Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Excavating Dacia:Provincial Life, Imperial Roads Settlement Excavation and Survey

By ArchaeoTek - Canada

Sarmizegetuza, Hunedoara County, Romania
Sarmizegetuza, Hunedoara County, Romania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Incredible landscapes, extraordinary archaeology, great food... Welcome to Transylvania! Situated between the richest gold deposits in Europe, the Dacian Kingdom’s political and religious capital and its fortified satellites in the Carpathian Mountains, and Sarmizegetusa Ulpia Traiana, the Roman capital of the Dacian provinces and the first Roman city North of the Danube, southwestern Transylvania was a highly integrated military, political, and economic region. 

During the Roman colonial occupation, 102-271AD, our research area around Simeria and Rapolt shows a very dynamic and intensive synthesis of Roman provincial life, where a multitude of processes of colonization and creolization take place side by side. Bordering to the south the Gold Mountains with its extraordinarily well preserved Roman mining town ofAlburnus Maior (Rosia Montana), the importance of this area is further enhanced by the immediate proximity of the most navigable waterway in Transylvania, the Mures River, and one of the imperial roads from Sarmizegetusa to Apulum (Alba Iulia), capital of Dacia Apulensis.
As such, the region was intensely populated by a great variety of settlements, ranging from small towns (municipia) to villages (vici), to small river harbors and road way stations (manisones and cauponae). Those settlements were usually specialized. For example, our 2012 exploration of the rather large and elaborate vicus at Sibot, a few kilometers up the Mures River from our 2013 project area has revealed a “proto-industrial” ceramic center, with at least three large ceramic manufacturing structures and four smaller ones.

Another important feature that contributed to the variety of Roman provincial life in the region is the multitude of mineral and thermal springs in the area. As a result, the Roman landscape has seen an explosion of baths, such as those at Aquae (Calan) and Germisara (Geoagiu Bai), and of villae rusticae.

Our project seeks to explore and understand the integration of all these structural provincial elements along the main Roman axes of communication and transport. The area of interest is situated between the modern town of Simeria and the Rapolt commune. Its value to our “provincial road side” integration study is the immediate proximity of both the imperial road and the Mures River, the extremely important gold deposits of the Carpathian Gold Moutains, and the political and military centers of Sarmizegetusa Ulpia Traiana and Apulum. Prior to the Roman conquest of 102AD, it was also the most densely populated region of the Dacian Kingdoms.

In 2013, we will be exploring a couple of the Roman structures identified during our 2012 survey, by the imperial road. Our excavations will aim at understanding the importance and impact of the proximity of the main axis of movement, communication and commerce on the Roman provincial rural life, and its evolution through time.