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Southeastern Europe between 118 and 271 AD in a historical atlas from 1886. Some of the boundaries do not match the current state of research.
Roman provinces under Trajan (117 AD)
Map of Dacia 82 BC Chr
The Roman military installations after the occupation of Dacia.

Dacia , sometimes also Dazien ( Latin Dacia ) was from 106 to 271 a province of the Roman Empire in the north of the lower Danube .


The name of the province of Dacia is based on the Dacian people who lived there and who, together with the Getes, populated the area of ​​the province. After the conquest in the course of the Dacian wars by Trajan in 106, the newly conquered area was given the official name Dacia . Emperor Hadrian divided it into two parts around 118: Dacia superior and Dacia inferior. Five years later, Hadrian had another division made and separated from Dacia superior an area called Dacia Porolissensis . From 167 to 169, Marcus Aurelius restructured the province again: There was now Dacia Apulensis, Dacia Porolissensis and Dacia Malvensis. This structure lasted until the Roman retreat under Aurelian . The capital was Colonia Ulpia Traiana Augusta Dacica Sarmizegetusa .

The province was bounded at all borders by the barbarians . Only in the south did the province border on Moesia . In later times there was also a small common border with Pannonia . The boundaries were mostly determined by the course of the river: the Danube in the south, Tisa , Mureş and Criş in the west . Overall, Dacia consisted largely of what is now Romania and Hungary .

The Roman province of Dacia in the period between Emperor Trajan (106) and the evacuation of the province in 271

King Burebista

The Dacians had crossed the threshold of a traditional culture of farmers and ranchers before the birth of Christ. In addition to highly developed handicrafts, especially painted ceramics, the people also specialized in iron, silver and gold processing. The amount of coin finds and coinage as well as the appropriation of the Greek and later also the Latin language indicate close contacts with the then dominant cultures of Europe. A power center had formed early on in the mountains of Transylvania near Broos , which must have had a strong influence on the country. The extent to which structures of state order really existed is a matter of dispute among experts. In Caesar's time, the Dacian king Burebista had shown a first real show of power when he was able to temporarily expand his sphere of influence over the neighboring tribes of the Getes and Thracians . Although this expansion did not last after Burebista's death, the Dacian possibilities appeared to those in charge of the Roman Empire bordering in the immediate vicinity on the south bank of the Danube as so threatening that a preventive military smashing of the Dacian power structures was repeatedly targeted.

After Burebista it was no longer possible to speak of a centrally ruled Dacia for a long period of time. Larger Dako-getic groups, which had become independent, repeatedly invaded the border areas of the Mösian provinces to plunder and destroy, and the Roman troops were forced to restore order in massive counter-attacks in places. One reaction of the Dacian ruling class to the Roman presence was the extensive military-strategic expansion of the Sarmizegetusa Regia residence with the associated religious center in the mountains between the Transylvanian Western Carpathians and the Southern Carpathians . The Romans also tried to take security measures, so around 20 AD the settlement of the immigrating Sarmatian cavalry warriors of the Jazygens in the eastern and north of the Danube in the Barbaricum of the Pannonian basin was promoted in order to relieve the eastern flank of the province of Pannonia . The Romans hoped that the Jazygens and later also the Sarmatian Roxolans, who settled in the greater Banat area, as eastern neighbors of the Dacians, would intercept their possible expansion wishes and encroachments at the provincial borders. But the Sarmatians were very unreliable allies, who at times were not only among the bitterest opponents of Rome, but also sometimes made pacts with the Dacians. Further resettlements of Transdanuvi in the course of the Roman strategy followed. Emperor Vespasian (69–79) reinforced the troops of Moesia and built a Danube fleet.

King Decebalus and the Danube Wars (85–89)

In the winter of 85/86, strong Dacian warriors invaded Moesia and met the Romans completely unexpectedly. Their governor, Gaius Oppius Sabinus , fell in battle and the attackers were able to pillage and pillage almost unrestrained. Obviously, the time had come for the reigning Emperor Domitian (81–96) to first throw his opponent out of the country and then send out a punitive expedition . Domitian went to Moesia himself with fresh strength, but the fighting against the stubborn opponent lasted the whole year 86. Since the old ruling Dacian king Diupaneus feared the consequences of the Roman invasion, he resigned in favor of his nephew Decebalus . With this man came a politically and militarily highly qualified person to the throne, who had great negotiating skills and charismatic traits. In the meantime, the Praetorian prefect Cornelius Fuscus had taken over the management of the operations on the Roman side . However, Decebalus defeated his army. A year later, the Legate Tettius Julianus tried to advance from the Banat to Sarmizegetusa, but had to break off the offensive due to excessive losses. The attempts of the subsequent Emperor Nerva (96-98) to bring Decebalus to his knees were unsuccessful.

Dacia becomes a Roman province

Only the Roman emperor Trajan (98–117) was able to crush the Dacian forces after a bloody war (101–102). Decebalus , who had already been made client king by Trajan due to the Dacian defeats of 98, tried to rally his followers for a vengeance. Trajan responded with a violent attack (105-106), at the end of which Decebalus, who was on the run, committed suicide and the Dacian territories were conquered (see Dacian Wars ). In a military diploma dated August 11, 106 (found in Porolissum ), Dacia is named as a Roman province. The spoils of war dragged by Trajan to Rome are said to have amounted to 331 tons of silver and 165 tons of gold, a very welcome injection of funds that was used, among other things, for the construction of the Trajan's Forum .

With the exception of the Marcomann Wars of Marcus Aurelius , the province remained largely peaceful until 235 strong barbaric contingents rallied to attack the province again. After their attack in 238, fierce fighting was fought almost continuously until the reign of Emperor Aurelian . Ultimately, Aurelian was forced to withdraw the Roman forces and administration south of the Danube in 271 . Since Aurelian and his predecessor Claudius II had previously won several victories over the Goths , the main threat to the Roman Danube provinces during the time of the imperial crisis, the emperor was able to order the evacuation from a position of relative strength. With the retreat to the Danube border, the Romans also destroyed the Trajan's Bridge , which was the longest bridge in the ancient world. The Roman withdrawal was probably a conscious decision, because it came at a time when Rome had the situation in Dacia under control again after a few victories: Aurelian apparently wanted to create a buffer zone by withdrawing the troops, and in fact the Goths needed and other Teutons a few decades to take possession of the area; at the same time they formed a certain protection of the empire against advancing "barbarians".

Under Constantine I , parts of Dacia were temporarily recaptured; However, these were soon lost again and Aurelian's tactics were reverted to treating the militarily untenable area as a buffer. Nevertheless, there were also later provinces called Dacia (for example Dacia Mediterranea and Dacia Ripensis), but they only had the name in common with Dacia and were located south of the Danube. The Dioecesis Daciae , a middle administrative unit of Eastern Estrom , only comprised small parts of the original province.

An unexplained phenomenon concerns the language in the Roman province of Dacia: Since the area after Trajan was populated by people from the entire Roman Empire who could only communicate with each other in Latin , this language quickly became predominant there. However, it is unclear whether Latin was still spoken north of the Danube after the Romans left and how the existence of the later Romanian language from the 13th century in this area can be explained. According to many scholars, large parts of the fully or partially Romanized settlers stayed in the country after 271 and retained the Latin language, while other scholars firmly denied this.

See also: Dako-Romance continuity theory

Administration and military

After the end of the first Trajanic Dacian War 102, the conquered areas were initially administered militarily; from 106 Dacia was recognized as an imperial province . This meant that the emperor himself recruited the governors from among the ranks of the senate . The troops stationed in Dacia were under the orders of both the emperor and the governor.

During the barbarian onslaught of 117 and 118, consideration was given in Rome to giving up Dacia and retreating behind the better defendable Danube . Hadrian decided against it, however, as he considered the Dacian mineral resources and the strategic importance of the province to be too important. In response to the fighting, however, he initiated a reorganization of the provincial administration, as the previous structure was not up to the fierce fighting: The countries south of the Danube were combined in the province of Dacia inferior (Lower Dacia ), whereas the actual Dacian areas were combined to form Dacia superior (Upper Dakia) were. When Dacia Porolissensis also emerged later , there were now three independent provinces with Upper Dacia as the highest ranking, which, however, cooperated closely militarily.

When Dacia again suffered from a violent onslaught of Germanic tribes in 168 , the Emperor Mark Aurel realized that a unified command was urgently needed. So he had the borders redrawn (in Dacia Apulensis, Dacia Porolissensis and Dacia Malvensis). The new areas were united again in the province of Dacia under a single governor; the individual provincial parts mainly played a role in terms of taxation.

Militarily, Dacia was secured by two legions , the V Macedonica (seat: Potaissa, today's Turda ) and the XIII Gemina (seat: Apulum, today's Alba Iulia ). In addition, numerous auxiliary troops stood on the borders with the barbaric areas. Overall, the number of soldiers stationed in Dacia is estimated at around 30,000.


During its occupation, Dacia was always an important economic location for the Romans. This was based primarily on numerous mineral resources and flourishing agriculture. In addition to large amounts of gold and silver - which later became extremely important for Roman coinage - the Romans obtained lead , copper , iron , marble and salt from countless mines . Another important item was the flourishing Dacian agriculture and forestry; a lot of wood , wool , cattle, hides, etc. were exported. The main imports are likely to have been olive oil , wine , luxury goods and the like. The flourishing trade, which was mostly carried out via the Danube , was probably largely in the hands of merchants from the Orient . But above all the production of precious metals made the province very important for politics. It can be assumed that the majority of the resources were already exhausted during the Roman retreat in 271 , otherwise Aurelian would never have given them up.


Individual evidence

  1. Cf. also Johannes Tröster : Das Alt- und Neu-Teutsche Dacia, that is: New description of the country of Transylvania. Nuremberg 1666, reprinted unchanged: Böhlau Verlag, Cologne / Vienna 1981, ISBN 3-412-06280-4 .
  2. a b c Karl Christ: History of the Roman Empire. CH Beck Verlag, Munich 1995. ISBN 3-406-36316-4 . P. 271.
  3. Karl Christ: History of the Roman Empire. CH Beck Verlag, Munich 1995. ISBN 3-406-36316-4 . P. 272.

Web links

Commons : Dakien  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Coordinates: 46 °  N , 27 °  E