Author: Lungu Virgil

Museums and historical monuments - examples - found on the territory of Dobrogea

             The settlement in Albeşti is placed at the Western limit of the territory belonging to the Dorian colony Callatis. The fortified area has rectangular shape and occupies a surface of about 3200 m2. To the East, South and West the settlement stretches on a surface of about 12 ha. The fortification itself shows three consecutive building stages: the first two cover about equal surfaces and are dated to the middle and second half of the 4th century BC; the third stage, representing also an extension of the fortified area to the South, is placed in the 3rd cent. BC (after the first decades of this century until its end or the beginning of the next one).
             Fortification inside space framing took place between the same chronological limits. The better preserved dwellings along the Northern side have a continuous spacial order, parallel to the precincts: they lean on the precincts and are delimited one fron another by walls perpendicular on them. The third stage appears as a new urbanistic frame, less oriented to reuse or adapting to former structures.
Archaeological materials quantity and especially their nature (statuettes, reliefs and ceramic altars, kernos type vessels) determines their attribution to rooms with special destination (eventually cult spaces).
             Investigations also allow evidence for a setlement on the fortification nearby plateau during the centuries 4-3 BC.
             Recovered archaeological materials are numerous and diverse: amphoras and  stamped handles, imported or local production domestic use vesels, ceramic statuettes and reliefs, objects made of bone or metal, coins etc. The best represented category in quantity is the amphora. Their presence documents a period of commercial apogeum towards the end of the 4th and the first part of the following cent. BC. From the middle of the 3rd cent. BC until towards the end of it a second flourishing period can be marked, stronger than the first one, especially due to products coming from Rhodos, Sinope, Cnidos and others, less numerous ones, from Chersones, Cos and Paros. 
             The common use ceramics is represented in frequency order, by lekythoi, hemisferic shape saucers, jugs, trays, unguentariums and oillamps. Among the Attic pieces some simple bowls or ones with inside imprinted adornments and kantharoi with a tall body and vertical ribs can be emphasized.
Figurative ceramics materials – statuettes and ceramics plaques – proves to  be of special significance for outlining spirituality in a Hellenistic period rural settlement. In order of frequency the images show deities Kybele, Aphrodite, Demeter, Dionyssos and Apollon.
             Most of the pieces belong in the 3rd cent. BC and some of them in the former one. Though their presence in the 2nd cent. BC can not be excluded, excavated archaeological contexts appear to deny this. Pieces of local origin suggest the presence of earlier traditions, linked to primitive idols image and significance, elements which are notopposite to Greek ideology.
             An important and good individualised category is represented by indigenous ceramics; it presents shapes and techniques continuing earlier Hallstattian tradition, always appearing accompanied by Greek origin ceramics.
             The influence of Greek ceramics shows in local shapes, produced with turning wheel and immitating Greek or Suth-Thracian models.
             Excavations in Albeşti have also evidenced archaeological materials of different nature, reminding domestic occupations like spindling and weaving (weighs for weaving stool and spindles), economic orientation towards agriculture (mortaria and dolia-lips) and trade (ponds). Among the metal objects with varied destination (spatulae, plaques, arrowheads, jewelry) coins are the most important ones. Discovery of a silver coin minted by Callatis and found in the second precinct emplecton, of another one belonging to Aegyna and of a piece coming from Histria in the 4th cent BC sustains an exchange of values with well-known Greek centres. In the latest level of the settlement a coin belonging to Skythian king Sariakes. Other Callatian emmissions are generally dated to the 3rd cent. BC.
             Political coordinates determining the city existence are less clear. The first precincts is undoubtedly linked to the appearance process of mixed type settlements in which, during the 4th cent. BC the main ethnic elements (natives and Greek, among whom we do not exclude also some Skythians documented in this area), are almost equally represented. The buiding of the second, better fortified precincts wall is proof for its military (or strategic) dfensive function The second phase fort in Albeşti is probably part of Macedonian king Lysimach’s action to control this territory and the main road linking Callatis to the other cities South of it. The 3rd phase is proof for a settlement flourishing existence, sheltered from any unfavourable events which, even if they happened, only affected Callatis and not its territory.
             Economic decay at the end of the 3rd cent. BC and the beginning of the next one did not mean an end for this settlement existence, but only the beginning of a crucial period, due to events happening towards the beginning of the 2nd cent. BC. 
             The settlement in Albeşti, with its strong „city” character, with edifices and street frame, defended by strong precincts walls has the attributes of a frourion, built after Greek model in the chora of the Dorian colony Callatis. 
             On July 3rd 2006, AXIOPOLIS Museum of Local History was inaugurated. This museum is a new symbol of Cernavodă city, among other symbols like: Engineer Anghel Saligny Bridge, Saint Mary Bridge, the Nuclear Power Plant, the Sluice, all connected to the old Danube.
             In this museum you can admire the famous statues "The thinker and his companion", discovered on Sofia hill and belonging to the neo-Eneolithic communities in the Danube area.
             The material remains of the Roman presence and occupations at Axiopolis come from the ancient citadel and from the stone quarry.
             Capidava is one of the fortresses built during emperor Traian’s reign, as a measure to strengthen the Danubian limes. The city was built on a rocky ground, the shape of which also detrmined the shape and orientation of the castrum: a rectangle with its long sides parallel to the river. Being mainly a military station, it was only understandable that a series of army units were quartered here. After being built by units from Legions Vth Macedonica and XIth Claudia, cohors I Ubiorum (until 143 AD) and then cohors I Germanorum (until 243 AD) were stationed here. In Roman-Byzantine period other units are mentioned: vexillatio Capidavensium, cuneus equitum Solensium şi cuneus equitum scutariorum
             The city was repeatedly distroyed by Barbarian attacks and then rebuilt; the massive walls which can nowadays be seen were built during the 4th cent. A.D. Arhaeological research began here in 1924 continuing even at present, have brought to light a large number of complexes and artefacts by which local and area history could be traced. 
             It is also known that a customs checkpoint existed here; the harbour structures discovered on the Danube shore could be a proof that this was also a station point for Classis Flavia Moesica, the Roman fleet patrolling the Danube. Written sources tell us that here was one of the 16 bishopric sieges; the basilica was discovered, also a series of artefacts with Christian symbols. Inside the city walls many buildings were discovered: the military quarter, a quarter with buildings, each one comprising a number of rooms,  streets with underground channels, private baths. All around the area a large number of burials were excavated, among which veterans of the Roman army were identified.
             The Museum Carsium – Hârşova was first inaugurated in presence of  King Charles I of Romania, Queen Elisabeth and the Royal family on May 1st 1904. It was distroyed during the Ist World War but reopened on May 29th 1926 by King Ferdinand and Queen Maria. Closed during the years of Communist rule, it was reopened on April 20th 2006 by King Michael and Queen Ana.
             The museum shelters archaeological objects of exceptional value and importance, excavated from the Neolithic settlement in Hârşova: flintstone tools, ceramic vessels, adornment objects, all of them representative for the civilisation level in this Danubian space and dating back 6,500 years. The larger part of them were shown in an exhibition hosted by Paris museums,  other French and Romanian cities during the years 1997-2000.
             This part of heritage, completed by discoveries from the Roman and Roman-Byzantine fortress Carsium, consisting of ceramic vessels, oillamps, coins, as well as from the medieval fortress and settlement, all of them are proof for a high civilisation level in this area for a history period of almost 7 milleniums. At the same time Carsium – Hârşova Museum represents a continuous research centre for the Neolithic settlement and the Roman city Carsium, another defensive fortress on the Danube river Northern limes.
             Specialists and students from Romania and from abroad are cooperating on the excavations taking place each year in Carsium. 
by Valentina Voinea
             The Eneolithic settlement from Cheia fits into a carstic area that has ensured, in the course of time, a series of circumstances, which have been propitious for life. It is the site of the discovery of the earliest traces of habitation in the space situated between the Danube and the Black Sea (“Bats’ Cave” – 600,000 BC) and the oldest human fossils (“La Adam” Cave – from the Gravettian era). 
             The Hamangia communities have lived in this region starting with the early Eneolithic (approximately the middle of the 5th millennium BC), representing the first agricultural people in this land. Starting from the discovery of this culture (1952), the archaeologists have been fascinated by the originality of their artistic and spiritual manifestations and have sought their origin in the Anatolian sector. The most emblematic creations are the two figurines discovered in the necropolis from Cernavodă, named, in the specialty literature, the Thinker and his consort. In the same necropolis, some special practices have been identified, practices whose meaning remains hard to decipher ritual pits with skulls and other human bones (only some of them in an anatomical connection), next to animal offerings.
             The archaeological research undertaken in the Hamangia settlement has emphasized new aspects of the economy, of domestic life, but especially of the spiritual complexity of the old communities. Reaching a plateau near the Casimcea River, the new-comers have only built their dwellings after they have carried out founding rituals: large animal pieces (bovine, ovine and caprine, swine) have been laid in the layer of the dwelling’s placement, beneath one of the walls. The most consistent part comes from a calf, perhaps not accidentally, if we take into account the fact that the archaeo-zoological research has demonstrated the important role played by the cattle in this community’s nourishment. Cheia is also the place where it was seen for the first time that the construction technique is much more evolved than it was believed to be for a long time. Thus, the presence of a special arrangement was noticed under the floor of a dwelling similar to the vid sanitaire confirmed in later settlements, belonging to Gumelniţa. Successive soldering shows that the duration of use of the dwellings was rather long. 
             Inside the examined dwellings, the archaeological inventory is remarkably abundant and varied: ceramics fashioned on the slow wheel (many of them of fine quality), stone, clay, bone and copper tools. The silex pieces, numerous and very elaborate, have a pronounced microlithic character. The pieces of hard material of an animal origin are as neatly wrought as the former:  bone needles and handles, shell pearls (Spondylus, Dentalium), boar tusk pendants. From an artistic point of view, the plastic arts of this culture are exceptional. Several clay figurines and a small anthropomorphic amulet made of Spondylus have been discovered in Cheia. The red ochre traces noticed in the genital area of a feminine statue suggest other magical practices.
             The recent discoveries demonstrate that this ancient civilization still hides many secrets and is not sufficiently investigated yet. In the present moment, the archaeological site from Cheia represents the only systematic research of this culture in Romania. Given the density of the population in the area, we deem it necessary to draw up an ample interdisciplinary research project that could establish the complete chronology and, implicitly, a clear periodization, the reconstruction of the archaic environment, of the ceramic and lithic technologies, of some aspects connected to every day life. Only thus, and not intuitively, can the problem of the origin of these communities be solved, communities which are so special in the scenery of the southeastern European Eneolithic.
             The colonists of Milet founded in the middle of the 7th century BC (year 657 BC according to historian Eusebius) Histria fortress – the first Greek colony on the west coast of the Black Sea. The city has known an uninterrupted development for 1,300 years, starting with the Greek period and until the Roman-Byzantine period. In the late 6th century and early 7th century AD, the citadel was destroyed by Avar-Slav attacks and gradually left by its inhabitants.
             Left unknown for a long time, the ruins of the citadel were explored for the first time in 1914 by archaeologist Vasile Pârvan. The Greek acropolis, which remained for a long time under the ruins of the citadel, was destined to the sacred area, a sector of maximum importance in the life of the citadel, an area destined to religious manifestations. In the 6th century BC the area was already constituted, having as proof the temples of Zeus and Aphrodite discovered here.
             In the classical period, Histria establishes a democratic regime (event reflected by Aristotle) and the city joins the Athenian Maritime League. The intense commerce allowed them to issue their own coin in the middle of the 5th century BC. After a short period of king Burebista’s reign, the city is permanently included inside the borders of the Roman Empire, following the campaign lead by M. Licinius Crassus in 29-27 BC.
             Archaeological excavations revealed numerous monuments included in the citadel’s touristic circuit. One of the most remarkable is the late Roman enclosure, with its main gate and defense towers.
             Other important objectives are the basilicas (secular and religious), as well as a series of public buildings from the Roman-Byzantine period, built inside the late enclosure. The multitude and diversity of the archaeological material found here determined Vasile Pârvan to name the Citadel of Histria the „Romanian Pompeii”.
             On the southern border of Ovidiu city a quadriburgium type fortification (with four corner towers), with the dimensions of approximately 59 x 47 m has been discovered. The settlement is located on the shore of the lake Siutghiol (former gulf of the Black Sea in antiquity), right next to the well-known island of Ovidiu. The excavations, begun in 1979, are still going on. Research has demonstrated that this fort was built in the 6th century, most probably under the reign of Emperor Justinian, over the ruins of a housing complex from the 4th – 5th century, having a Christian basilica as a representative monument. 
             The walls of the fortifications, 3 m thick, were built from rocks and bricks. The towers in the NW and SW corners are circular, and the ones in the NE and SE corners are rectangular. Inside only one building has been revealed, one that served as a storehouse. 
             This type of fortification is very common in the late Roman and early Byzantine periods, being used by small military units. The fort of Ovidiu was meant to defend the area in the close vicinity of the city of Tomis and especially a big stone aqueduct that supplied the Pontic metropolis. This aqueduct has its capture source at about 1 km north and a section of it was excavated in the close vicinity of the fortification, about 30 m to the West.
             Archaeological evidence has shown that the emergence and establishment of the Greek in the peninsular area of Constanta occurred sometime in the 6th century BC. In the Hellenistic era the city’s importance increases, accumulated wealth allow people to raise public and private elegant buildings, made out of stone or marble, aqueducts, etc. Starting with the 1st century BC, the geopolitical situation of the western Pontic shore suffers transformations due to the apparition of the Romans in 72-71 BC, when all cities went under their authority, and around the year 55 BC, under the authority of King Burebista (until his death in 44 BC). Vast references to the life in Tomis in the beginning of the 1st century AD can be found in the works of Ovidiu, Roman poet exiled in the year 8 AD on the order of Emperor Octavian Augustus. Tomis becomes a second country to the unfortunate Sulmonan, who dies here at the end of the year 17 AD, being buried, according to late literary news, at the entrance in the citadel – ante oppidi portam. After that, a series of administrative measures culminate with the establishment in 86 AD, under the reign of Emperor Domitian, of the Moesia Inferior province (which mostly coincides with today’s Dobrogea). In the 2nd century AD Tomis becomes a province residence and known its maximum urban development, unparalleled, for this period, by any other citadel on the Left Pont. 
             Starting with the 3rd century AD, pax Romana is more and more troubled by Carpo-Gothtic attacks, likely to considerably prejudice the Tomis life, recognized in contemporary documents as "the most brilliant metropolis and capital of the Left Pont". The city keeps its province capital – Scythia Minor this time – in the 4th and 5th centuries AD.
             Notable monuments: the Roman mosaic edifice – one of the largest ones in the Roman world; the baths; as well as the discoveries of coins, ceramics, inscriptions, architectural and sculptural fragments, etc.
             The spiritual importance of Tomis grows when Christianity becomes official in the empire, during the reign of Emperor Constantine the (306-337). The sources mention a few bishops of the city: Gerontios, Theotimos, Timotei, Ioan etc.
             During the Byzantine period, in the 8th – 12th centuries, Tomis will also be known under de name of Constantiana or Constantia, name apparently assumed from the imperial family dynasts of the 4th century AD.
             From north to south, the main accessible objectives of the ancient citadel are: the enclosure wall situated along the Ferdinand boulevard, the Roman mosaic edifice in Ovidiu Plaza, the Baths, on the West shore, near the first entrance in the port, the ancient ward in the Cathedral Park, with 12 archaeological levels covering a period of 13 centuries in the history of the citadel of Tomis and certifies it ever since the 6th century BC.
             A large number of archaeological proofs of the ancient Tomis can be admired in the exhibition of the Museum for National History and Archaeology in Constanta, located in Ovidiu Square, at number 12.
             The fortress began to be excavated by archaeologist Grigore Tocilescu between the years 1891-1909. Excavations were continued by other specialists like George Murnu, Paul Nicorescu and other numerous arhaeologists. Built on the place of an indigenous settlement, the Roman city was inhabited by veterans and Roman civilians. Favourable geographic and economic conditions permitted the change of the Roman settlement into a flourishing urban center (raised to the rank of municipium), from the beginning of the 2nd cent AD. As result of archaeological research, public and private buildings, street frames (via principalis and many via secundaris), channels and aquaeducts, a cistern for providing inhabitants with drinking water, public baths, porticcos and others were identified and studied. After passing difficult periods due to attacks by migrant tribes, the city was rebuilt at the beginning of the 4th cent. under emperors Constantin the Great and Licinius.
             Among the monuments to be cited in the ancient city we have to mention: the defensive wall (with a preconstantinian building phase dating from the end of the 3rd cent. AD, comprising a large number of towers and bastions), the three gates (the Western one, framed by 2 U-shaped towers, the Eastern one, also framed by the same kind of towers, the Southern one, framed by 2 massive rectangular bastions and probably the Northern one), via principalis (300 m long and 14 m wide, flanked by portici viales), six basilicas (the graveyard one, „the marble”, the cistern, the forensis, with transept and the simple one). The Western and Eastern gates had a specific closing system with two aisles, locked inside with an iron bar. It must also be mentioned that the city gates (especially the Western and Eastern ones) were connecting the city to the via imperialis crossing Roman Dobrogea from South to North through the centre of the province, also meeting the road linking Durostorum with the Greek colonies on the marine coast.
             A last flourishing period was emphasized for the end of the 5th cent. until the second half of the 6th cent. AD during the reign of emperors Anastasius and Justinian, when the city became an important civilian and religious center.
             The Avaro-Slav invasion in 586 strongly affected the city, decaying its urban features. Life continued inside the ruins of the ancient city even afterwards, but presenting modest features, specific for the 7th cent.
             Systematic archaeological excavations began in 1911 at the fortress in Ulmetum (Pantelimonul de Sus) under supervision of Vasile Pârvan (this fortress was the first important location studied by Pârvan in Dobrogea). They were interrupted in this first stage after 4 campaigns.
             Research was resumed in 2004, continuing until present under leadership of our coleague Ghiorghe Papuc, other 5 archaeologists working on the site. The innitial investigations had revealed the defensive frame – precincts walls with gates and towers. An important, late Roman period building was excavated in the Eastern sector; fragments of other inside building walls, provisions deposits, a large number of artefacts and especially inscriptions were uncovered.
             Ulmetum is a real hoard of epigraphic documents, with different origins, offering a large variety of information for the late Roman period. The campaigns resumed in 2004 were as fruitful as ever. In the Western sector remains of important public buildings were unearthed and excavations continued at the South-West gate. In the Northern sector other buildings were identified and important data about the stratigraphy inside the city were registered. Two inhumation tombs (one of them belonging to a woman, with a rich inventory) were also investigated. 
             In the Eastern part buildings, coins and a child’s tomb and in the Southern part a basilica and other private buildings augmented the image of the ancient fortress. At the same time excavations continued along the defensive walls. 
             At the present stage of investigations we can outline the temporal evolution of Ulmetum: it was probably a rural settlement in the 2nd cent. AD, fortified in the 4th cent. which was later distroyed. It was restored later on and probably extended under Iustinian (see also Procopius’ text, De aedificiis, 7,17-18). Ulmetum was finally distroyed by Avaro-Slavs, the last settlement signs are from the first 2-3 decades of the 7th cent. AD.

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