Author: Lungu Virgil

Dobrogea - short history

In the present stage of research, one can not speak about activity traces of human groups beyond an age longer than about 100,000 years. On Dobrogean territory the transition to a sedentary life of agriculture and lifestock raising happened in the 6th millenium BC. In this respect one must mention communities settlements from Hârşova, as part of Boian culture, and for early and middle Neolithicum Hamangia culture develops here. The use of polished stone tools gives an unprecedent impulse to the two traditional compartments of economic life: primitive plant cultivation and lifestock raising.
             Towards the second half of the 3rd millenium BC Dobrogea integrates to the Eneolithic horizon in South-East European territory. Gumelniţa culture develops in geographical areas stretching from Muntenia Plains up to Dobrogea and North-East Bulgaria. The ceramics handicraft is specific for this culture, anthropomorphous and zoomorphous vessels appear in this context.
             At the beginning of the 3rd millenium BC Gumelniţa culture is covered by Cernavodă I culture in Dobrogea and North-East Muntenia. It appears when tribes with mainly pastoral activity penetrate from the North-Pontic steppes and finish the Eneolithic period.
             The new populations penetrating this space are known as Indoeuropeans, consisting of shepherds tribes from western Asia and eastern Europe. Horse domestication is an important aspect for this period and from archaeological point of view a tumular tomb from Casimcea can be mentioned, with spearheads, flintstone blades and scrapers, two flintstone axes and a figurine representing a horse head. Other two tumular tombs from the same epoch were excavated in Constanța.
             From the Bronze Age in Dobrogea originates a menhir statue, discovered in Ceamurlia de Jos and dated to the middle of the 2nd millenium BC. The limestone slate represents a schematic female figure with attributes of power and fecundity. An apotropaic character is attributed to the monument - to move off bad spirits and malefactors from the tomb. A Mycenian sword comes from Medgidia, dated to the 14th century BC. Its presence confirms the relations with the Hellenic world for this period. The Bronze Age ends in this area at the beginning of the 12th century BC.
             The population of Dobrogea is placed from the first Iron Age epoch – Hallstatt (11th- 5th cent. BC) in the large Carpathian-Balkan ethnic entity identified as being the Thracians. The appearance and settling of Greek at the Pontus Euxinus, a phenomenon known under the name Greek colonisation, takes place from the 8th to the 6th century BC. The most important cities founded here are Apollonia, Messembria, Odessos, Callatis, Tomis, Histria, Tyras. The oldest Greek colony in Dobrogea is Histria, a Milesian fortress on the shores of Sinoe lake, dating from the 7th century BC. For ancient Tomis, nowadays Constanţa, the sources mention a number of toponyms, among which the best known are Tomis or Tomi. Callatis, nowadays Mangalia, is a Dorian creation of  Heraclea Pontica. The relations of the newcomers with the Getians, established by Histria in the 7th century BC and by Tomis and Callatis about a century later will prove to be an advantage: the Greek as well as the natives will influence each other, aspect reflected by the economic and cultural field.
             During the second Iron Age – La Tene (5th-4th cent. BC) the Scythian influence is present in the local environment, evidenced by an akinakes type dagger, which must have belonged to a local tribal leader. 
             The trade of Histria with the local population is facilitated in this period by the coin ”with wheel” appearance, with the legend IΣTPIH – the name of the city, derived from the name of the Danube. Executive power is exerted by an arhontes college. As it is of the same Ionian origin, Tomis was identically organized. Arhontes with administrative and hegemones with military attibutions are mentioned. The Assembly and the Council, five demiurgs, later substituted by arhontes, as well as strategs with military tasks existed in  Callatis.
             Towards the second half of the 4th cent. BC important social-economic and political-cultural changes take place at the Danube mouths. Pushed by Sarmatians, the Scythic tribes will penetrate towards South, especially to the seaside areas, occupying some positions under the rule of king Ateas. Following some fiece battles with the local people lead by Rex Histrianorum, Ateas asked for the help of Macedonian king Phillip II (359-336 BC). In the meantime “the king of the Histrians” died, the Scythians were defeated and Ateas was killed. The authority of the new conquerors will grow more during Alexander the Great`s time, whose campaign in 336-335 at the Danube against the Tribals has the reinforcement of before conquered positions as result.
             The contacts beween Scythians and Getians accentuate during the 4th-3rd cent. BC. The argument for this are the silver coins with effigies of Scythian cheafs, the so-called basilei, minted in Callatis workshops and on which the names  Kanites, Sariakis, Akrosex and Karapses can be identified. By permanent contact with the local population Scythians will end by being assimilated, melting in the large mass of Getians. Anyway they are at the origin of the Lower Danube and Black Sea region name, Scythia Minor, in antithesis with the huge area of North-Pontic area Scythians.
             Inside Burebista`s Geto-Dacian kingdom from the middle of the 1st cent. BC Scythia Minor experiences a considerable development on social, economic and political level. The Geto-Dacians` organized presence in Dobrogea, even after Burebista`s disappearance in 44 BC, was evident.
             After Burebista`s death the Dacian state crumbles. The three Getian authorities in Dobrogea - Rolex, Dapix and Ziraxes allow Romans to establish in Scythia Minor. It falls under Roman domination (from 29-28 BC), which will last for almost seven centuries.
             After a period of economic, political and cultural prosperity (1st cent. BC – 3rd cent. AD) a migration one follows, full of ill-fated consequences, during the 4th-7th cent. AD. The last migrations are those of the Petchenegs, Uzis, Cumans and Tatars.
             The documentary sources indisputably prove that Mircea the Old was ruler in Dobrogea even from the year 1388. Dobrogea feudal state appearance must also be placed in this period. Later on, Romanian inhabitants faced here a long period of opression, on social-economic, as well as on cultural-spiritual level, under foreign domination. But their ethnic conscience and affiliation to a superior civilisation  gave them vitality and conservation spirit.
             The reintegration of Dobrogea to the Romanian state in 1877 marked the beginning of the region development on all levels.

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