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In ancient geography, especially in Roman sources, Dacia was the land in East-Central Europe inhabited by the Dacians. Ancient Greeks called the same people "Getae". This region had in the middle the Carpathian Mountains and was bounded approximately by the Danube (then known as Istros) or sometimes by the Balkan Mountains (then known as Hemus) to the south (Dobruja, a region south of the Danube, was a core area where the Getae lived and interacted with the Ancient Greeks), Black Sea (then known as Pontus Euxinus) and Dniester (then known as Tyras) to the east (but several Dacian settlements are recorded in part of area between Dniester and Southern Bug), and Tisza (then known as Tisia) to the west (but at times included areas between Tisza and middle Danube). It thus corresponds to modern countries of Romania and Moldova, as well as smaller parts of Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, and Ukraine.

Dacians, or Getae, were North Thracian[1]. Dacian tribes had both peaceful and military encounters with other neighboring tribes, such as Celts, Ancient Germanics, Sarmatians, and Scythians, but were most influenced by the Ancient Greeks and Romans. The latter eventually conquered, and linguistically and culturally assimilated the Dacians. A Dacian Kingdom of variable size existed between 82 B.C. until the Roman conquest in 106 A.D. The capital of Dacia, Sarmizegetusa, located in modern Romania, was destroyed by the Romans, but its name was added to that of the new city (Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa) built by the latter to serve as the capital of the Roman province of Dacia.



The Dacians, situated north of the lower Danube in the area of the Carpathians and Transylvania, are the earliest named people from the present territory of Romania. They are first mentioned in the writings of Herodotus (Histories) and Thucydides (Peloponnesian Wars). [2] Later the Dacians were mentioned in the Roman documents, and also under the name Geta (plural Getae) in Greek writings. Strabo tells that the original name of the Dacians was "daoi", which could be explained with a possible Phrygian cognate "daos", meaning "wolf". This assumption is enforced by the fact that the Dacian standard, the Dacian Draco, had a wolf head. The late Roman map Tabula Peutingeriana indicates them as Dagae and Gaete.

Much later, in the Late Middle Ages, the Roman Catholic Church used on a few occasions the term Dacia to denote Scandinavia or Jutland, and refer to several royalty from northern Europe as "of Dacia". As the term did not catch and was disused soon after its (re)introduction, normally there is no confusion with the usage of the original.


Dacian Kingdom, during the rule of Burebista, 82 BC.
Dacia during the Roman Empire
Dacia Felix during Roman Empire 3rd century AD

Towards the west Dacia may originally have extended as far as the Danube, where it runs from north to south at Waitzen (Vác). In the 1st century B.C., at the time of the Dacian Kingdom of Burebista, Julius Caesar in his De Bello Gallico (book 6) speaks of the Hercynian forest extending along the Danube to the territory of the Dacians.

In the 2nd century A.D., after the Roman conquest, Ptolemy puts the eastern boundary of Dacia Trajana (the Roman provice) as far east as the Hierasus (Siret) river, in modern Romania. Roman rule extended to almost all Dacian area; it however did not extend to what later became known as Maramureş, to the parts of the later Principality of Moldavia east of the Siret and north of the Upper Trajan Wall, as well as to areas in modern Ukraine, except the Black Sea shore.

The extent and location of the geographical entity Dacia varied in its three distinct historical periods (see History, below);

Note: Strabo in his Geography written after the death of Burebista [4]:

"As for the southern part of Germany beyond the Albis, the portion which is just contiguous to that river is occupied by the Suevi; then immediately adjoining this is the land of the Getae, which, though narrow at first, stretching as it does along the Ister on its southern side and on the opposite side along the mountain-side of the Hercynian Forest (for the land of the Getae also embraces a part of the mountains), afterwards broadens out towards the north as far as the Tyregetae; but I cannot tell the precise boundaries"


Dacian draco.jpg

According to archaeological findings, the cradle of the Dacian culture is considered to be north of the Danube towards the Carpathian mountains, in the modern-day historical Romanian province of Muntenia. It is identified as an evolution of the Iron Age Basarabi culture.

The Dacian gold bracelets depict the cultural and aesthetic sense of the Dacians. They were made from a gold ore mixed with very small quantity of silver using techniques that are considered by archaeologists technologically very advanced for that period of time.


According to Herodotus History (book 4) account of the story of Zalmoxis (or Zamolxis), the Getae (speaking the same language as the Dacians, 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 [6]

Historian and Geographer Strabo about the high priest Decaeneus [7] :

"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)"

The Goth Jordanes in his Getica (The origin and deeds of the Goths), gives an account of Dicineus (Deceneus), the highest priest of King Buruista (Burebista), and considered Dacians a nation related to the Goths.

Besides Zalmoxis, the Dacians believed in other deities such as Gebeleizis and Bendis. Dacian religion and mythology was very elaborate.



Dacians were divided into two classes: the aristocracy (tarabostes) and the common people (comati). The aristocracy alone had the right to cover their heads and wore a felt hat (hence pileati, their Latin name). The second class, 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.

Dacians had developed the Murus dacicus, characteristic to their complexes of fortified cities, like their capital Sarmizegetusa in what is today Hunedoara County, Romania. The degree of their urban development can be seen on Trajan's Column and in the account of how Sarmizegetusa was defeated by the Romans. The Romans identified and destroyed the water aqueducts or pipelines of the Dacian capital, only thus being able to end the long siege of Sarmizegetusa.

Greek and Roman chroniclers record the defeat and capture of Lysimachus in the 3rd century BC by the Getae (Dacians) ruled by Dromihete, their military strategy, and the release of Lysimachus following a debate in the assembly of the Getae.

The cities of the Dacians were known as -dava, -deva, -δαυα ("-dawa" or "-dava", Anc. Gk.), -δεβα ("-deva", Byz. Gk.) or -δαβα ("-dava", Byz. Gk.), etc. . A list of Dacian davas 1 and, more actual, at SOLTDM:

  1. In Dacia: Acidava, Argedava, Burridava, Dokidava, Carsidava, Clepidava, Cumidava, Marcodava, Netindava, Patridava, Pelendava, *Perburidava, Petrodaua, Piroboridaua, Rhamidaua, Rusidava, Sacidava, Sangidava, Setidava, Singidava, , Tamasidava, Utidava, Zargidava, Ziridava, Sucidava – 26 names altogether.
  2. In Lower Moesia (the present Northern Bulgaria) and Scythia minor (Dobrudja): Aedeba, *Buteridava, *Giridava, Dausadava, Kapidaua, Murideba, Sacidava, Scaidava (Skedeba), Sagadava, Sukidaua (Sucidava) – 10 names in total.
  3. In Upper Moesia (the districts of Nish, Sofia, and partly Kjustendil): Aiadaba, Bregedaba, Danedebai, Desudaba, Itadeba, Kuimedaba, Zisnudeba – 7 names in total.

Gil-doba, a village in Thracia, of unknown location.

Thermi-daua, a town in Dalmatia. Probably a Grecized form of *Germidava.

Pulpu-deva, (Phillipopolis) today Plovdiv in Bulgaria.


2007 07260208.JPG
2007 07260229.JPG

The chief occupations of Dacians were agriculture, apiculture, viticulture, livestock, ceramics and metal working. The Roman province Dacia is represented on Roman Sestertius (coin) as a woman seated on a rock, holding aquila, a small child on her knee holding ears of grain, and a small child seated before her holding grapes.

They also worked the gold and silver mines of Transylvania. They carried on a considerable outside trade, as is shown by the number of foreign coins found in the country (see also Decebalus Treasure).

Commercial relations flourished for centuries, first with the Greeks, then with Romans, as we can find even today an impressive collection of gold currency used in various periods of Dacian history. 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 and locally made imitations of them.


Some historians consider Dacian language to be a dialect of, or the same language as Thracian. Others consider that Dacian and Illyrian form regional varieties (dialects) of a common language. (Note: Thracians inhabited modern southern Bulgaria and northern Greece. Illyrians lived in modern Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Croatia.)

Political entities

The migrations of the fore bearers of Ancient Greece (ca. 750 BC— or earlier) most likely originated at least in part from periodic swelled populations in the easy living found in the fertile plains of the region. Such migrations were in mythological times, and well before historical records. It is likely that trade with communities along the Danube via the Black sea was a regular occurrence, even in Minoan times (2700 to 1450 BC).

Classical Dacia and environs, from Alexander G. Findlay's Classical Atlas to Illustrate Ancient Geography, New York, 1849.

At the beginning of the 2nd century BC, under the rule of Rubobostes, a Dacian king in present-day Transylvania, the Dacians' power in the Carpathian basin increased by defeating the Celts who previously held the power in the region.

A kingdom of Dacia was in existence at least as early as the first half of the 2nd century BC under King Oroles. Conflicts with the Bastarnae and the Romans (112 BC-109 BC, 74 BC), against whom they had assisted the Scordisci and Dardani, greatly weakened the resources of the Dacians.

Under Burebista (Boerebista), a contemporary of Julius Caesar, who thoroughly reorganised the army and raised the moral standard of the people, the limits of the kingdom were extended to their maximum. The Bastarnae and Boii were conquered, and even the Greek towns of Olbia and Apollonia on the Black Sea (Pontus Euxinus) recognised Burebista's authority.

Indeed the Dacians appeared so formidable that Caesar contemplated an expedition against them; something his death prevented. About the same time, Burebista was murdered, and the kingdom was divided into four (or five) parts under separate rulers. One of these was Cotiso, whose daughter Augustus is said to have desired to marry and to whom Augustus betrothed his own five-year-old daughter Julia. He is well known from the line in Horace (Occidit Daci Cotisonis agmen, Odes, III. 8. 18).

The Dacians are often mentioned under Augustus, according to whom they were compelled to recognise Roman supremacy. However they were by no means subdued, and in later times to maintain their independence they seized every opportunity of crossing the frozen Danube during the winter and ravaging the Roman cities in the province of Moesia.

Strabo testimony:"although the Getae and Daci once attained to very great power, so that they actually could send forth an expedition of two hundred thousand men, they now find themselves reduced to as few as forty thousand, and they have come close to the point of yielding obedience to the Romans, though as yet they are not absolutely submissive, because of the hopes which they base on the Germans, who are enemies to the Romans" [17]

In fact, this was because of the Burebista's empire splitting after his death in four and later five smaller states as per Strabo "only recently, when Augustus Caesar sent an expedition against them, the number of parts into which the empire had been divided was five, though at the time of the insurrection it had been four. Such divisions, to be sure, are only temporary and vary with the times"

Roman conquest

Trajan turned his attention to Dacia, an area north of Macedon and Greece and east of the Danube that had been on the Roman agenda since before the days of Caesar[8][9] when they had beaten a Roman army at the Battle of Histria.[10] In 85, the Dacians had swarmed over the Danube and pillaged Moesia[11][12] and initially defeated an army the Emperor Domitian sent against them,[13] but the Romans were victorious in the Battle of Tapae in 88 AD and a truce was drawn up.[13]

From AD85 to AD89, the Dacians (under Decebalus) were engaged in two wars with the Romans.

In AD87, the Roman troops under Cornelius Fuscus were defeated, and Cornelius Fuscus was killed by the Dacians under the authority of their ruler, Diurpaneus. After this victory, Diurpaneus took the name of Decebalus. The next year, AD88, new Roman troops under Tettius Iullianus, gained a signal advantage, but were obliged to make peace owing to the defeat of Domitian by the Marcomanni, so the Dacians were really left independent. Even more, Decebalus received the status of "king client to Rome", receiving from Rome military instructors, craftsmen and even money.

Emperor Trajan recommenced hostilities against Dacia and, following an uncertain number of battles,[14] defeated the Dacian general Decebalus in the Second Battle of Tapae in 101 AD.[15] With Trajan's troops pressing towards the Dacian capital Sarmizegethusa, Decebalus once more sought terms.[16] Decebalus rebuilt his power over the following years and attacked Roman garrisons again in 105 AD. In response Trajan again marched into Dacia,[17] besieging the Dacian capital in the Siege of Sarmizegethusa, and razing it to the ground.[18] With Dacia quelled, Trajan subsequently invaded the Parthian empire to the east, his conquests taking the Roman Empire to its greatest extent. Rome's borders in the east were indirectly governed through a system of client states for some time, leading to less direct campaigning than in the west in this period.[19]

To expand the glory of his reign, restore the finances of Rome, and end a treaty perceived as humiliating, Trajan resolved on the conquest of Dacia and with it the capture of the famous Treasure of Decebalus and control over the Dacian gold mines of Transylvania. The result of his first campaign (101–102) was the siege of the Dacian capital Sarmizegethusa and the occupation of a part of the country. The second campaign (105–106) ended with the suicide of Decebalus, and the conquest of the territory that was to form the Roman province Dacia Traiana. The history of the war is given by Cassius Dio, but the best commentary upon it is the famous Column of Trajan in Rome.

Although the Romans conquered and destroyed the ancient Kingdom of Dacia, a large remainder of the land remained outside of Roman Imperial authority. Additionally, the conquest changed the balance of power in the region and was the catalyst for a renewed alliance of Germanic and Celtic tribes and kingdoms against the Roman Empire. However, the material advantages of the Roman Imperial system wasn't lost on much of the surviving aristocracy. Thus, most of the Romanian historians and linguists believe that many of the Dacians became Romanised (see also Origin of Romanians). In 183 war broke out in Dacia: few details are available, but it appears two future contenders for the throne of emperor Commodus , Clodius Albinus and Pescennius Niger, both distinguished themselves in the campaign.

From Lactantius [20] it results that Decius, Roman emperor (249-251 AD) had to restore Roman-Dacia from the Carpo-Dacians of Zosimus “having undertaken an expedition against the Carpi, who had then possessed themselves of Dacia and Moesia"

Nonetheless, Germanic and Celtic kingdoms, particularly the Gothic tribes made a slow progression toward the Dacian borders and soon within a generation were making assaults on the province. Ultimately, the Goths succeeded in dislodging the Romans and restoring the independence of Dacia following Aurelian's withdrawal, in 275.

In 268 / 269 AD, at Naissus, Claudius II (Gothicus Maximus) obtained a decisive victory over the Goths. At that time Romans were still occupying Dacia and Goths didn't attack from Dacia. Goths who survived their defeat didn't even atempt to escape through Dacia, but through Thrace. [21] At Roman-Dacia's boundaries Carpians (Free Dacians) were still strong enough to sustain 5 battles in 8 years against Romans (301-308 AD) That makes more likely Roman-Dacia was left in 275 AD by the Romans, again to Carpians and not to the Goths. Also, there were the Dacians that Constantin the Great had to fight against in 336 AD

The province was abandoned by Roman troops, and, according to the Breviarium historiae Romanae by Eutropius, Roman citizens "from the town and lands of Dacia" were resettled to the interior of Moesia. [1] However, Romanian historians maintain that the bulk of the civilian population remained and a surviving aristocratic Dacian line revived the kingdom under Regalianus. About his origin, the Tyranni Triginta says he was a Dacian, a kinsman of Decebalus. Nonetheless, the Gothic aristocracy remained ascendant and through intermarriage soon dominated the kingdom which was absorbed into their larger empire.

During Diocletian, circa AD296, in order to defend the Roman border, fortifications are erected by the Romans, on both banks of the Danube[5].By AD336 Constantine the Great had reconquered the lost province, however following his death, the Romans abandoned Dacia for good.

Constantine the Great took the title Dacicus Maximus ("The great Victor over the Dacians" when restored Dacia for Roman Empire in 336AD [22]

See also


  • Hoddinott, Ralph F., The Thracians, 1981.
  1. ^ Dacian, North Thracian Language
  2. ^ J. P. Mallory, Douglas Q. Adams. "Encyclopedia of Indo-European culture". London and Chicago: Fitzroy-Dearborn. http://books.google.com/books?id=tzU3RIV2BWIC&pg=PA145&dq=dacians+origin&lr=&as_brr=3.  
  3. ^ "Britannica Encyclopedia, History of Romania - Antiquity - The Dacians". http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/508461/Romania/214504/History#ref=ref476941.  
  4. ^ Geography by the Greek historian, geographer and philosopher Strabo (63/64 BC – ca. AD 24
  5. ^ a b Charles Matson Odahl: Constantine and the Christian Empire
  6. ^ Histories by Herodotus Book 4 translated by G. Rawlinson
  7. ^ Geography by the Greek historian, geographer and philosopher Strabo (63/64 BC – ca. AD 24)
  8. ^ Goldsworthy, In the Name of Rome, p. 322
  9. ^ Matyszak, The Enemies of Rome, p. 213
  10. ^ Matyszak, The Enemies of Rome, p. 215
  11. ^ Matyszak, The Enemies of Rome, p. 216
  12. ^ Luttwak, The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire, p. 53
  13. ^ a b Matyszak, The Enemies of Rome, p. 217
  14. ^ Matyszak, The Enemies of Rome, p. 219
  15. ^ Luttwak, The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire, p. 54
  16. ^ Goldsworthy, In the Name of Rome, p. 329
  17. ^ Matyszak, The Enemies of Rome, p. 222
  18. ^ Matyszak, The Enemies of Rome, p. 223
  19. ^ Luttwak, The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire, p. 39
  20. ^ “of the Manner in which the persecutors died” by LACTANTIUS (early Christian author 240 – 320 AD)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lactantius
  21. ^ Battle of Naissus at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Naissus and Cladius Gothicus also at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claudius_Gothicus. Beside Zosimus acnount there is also Historia Augusta The Life of Claudius
  22. ^ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Imperial_Victory_Titles

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Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

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From Latin Dacia < Dacian.

Proper noun




  1. An ancient kingdom located in the area now known as Romania. The Dacian kingdom was conquered by the Romans and later named Romania after them.
  2. Denmark (Dacia is an obsolete Medieval Latin name for Denmark).
  3. An automobile produced in Romania, the Dacia.



From the Dacian.

Proper noun


  1. Dacia, the ancient kingdom located in the area now known as Romania.


Romanian Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia ro


From Latin Dacia < Dacian.

Proper noun

Dacia f.

  1. Dacia, the ancient kingdom located in the area now known as Romania.


gender f. uncountable
Nom/Acc Dacia
Gen/Dat Daciei

Simple English

Dacia was the place where Dacians lived. It was a big district of South Eastern Europe. The northern part of the border was made up of the Carpathians; the southern part of the border of Dacia was made up of the Danube River, and the western part of the border of Dacia was made up of the Tisza River. The place where Dacia once was is now made up of Romania and Moldova, along with some of Hungary, Bulgaria and Ukraine. The capital of Dacia was Sarmizegetusa.


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