villages and farms; the evacuation
may not at first have been intended to be a permanent measure. The
Romans left the province, but they didn't consider that they lost it.
Dobrogea was not abandoned at all, but continued as part of the Roman
Empire for over 350 years. As late as AD 300, the tetrarchic emperors
had resettled tens of thousands of Dacian Carpi inside the empire,
dispersing them in communities the length of the Danube, from Austria
to the Black Sea.
Dacian tarabostes (nobleman) – (Hermitage Museum)
Comati on Trajan's Column, Rome
Dacians were divided into two classes: the aristocracy (tarabostes)
and the common people (comati). Only the aristocracy had the right to
cover their heads, and wore a felt hat . The common people, who
comprised the rank and file of the army, the peasants and artisans,
might have been called capillati in Latin. Their appearance and
clothing can be seen on Trajan\'s Column .
Dacian tools: compasses, chisels, knives, etc.
The chief occupations of the
Dacians were agriculture , apiculture ,
viticulture , livestock , ceramics and metalworking . They also worked
the gold and silver mines of Transylvania. At Pecica, Arad a Dacian
workshop was discovered, along with equipment for minting coins and
evidence of bronze, silver, and iron-working that suggests a broad
spectrum of smithing. Evidence for the mass production of iron is
found on many Dacian sites, indicating guild-like specialization.
Dacian ceramic manufacturing traditions continue from the pre-Roman to
the Roman period, both in provincial and unoccupied Dacia, and well
into the fourth and even early fifth centuries. They engaged in
considerable external trade, as is shown by the number of foreign
coins found in the country (see also
Decebalus Treasure ). On the
northernmost frontier of "free Dacia", coin circulation steadily grew
in the first and second centuries, with a decline in the third and a
rise again in the fourth century; the same pattern as observed for the
Banat region to the southwest. What is remarkable is the extent and
increase in coin circulation even after Roman withdrawal from Dacia,
and as far north as Transcarpathia.
Geto-Dacian Koson , mid 1st century BC
The first coins produced by the Geto-
Dacians were imitations of
silver coins of the Macedonian kings Philip II and Alexander III (the
Great). Early in the 1st century BC, the
Dacians replaced these with
silver denarii of the Roman Republic, both official coins of Rome
exported to Dacia, as well as locally made imitations of them. The
Dacia is represented on the Roman sestertius coin as a
woman seated on a rock, holding an aquila , a small child on her knee.
The aquila holds ears of grain, and another small child is seated
before her holding grapes.
Dacian Fortresses of the Orăştie Mountains and Murus
Dacians had developed the murus dacicus (double-skinned
ashlar-masonry with rubble fill and tie beams) characteristic to their
complexes of fortified cities, like their capital Sarmizegetusa in
what is today
Hunedoara County , Romania. This type of wall has been
discovered not only in the Dacian citadel of the Orastie mountains,
but also in those at Covasna , Breaza near
Făgăraș , Tilișca near
Sibiu , Căpâlna in the
Sebeș valley, Bănița not far from
Petroșani , and Piatra Craivii to the north of
Alba Iulia . The
degree of their urban development was displayed on Trajan\'s Column
and in the account of how Sarmizegetusa was defeated by the Romans.
The Romans identified and destroyed the aqueducts and pipelines of the
Dacian capital, only thus being able to end the long siege of
Dacology , and
Romanian archaeology See also:
the categories Dacian archaeology , Museums of
Dacia , and Dacian art
According to archaeological findings, the cradle of the Dacian
culture is considered to be north of the
Danube towards the Carpathian
mountains, in the historical Romanian province of
Muntenia . It is
identified as an evolution of the
Basarabi culture . The
Iron Age Basarabi evidence in the northern lower
connects to the iron-using Ferigile-Birsesti group. This is an
archaeological manifestation of the historical
Getae who, along with
the Agathyrsae, are one of a number of tribal formations recorded by
Herodotus. In archaeology, "free Dacians" are attested by the Puchov
culture (in which there are Celtic elements) and
Lipiţa culture to
the east of the Carpathians. The
Lipiţa culture has a Dacian/North
Thracian origin. This North Thracian population was dominated by
strong Celtic influences, or had simply absorbed Celtic ethnic
Lipiţa culture has been linked to the Dacian tribe of
Specific Dacian material culture includes: wheel-turned pottery that
is generally plain but with distinctive elite wares, massive silver
dress fibulae , precious metal plate, ashlar masonry, fortifications,
upland sanctuaries with horseshoe-shaped precincts, and decorated clay
heart altars at settlement sites. Among many discovered artifacts, the
Dacian bracelets stand out, depicting their cultural and aesthetic
sense. There are difficulties correlating funerary monuments
chronologically with Dacian settlements; a small number of burials are
known, along with cremation pits, and isolated rich burials as at
Cugir. Dacian burial ritual continued under Roman occupation and into
the post-Roman period.
Dacian language See also:
Thracian language ,
and Languages of the
Dacians are generally considered to have been Thracian speakers,
representing a cultural continuity from earlier
Iron Age communities.
Some historians and linguists consider
Dacian language to be a dialect
of or the same language as Thracian . The vocalism and consonantism
differentiate the Dacian and Thracian languages. Others consider that
Dacian and Illyrian form regional varieties (dialects) of a common
Thracians inhabited modern southern Bulgaria and northern
Illyrians lived in modern Albania, Serbia, Montenegro,
Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia.)
The ancient languages of these people became extinct, and their
cultural influence highly reduced, after the repeated invasions of the
Balkans by Celts,
Huns , Goths, and Sarmatians, accompanied by
persistent hellenization , romanisation and later slavicisation .
Therefore, in the study of the toponomy of Dacia, one must take
account of the fact that some place-names were taken by the Slavs from
as yet unromanised Dacians. A number of Dacian words are preserved in
ancient sources, amounting to about 1150 anthroponyms and 900
toponyms, and in Discorides some of the rich plant lore of the Dacians
is preserved along with the names of 42 medicinal plants.
Dacians knew about writing. Permanent contacts with the
Graeco-Roman world had brought the use of the Greek and later the
Latin alphabet. It is also certainly not the case that writing with
Latin letters and knowledge of Greek and
Latin were known in
all the settlements scattered throughout Dacia, but there is no doubt
about the existence of such knowledge in some circles of Dacian
society. However, the most revealing discoveries concerning the use
of the writing by the
Dacians occurred in the citadels on the Sebes
mountains. Some groups of letters from stone blocks at Sarmisegetuza
might express personal names; these can not now be read because the
wall is ruined, and because it is impossible to restore the original
order of the blocks in the wall.
Dacian mythology Detail of the main fresco of the
Aleksandrovo kurgan . The figure is identified with Zalmoxis.
Dacian religion was considered by the classic sources as a key source
of authority, suggesting to some that
Dacia was a predominantly
theocratic state led by priest-kings. However, the layout of the
Dacian capital Sarmizegethusa indicates the possibility of
co-rulership, with a separate high king and high priest. Ancient
sources recorded the names of several Dacian high priests (Deceneus,
Comosicus and Vezina) and various orders of priests: "god-worshipers",
"smoke-walkers" and "founders". Both
Hellenistic and Oriental
influences are discernible in the religious background, alongside
chthonic and solar motifs.
According to Herodotus' account of the story of
Zalmoxis or Zamolxis,
Getae (speaking the same language as the
Dacians and the
Thracians, according to
Strabo ) believed in the immortality of the
soul, and regarded death as merely a change of country. Their chief
priest held a prominent position as the representative of the supreme
deity, Zalmoxis, who is called also
Gebeleizis by some among them.
Strabo wrote about the high priest of King
Deceneus : "a man
who not only had wandered through Egypt, but also had thoroughly
learned certain prognostics through which he would pretend to tell the
divine will; and within a short time he was set up as god (as I said
when relating the story of Zamolxis)." Votive stele representing
Bendis wearing a Dacian cap (
British Museum )
Jordanes in his
Getica (The origin and deeds of the
also gives an account of
Deceneus the highest priest, and considered
Dacians a nation related to the Goths. Besides Zalmoxis, the Dacians
believed in other deities, such as Gebeleizis, the god of storm and
lightning, possibly related to the Thracian god
Zibelthiurdos . He
was represented as a handsome man, sometimes with a beard. Later
Gebeleizis was equated with
Zalmoxis as the same god. According to
Gebeleizis who is only mentioned by
Herodotus) is just another name of Zalmoxis.
Another important deity was
Bendis , goddess of the moon and the
hunt. By a decree of the oracle of
Dodona , which required the
Athenians to grant land for a shrine or temple, her cult was
introduced into Attica by immigrant Thracian residents, and, though
Thracian and Athenian processions remained separate, both cult and
festival became so popular that in Plato's time (c. 429–13 BC) its
festivities were naturalised as an official ceremony of the Athenian
city-state, called the BENDIDEIA.
Known Dacian theonyms include Zalmoxis, Gebeleïzis and Darzalas .
Gebeleizis is probably cognate to the Thracian god
Zbelsurdos, Zibelthurdos), wielder of lightning and thunderbolts.
DERZELAS (also Darzalas) was a chthonic god of health and human
vitality. The pagan religion survived longer in
Dacia than in other
parts of the empire; Christianity made little headway until the fifth
Fragment of a vase collected by
Mihail Dimitriu at the site of
Poiana, Galaţi (
Romania illustrating the use of Greek
Latin letters by a Dacian potter (source:
Dacia journal , 1933)
Fragments of pottery with different "inscriptions" with
Greek letters incised before and after firing have been discovered in
the settlement at Ocnita – Valcea. An inscription carries the word
Basileus (Βασιλεύς in Greek, meaning "king") and seems to have
been written before the vessel was hardened by fire. Other
inscriptions contain the name of the king, believed to be Thiemarcus,
Latin groups of letters (BVR, REB). BVR indicates the name of the
tribe or union of tribes, the Buridavensi
Dacians who lived at
Buridava and who were mentioned by
Ptolemy in the second century AD
under the name of Buridavensioi.
CLOTHING AND SCIENCE
The typical dress of Dacians, both men and women, can be seen on
Trajan's column. Dio Chrysostom described the
Dacians as natural
philosophers. Dacian women
The history of
Dacian warfare spans from c. 10th century BC up to the
2nd century AD in the region typically referred to by Ancient Greek
Latin historians as Dacia. It concerns the armed conflicts of the
Dacian tribes and their kingdoms in the Balkans. Apart from conflicts
Dacians and neighboring nations and tribes, numerous wars were
Dacian tribes as well.
The weapon most associated with the Dacian forces that fought against
Trajan's army during his invasions of
Dacia was the falx , a
single-edged scythe-like weapon. The falx was able to inflict horrible
wounds on opponents, easily disabling or killing the heavily armored
Roman legionaries that they faced. This weapon, more so than any other
single factor, forced the Roman army to adopt previously unused or
modified equipment to suit the conditions on the Dacian battlefield.
List of Dacian kings ,
Burebista , and
This is a list of several important Dacian individuals or those of
partly Dacian origin.
Zalmoxis , a semi-legendary social and religious reformer,
eventually deified by the
Dacians and regarded as the only
true god .
Burebista was a king of Dacia, 70–44 BC, who united under his
Thracians in a large territory, from today's
Moravia in the West,
Southern Bug river (
Ukraine ) in the East, and from the
Carpathian Mountains to Southern
Dionysopolis . The Greeks
considered him the first and greatest king of Thrace.
Decebalus , a king of
Dacia who was ultimately defeated by the
Diegis was a Dacian chief, general and brother of Decebalus, and
his representative at the peace negotiations held with
"The ducks come from the trucks" – Romanian language pun about a
mistranslation (duck and truck sound like dac and trac, the ethnonyms
for Dacian and Thracian).
* List of rulers of
* List of cities in
List of Dacian names
* ^ Dioscorides's book (known in English by its
Latin title De
Materia Medica 'Regarding Medical Materials') has all the Dacian names
of the plants preceded by Δάκοι Dakoi i.e. Δάκοι Dakoi
Latin Daci propodila "
* ^ De Imperatoribus Romanis Retrieved 2007-11-08. "In the year 88,
the Romans resumed the offensive. The Roman troops were now led by the
general Tettius Iulianus. The battle took place again at Tapae but
this time the Romans defeated the Dacians. For fear of falling into a
trap, Iulianus abandoned his plans of conquering Sarmizegetuza and, at
the same time,
Decebalus asked for peace. At first,
this request, but after he was defeated in a war in Pannonia against
the Marcomanni (a Germanic tribe), the emperor was obliged to accept
* ^ Extensive discussion of whether the date is 429 or 413 BC was
reviewed and newly analyzed in Christopher Planeaux, "The Date of
Bendis' Entry into Attica" The Classical Journal 96.2 (December
2000:165–192). Planeaux offers a reconstruction of the inscription
mentioning the first introduction, p
* ^ Fifth-century fragmentary inscriptions that record formal
descrees regarding formal aspects of the
Bendis cult, are reproduced
in Planeaux 2000:170f
* ^ Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical
Antiquities (1898),(Zalmoxis) or Zamolxis (Zamolxis). Said to have
been so called from the bear's skin (zalmos) in which he was clothed
as soon as he was born. He was, according to the story current among
Greeks on the Hellespont, a Getan, who had been a slave to
Pythagoras in Samos, but was manumitted, and acquired not only great
wealth, but large stores of knowledge from Pythagoras, and from the
Egyptians, whom he visited in the course of his travels. He returned
among the Getae, introducing the civilization and the religious ideas
which he had gained, especially regarding the immortality of the soul.
Herodotus, however, suspects that he was an indigenous Getan divinity
* ^ A B Westropp 2003 , p. 104.
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Strabo & 20 AD , VII 3,12.
Dionysius Periegetes , Graece et Latine, Volume 1, Libraria
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Appian & 165 AD , Praef. 4/14-15, quoted in
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