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A Foray into the Thracian curved weaponry. Falx Dacica

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The Daco-Roman wars between the years 101-102 and 105-106 have distinguished not only the warrior traits of the Dacians, the northern segment of the Thracians, but also a local adaptation of a curved sword, known in antiquity by the name Falx. Probably in its origins a simple sickle, the Falx Dacica has undergone successive modifications, as we can conclude from the existence of some types of Falx in older chronological horizons, types that had have reached impressive dimensions and elaborate shapes towards the end of the Dacian kingship, modifications that can be justified by the simple warriors' need to adjust, as they had to face new tactical situations. In the phrase Dacorum Falcibus we include the sickles, the scythes, the bill-hooks and the fighting knives, the curved dagger (sica) and the two main types of curved swords: the Thracian Rhomphaea and its shorter version, Falx Dacica, used by the Northern Thracians. Of the multitude of curved weapons used by the Dacians, the curved sword distinguishes itself through an elaborate morphology and through the technical traits that have assured for it a special place in the panoply of exceptional weaponry used in antiquity. The morphology, partially reproduced, of this type of sword called Sarmizegetusa, after its place of origin where most of the pieces have been discovered, shows a weapon of medium to large dimensions, with a total length set between 0.70-1 m, with a hilt that ends in a pommel, which can be used with one or both hands. The blade is triangular in section, with a considerable length and an elegant curvature ending in a sharp point. The fossilized remains of leather, discovered in the case of one example, strengthen the assumption that this type of curvature allowed the sword to be kept in a scabbard. The size and shape of some swords present on coins or on the outlines of Trajan's Column, are close to the pieces found mostly in the area of the Dacian Kingdom's capital and it can be stated that they represent a correct image of the sword that was used by the military elite close to the king. The differences can be ascribed to the talent, to the artistic inspiration or to a dose of political self-partiality, if we take into account the fact that on the Column the Dacians figure as simple barbarians, without a complex equipment and in the scenes with the trophies figure coats of mail, helmets, spears, quivers (with arrows) or long swords. The difference between the messages is obvious and it obliges us to prudence when it comes to identifying and establishing some fixed criteria, but taking into account the context in which the images appear, these can not be overlooked. The description of this type of curved sword offers to a certain extent a standardization, meaning that the differences are minor, all the pieces being included in the same manufacturing process and subordinated to the same functional idea. The differences between them are due to the craftsmanship or to the specification of the order received by the blacksmith. Thus, this type of sword has a long blade, wide enough to successfully resist impact. What makes them unique is the fixing system of the hilt - which can have a socket tube - that uses a ring or rings to attach the grip, with a cane, through a tang that can be an extension of the blade or with a hole for the rivet. Another characteristic, insufficiently argued though, is the presence of blood channel on the blade, identified until now only on a point discovered at Tilisca, but also on some monetary issues. Another aspect to be mentioned is the one referring to the engraving of a symbol on a sword's blade found at Sarmizegetusa Regia shaped as a circle with a point in the middle or the Greek letter Θ, representing, for sure, a symbol with a protective role for the weapon and its manipulator. This assumption is strengthen by the fact that the sica daggers also have this solar symbol often engraved on their blades. The origin of this type of curved sword, coming from the Orastie Mountains area, offers another argument that supports our opinion according to which the production and the usage of this type of sword was framed in the area surrounding the capital, being probably a distinctive sign for the warrior elite that could be found near the royal residency. The pieces that reached distant areas from this centre seem to be copies more or less successful, as in the case of some fragments discovered at Sighisoara, the piece found at Targu Mures or other pieces coming from South of the Danube, that could have reached these areas through exchanges or as trophies. The efficiency of this sickle-sword was, without a doubt, the source of its sinister fame, which was achieved due to the conflicts between the Dacians and the Romans, which culminated with the two wars that ended the Dacian royalty. The specific sickle shape concentrated the weapon's entire weight and, with it, the entire penetration force in the weapon's point, an assembly of factors that made a weapon whose maximum action was represented by the intense striking and cutting. These traits made it extremely dangerous, even when the enemy was protected by armour, a shield and ahelmet. Potential injuries (cuts, splits) depended mostly on the intensity of the strike, on the experience of the striker, on the angle of incidence, but also on the part of the body that was affected. In the case of great amplitude strikes the ineptitude force, given by the weapon and arm's weight, interfered. Another basic element that contributed to the success of man-weapon duality was the mental construction of the one who handled the Falx. The usage of this type of sword requires a certain type of heroism, combined with the weapon's exceptional traits, a combination which justifies the almost exclusive association of the Dacians - and on the Roman coins, of Dacia - with Falx Dacica. The Dacians' attachment to such a weapon consists not only in the quality of the material and the shape's efficiency, however important these may be, but also in that certain detachment that Dacians had when it came to death and, not finally, with the magico-religious meaning which different types of weapon had in almost all the known civilizations, the relation between weapons and death being a constant that can be found nowadays also. The curved sword's history did not stop at the beginning of the second century A.D., even though the aristocracy had been eliminated, statement proven by the absence of local elites from Roman Dacia; part of the Dacian warriors were recruited for the Imperial army, taking with them, if not the weapon, at least the memory of its fierceness. Defining element for the new province, as a symbol of the defeated Dacia, first feared, afterwards cast off, it would be integrated in the Imperial ideology and from here it would enter the antiquity's conscience as a symbol for the personality and fame owned by the Thracian warriors from the Northern Balkans and, finally, by the Dacians. Therefore, Falx Dacica, a "national" weapon, survived in the artistic and symbolic Roman imagination long after the Dacian state's aristocracy disappeared.
I N M E M O R I A M D R . M I R C E A R U S U
Edited by: HOREA POP
Translated by Coralia Crişan, Csók Zsolt and Anișoara Munteanu
Editura MEGA
Cluj-Napoca, 2008
Iosif Vasile FERENCZ, Marius Mihai CIU
Cristina BODÓ
Gelu FLOREA, Liliana SUCIU, Lucian VAIDA
Horea POP
Georgeta EL SUSI
The volume entitled Dacian Studies – Contributions for La Tène period
researches summarizes ten studies, belonging to young scientists from
several Transylvanian profile institutions (universities, institutes,
museums). All these 13 researchers, the majority of them PhD, have
already assumed important contributions concerning the second
period of Iron Age on the area of Transylvania.
Gathering over 160 pages of written text and illustrations, the present
volume of studies is dedicated to the memory of PhD. Mircea Rusu,
researcher from Cluj-Napoca, a major personality, archeological school
creator and mentor of many researchers – at the 10th commemoration
year of his regretted disappearance.
Translated in English, Dacian Studies Contributions for La Tène
period researches is desired to be a promotion instrument abroad, for
new researches linked with the dacian civilization and the premises of
its appearance, mostly in Transylvania.
The studies of the volume is treating issues on metamorphoses of the
outside Carpathian getic world, to the phenomenon of Celtic
colonization in Transylvania, towards the movement of Bastarns on
both sides of the Eastern Carpathians. Other contributions rely in the
observation of newly discovered sites. On the other hand, several
studies discuss and place in value astonishing discoveries, as: statues,
fibulae, weapons, very important instruments on affirming the
chronology of contexts in which these items were discovered. Finally,
one of the studies is analyzing cattle economy of the dacian community
in a certain micro-zone. Without focusing strictly on a certain segment
of La Tène period, the volume, through its theme diversity, it’s painting
aspects of the mentioned period, mostly on a chronological point of
view, to offer for its reader elements of the complex puzzle of a period
not enough researched and known.
PhD. ALEXANDRU V. MATEI researcher
Cătălin Borangic
In fact, the oldest metal pieces discovered on the territory of actual
Romania, dating in the 13th – 12th centuries BC, are weapons1. The
technological progresses accumulated during the next millennium,
concerning iron manufacturing2 made possible the obtaining of a new
generation of weapons, more efficient ones, with strong individual
characters, true blazes of the populations who have worn them. Such an
evolution can be seen in Dacia also, as a result of manufacturing and
experience concentration of the blacksmiths specialized mostly on
weapons, to obtain the curved sword, the famous and frightening falx
dacica. In a warrior society, as the ancient north-Danubian is, it is a normal
fact that the metallurgical progresses, in our case the iron processing is very
well reflected specially in the quality and efficiency of weapons.
Revealed by many written sources, archeological and numismatic
as well, the curved sword of the Dacians – mostly during the last period of
the existence of the Dacian Reign –, among a variety of forms and
dimensions, the only constant feature of this weapon was the concave
curve of the blade.
To extract the real emblem of the Dacians, the curved sword, we
will propose a typology based on the dimensions of the blade and the
dimension of the curve.
Generally speaking, falx meant all the objects with differing shapes
and dimensions, but their common issue relied in the fact that their blades
were curved towards the interior, fact that differentiated them from several
knife types3. So, the collocation defined as “Dacorum falcibus” contains the
following items: sickles, scythes, daggers and bill-hooks, the curved dagger
1 For the répertoire of early iron discoveries see also Nikolaus Boroffka, Folosirea
fierului în România de la începuturi până în secolul al VIII-lea î.e.n., in Apulum,
XXIV, 1987, p. 62–73.
2 For iron manufacturing result see also Ioan Glodariu, Eugen Iaroslavschi,
Civilizaţia fierului la daci (sec. II î.e.n. – I e.n.), Cluj-Napoca, 1979, and Eugen
Iaroslavschi, Tehnica la daci, Cluj-Napoca, 1997.
3 Dictionnaire des Antiquités grecques et romaines d’après les textes et les monuments, vol.
II, part II (F-G), Paris, 1926, s. v. falx, p. 968–971.
Cătălin Borangic
(sica) and the two main curved swords: rhomphaea with its Thracian
Illyric origin, having an impressing length (sometimes even more than 2
meters)4, and the medium length type used mostly in the areas north of the
Its large scale perception, M. Cornelius Fronto would have thought
of, when he introduced the “Dacorum falcibus” collocation, meaning all the
curved weapons of the Dacians. Although Publius Papinius Statius, affirms,
that falx is the symbol weapon of the getae5, fact that let us think on the
supposition, that only one of their weapons have won such a reputation,
that could have been associated with the ethnicity of their users.
Summarizing the given information, with the artistic representations of the
period, the only candidate to this statute remains that certain falcatus ensis
which became, mostly in the recent specialty literature falx dacica, although
the detailed features of this weapon were not yet established.
The typology that will be presented in the followings and the
repertoire of representations that constitutes the basis of the present study
does not have an exhaustive character. The most certain fact that we can
observe is the large variety of these artifacts. This variety permits us to
conclude that the artists pleaded rather to their intuition, than describing
the realistic model that lay in front of them. Towards, there are even other
explanations concerning the fact that blacksmiths did not use stencils that
could permit a standardization of the pieces, rather more, they manufactured
the metal bars individually, so, their final dimensions, form and curve
opening angle differed from one piece to the other. Visualizing such a
screenplay we could conclude, that every artist made its masterpiece
depending on his abilities and realistic scheme image, but also correct in
the point of view of the represented exemplary.
Most of the representations of the repertoire come from coins. It is
quite easy to understand why, because the coin, mostly ones with reduced
value, but high circulation power, was the most efficient mean of
communicating to the whole wide world the victory of Romans in Dacia.
It is very strange, that from a wide variety of representation possibilities,
the curved sword was used as the symbol of Dacia. Beyond the battlefield
echoes, of those who were there, the coins were the most common
propaganda instrument that contributed to the association of Dacians and
4 Dictionnaire des Antiquités, s. v. rhomphaea, tom IV, part II, p. 865.
5 To such an interpretation, are leading the 131–134 verses Achilleis’s work, second
part: “[...] quo Paeones arma rotatu, quo Macetae sua gaessa citent, quo turbine
contum Sauromates falcemque Getes arcumque Gelonus tenderet et flexae
Balearicus actor habenae [...]” (edition Aldo Marastoni, Leipzig, 1974, p. 51).
Falx Dacica. Suggestion for Dacian Curved Types of Weapons
falces, expressed by6, who tell us that Parts, one of the most fearsome
enemies of the Empire, were assimilated with the arrows they used. This
symbolic association of the Dacians with their favorite weapon survived a
long period after the impact of wars, coins emitted by emperors after, till
the middle of 3rd century AD, are a very eloquent clue, that the image of
the civilian, or soldier Dacians it is represented with the curved war.
This multitude of representations have as a correspondent a wide
typology, due to the fact, that there are no coins that represent the
weapons in the same way, differences can be observed not only in their
numbers, but in their shapes and sizes. Due to this fact and that often the
sword is showed as a part of a trophy or just thrown in a pile of weapons,
not being very visible, we considered much more useful the parallel
representation on coins and on Trajan’s Column, Tropaeum Traiani, other
known forum monuments, and sword discovered in archeological
researches. This method of presentation, beyond the disadvantages of a
possible mixture, seemed to be the best illustration of details which lead to
the diversification of typology.
1. War scythe, for two hands, long and highly curved blade.
The characteristic of length was established by comparison with
other objects near it was found on representations, especially swords,
spears, lances and shields. So, the length varied, according to the handle
and its characteristics, between 1/1, 5–2 m, fact that permits us to
presume, that we stand in front of a rhomphaea. Such a shape and
dimensions probably made this sword type quite hard to handle, that’s why
it is also rare (Plate I, fig. 1).
2. Sword for two hands, long blade, curved upper part, elegant trace of
the curve that evolves almost into a semicircular shape. This type, with its
dimension up to 1–1,5 m, is also a rhomphaea type, that we find on coins
representing the trophies on defeated Dacia (Plate I, fig. 2).
3. Sword for two hands, long blade, curved peak only.
A representation of this type can be observed on the 34th metope
on the Adamklissi Monument, in the hand of the figure in the
background, right side of the scene (Plate I, fig. 3). Only partially visible,
on the back of a denary emitted shortly after the conquest of Dacia, such
6 “[Trajan] went to war with good soldiers, who disdained the Parts, our enemies,
and they did not care about their arrows, after they were wounded by the curved
swords of the dacians” (M. Cornelius Fronto, Principia Historiae, II, p. 204, apud
Izvoare privind istoria României, I, Bucureşti, 1964, p. 533).
Cătălin Borangic
an exemplary can be seen rising from a pile of shields, on which, a dacians
prisoner is placed (Plate i, fig. 4). A particularity of this sword, if we
consider that the image on the coin is not erroneous–, is represented by the
central mortise of the blade, not met in the repertoired representations,
only on the fragment discovered at Tilişca, interpreted as a sword end, but
it can easily be a dagger fragment too7. In the eventuality that such a
weapon really existed, the blood flowing channel and the special form of
the curve, ended in a very sharp peak, suggests the possibility that this type
of sword was used not only for cutting and punching, but for stabbing too.
4. Sword for one or two hands, medium dimension blade, ample curve
that begins from the middle of the blade.
The best representations are visible on the frieze of Trajan’s Column
(Plate I, fig. 5, fig. 6), and a few pieces that we gathered, as it is the most
emblematic discovered at Sarmizegetusa Regia, in a workshop on terrace
VIII8. Dated to the end of 1st century AD – beginning of 2nd century AD, kept
at the National Museum of Transylvania at Cluj, under inventory number V
18532, presents a length of 66,5 cm of which 49 is the blade itself. The
peak is missing an a few centimeters from the handle shaft. (Plate I, fig. 7).
5. Sword for one or two hands, depending on the handle length,
medium dimension blade, rounden on the trajectory of a semi circle, with an
overdrawn opening, that gives the blade a slightly bended shape. (Plate I, fig. 8).
6. Sword for one or two hands, depending on the handle length,
medium dimension blade, curved on the superior part, on the trace of an arch
toward a semi circle.
This type has also several representations. A superb exemplary can
be seen next to an abandoned shield, on which a person is mourning
conquered Dacia. It is represented on the reverse of a denary emited by
Trajan (la RIC II 218 variant). With a very short handle, as if a
compensation, with the opening on the entire surface of the superior end,
tha sword is playing the role of the symbol of conquest. (Plate I, fig. 9).
7 Nicolae Lupu, Tilişca. Aşezările arheologice de pe Căţănaş, Bucureşti, 1989, p. 74 şi pl.
8 C. Daicoviciu, Şantierul Grădiştea Muncelului, in Studii şi Cercetări de Istorie Veche,
4th year of edition, nr. 1–2, 1953, p. 169 and fig. 22; I. Glodariu, E. Iaroslavschi,
op. cit., p. 137–138 and fig. 71/1; Gabriela Gheorghiu, Dacii pe cursul mijlociu al
Mureşului (sfârşitul sec. II a. Ch. – începutul sec. II p. Ch.), Cluj-Napoca, 2005, p.
182 şi 460, fig. 186/4; Exhibition catalogue Dacia Augusti Provincia, Bucureşti,
2006, p. 125, nr. cat. 69.
Falx Dacica. Suggestion for Dacian Curved Types of Weapons
7. Sword for one hand, medium dimension blade, curved on its superior
end, tracing an obtuse angle, forming a long peak, probably very sharp.
Without excluding the possible existence of this type, we must specify
that the representations that we have found are difficult to frame them in a
type point of view, due to the unspecific representations and distortion of
dimensions, so the image on the coin can be catalogued as a 50–60 cm long
sword, more similar to a dagger, or a battle knife (Plate I, fig. 10).
8. Sword for one or two hands, medium dimension blade, with only the
peak curved.
This exemplary represented on a sestertius emitted by Emperor
Hadrian in 136 (RIC II 849) it appears in the left hand of a character, it
has a long handle, straight blade, suddenly curved on its end. Till this
point of the research we have not found another coin with an earlier
dating, to represent the traditional weapon of Dacians, other than a trophy
as a symbol of defeat9. So, this can be its first representation as a symbol of
victory, symbol of pacifier victory, of civilization, sign that the province
was already well anchored in the structures of the Roman Empire. Such an
evolution can be observed on the illustrations of coins emitted by Hadrian,
where right next to the vexillum, the curved sword is associated as symbols
of Dacia 10(Plate I, fig. 11).
9. Cangea, with two variants:
a) semi circular curve combined with a long handle clenched with a
metal ring. It is a very efficient weapon shaped as a battle scythe but dimensions
of a rhomphaea, as it can be seen on metopes XVIII and XXII of the
monument from Adamklissi11 (Plate I, fig. 12).
b) long peak because of the large opening of the blade. It is represented on
metope XX of the same monument12 (Plate I, fig. 13).
9 Until now, only coins emitted by Hadrian had such a status. See also Iudita Winkler,
Personificarea Daciei pe monedele romane imperiale, in Studii Clasice, II, 1965, p. 229–
10 For details concerning the attitude change and its significance, see Carmen Maria
Petolescu, La Dacie sur les monnaies de l’empereur Hadrien, in Octavian Iliescu (ed.),
La numismatique, source de l’histoire de l’art et de l’histoire des idées. Travaux présentés
au XVe Congrès international des sciences historiques, Bucarest, 11 août 1980,
Bucureşti, 1981, p. 57–64.
11 Apud F. B. Florescu, Monumentul de la Adamklissi, fig. 197, p. 429 and fig. 201,
p. 433.
12 Apud F. B. Florescu, Monumentul de la Adamklissi, fig. 199, p. 431.
Cătălin Borangic
10. Sica type curved dagger
The second symbol-weapon of Dacians does not see among
specialists an equal opinion concerning their features. The confusion starts
probably from the name of the weapon which in ancient Greek describes
certain species of sword13. After gathering weapons that were named as told
earlier, used by several populations, including Dacians, as given seen even
on Tropaeum Traiani, one of the epigraphs from Birdoswald and Trajan’s
coins, makes A. J. Reinach to affirm that: “undoubtedly it is a scythe shaped
blade, as it is the Thracian rhomphaea hedging knife type”14. Sica can be the
enigmatic and terrible falx dacica, interpretation that is present even in
Romanian historiography15.
Such a hypothesis on the identity between sica and the curved sword
cannot be easily observed if we consider the fact that in latin, sica=curved
dagger, is a member of the vocabulary with sicilis = sickle, sicilio = to cut with
the sickle, sicilicula = small sickle, sicilimentum = straw, sicarius = throat
cutter, assassin16.
Due to unknown reason, in the Romanian historiography it is
accepted the identity between sica and the curved dagger, but when facts
are discussed on artifact examples, we observe that there are major
differences, mostly concerning dimensions, blade width and the aspect of
the curve17.
No representations from antiquity are, unfortunately, more conclusive
or, sufficiently conclusive to be cataloged as a dagger or fighting knife, the
weapons that are worn by the Dacians, represented on the Dacian Column
or personifications of certain coins. As noted in the case of swords, each
representation has an individual, but quite clearly defined, determined
either by the artist's preference for a particular vision or, certainly, and the
artisanal nature of producing these items, which excludes data standardi-
zation and provides the master unlimited freedom of expression.
The most characteristic type of curved weapon in the Dacian
warrior panoply is represented, therefore, by a sharp dagger with a blade
curved and triangle, having blood drainage ditch along the blade and
13 Translation of the fragment from Dion Chrysostomos, XII, 19: “There [in the
country of the getae] you could see everywhere swords, shields, spears [...]” (apud
Izvoare privind istoria României, vol. I, p. 448–449).
14 Dictionnaire des Antiquités, tom IV, part II (R-S), p. 1301.
15 See also F. B. Florescu, Die Trajanssäule, p. 85, for whom sica means the curved sword.
16 Cf. G. Guţu, Dicţionar latin-român, Bucureşti, 1983, those certain voices.
17 See for example the panoply of exhibiton catalogue entitled Dacia Avgvsti Provincia,
p. 125–127.
Falx Dacica. Suggestion for Dacian Curved Types of Weapons
zoomorphic or geometric inlaid on it. The dimensions of the dagger,
known generally as sica, are changing between the length of 25 and 35 cm.18
The almost equal morphologic unit is outturned by the improperly
called daggers, fact that allowed to some specialists to widen the category
and insert smaller dimension swords19, assimilated to this category, very
probably, because curved daggers are invariably attributed to Thracian
ethnicity and also associated with them.
The ease seen on considering as daggers mahaira and falx type
curved medium dimensioned weapons, spread throughout the Thracian
world, made very difficult the inventory and study them, although these
items are present widely in archeological complexes and figurative art as well.
In the general frame of the dagger notion, those belonging to the
Thracians, present specific attributes mostly concerning their shape, and
spiritual mark. The first case, maybe the most obvious one, the shape of
these knives and the triangle section of the blade, the elegant curve without
two edges, only on the concave part of the blade. This conformation
improves the basic features of the daggers, throughout the fact that
although they keep the high penetration force, amplifies the effects of
stabbing and cutting.
The second particularity of Thracian daggers is the spiritual load,
deducted by the decorations on the blade20, and the idea of sacrifice.
In a typology point of view, in spite of a strong standardization
tendency, sica daggers have three main types, differentiated only by a few
morphological aspects, not functional ones.
The first type is marked by the massive blade, short and sharp
peak, slight curve, short handle shaft, triangle shaped, orifice for rivet near
the blade. The blade has incised decoration on it and a blood flowing
ditch. The robust aspect, among the dating of the majority of pieces during
18 Aurel Rustoiu, Thracian sica and dacian falx. The history of a national weapon, în
Dacia Felix. Studia Michaeli Bărbulescu oblata, Editura Tribuna, Cluj-Napoca,
2007, p. 68.
19 Macrea M., Lupu N., Floca O., Berciu I., Cetăţi dacice din sudul Transilvaniei,
Editura Meridiane, Bucureşti,1966, p. 22; Eugen D. Pădurean, Depozitul de arme şi
unelte de la Neudorf, Pârâul Roşia, judeţul Arad, in Daci şi romani – 1900 de ani de
la integrarea Daciei în Imperiul Roman, Timişoara, march 24–26, 2006, p. 219–
233, Pl. VIII.
20 Aurel Rustoiu, Ornamentica pumnalelor curbe traco-dacice, in Studia archaeologica et
historica Nicolao Gudea dicata Festschrift für Professor Nicolae Gudea Gelegentlich
des 60. Geburstages, [Die Ornamente der Krummen Thrako-Dakischen Dolche],
Zalău, 2001, p. 181–194.
Cătălin Borangic
3rd 1st centuries BC, allows the hypothesis that this type evolved during
the mentioned chronological horizon. (Plate II, fig. 1)21.
The second type, not very different morphologically presents
notable particularities, being grouped next to a dagger discovered at Padea,
location that gave the name of Padea-Panaghiurski Kolonii cultural aspect.
One of the best preserved items is the one discovered at Slatina22 (Plate II,
fig. 2). The third type, also the most numerous one, signs a series of
repertoired items in this stage of research, spread in north-western
Bugraria, south-west and centre of Romania. These daggers are
characterized by the long blade, elegant execution in the majority of the
cases, blade decorated with circular incisions, blood flow ditch and the
tongue of the handle continuing on its length and also guard muff. These
distinctive elements can be found on all the artifacts, or different elements
on several pieces. The dimensions show a relative standardization, situated
among 30–40 cm in length, 3 cm in width, but some of the pieces present
a slight increase of the dimensions. The low preserving level or unspecified
measurements have not always permitted to settle pieces into this type
frame, only statistics allowed us to analyze these weapons. This type of
dagger is dated during the 2nd1st centuries BC. One well preserved piece
was found at Cetate, Dolj County, on the site named “la Salii” (Plate II,
fig. 3)23.
Prestige, its excellent combat qualities, a well elaborated mystical
component, are the elements, that permit the identification of a military
elite, that by its coagulation could build a barbarian state, that was not just
a strong military opponent of the Roman Empire.
Starting with the exposed data, we can affirm that sica dagger
represents an important archeological artifact, due to its role and
importance for the Thracian society, towards it is a contribution to
understand its social and military mechanisms, but through its special
21 Exhibiton catalogue Dacia Avgvsti Provincia, Bucureşti, 2006, p. 127, nr. cat. 73;
Exhibiton catalogue I Daci, Editura Electa, Firenze, 1997, p. 240, fig. 461.
22 Mihail Butoi, Mormânt de incineraţie din epoca fierului descoperit la Slatina, in
Oltenia. Studii şi comunicări, Craiova, 1974, p. 29–32, fig. 2.
23 C. S. Nicolăescu-Plopşor, Antiquités celtiques en Olténie, in Dacia. Recherches et
découvertes archéologiques en Roumanie, XI–XII, 1945–1947, Bucureşti, p. 19, Pl.
III/6; Ion Miclea, Radu Florescu, Strămoşii românilor. Vestigii milenare de cultură şi
artă. Geto-dacii, Bucureşti, 1980, p. 46, fig. 199; Valeriu Sîrbu, Credinţe şi practici
funerare, religioase şi magice în lumea geto-dacilor (pornind de la descoperiri
arheologice din Câmpia Brăilei), Editura Porto-Franco, Galaţi, 1993, p. 78, fig. 17,
Falx Dacica. Suggestion for Dacian Curved Types of Weapons
spiritual importance we can conclude elements of the population’s
complicated religion.
Last, but not the least, these daggers complete the military
equipment of fearsome warriors whom have provoked serious problems to
the most militarized Empire of antiquity, proving a real combination
between sacred and profane, between life and perception of death, and its
role in human destiny.
11. The curved hedging knife
Our opinion is, that this weapon does not have datable
representations, but there were discovered a series of artifacts, that can hardly
could accept other interpretation. With a very thick and wide blade, and
only the peak curved (Plate II, fig. 4)24, the pieces of this type can play a
double role, as tools, although their utilities are quite difficult to guess.
Given their massive shape and weight these pieces are much more suitable
as military equipment, than any other use.
At the end of this attempt on typology building it is necessary to
assume a retrospective look so we can place our attention on curved swords.
Applying mathematical logics to the combination of the two main
features (dimension of the blade and curve dimension) we find that there
are so many weapon variants as shapes are. Excluding those variants that
were not found neither in antique artistic representations, nor archeological
excavations, we have established a hypothetic panoply of Dacian curved
weapons, as follows: eight sword types, three dagger types, two hedging knife
types and one knife type. A panoply too busy, given the period and the
manner of manufacturing them, perhaps ruined moldings after each
artifact and, especially, the aleatory that often characterized the artistic
creations. It could be observed on several occasions that a kind of compo-
sition that sometimes contained a type of weapon, sometimes another.
We don’t have the total conviction on our capacity to select and
categorize the images, so it is a normal fact, that the reader may think that
certain pieces were misplaced in categories. Why did we choose such a path
24 The piece is kept in the Museum of Alba Iulia, found during the archeological
excavations from Căpâlna. Inventory number 539. Similar pieces from the
Museum of Sighişoara were published by Gheorghe Baltag, Sighişoara înainte de
Sighişoara, Bucureşti, 2000, p. 86, fig. 24. Another piece was identified as a hedging
knife published by Ioan Glodariu and Eugen Iaroslavschi in Civilizaţia fierului la
daci, fig. 72/1.
Cătălin Borangic
if the arbitrary is following every step made by us and what can be
considered available at the end of this classification? Or, the question may
be rephrased: why did the Dacians use so many sword types? Or, isn’t it
possible that we are dealing with the evolution of the same weapon, that
receives different shapes?
First of all, we have to remember that the rarity of the artifacts
made impossible the immediate identification of a prototype for the
weapon that caused to Romans such an impact that they transformed it
into a symbol. In such a situation any other information could have been
useful, but the artistic representations were at hand.
Of course, we have not omitted for a moment the necessity to
confront between representations and, particularly, the realities captured
by archaeological research.
These considerations require us to divide again, the eight variants
of sword resulting in two categories: certain and possible. Certain ones
represented by an artifact on which there is no any doubt regarding the
authenticity, others were considered as possible, even if there were not yet
discovered such artifacts, but it is possible that they may occur in the
future, because the manual technique of their production allows their
existence at the time, even if in a limited number.
We will proceed even to a renaming of the types, to facilitate their
operation, given that mathematical abstraction can be certainly much more
accurate, but cumbersome and difficult to remember.
I. First of all, a clarification is needed: despite the frequency of the
appearance of reproduced long sword types, especially on coins, we did not
find it neither reported in historical literature nor as a copy of what might
be called Dacian rhomphaea a sword with a longer blade, strongly bent
on a stylish trace, depending on the technical skills of the blacksmith or
those of whom used them. The lack of archaeological finds from the
Dacian area is so far a free classification of this weapon in the three variants
each representation identified by comparing their results. Unable to
establish “live” any differential characteristics, is still as possible, the very
probable existence of such a type of sword, since Romans felt the need to
illustrate it on two memorial monuments of the conquest of Dacia. As for
its representation coins, we do not think that is devoid of meaning that
they appear only on issues from the reign of Trajan, a sign that on the first
hand, the Dacians had invested in defending their independence, can
provide all the panoply of arms curves, on the other hand that Dacian
Falx Dacica. Suggestion for Dacian Curved Types of Weapons
rhomphaea impressive and fierce, was not, however, the weapon in
excellence associated with their ethnicity.
II. Also possible and very likely is the following type of Sword, this
time short, with curved upper half as a dependent route proving certainly
better technical skills than the alleged maker’s characteristics of either the
possible options. We consider here especially those dating from the
monetary representation of the middle of 3rd century which offer a very
good analogy to fragmentary sword discovered at Grădiştea Muncelului
Sarmizegetusa25, kept at the History Museum Arad (Plate III, fig. 1) or a
copy, most eloquent discovered at Cristeşti, Mureş County and preserved
at the Museum of Targu-Mures (Plate III, fig. 2)26. Registered as “sica” and
“sickle”, its appearance and characteristics already reported, which
individualizes the findings of a Dacian swords have inhibited attempts of
possible publication. But in connection with representations made of the
famous late Dacian falx above, this weapon is likely to come out of
obscurity and become the prototype of the final version that could take a
sword-symbol, in a time when the boundaries of the Roman province were
seriously challenged by the attacks and the free Dacians used any sharp tool
they found useful as a weapon. So we dare to conclude that we indeed are
dealing with a Targu-Mures Dacian falx type, probably dating from the 3rd
century and particularly illustrative for the final chronology of the curved
sword, and for the previous period as well, when forms must have existed
and crafts made by artists with less dexterity than blacksmiths of
A possible type III is short and bent bladed sword with only the
top curved, which seems most appropriate to name curved gladius. The
combination of terms is only apparently contradictory, since it was
circulated in antiquity, at least as poetic license. We meet it, for example,
as falcatus ensis (ensis as a synonym for gladius27), in the two Metamorphoses
of Ovid28.
25 Eugen D. Pădureanu, Două descoperiri arheologice inedite, in vol. Adevărul omeneşte
posibil pentru rânduirea binelui. Volum omagial Sever Dumitraşcu, Oradea, 2001, p.
155–156 and plate I, p. 160.
26 Valeriu Lazăr, Repertoriul arheologic al judeţului Mureş, Târgu-Mureş, 1995, p. 105.
27 Dictionnaire des Antiquités grecques et romaines, tom IV, part II (R-S), p. 1600.
28 Partea I, versurile 717–718: Nec mora, falcato nutantem vulnerat ense, qua collo est
confine caput [...]; part IV, verse 727: Desinit in piscem falcato vulnerat ense [...],
and part V, verse 80.
Cătălin Borangic
We suppose there is such a weapon in the idea of its presence on
the Adamklissi monument, illustrated with various curved weapons, just
for that reason should not be random or just the consequence of a mistake
of the artist. Also, if indeed Dacians unit stationed in (C)Amboglanna were
equipped with curved swords, the two epigraphs found in Birdoswald
(Plate IV, fig. 1, fig. 2) faithfully reproduce its image, is to assume
a symbiosis between the falx and gladius or perhaps better said, adjusting
the size and shape curved swords after a weapon used in a disciplined, close
combat formations, as were those that made up the Roman army. We
therefore have to face again a choice rather late, hybridized curved sword.
IV. The last type that we propose, and finally one hundred percent
certain, we called Sarmizegetusa as place of origin of the three curved
swords which we are sure they are authentic and have kept nearly all other
features: the one at National History Museum of Transylvania in Cluj-
Napoca (Plate 5, fig. 2), the National Museum of History of Romania in
Bucharest (Plate V, fig. 1)29.
Treating so with the utmost reluctance, figurative art
achievements, we are left with four basic types, subtypes whose
multiplication is not obviously excluded by anything. But things can still
go vice versa because, by bringing into question the principle criterion
timeline of evolution, the four basic types are restricted to two: type
Dacian rhomphaea – long curved sword, and the type Sarmizegetusa –
curved sword of average size for short, during the Roman rule that will
develop into two sub-variants: curved gladius and Târgu Mureş.
Restricting the maximum angle of approach and looking at the
curved Dacian sword only with light curve without doubt the authenticity
of archaeological finds and chronological classification, we have to note
that the Dacian falx did not wear only one form that indicated the type
Sarmizegetusa, any attempt at typology would become inappropriate.
Going forward on this interpretative thread, we have to restrict the use of
this weapon in the chronological segment bounded by king Burebista and
29 C. Daicoviciu, Şantierul Grădiştea Muncelului, în Studii şi Cercetări de Istorie Veche,
4th year of edition, nr. 1–2, 1953, p. 169; I. Glodariu, E. Iaroslavschi, Civilizaţia
fierului la daci (sec. I î.e.n. – I e.n.), Cluj-Napoca, 1979, p. 137–138 and fig. 71/1;
Exhibition catalogue I Daci. Mostra della civiltà daco-getica in epoca classica, Roma,
1979–1980, p. 52, fig. 125; Gabriela Gheorghiu, Dacii pe cursul mijlociu al
Mureşului (sfârşitul sec. II a.Ch. – începutul sec. II p.Ch.), Cluj-Napoca, 2005, p.
182 şi 460, fig. 186/4; Exhibition catalogue Dacia Avgvsti Provincia, Bucureşti,
2006, p. 125, nr. cat. 69.
Falx Dacica. Suggestion for Dacian Curved Types of Weapons
second campaign of Trajan in Dacia, because we do not have copies dating
before 1st century BC or after Roman conquest. In this perspective, the
question naturally arises: was the time sufficient to ensure such fame that
reverberation of the weapon went till the mid–3rd century? More: was time
sufficient to ensure this weapon its widespread among the Dacians that
lived up to its reputation of fame it has been awarded with?
Judging by the place of origin – yet only one Sarmizegetusa Regia
and by the small number of doubted Dacian curved swords should say
that this weapon was a privilege of the elite, in case of warriors in the
King’s entourage, its area of use focusing around the capital, although its
production was probably limited to workshops from there. It was therefore
rather a hierarchy and prestige sign, and not a weapon of mass. Why?
Maybe because it was still a novelty, made more difficult, more expensive,
too “stylish” for an ordinary soldier, through its shape and accessories that
were worn.
It remains then to the use bulk fighters, other curbed weapons, and
this statement seems confirmed by the representations of figurative art,
highlighting a variety of types, from massive rhomphaeae to hedge knives,
their danger and their effectiveness is provided precisely by the ability to
fold according to the skills of fighting of each individual. And can it be
explained why Latin texts speak in a way so ambiguous about falx when
associated with the Dacians, thereby stopping the accurate identification of
the weapon.
These assumptions are not contradicted by the preserved sword
fragments, such as those of the Museum of Sighisoara (Plate IV, Fig 4, Fig.
5). Their manufacturing imperfections may be an indication that other
workshops producing swords were not on the same standards as those on
the terraces of the Grădiştea Muncelului, but still with similar results,
which means that its production was not a monopoly, but that have
spread to other metallurgical centers. The story of the swords could be
more complex. It could belong to Decebal's close defeat or of refugees
from the territory or their representatives could get there in other ways: as a
commodity or as war prey. Unfortunately, the lack of clear clues for dating
and pressure of suspicions regarding the discovery place, any scenario is
Typology of weapons test hard curved weapon categories listed so
far, due to the rarity of artifacts and duplicitous nature of artistic
representation. Trying to overlap falx term used by Latin authors on
Cătălin Borangic
Dacian curved swords failed only to the extent that this combination is
provided the most likely because, after the reign of Trajan, representations
of rhomphaea disappear, and the sica daggers are very rare. It has fully
succeeded, however, we think, the attempt to identify the copy in the
Museum of Cluj-Napoca, the best preserved item – the most eloquent
model for curved sword, to decipher its secrets and effectiveness. It's
irrelevant that the type of Sword will be used at the time was less than we
used to think, for limited distribution not diminish individual
characteristics. Conversely, the heroism which was assumed by handling
such weapons, it further highlighted its qualities.
We thought that the Romans and therefore, even if the artistic
representations selection was made in time, the choice of the curved sword-
symbol as a weapon in the hands of Dacia placed it where it was not
captive to the law could not be random. It matters less than the exact
figure of this sword, especially if proscription of Dacian curved weapons
will already led to its disappearance.
It is very important that developments had a perception that the
subjects defining the elements built into the north-Danubian Empire in
106. For if the time of Trajan weapon-symbol became useless, being
crushed by superior arms and discipline of Roman legionaries, under
Hadrian and recovered some earlier majesty, setting up auxiliary units
formed by the Dacians, and so captive Dacia image slew of mourning is
replaced by that of a province that is integrated into the Empire called
upon to defend just the terrible sword with previously defended
Repeating this image and updating to the middle of the 3rd
century, a new formula, and more explicit, can only be the artistic
reflection of the Dacians involvement in defending the empire. The whole
series of monetary issues of Philip the Arab’s imperial family must have
been about the great appeal of Carpi, defeated in 247, banners present
embodiment with the province of Dacia and customary sword in his hand
curve illustrating the cooperation between the legions and the subjects of
the Empire in a time of crisis, which could call into question the benefits
of Roman rule. Updating old symbols may have deeper meanings and as a
form of ideological expression and artistic materialization of another event
that occurs during those years, namely end of a century and a half after the
conquest of Dacia.
However, it is clear that the symbol, once feared and ostracized,
became part of an ideology of coexistence. The same message is originating
30 See also Iudita Winkler, op. cit., p. 229–230.
Falx Dacica. Suggestion for Dacian Curved Types of Weapons
and epigraphic monuments erected by Dacian auxiliaries from Britain,
which combines one of the common ways of conveying victory – palm tree
– what once devoted warrior spirit of the Dacians.
Of course, in all cases, it is possible and is not just reiterate a
cliché. It does not decrease in value but the mechanism leading to the
emergence of that cliché, although this mechanism may not be today than
intuition. So let us, instead of ruin a legend, to conclude by saying that the
Dacian falx is the most appropriate name for the beautiful curve of the
Dacian weapon, which they themselves have created, the harmonious
proportions, elegant shape and valor with which it was handled in crucial
moments of their history has won as a symbol status, and whose secrets we
hope to disclose during all future researches.
Cătălin Borangic
Planşa I.
Falx Dacica. Suggestion for Dacian Curved Types of Weapons
Planşa II.
Cătălin Borangic
Planşa III.
Falx Dacica. Suggestion for Dacian Curved Types of Weapons
Planşa IV.
Cătălin Borangic
Planşa V.
Full-text available
While the images proper containing armours must be seen with some reserve as to the accuracy of expression or the type of message that they wanted to convey, the armours depicted in such contexts offer very important information about their use, form and importance, their historical context and, last but not least, about their owners. Although scarce, the presence of armours in art must be looked at from a special perspective called for when art is used as vector for the transmission of political and propagandistic messages. This dimension of art is often found on the monuments raised to honour emperor Trajan's victory against the Dacians. The document value of the weapons present in Roman art is arguable in some cases, although the ensembles and not the details are most likely to be inaccurate. Thus, precious information about the physical appearance, clothes and environment are accepted as being correct, within certain limits, and the validity of featured weapons supported. The fact that the warrior populations of Northern Balkans made use of armours can be further supported by the presence of such equipment in figurative art. These representations do not only show the type or morphology of the armour in use but they also chronologically frame the use of the defence equipments by the elite, the only category that could display its power, identity and ideology through art. However, there may be some doubts regarding the type of armour shown or the artist's vision, who may have chosen not to reveal military protection equipment, scale armours especially, and focus instead on elements of decorative clothing, a highly unlikely hypothesis, if we consider the status of the characters. Although we do not possess any proof that the Geto-Dacians used sculpture as a form of artistic expression, their weapons appear in such representations due to the Romans who enabled the artistic reflection of their arsenal now become an ethnic feature of the Geto-Dacian people. Trajan's Column is one such monument featuring Dacian warriors without armours, equipments which appear, however, in the scenes illustrating captured weapons adorning trophies. The base of the Column is decorated with weapons representing congeries armorum, probably ones of the best spoils of war - armours, helmets, shields, bows and ornamented quivers, axes and battering rams, swords, spears and curved sabres. If we review the representations of Northern Balkan armours, we can easily classify them into two groups: one belonging to Thracian-Getic art and the other one belonging to the Greek-Roman art. The differences are obvious in terms of the type of message conveyed and as source of historical information. Far from being an artistic or iconographic cliché, armour representation seems to be part of a well-structured system of ideas, widely accepted by the community. From this viewpoint, the decorative theme is the effect and not the cause of a whole iconographic program. Undoubtedly, the illustrated weaponry possesses a symbolic value as it reveals the status of the character, his nature, and it is often included with the mere purpose of animating the knight's actions. Within this framework, the morphological features are extremely volatile, only the type or weapon is to be considered. The fact that armours are represented certifies the use of such equipment in the area although it is rather difficult to find out the exact form or type. It is, however, clear that armours were the attribute of local elites in the period of maximum military effervescence in the 5th -3rd centuries BC even if we currently lack any archaeological hard evidence in this respect. The obvious connection between armour and the elite appears in a different light seen from the perspective of Greek-Roman art which reproduced reality with much more accuracy. The fact that they used art not only for esthetic purposes but also for civic education, as political instrument and for propaganda to glorify political and military events, provided the best chance to preserve correct visual information regarding the weapons of the Barbarians they fought. Archaeological discoveries confirm the detailed knowledge of the military realities, chainmail armours, both of Geto-Dacians and of other participants in the illustrated events, having perfect analogies with historical reality, proving that the realism shown was meant to keep the memory of those times alive. In this way, the general picture of armour use by Danubian warriors going from the Getian "golden princes" until the Dacian-Roman wars, when the use of any kind of armour in the Dacian space can no longer be tracked, is complete.
Full-text available
Among the specific embodiments of the military phenomena, weapons occupy a leading role, as they are the most obvious physical representations. The arrival of Roman power on the lower Danube during Ist century A.D. generated a series of skirmishes in the region, with both the Dacian kingdom, as well as with various tribal factions, more or less under the influence of the said kingdom, on both sides of the great river. In our view, a special interest zone for understanding said phenomena is the Danube Gorge, where, for over a century, the armies of Rome and those of the Dacian kings were in direct and permanent contact, separated only by the great European river. The usage of modern methods of investigation, to the extent that it can be done, combining them with field research and excavations in well-defined micro zones, can provide new insights into the analysis of issues such as the spatial distribution of sites in an area and thus, the issue of relations between these archaeological sites. In this picture, curved weapons discovered in the ruins of the Dacian fortress Divici, an important fort, throws an important light on the importance of this border point. It is likely that the garrison stationed here, obviously related to the power center from the Sureanu Mountains, was composed of elite soldiers, as the weapons, the type of fortification and the geographical position converge together towards this hypothesis. Located at the meeting point of two distinct worlds, the Dacian warriors on the Danube Gorge built solid fortifications, integrated into a coherent system, which aimed at controlling access to key crossing points across the river. Consolidating their power through trade, but also through plunder, these warriors found themselves at the forefront of the advance of Roman armies towards the Danube, managing to resist until the era of the large Dacian-Roman confrontations.
Full-text available
Si l’on veut observer le rôle joué par les armes courbes dans les pratiques religieuses des communautés daces, il est convenable de commencer par une brève enquête sur le modèle originaire de ces armes, et notamment sur leurs implications psycho-sociales. La toute première relation que l’on peut deviner entre ces armes et la spiritualité se perd dans la nuit des temps. Certes, si la démarche même ne soit pas ambigüe, on peut la chercher peu avant que les armes mêmes deviennent des armes. Simples instruments dont l’homme des temps préhistoriques s’est servi lors de ses activités quotidiennes, les armes conservaient une dualité durable, qui ne se modifia qu’après l’individualisation d’une fonction militaire. Parmi les armes dont s’équipait un guerrier quelconque au temps où les vertus les plus appréciées étaient les vertus guerrières, les composantes fondamentales de son arsenal (le couteau, le poignard, plus tard l'épée ou la rapière) étaient souvent les symboles d’un pouvoir royal et/ou sacerdotal. Ceci dit, elles étaient des marques d’autorité. Puis, elles étaient également des biens précieux, des trophées appréciés et recherchés ; et elles envahirent les espaces sacrés, dans les représentations figurées, mais aussi par leur présence physique même, car elles répondaient aux demandes des rites sacrificiels, ésotériques ou funéraires, et elles y remplaçaient l’instrumentaire domestique. Le mental collectif de la société guerrière des Daces était prône à l’héroïsme. On n’y oubliait jamais la fonction sacrée que l’on attribuait aux armes. Pour des raisons évidentes, ces témoignages religieux quotidiens sont cependant difficiles à saisir. D’autres manifestations, qui mettaient l’armement en des contextes funéraires, restent pourtant mieux représentées. Les armes n’abondent dans les sources historiques non plus, mais on y observe le degré dans lequel elles jouaient un rôle dans les manifestations du culte. Peu importe s’il s’agit de la vie religieuse à proprement parler ou des significations occultes, la présence des armes exprimait la forme la plus intense et la plus expressive du culte : le sacrifice sanglant, c'est-à-dire le sacrifice humain, consenti ou forcé, dans toute ses formes. Elle lui était imposée. Dans un tél scénario, les armes courbes (couteaux ou poignards) étaient liées au contexte sacrificiel par des raisons d’ordre pratique : elles percent ou elles tranchent. Quant à leur forme singulière, elle est restée imprimée dans la mémoire collective. La reconstitution hypothétique du parcours historique des armes courbes ne nous montre pas une vraie évolution, mais plutôt une succession de témoins : des modèles inspirées par la nature, connus des temps immémoriaux, on arrive à la faux, un symbole de la Mort. La faucille, source primaire d’inspiration des armes courbes, que l’on associe aux mythes primordiaux, mais aussi au changement et au renouvellement, devient graduellement un symbole de la Mort, sous une forme plus efficace, celle de la faux. Elle conserve la même signification aujourd’hui. Sur un plan symbolique on peut dire qu’elle provoque la mort des plantes, ce qui lui confère un statut privilégié dans l’instrumentaire sacrificiel, car elle se transforme ainsi en un instrument de sacrifice nécessaire et répétitif. Elle fut une arme primordiale. Sa première utilité a été l’offrande, d’abord agricole, puis – grâce à un transfert – sacrificatoire, dans les sacrifices sanglants. Telle une arme sacrée d’un Dieu, elle ne tue pas, malgré son utilité évidente. Elle fait renaître le sacrifié. Le dernier ressemble aux terres fauchées de leur blé, qui attendent les semences des nouvelles graines. La présence des armes courbes dans les rites funéraires témoigne également de son importance pour le mental collectif ; le pliage rituel indique un changement de statut du mort, qui change non seulement de résidence, mais de « milieu social » aussi. Quant il meurt, il quitte la famille et devient un membre de la communauté des morts, ce qui n’est possible qu’après l’accomplissement des rituels dont fait partie la déposition des armes, voire leur pliage. L’endommagement volontaire des armes peut signifier la fin de leur utilité. On déclare ainsi que le mort et ses armes ne sont plus utiles ; ils réintègrent une nouvelle dimension cosmique, gouvernée par d’autres règles. L’incinération du mort et de l’inventaire de sa tombe témoigne d’une autre coutume des Daces : c’est la purification par le feu qui accompagne leurs croyances et des leurs mentalités concernant « l’autre monde » et le pont entre les deux mondes. D’un point de vue idéologique, les élites guerrières des Thraco-Daces préféraient les armes courbes, qu’elles associaient invariablement à la Mort. Si l’on en croit au caractère impulsif de ces guerriers, que l’historiographie a généralisé, les Daces ont laissé une empreinte toujours violente et menaçante dans l’imaginaire ethnique du monde antique. L’évolution de la religion des Thraces septentrionaux dans la première moitié du Ier siècle av. J.-Chr. est liée à l’existence même de ces deux élites, l’une aristocrate et l’autre militaire. Les représentants de ces élites se servaient d’armes courbes : de poignards ou de grands sabres. Et les vertus guerrières des deux catégories d’armes se sont révélé tout à travers l’histoire des Daces, notamment lors des deux guerres daco-romaines. Quant on se souvient de l’immortalité sur laquelle se fondait la religion zalmoxienne, on se rend partiellement compte de l’importance que les armes courbes ont occupé dans la configuration d’un modèle ethnique qui a laissé une empreinte forte non seulement sur les Daces, mais également sur leurs héritiers.
Dacii pe cursul mijlociu al Mureşului (sfârşitul sec. II a.Ch. -începutul sec
  • Gabriela Gheorghiu
Gabriela Gheorghiu, Dacii pe cursul mijlociu al Mureşului (sfârşitul sec. II a.Ch. -începutul sec. II p.Ch.), Cluj-Napoca, 2005, p. 182 şi 460, fig. 186/4; Exhibition catalogue Dacia Avgvsti Provincia, Bucureşti, 2006, p. 125, nr. cat. 69.