Life on the nowadays territory of Romania began many thousands years ago, millions, one may say. The “Austrolanthopus Olteniensis” skeleton, unearthed at Bugiulesti, Valcea county, was estimated to be 1,800,000 – 2,000,000 years old.
Testimonies to the existence of human communities in the Paleolithic, consisting of rudimentary chipped stone implements, are numerous in the counties of Olt, Arges, Sibiu, Iasi, Maramures, and others. From the most recent part of this period, there exist even some manifestations of art, such as pendeloques of incised stone, bones, and shells.
The rupestrian painting from Cuciulat, located on the banks of Somes River, Salaj county, is approximately 10,000 years old. The tablets of baked clay, discovered at Tartaria, located on the banks of the Mures River, Alba county, were made from local clay and covered with a writing very similar to the Sumerian one, with the same direction of reading, that is counterclockwise (the spiral of life). These tablets are estimated to belong to a more than 8,000 years old civilization; therefore, a much earlier one than the Sumer’s. The inscribed tablets from Orastie, Hunedoara county and Acidava, Arges county, are even older, preceding those from Tartaria.
The traces of some Neolithic cultures, dating back to 7,000 – 2,700 B.C., are numerous. Thus the figurines and vases of baked clay, painted in two or three colors, discovered at Cucuteni, Hamangia, Boian, Salcuta, Popesti, etc. are genuine works of art as well as fully functional objects. During this mentioned period, as attested by the Gumelnita culture, which had developed north and south of the Danube, copper and gold were used to manufacture weapons and objects for adornment.
The beginning of the process of Indo-Europeanization of the native population started presumably around 2,700 B.C. This process coincided with the dawn of civilization of the Bronze Age, as illustrated by the archaeological finds of different cultures, such as the cultures of Horodistea – Erbiceni (Botosani county), Foltesti (Galati county), Zabala (Covasna county), Baia (Constanta county), and Cotofeni (Dolj county). Similarly to other civilizations, the bronze metallurgy and the gold one developed at the same time.
Legends mention, about the year 3000 B.C., the existence of a great empire, ruled by the priestess of the Uranian Sun, Dacia – Dochia, which was located in the area of the Ceahlau mountain. She was simultaneously the supreme judge and military leader. Five hundred years later, Hestia (Vesta), queen and high priestess of the sacred fire, led the same empire based upon the code of fair laws – Belagine. Hestia was later on deified by the Thracians. Around 1,400 B.C., traditions mention the name of Zamolxe (Zamolxis, Zalmoxis), high priest, physician and king, likewise deified, who presumably received the Belagine code of laws, directly from the goddess Hestia. As It appears today, in the Zamolxean schools, which lasted for hundreds of years, philosophy, logics, mathematics, and medicine were taught, while the spells and names of medicinal herbs have been handed down to us, through folklore. During the 12th – 8th centuries B.C., the Basarabi culture, thriving almost throughout the Carpatho – Danubian – Pontic territory, testifies the beginning of the Iron Age. By the invention of the iron technology, the metallurgy of bronze and gold became less important.
During the 7th – 6th centuries B.C., there appeared the first Greek harbors at the Pontus Euxinus (the Black Sea of today): Histria (today just an archeological site) and Tomis (city of Constanta). Also were founded those of Miletus (unclearly located) and Callatis (city of Mangalia), both of them of Doric origin.
Over the 5th and 4th cent. B.C., date back the first coins stamped on Dacian territory, as well as all kinds of elements of Greek culture.
In 514 B.C., the Geto-Dacians, led by Ion (Ene) Basarab repelled the armies of the Persian king Darius. Mentioning this battle, Herodotus wrote that among the Thracians, the Geto – Dacians were the bravest and the most righteous. The Father of History also wrote that those people considered themselves immortal. To continually utter their immortality, the Geto-Thracians used to send a messenger to their God, Zamolxis, by throwing periodically in spears one of their bravest man, who always had to be a volunteer. In another battle with the Persians, in 292 B.C., the Dacian king Dromichetes, took Lisimachos prisoner, but diplomatically married himself to the daughter of the man who succeeded to the throne of Alexander the Great.
Burebista is considered the founder of the first centralized Dacian state, in 50 B.C., which extended, from west to east, from Pannonia to the Black Sea, and from the north of the Carpathians to the south of the Danube. He is considered to have moved the capital city of Dacia to Sarmisegetuza, a vast archaeological context of about 200 sq. km, located in the Orastie Mountains. The complex of Sarmisegetuza was marvelously designed, revealing a multitude of fortresses and strongholds built in such a way that they would progressively defend strategically the capital city itself. The whole area resembles a Helenistic complex of buildings, but solved in an ingenious, original way.
The reign of the Dacian king Decebal (87-106) met that of the Roman emperor Trajan (98-117) in the two wars of 101-102 and 105-106. After the second Dacian-Roman war, the Roman legions ultimately conquered the southern part of the Dacian state, taking over its huge treasure of gold (165,000 kg) and silver (331,000 kg), drawn out from the waters of the Sargetia, as well as its cattle, cereals, and soldiers. The festivity of conquest lasted for 123 days and the citizens of Rome were tax-free for one whole year. The triumphal arch of Rome, built by Trajan’s architects, as well as the Trajan column, built in 107-108, immortalized this entire odyssey. Marvelous jewels, coins, other artifacts, full of history and art, were thus forever lost.
Roman rule in Dacia meant a powerful economic and cultural development; there emerged cities, monumental edifices, of both military and civil nature, roads, and new mining exploitations. Latin writing was promoted and became dominant. The political-administrative organization, based on the Roman system, with municipalities, headed by prefects, was enforced upon the territories that were included into the empire. Therefore, Roman influence was deeply felt by the entire Dacian population. This entire historical period is viewed as the genesis of the Romanian people, simultaneously constituting, by tradition, the beginning of christianization directly done by Apostle Andrew. Weakened by the barbarian invasions, the Roman armies withdrew from the Dacian territory, during the rule of the emperor Aurelianus, in 271-272.
However, the links were never cut off. Romanian folklore recorded the names of the two “Ler”: emperor Galer Maximus (293 – 311), who issued the first edict of religious tolerance and won a great victory over the Persians, with an army of Dacians, as recorded on the capitals of the triumphal arch of Salonica. The second “Ler” was his nephew, whose name was likewise Galer (308 – 313). Galer, Valer, and Galeriu are Romanian surnames and given names. Subsequently, emperor Constantine the Great and his mother Helena transferred the capital of the Roman empire to Constantinople, built the largest bridge from ancient architecture, across the Danube at Celei (Romanati county), fortified with garrisons a number of settlements that were lying north of Danube, and glorified the eight Dacian commanding officers of the army on the triumphal arch from Rome. They were recorded by history especially for the conversion to Christianity as state religion and the patronization of the Synod of Nicaea, from 325, which also had repercussions on the Dacian territories.
The uninterrupted inhabitance, by the local population, over the 4th – 9th century A.C., after all the passages of the Goths, Huns, Slavs, and Avars, is testified to by the archaeological finds, treasured in all the museums of Romania and especially by the extraordinary unity of the Romanian language, evidently of Latin origin.
Beginning with the 9th century, the chronicles mentioned the army commanders Menumorut, Gelu, and Glad in Transylvania and Banat and subsequently, in 1230, the name of voivode Litovoi, in the Hateg county, who opposed the longstanding effort of the Hungarian kingdom, to expand over the ancient Dacian territories.
The original translation was reviewed and edited by Radu Sebescu.
All the mistakes, non-clarities, and misinterpretations must be attributed to the reviewer/editor.
Radu Sebescu (email@example.com), Phoenix, Arizona, Tu2001Jn19, 20:44 (GMT-7:00)