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Trofeul colosal aflat Ón Muzeul din satul Adamclisi


The Danube, the west-east axis of Central Europe, did not represent a linguistic and "national" border during the prehistorical age. The lower Danube, named Histrus by the ancients, was inhabited on both banks by a unitary Geto-Dacian population1.. The contacts of this population with the Romans began as soon as Rome, in full military and political expansion, directed its attention towards the Balkan Peninsula, as a consequence of successive conquests. Also gradually, over two centuries, Rome's power would stretch over the whole south-Danubian peninsula2..

The Geto-Dacian population, divided into "kingdoms", vividly participated in the political life of the region, although ancients comments available remind only those events that were linked to Roman interests.

The Getians, as allies of the Scordisci and Bastarnae, would often fight in Illyricum and Macedonia against the Romans3.. However, in 74 AD, the Romans led by the general C. Scribonius Curio4. chased the Geto-Dacians to the border of their remote country; soon after, Lucius Terentius Varro-Lucullus5. submitted the Greek cities that supported Mithridates, but the results of their alliance with Rome did not last, first because of the abusive interference of Macedonia's governor - C. Antonius Hybrida, then because of the expansionist actions of the Getian king Burebista6..

Thus, the Getian population in Dobrudja, as well as that between the Danube and the Balkans gradually fell under the influence of Roman culture7., at first as a result of the inclusion of its traditional partners into the Roman Empire, then directly, by the Roman rule over the mouths of the Danube.

Rome's expansion, not sprung from a preestablished programme, but a desire of the Roman generals to exclude any real or potential rival by offensive actions, turned the Mediterranean Sea into a Roman Sea, and the city of Rome faced the problems entailed by the need for a long-lasting national rule over the possessions won by the power of the legions and the shrewdness of their commanders.

As a result of such circumstances, Augustus would impose himself. L. Homo8. considered that Augustus had the outlook upon and laid the foundation of the Romanization policy; he also sensed the importance of creating an adequate instrument for the new power - the permanent army.

The peace policy, that of restricting the military actions to annihilating the hotbeds of unrest on the borders would become perennial principles of the imperial strategy9..

Harta Dunarii Inferioare si a Peninsulei Balcanice Ón vremea lui Augustus


During the early imperial period, from lack of a firm legal framework, one can find patterns of land planning that are hard to define because of the scarce ancient literary data. However, it has been found that in real life, besides the provincial territories, organized and governed by the Senate or directly by the emperor, border territories were kept, under military authority, in fact a prolongation of warfare.

Probably later on the actions of Licinius Crassus, north of the Balkans, up to the Danube a military headquarters was created, that was supposed to enhance Roman power all along the river course. The river used to be patrolled by the Roman fleet and the Roman troops strongly defended the fortified positions at Aegyssus and Troesmis, attacked by the north-Danubian Getians. That military district - praefectura Ripae Histri or Danuvii - Ė would probably be subordinated to legatus Augusti in Moesia, who during Augustus' heir was Poppaeus Sabinus10..

North of the Balkans, shielded by the Roman army Ė not yet archaeologically and epigraphically attested during the first half of the 1st century AD Ė a certain peacefulness reigned until the time of the civil war occurred upon Nero's death, as the sources no longer point to conflicts. However, on the above mentioned occasion, the Dacians and the Roxolans, taking advantage of the withdrawal of the legions engaged in the struggle for power, attacked and destroyed the Roman fortifications. The governor of Moesia, Fonteius Agrippa, died while trying to resist the attackers11..

The new governor of Moesia, Rubrius Gallus, would be charged to reorganize militarily the defence on the Lower Danube; the army of the province would grow to five legions, and camps would be built on the Danube12.. The Danubian fleet would be reorganized too. Although there are no archaeological finds for these contributions of Rubrius Gallus, it seems that his reorganization actions were aimed rather at the eastern area of the province of Moesia, that military headquarters Ripa Histri. As a mater of fact, there is a hypothesis that13. this territory was made a province only during the time of Vespasian, which was deduced from the news conveyed by Suetonius (Vespasian, 8, 4) and the even more frequent news in those times regarding the Roman presence in these territories

From our viewpoint, neither Claudius' age, nor that of Vespasian can be accepted as turning points for the administrative-territorial reorganization of the area between the Balkans and the Danube, including Dobrudja. The eastern territories making up praefectura ripae Histri belonging to Moesia would continue to develop under the form conceived by Augustus, until Domitian, while preparing the counter-offensive in Dacia, would divide Moesia, taking into account the previous territorial units, praefectura ripae Histri turning into Moesia Inferior. This interpretation makes sense of Cassius Dio's remark (LVIII, 25, 4) that Poppaeus Sabinus "during Tiberius's reign, he had ruled the two Moesias", in fact two structures under military authority. Domitian's organizing skills were revealed, contradicting the hostile ancient sources, caused by his conflict with the Senate, as he was the one who created the two German provinces out of the two previous military headquarters. It is necessary to make the comparison with Moesia, where he acted in an identical manner under similar situations.

During that period, the Moesic provinces would be attacked by the Dacians, while remaining bases of the Roman military operations against Decebalus' kingdom. The developments of Domitian's war with the Dacians is known only roughly. It is known that Oppius Sabinus and Cornelius Fuscus fell in battle, as only Tettius Iulianus succeeded in defeating the Dacians and imposing a peace deal.
The war with the Dacians was the most important of those waged by Domitian, and it seems that it was brought about by the Dacians' delay in recognizing the client treaty they had with the Empire. The client treaty was important because it recognized the territory of the Dacian state, and laid out the granting of subsidies provided the Dacians refrain from attacking the Romans, while contributing to the defence of the Roman border against potential actions of other populations. Iordanes (Getica, 76), the Goth historian from the 6th, century AD, recounts the Dacian attacks against the Danube line, even against Ripae Danuvii, which caused the destruction of the Roman army and its commanders.
Oppius Sabinus, governor of "these provinces", while trying to fend off the attackers, fell in battle.
Decebalus took over the command of the war.
Domitian charged Cornelius Fuscus with crossing the Danube in order to repulse the attackers. We know nothing on the location where he crossed the Danube on the vessels bridge or on where he fell victim to the recklessness of committing himself to an incursion into the remote Dacian land without being prepared well enough.
Decebalus succeeded in getting direct or indirect support from the Marcomans and the Quazs, so Domitian was forced into starting a campaign against them, which resulted in Tettius Iulianus's action coming short of a clear-cut final victory over Decebalus. During those battles, Dobrudja must have been a battlefield. The shrine of Adamclisi was interpreted as a monument raised in honour of the soldiers fallen together with Cornelius Fuscus15..
R. Syme considers it more plausible for the shrine of Adamclisi to honour the soldiers of Oppius Sabinus, defeated somewhere nearby, not at Novae, as C. Patsch believed.

Reconstituirea altarului funerar de la Adamclisi, desen


The shrine according to modern historians, is the oldest of the three monuments of Adamclisi - the triumphal monument dedicated to Mars Ultor, the funerary tumulus and shrine16.. The shrine was discovered while digging a mound 250 m east of the triumphal monument. Near the ruin they uncovered fragments of plates sized 1.30 x 0.90 x 0.30 m bearing inscriptions. The main front has the dedication, but the emperor's name has not been preserved. N. Gostar dedicated to the shrine a special epigraphic study(Marele monument funerar roman de la Adamclisi (The Great Roman Shrine of Adamclisi)), Ph.D. thesis (submitted at the University of Bucharest on the 28th of March 1978) in which he thoroughly analysed the objective data preserved both on the inscription, and in the sources on the Dacian wars, that could be discussed. From his point of view fortissimi viri dead in bellum Dacicum had not been the victims of a defeat, but those of a victory; the presence of the cohort II Batavorum, and probably of the legion XV Apollinaris, as well as the formula missici (instead of veterani) usual during the 1st century AD make him consider that the war has to date from the age of Domitian, and probably in 86 (thesis summary 21-22), being the campaign led by M. Cornelius Nigrinus17..

This hypothesis seems to be the most truthful, the battle must have taken place with troops of Ripa Danuvii, strengthened by troops brought from the western provinces. The name of the unknown on the shrine could be of a praefectus Ripae Danuvii (N. Gostar proffers a praefectus orae maritimae or praefectus Ripae Danuvii). The shrine was raised in honorem et in memoriam fortissimorum virorum qui pugnantes pro republica morte occubuerunt. In smaller letters there has been preserved the news on the commander fallen in the battles with the Dacians, letting us know that he came from the Pompeii destroyed by the Vesuvius, and later lived in Naples (Napoli). This character functioned as praefectus. What misses from the inscription prevents us from knowing his exact whole title.
The identity of the prefect continues to be debated, as on it depends the very date of the battle in which those soldiers fell, during the time of Domitian, or in Trajanís first Dacian war.
Cichorius proffered that the prefect could have been Cornelius Fuscus himself, praefectus praetorii under Domitian. That hypothesis was assumed by Dorutiu-Boil„18., who recognized in the inscription the troops that were active in Moesia Inferior in the years 86-87 and must have fallen together with the praefectus praetorii.
Those denying the identity of the prefect on the shrine of Adamclisi as that of Cornelius Fuscus find arguments in the fact that his battles with the Dacians took place north of the Danube, where his grave remained19., at Adamclisi just a cenotaph could be; at the same time, J. Colinís proposal seems doubtful20., as the latter states that Cornelius Fuscus, who fell in Dacia, occurs also on the parietal inscriptions in Pompeii, as Tacitus (Hist., II, 86) asserts that praefectus praetorio had fought against Nero as a dux coloniae suae, a legal status that Pompeii did not have.

R. Syme21., while tackling the issue, accepts the dating of the shrine to the age of Domitian, as the only troops mentioned whose name remained complete - Cohors II Batavorum - could fight in these regions only before the age of Trajan. In the opinion of the famous English scholar, Cornelius Fuscus has to be excluded from the discussion; the battle in which fell about 3000 soldiers who came from Italy and the western provinces, and less from the eastern ones, belonging to legions and auxiliary troops, must have been the one led by Oppius Sabinus, who was defeated at Adamclisi, or nearby in 85 AD.
However, we should suppose that the battle on the hills near Adamclisi was not led by Oppius Sabinus himself, as his name should have been on the shrine, because he fell in the battle with the Dacians too.

In case we consider that until the creation of the province of Moesia Inferior a praefectus ripae Histri or Danuvii continued to exist, as resulted from Iordanes22., we could presuppose that he fell during the Dacian invasion of 85-86, while defending the territory of Dobrudja. The place for raising the shrine does not seem to have been chosen fortuitously; in general the attackers of Moesia Inferior did not come from the front side, through the north of Dobrudja, as they preferred to pass through Wallachia, then through Cernavoda or Ostrov; in that area, due to repeated invasions, over the centuries up to the Byzantine age fortifications would be raised, known today under the name of "Trajan's vallum".23..

Domitian, by the peace of 89, bestowed on Decebalus, through his delegate Diegis, the royal crown, as a sign that he recognized his state as a clientís state. H. Daicoviciu24. explains the reason why Domitian was accused by successors that he concluded a "shameful" peace, although its clauses did not differ from similar ones, concluded previously or subsequently. For Domitianís successors the peace was unfavourable, not because its clauses, but because Decebalus used them to strengthen his state in order to fend off the Romans even more bitterly - "The peace was never shameful for the Romans. But, while being favourable for them, but soon, as Decebalus was achieving his goals, it became an unfavourable agreement, that would be broken up by Trajanís sword" (loc. cit. 284).

Columna lui Traian - Scena XXXII


The two provinces, Moesia Superior and Moesia Inferior, reorganized militarily, would be the base of attack for the determining war of annihilation of Decebalusí kingdom.
Trajanís Column, the illustrated chronicle of the Dacian wars, completes the literary information on Trajanís battles with the Dacians. Unfortunately, the metopes of the monument of Adamclisi were raised around the stone and mortar tambour without us knowing the order of the arrangement, so that heir sequence in the narration has to be done by analogy with Trajanís Column, according to the few literary data preserved. The Column indicates, during the first Dacian war, a diversion action made by the Dacians in alliance with the Roxolans south of the Danube. These scenes were interpreted25. as a Dacian attack in Dobrudja, because the battle was waged in the area of Adamclisi too, where they raised - in memory of these battles - the Triumphal Monument; therefore, the metopes of the monument would represent just this episode of the Dacian war.

Reconstituirea monumentului dupa Tocilescu, Bendorf Niemann, Pl II


The Triumphal Monument has been preserved under the form of a cylindrical tambour 30 m in diameter and 12 m high, out of quarry stone bound with mortar; on this tambour 54 metopes were displayed, two of which were lost, and above the three-cone roof out of large stone scales, on a hexagonal basethe colossal trophy stood, 10.75 m high. The crenels crown the tambour; on them the Barbarian prisoners were carved, differentiated by the characteristic costumes: Dacians, Roxolans and Germans.

Laberius Maximus, governor of Moesia Inferior would take an active part in the first Dacian war, probably by attacking the Dacian strongholds in the Orastie Mountains through Oltenia and Wallachia, along the road across the Bran gorge. Today it is certain that by his victories he conquered Wallachia, east Oltenia and south Moldavia, that would be attached to his province during the entire Trajanís age. It remains to be seen when exactly the diversion took place, whether in Dobrudja, before his departure towards Dacia or he crossed to Dacia as an answer to the Dacian offensive.
R. Vulpe considered that the battle of Adamclisi was decisive for the war of 101-10226.. The importance of the battles waged in Dobrudja seems to be obvious from the fact that Trajan would build the triumphal monument in their memory.
The battles must have been bitter judging from the depictions on Trajaní s Column27., However, Trajan brought further troops on the Danube and the Dacians had to withdraw; on the column one can see a wounded Dacian nobleman who commits suicide in order to save himself from being taken prisoner.

After that campaign the battles continued on the west front, but both opponents needed time to rest, and so they concluded a peace whose terms meant a blow for Decebalus. In spite of those peace terms, Decebalus succeeded in rebuilding a force that fought relentlessly during the second war, in spite of the fact that the Roman troops occupied Wallachia, east Oltenia, attached to Moesia Inferior, and the Banat, Hateg Country and west Oltenia made up a military district depending on the legate of Moesia Superior28.. Practically, the second war was confined to conquering the Dacian strongholds and neutralizing the resistance centres - tribal strongholds in central Transylvania29..

As a result of the victory over Decebalus, Trajan created the province of Dacia, that for almost two centuries would be an outpost of the defence of the north border of the Empire, while representing an outpost of Romanism as well. The south provinces would enjoy after that date a period of peace (disturbed only by the Costobok attacks around the year 170), that fostered a flourishing development for them30..
Right after the end of the war they began building the impressive monument of Adamclisi, inaugurated in 109.
The monument bore a large inscription dedicated to Mars the Revenger. The inscription has been preserved fragmentarily, but it could be reconstructed as follows:

MARTI ULTOR[I]
IM[P(erator)CAES]AR DIVI 
NERVA[E] F(ILIUS) N[E]RVA
TRA]IANUS [AUG(USTUS) GERM(ANICUS)]
DAC]I[CU]S PONT(IFEX) MAX(IMUS)
TRIB(UNICIA) POTEST(ATE) XIII
IMP(ERATOR) VI CO(N)S(UL) V P(ater) P(atriae)
?VICTO EXERC]ITU D[ACORUM]
?---- ET SARMATA]RUM
---------------------]E 31.

The monument of Adamclisi was represented on coins issued during Trajanís reign32.. The certain evidence in favour of dating the triumphal monument to the time of Trajan render the hypotheses regarding its dating starting from the stylistic type of the reliefs to other ages33. simple attempts at explaining the style patterns of the reliefs on the monument.

52 metopes have been preserved (sized 1.10-1.20 m) depicting war scenes between the Romans and the Dacians with their allies. Considering the symbolic nature of the trophy, it is likely for the reliefs surrounding the circular monument not to be the description of real historical events, but just the conventional depiction of the battle and of the Roman victory against the Dacians34.. The reliefs stand out because of a rough technique, that, however, is typical of Roman provincial art, much less under the influence of the realism of Roman aulic art and of the perfection of classical Greek art.

 

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