Author: Lungu Virgil

Historical Testimonies in Dobrogea

One of the oldest Romanian culture institutions in Constanţa, with outstanding tradition and heritage is located in Ovidius Square. Established in 1879, soon after gaining independence, the actual Museum for National History and Archaeology is sheltered by the former Town Hall of the city, a building itself a Brâncoveanu style architectue monument, inaugurated in 1921. 
             In front of the imposing edifice the anthem statue of the Latin poet Ovidius reminds the passer-by that he lived here, in the Pontic colony Tomis, for ten years in a maybe unmerited exile. But the sadness in the soul of the one longing after his beloved Rome has not prevented him from leaving to posterity poems of deep sensibility, conceived even in this distant area, at the borders of the Roman Empire. Sculptor Ettore Ferrari created the eternal love author’s statue.
             From that distant epoch, the beginning of the first millenium AD part of the pieces exhibited in the museum treasure hall also date. Next to them the marble sculptural pieces discovered in 1962, well known all over the world – Fortuna with Pontos, Glykon fantastic serpent, goddess Nemesis, as well as the bronze, silver or gold artefacts round up the image of a high artistic refinement degree. The Roman epoch jewelry offers the viewer the surprise of such a modern design that it often exceeds the present one.
             Even if the other part of the ancient city, strategically located on Constanţa promontory was covered by modern buildings, the spectacular public square of Tomis from the 4th-6th cent. AD can still be admired at present. The vaulted rooms serving as harbor warehouses are covered by a vast platform, on which the largest Roman mosaic in eastern Europe is preserved. The magnificent polichrome mosaic, preserved on 772 m² fully proves the large extent of economic resources available to Tomis township. The earthquake partly destroying the edifice in the 6th cent. has crashed the vaults, restored at present, but at the same time offered archaeologists the chance to recover the entire inventory present at that moment inside these rooms: amphorae containing different resins, stone weighs, anchors, iron ingots.
The mosaic, initially protected by a roof, sustained by a wooden structure, consists of geometric and vegetal motifs, harmonized by ancient craftsmen with an impressing artistic refinement. Architecture fragments are exhibited in front of the edifice, revealing for the monumentality of public and civil buildings in Tomis metropolis.
             Their large number allowed arranging an archaeological park next to the precincts walls of the late Roman city, located along Ferdinand blvd. Once entering the city through the gates restored some decades ago, the visitor can imagine, looking at the massive stone and marble architecture pieces, the intensive building activty of the ancestors.
             Archaeologists have excavated another ancient life fragment near the bishopric cathedral, at the shoreline end of Muzeelor street: a dwellings quarter from the 3rd-6th cent. BC, grouped along some streets, paved with stone slabs and equipped with a sewage system for household and rain water.
             For some decades the excavations taking place in Capidava fortress have given notable results for the evolution of the province between the Danube and the Black Sea during the Roman and Byzantine epochs. Capidava was even from the Roman epoch one of the important fortresses for the Danube defensive line fortifications, with the task to defend the northern boundaries of the Empire. The massive walls, built of stone and mortar and which partly resisted in time, are proof for this.
             But the oldest urban settlement in our country is Histria. Founded in the 7th cent. BC by Greek colonists from Milet in Asia Minor, the city has experienced a long flourishing period during the millenium BC until the Roman epoch, being implied in close relations with the native Getic population. Situated on the shores of nowadays Sinoe lake, which in ancient times was a bay at the Pontus Euxinus, Histria continues to exist until the Byzantine period of the 6th-7th cent., when it was destroyed and then abandoned because of the sucessive waves of migrant peoples: Goths, Huns, Avaro-Slavs, Proto-bulgarians. The best presrved precincts wall is dated to these centuries. A large dimensions bishopric basilica was excavted during the last years, the ruins of which stand proof for the existence of an important Christian community in Histria, even under circumstances of a total economic decline of the city, due to a gradually raising sandbank at the entrance to the bay.
             The last existence phase of Histria is illustrated by the imposing defensive towers, but also by the residential quarter, with dwellings complexes grouped around an inner court, as well as by the public baths, placed near the defensive wall.
             Placed at the crossroad of routes linking Roman province Scythia Minor from north to south and from east to west, the fortress in Adamclisi, named after the important monument in its vicinity Tropaeum Traiani, is another primary importance objective for Dobrogean history. The city receives the municipium rank in the second half of the 2nd cent. AD, becoming an important economic and religious center until the attacks of the migrant peoples. But the museum complex in Adamclisi firstly comprises the Triumphal Monument, built between 106 and 109 to commemorate emperor Trajan’s victories against the Dacians and their allies. The relief sculpted scenes are perennial images of the confrontation between the two valiant enemies. The architect Apollodorus of Damaskus created a monument here, unique in the Roman world, representing a genuine birth certificate of the Romanian people.
             In its vicinity Romans bult a strong fortress, with defensive walls equipped with 24 towers. Two main streets, paved with slates and crossing each other are the axes along which public interest buildings were placed.
             The original pieces composing the Triumphal Monument are at present sheltered in a museum, opened in 1977 on the occasion of completing its reconstruction works, at the centennial anniversary of the Romanian state independence. The scenes carved in stone, together with the other architecture elements, are kept inside the cuseum edifice like in a library, in which such precious documents for the memory of Romanian evolvement are sheltered from bad weather.

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