A Very Long Time Ago

Cucuteni pottery
The research done by Romanian archaeologists has led to the discovery of traces of human presence dating back as early as the Lower Paleolithic (approximately two million years BC). A denser human population, known as “the Neanderthal man” can be proved to have lived about 100,000 years ago. A relatively stable population can only be found beginning with the Neolithic (7,500-6,000 years BC). At that time, the population on the territory of nowadays Romania created a remarkable culture, whose main proves are the polychrome pottery of the “Cucuteni” culture, fully comparable to the pottery of other important European cultures of the time discovered in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East, and the statuettes of the “Hamangia” culture. Today, the Thinker of Hamangia and its pair are known to the whole world.
At the turn of the second millennium BC (the Bronze age), the Thracian tribes of Indo-European origin settled alongside the population that had already lived in the Carpathian-Balkan region.

In the former half of the first millennium BC, in the Carpathian-Danube-Pontic area – which was the northern part of the large surface inhabited by the Thracian tribes – a northern Thracian group became clearly individualized. It consisted of a mosaic of Getae and Dacian tribes. Strabo or Strabon, a famous geographer and historian in the age of emperor Augustus, informs that “the Dacians have the same language as the Getae”. Basically, it was the same people, the only real difference between the Dacians and the Getae was just the area they inhabited.
In the Antiquity, the Greeks, who first encountered the Getae, used this name for the whole population that lived north of the Danube; while the Romans, who first met the Dacians, extended this name to cover all the other tribes on the present-day territory of Romania.

The Thinkers of Hamangia

The Dacian stronghold of Sarmisegetuza
Burebista (82 -44 BC), assassinated similarly as his greatest foe, Caesar, succeeded to unite the Geto-Dacian tribes for the first time and founded a powerful kingdom that stretched, when the Dacian sovereign offered to support Pompey against Caesar (48 BC).
In the 1st century BC, as the Roman empire was expanding to its maximum extent, the Danube river became, for more than 1,500 km., the border between the Roman Empire and the Dacian world. At the same time, Dacia was at the peak of its power under King Decebal (87-106 AD). After a first confrontation during the reign of Domitianus (87-89), two extremely tough wars were necessary (101-102 and 105-106) to the Roman empire, at the peak of its power, under Emperor Trajan (98-117), to defeat Decebal and turn most of the Dacian kingdom into the Roman province called Dacia.

Trajan’s Column erected in Rome and the Triumphal Monument at Adamclisi (Constanta county) tell the story of this military effort, which was followed by a systematic and massive colonization of the new territories that were integrated into the empire.
Evidently, the Dacians remained, even after the new rule was established, the main ethnic element in the Roman Dacia.
The province was subject to a complex Romanization process and its basic element remained the staged but definitive adoption of the Latin language. The Romanians are today the only descendants of the Eastern Roman stock; therefore, the Romanian language is one of the major heirs of the Latin language, together with French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese.
The natives, either of Roman or of Daco-Roman descent, continued their uninterrupted existence as farmers and shepherds.
This continuity of the formation of the Romanian people occurred continuously after the withdrawal, south of the Danube, under emperor Aurelianus (270-275), of the Roman army and administration. The ancestors of the Romanians remained for several centuries in the political, economic, religious, and cultural sphere of influence of the Roman Empire and, respectively, the Byzantine Empire, after the Roman Empire split in 395 AD. At the time when the Daco-Roman ethno-cultural symbiosis was achieved and finalized, the formation of the Romanian people was complete in the 6th century. As a major part of the formation of the Romanian people, was the adoption of Christianity in a Latin garb, during the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th centuries.
Therefore, in the 6th-7th centuries, when the formation process of the Romanian people was completed, this nation emerged in history as a totally Christian one. This is why, unlike the neighbor nations, which had to established dates of Christianization (for instance, the Bulgarians – 865, the Serbs – 874, the Poles-966, the eastern Slaves – 988, the Hungarians – the year 1000), the Romanians do not need to have a fixed date of Christianization, as they were the first Christian nation in the region.
King Decebal 

Emperor Trajan

Trajan’s Column