Concepte despre cetatea dacică (I)


For the civilization of the Geto-Dacian warrior tribes, the mixture between sacred and profane was defining. A history of the warrior elites of the northern Balkans during II BC - II AD centuries cannot be complete without taking into consideration the multitude of social, political, military and religious connections between the existing leadership and its most visible place of power, the fortress. In the present study, the authors did not wish to propose a new typology of the existing military structures from Ancient Dacia; without minimalizing such types of investigations, what seems to have been necessary, is a more holistic understanding of the defensive systems. Another approach is connected with the relation between the local community on the existing fortresses; it seems that most of the time it did not benefit from it defensive system; last, but not least, it is necessary to address the function of the fortress from the point of view of the warriors that were using them. Chronologically speaking, the study analyses the period between the II BC and II AD centuries that has marked the rise and the fall of Dacia. From a geographical point of view, we have chosen to focus on Transylvanian as heartland of the Dacian Kingdom. The start of this period brings numerous changes in relation with the military and social structures. Before the II BC century, the military landscape was dominated by large fortifications, aimed to protect entire communities. Further, the Dacian fortresses enclose a much smaller space, thus being made unfeasible for the local populations. Still, they were not just unpretentious military structures but residential spaces, having functions akin to strongholds and keeps.
Analyzing the spatial distribution of the Dacian fortresses in Transylvania, one can see that the largest and probably the earliest - chronological speaking, is located in the eastern part, where one can find over 33 fortresses and smaller forts. They were controlling the access roads through the Carpathians, between Moldova, Wallachia and the Făgărașului Basin. Another grouping can be observed in north-eastern Transylvania and consists of eight fortresses. The northern and northwestern part of Transylvania is in its turn rich in discoveries; despite the rather modest aspect of most fortresses, the area is among the richest in silver hoards, a fact that seems to suggest a rather prosperous economy. The most impressive center is the fortified settlement / cult place from Măgura Moigradului. The southern and south-eastern part of Transylvania contains the most remarkable fortresses. Here one can distinguish between two different zones: the area near the capital of Sarmizegetusa, protected by numerous fortresses and strongholds and located in the mountains. They were built rather late compared to the rest, most likely sometimes during the reign of king Burebista, when the Șureanu Mountains where subjected to a process of „colonization”. The second zone consists in fortresses located mostly near the fertile valley of the Mureș River. On the western slopes of the Western Carpathians, a smaller number of fortresses guarded most likely the borders of the kingdom and the access towards Transylvania. The most important center was represented most probably by the fortified settlement located at Pecica - „Șanțul Mare”, on the lower valley of the Mureș river. On the side of the Banat Plain has been the subject of rather limited investigations, compared with the area of the Danube Gorge that was defended by another group of fortresses. Summing it up, one can easily notice that existing fortresses present variations. In relation to the existing economic prosperity, technology and materials, various techniques and styles has been used. Earth, clay, stone and wood was equally used in various combinations. One such innovation is represented by the so-called „Murus Dacicus” that combines a series of diverse building practices from the Hellenistic world but also from other regions that known to the Geto-Dacians. Specific to the Dacian fortresses are also the keeps, located inside or outside the fortified area, that don’t possess necessarily a military function but confirming also the residential use of the forts.
The large number of fortresses found in Transylvania is not automatically linked with the external dangers, but it is in relation with the psychology of the military elites. They seem to have been engaged not just in a competition in order to prove their power and prestige but they have used them for various economic functions. Despite the fact that initially, the Dacian fortresses where built by individual nobles and not according to a master plan, they have evolved in time, as the kingdom arose, into a complex and unique defensive network centered around the Carpathian Mountains.