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Historical Tidbits- Dacians

  • Random tidbits for my current work in progress that I wanted to save so I could refer back to them in one easy to find place.

    The Dacians (/ˈdeɪʃənz/; Latin: Daci, Ancient Greek: Δάκοι,[2] Δάοι,[2] Δάκαι[3]) were an Indo-European people, part of or related to the Thracians. Dacians were the ancient inhabitants of 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 Romania and Moldova, as well as parts of Ukraine,[4] Eastern Serbia, Northern Bulgaria, Slovakia,[5] Hungary and Southern Poland.[4] 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.[6]


    The Dacians were known as Geta (plural Getae) in Ancient Greek writings, and as Dacus (plural Daci) or Getae in Roman documents,[8] but also as Dagae and Gaete as depicted on the late Roman map Tabula Peutingeriana. It was Herodotus who first used the ethnonym Getae in his Histories.[9] In Greek and Latin, in the writings of Julius Caesar, Strabo, and Pliny the Elder, the people became known as ‘the Dacians’.[10] Getae and Dacians were interchangeable terms, or used with some confusion by the Greeks.[11][12] Latin poets often used the name Getae.[13] Virgilius called them Getae four times, and Daci once, Lucian Getae three times and Daci twice, Horace named them Getae twice and Daci five times, while Juvenal one time Getae and two times Daci.[14][15][13] In AD 113, Hadrian used the poetic term Getae for the Dacians.[16] Modern historians prefer to use the name Geto-Dacians.[10] Strabo describes the Getae and Dacians as distinct but cognate tribes, but also states that they spoke the same language.[17] This distinction refers to the regions they occupied.[17] Strabo and Pliny the Elder also state that Getae and Dacians spoke the same language.[18]

    By contrast, the name of Dacians, whatever the origin of the name, was used by the more western tribes who adjoined the Pannonians and therefore first became known to the Romans.[19] According to Strabo's Geographica, the original name of the Dacians was Δάοι "Daoi".[2][20] 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 Rome.[10][10]

    The ethnographic name Daci is found under various forms within ancient sources. Greeks used the forms Δάκοι "Dakoi" (Strabo, Dio Cassius, and Dioscorides) and Δάοι "Daoi" (singular Daos).[21][2][22][23][24][20] The form Δάοι "Daoi" was frequently used according to Stephan of Byzantium.[15] Latins used the forms Davus, Dacus, and a derived form Dacisci (Vopiscus and inscriptions).[25][26][27][28][15] The same name is often used in the geographical vocabulary of Ancient Persia,[29] where Pliny names among the people of Sogdians the Dahae (Greek Δάσαι, Δάαι; Latin Daci).[30][31][15] 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 west, and Sarmatian and related people from the east.[12]


    Roman era Balkans
    An extensive account of the native tribes in Dacia can be found in the ninth tabula of Europe of Ptolemy’s Geography.[87] 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.[88] Ptolemy's Geography also contains a physical map probably designed before the Roman conquest, and containing no detailed nomenclature.[89] 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.[90] Ptolemy's list includes no fewer than twelve tribes with Geto-Dacian names.[91][92]

    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 Cotense/Cotini and then the Albocense, the Potulatense and the Sense, while the southernmost were the Saldense, the Ciaginsi and the Piephigi. To the south of them were Predasense/Predavensi, the Rhadacense/Rhatacenses, the Caucoense (Cauci) and Biephi.[87] Twelve out of these fifteen tribes listed by Ptolemy are ethnic Dacians,[92] and three are Celt Anarti, Teurisci, and Cotense.[92] 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 Trixae, Crobidae and Appuli.[87]

    Some peoples inhabiting the region generally described in Roman times as "Dacia" were not ethnic Dacians.[93] 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.[94][94][95][93] This region covered roughly the same area as modern Romania plus Bessarabia (Republic of Moldova) and eastern Galicia (south-west Ukraine), although Ptolemy places Moldavia and Bessarabia in Sarmatia Europaea, rather than Dacia.[96] After the Dacian Wars (AD 101-6), the Romans occupied only about half of the wider Dacian region. The Roman province of 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.[97]

    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.[98] A strong component of the Dacian army, including the Celtic Bastarnae and the Germans, had withdrawn rather than submit to Trajan.[99] 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.[100] Dacians trying to buy amnesty are depicted on Trajan's Column (one offers to Trajan a tray of three gold ingots).[101] Alternatively, a substantial number may have survived in the province, although were probably outnumbered by the Romanised immigrants.[102] 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.[103] 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.[104] In 158 AD, they revolted again, and were put down by M. Statius Priscus.[105] 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 ethnic 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.[106] In 214 Caracalla dealt with their attacks. Later, Philip the Arab came in person to deal with them; he assumed the triumphal title Carpicus Maximus and inaugurated a new era for the province of Dacia (July 20, 246). Later both Decius and Gallienus assumed the titles Dacicus Maximus. In 272, Aurelian assumed the same title as Philip.[106]

    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, Teurisci and Costoboci.[107] The Anarti (or Anartes) and the Teurisci were originally probably Celtic peoples or mixed Dacian-Celtic.[95] The Anarti, together with the Celtic Cotini, are described by Tacitus as vassals of the powerful Quadi Germanic people.[108] The Teurisci were probably a group of Celtic 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 Dacians in the 1st century BC.[109][110]


    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.[206] Evidence for the mass production of iron is found on many Dacian sites, indicating guild-like specialization.[206] 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.[207] 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.


    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.[151] 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".[151] Both Hellenistic and Oriental influences are discernible in the religious background, alongside chthonic and solar motif. The pagan religion survived longer in Dacia than in other parts of the empire; Christianity made little headway until the fifth century.

    Main article: Dacian warfare
    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 and Latin historians as Dacia. It concerns the armed conflicts of the Dacian tribes and their kingdoms in the Balkans. Apart from conflicts between Dacians and neighboring nations and tribes, numerous wars were recorded among Dacian tribes as well.

    See also: Falx and Sica
    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.