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A new Roman camp was documented – mainly for its topographical features – far away from any known camp from Şureanu Mountains. It has a typical size of the encampments from around Sarmizegetusa Regia, 5 hectares, as no one reaches a full-size legionary camp. Having tituli and being made of two parts separated by a palisade, it finds also analogies in the region (as Comărnicel 1). What is really outstanding at the encampment from Cracul Găurilor is the steep slope on which it is standing with more than half of its surface. Its location raises the problem of new routes driving to the Dacian capital. One of them could have its departure point at the lower end of the Jiu Gorges, at the Vârtop fort. Another – less plausible but still possible – would start on the Middle Olt River, at Buridava.
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Eugen S. Teodor, Aurora Peţan, Alexandru Hegyi
A new Roman camp was documented – mainly for its topographical features – far away from any known
camp from Şureanu Mountains. It has a typical size of the encampments from around Sarmizegetusa
Regia, 5 hectares, as no one reaches a full-size legionary camp. Having tituli and being made of two parts
separated by a palisade, it finds also analogies in the region (as Comărnicel 1). What is really outstanding
at the encampment from Cracul Găurilor is the steep slope on which it is standing with more than half of
its surface.
Its location raises the problem of new routes driving to the Dacian capital. One of them could have its
departure point at the lower end of the Jiu Gorges, at thertop fort. Another less plausible but still
possible – would start on the Middle Olt River, at Buridava.
Rezumat: Un „nou” castru roman de marş în Munţii Parâng
Un castru roman de marş, aflat departe de oricare obiectiv similar din zona Munţilor Şureanu, a fost
documentat, în special pentru caracteristicile sale topografice. Dimensiunile sale sunt tipice pentru
taberele romane din jurul Samizegetuzei Regia, respectiv 5 hectare, fiindcă nici un astfel de obiectiv nu
putea adăposti o legiune completă. Având porţi cu tituli şi fiind compus din două părţi separate de o
palisadă, el îşi găseşte analogii relative în regiune, cum ar fi castrul Comărnicel 1. Ceea ce este neobişnuit
şi frapant pentru castrul de la Cracul Găurilor este panta aspră pe care este construită mai mult de
jumătate din suprafaţa sa.
Poziţia sa geografică ridică problema unor noi rute romane având ca ţintă capitala dacică. Una dintre ele
ar avea ca punct de plecare castrul de la Vârtop, la ieşirea din Defileul Jiului; cealaltă, mai puţin
plauzibilă, dar nu imposibilă, ar avea ca staţie de pornire castrul de la Buridava, de la Oltul de mijloc.
Key words: Roman temporary encampment; vexillation camp; Dacian wars; Parâng Mountains; high
Cuvinte cheie: castru roman de marş; castru de vexilaţie; războaiele dacice; Munţii Parâng; pante abrupte
The so called ‘Dacian Mountains’, guarding the capital Sarmizegetusa Regia, have still many hidden
landscapes, although under the scrutiny of the historians (and treasure hunters) from more than 200 years.
This was recently proved by British archaeologists, benefiting a LiDAR cover of the area from 2011,
made at BBC request.1 This recent contribution showed the existence of some Roman temporary camps
nearby the Dacian regal seat, at Dealul Şesului and Cornu Pietrii (Figure 1).2 The great picture is still in
progress, as some of them are not properly published (Bătrâna and Târsa, for instance),3 not known by the
1 Olteanu, Hanson 2017.
2 Olteanu, Hanson 2017, 435-438.
3 The encampment from Bătrâna is also known from several years, being visible on Google Earth. For Târsa there
public (Ocoliş), or require certain re-evaluations (Muncel, Prisaca, Poiana Omului, Ponorici).4
Some of the Roman camps from the mountains are still known only from a small circle of connoisseurs,
being previously mentioned in the grey’ literature. This is the case for Cracul Găurilor from Parâng
Mountains, mentioned first (?) seven years ago.5 Its remote position made us delay several years our
intention of documenting it better. In 2018 we have succeeded finally to make two separate expeditions in
Northern Parâng (August and November), at the altitude of 1900 m, where the camp lays. In the
November mission it was used a DJI Phantom 4 PRO drone, collecting 119 snapshots, processed with
Agisoft Professional from Photoscan. Came up 9.389.038 referenced points interpolated to acquire a
terrain model having a resolution of 23.5 cm/pixels and produce an orthophoto with a resolution of 11.7
Figure 1. Șureanu
Mountains and the main
military objectives in the
time of the Trajan’s
wars. SRTM-30 (2018),
UTM projection.
Legend: red squares –
Roman camps; double red
circles – Dacian stone
strongholds; green
diamonds – other Dacian
hillforts; empty black
squares – other possible
earthworks; magenta
broken lines – ridge roads
across mountains.
are several archaeological renditions, older (Daicoviciu, Ferenczi 1951, 48-49) and newer (Teodor, Pețan, Berzovan
2013, esp. 20-28). For Târsa we are going to publish new data, more accurate, taking advantage of the new
4 For Muncel we already published a recent point of view (Teodor, Pețan, Hegyi 2018). For Prisaca see mainly
Daicoviciu, Ferenczi 1951, 46, which is a short but fair description of the facts; Ferenczi 1983, 381, for a
‘consecration’ of it as a ‘Roman camp’ (due to its… shape); against all odds, it is still considered a Roman camp
(Stefan 2005, 608). For Poiana Omului see again Teodor, Pețan, Berzovan 2013 a, esp. 4-11. For Ponorici there is a
considerable literature but almost no research (see Teodor, Pețan, Berzovan 2013 an for an account of the problem
and its literature).
5 Oltean 2012, 512-519. The author named the place ‘Coasta lui Rus Mică’ from the name of the peak located
immediately west of the camp, name taken from an unknown map (România Digitală – Garmin?). The connection
made between the fort from Bumbești-Gară and the encampment from the Parâng is wrong, due to the differences in
chronology, but the proposed route over the Moldivișu Peak is alright.
6 As the mission ended around 4 p.m., the processed image is half in the full light, but half in the shadow, as
mountain peaks over 2300 m are located closely southwest. It is good for study, but not that good for publication.
The camp is about 5 hectares and, except its northern third, it is standing on a strong slope (Figure 2);
therefore, its rampart is visible only in its upper part.7 For a change, the ditch is somehow better
preserved, being visible almost all around, and we will give the measured dimensions along it: maximum
length is 306 m; the width near the southern corners is 298 m, but near the northern corners only 275 m,
having thus rather a trapeze shape. Everywhere the distance between the rampart and the ditch can be
measured it is about 2.5 m; therefore, from the dimensions given above one will extract 5 m for each. The
northern side, which is also the shortest, is not straight, but with a protruded shape where the gate was
done, about 17 m forward.
Figure 2. Plan of the encampment at Cracul Găurilor. Terrain-model at 0.23 m
resolution, rendered as slope shadow. Contour lines added for each 5 m interval.
Legend: red lines – visible contour of the ditches; broken lines – lines not visible on the terrain model.
7 See also Figure 6. As we have mentioned several times before, the conservation status of the ramparts and ditches
is directly connected with the slope value (see, for instance, Teodor 2018, 334-335).
There are visible three gates, all having a titulus. The main entrance is on the northern side, facing enemy,
having a (small) ditch dug 12.4 m forward. The rampart of titulus is not visible and the ditch itself is
barely visible on the terrain model (a DEM with a resolution of 23 cm), but it is clear on many snapshots
(both from the air and from the ground), due to the late afternoon light (Figure 3). The reason why the
northern side is angular we can only guess, and that would be the Romans were expecting uninvited
guests. The fear of a northern attack is clear looking at the other two visible gates: just around the corner
on both eastern and western sides; this way a large part of the expeditionary troop could intervene
promptly against the attackers from the north.
Figure 3.
The northern end o
the camp. Snapshot taken
rom northeast, showin
ication s
The western titulusnear the north-western corner – is 11 m long, preserving a short rampart, about 30
cm in height, 3.5 m wide, the ditch having similar dimensions (11 m long, 0.25 m deep, 3.3 m wide). The
opposite gate, near the north-eastern corner, seems greater or – more likely – it is better preserved. Titulus
is 15.8 m long, but the profile is very week (just a few cm for both the ditch and the rampart, see Figure
4). The gate is apparently closed also by a ditch crossing all the gate width, but this is more likely what
waters have dug, not the Romans.
No other entrance is visible, but of course they should be more. As stated before, the camp is divided in
two similar halves, and the southern enclosure has no obvious gate. An opening on the northern side is
unlikely, due to the harsh slope; similarly, a gate towards east would go pretty much nowhere, because a
deep valley is following (heading the Lotru River springs). On the western side the ditch is continuous
and no titulus (or clavicula) can be guessed. The southern side of the camp is not preserved; it can be yet
drawn due to the south-western rounded corner.8 An opening here seems compulsive, as it is flanking the
stream of water, the only source in the area.
8 The orthophoto shows supplementary parts of the southern ditch, mainly in its western and central parts.
Figure 4. Topographical sections
through the fortification system,
showing the conservation status, in
order the eastern and western gates and
the north-western corner. UTM
Figure 5. Longitudinal topographical
section through the camp Cracul
Găurilor, from north to south. UTM
The main issue connected with the camp at Cracul Găurilor is the strong slope on which it was laid.
Looking at a section crossing longitudinal the enclosure, one will find the next (see Figures 5 and 6):
32 m at the northern end the terrain has a small northern tilt (about 2o);
the next 74 m southward the slope is changing towards south, with moderate values (average 6o);
the next 57 m make the southern third of the northern enclosure, for which the slope turns steep
(16o as average);
the northern section of the southern enclosure, 35 m long, is the steepest, having a slope of 28o,
on which is difficult to stand;
the middle and southern parts of the southern enclosure (108 m in length) are pretty much the
same, having an average tilt of almost 19o.
Figure 6. Slopes on the encampment and around.
Even more interesting, standing on a strong slope was a deliberate option. The next 300 m north of the
camp the average tilt (northward) has 9o, which is far better than inside the camp. The situation recalls the
rule spelled by antique historians to avoid a position from which the camp can be surveyed by the
enemy.9 True enough, 700 m west of the camp there is a mountain peak raising 50 m above the
encampment, but that one is steep and far from the normal lines of communication; more, it is likely that
the Roman scouts took that position in care. The only place allowing a survey of the camp from far,
Mount Ciobanul (the Shepard), 1944 m in height, is located 2 km northward. The photo from the Figure 7
is taken exactly from that place (with a strong zoom, of course), proving that there were visible only the
first 30 m or so from the length of the camp, or, better, only the palisade. We cannot know if the Dacians
were around, so far away from their permanent bases, but we can suppose that the Roman commander
was worried about. The unusual shape of the front side probably supposed to break the line of attack –
and the odd location of the side gates are suggesting the same.
9 Campbell 2017, 71, citing Hyginus (‘a hill over which the enemy could arrive or view what is going on in the
camp should not dominate the camp’).
Figure 7. Photo taken from the Mount Ciobanu against the front side of the camp Cracul Găurilor.
Although Roman encampments with ‘annexes’ are known, including in this area (as the camp no. 1 from
Comărnicel),10 the analogy should be taken carefully. Camp no. 1 from Comărnicel has another
orientation, but due to the known location of the gates we can say that the ‘annex’ was attached also in the
rear side. The main encampment is 236 x 205 m,11 having attached a segment on the length, 78 m long.
The two parts, the main camp and the ‘annex’ are far from even, the main encampment being three times
longer, but some of the story told for Cracul Găurilor is similar. Comărnicel 1 is made around a top
mountain, therefore its real size cannot be seen no matter the location of the viewer. The front half of the
camp is tilt towards southwest, on a mild slope (3.2o in average). The rear half is completely different,
having much steeper slopes, with an average tilt of 8o, but the annex is worst, as the northern half has a
slope of 16.5o (Figure 8).12 Due to the similitudes of the rear annexes from Comărnicel and Cracul
Găurilor, we would say that they did not serve for containing tents, but burden animals for logistics. Even
more interesting, the orientation is suggesting that the troops housed there were coming from rful lui
Pătru, possibly on the same route from Cracul Găurilor. For a change, the militaries from the camp
Comărnicel 2, located less than 500 m southwest, were coming from Jiguru Mare.13
The name of the camp, Cracul Gărilor (or, on short, Crac-Găuri), is taken from the military map from
1980s, the place name being written on the exact spot.14 From an administrative point of view, it is
located very close to the border between the counties Hunedoara (westward) and Vâlcea (eastward),
standing in Vâlcea County, within the territory of Voineasa commune.
10 Stefan 2005, 299-307, with plenty of aerial images, plans and connected literature.
11 Measurements on the military orthophotos (2012).
12 The plan measurements for Comărnicel were performed using the military orthophotos (edition 2012); the slope is
calculated on Alos Palsar terrain model (resolution 12.5 m).
13 The name could be found in literature in this form or with small orthographic variations (like Jigur or Jigoru
Mare), all encountered also in drivers maps. The localisation proposed at Jiguru Mic (or Jigurel) by Olteanu and
Hanson (2017, 433-345) is wrong because Jigurel (diminutive, meaning the Small Jigoru) is another mountain,
located over two km away from the main peak, Jiguru Mare, where the Roman camp stands (anybody can check it
on Google Earth). The portal of the official national agency for maps and topography uses the form ´Jiguru Mare´
14 It is also present on the official map of Romania of our days, referring to the strong slope from the eastern side of
the fort, see
Figure 8. Longitudinal topographical section
through the camp Comărnicel 1, from
southwest (front) to northeast (back). UTM
coordinates, Alos Palsar terrain model (12.5
m resolution).
When we learned about the camp from Parâng Mountains we were a bit surprised. It is so far from the
Dacian capital and supposes such a long and hard journey... On the other hand, the piece of information
was compatible with the general observation that Romans have invaded Șureanu Mountains not on two or
three columns, as usually historians say,15 but on much many (at least seven). The strategical idea, simple
as it is – to put a moderate pressure on very many different points from the mountainous landscape
proved deadly, making Dacians to split their limited military strength in too many parts. The many
bottlenecks of the communication lines were crossed shifting the places were pressure was on. This issue
will not be discussed here in detail.
The existence of the camp at Cracul Găurilor explains and old know fact, but never understood before:
outside the Jiu gorges we know two early Roman permanent bases: Pleșa (234 x 156 m)16 west of the Jiu
River and Vârtop (126 x 114 m),17 east of the river (Figure 9). As the gorges were not usable,18 being
ready for traffic only in the 19th century, both forts should have had a function connected with the wars.
Pleșa is standing just at the southern end of the Pass Vâlcan (sometimes written ‘Vulcan’), the main route
heading the Jiu Depression for millennia. As for the fort at Vârtop, it apparently had no function; now it
has, being the departure point for the journey over Parâng Mountains.
In order to have an evaluation of the difficulties faced by the Roman army approaching the Dacian
Mountains (today Şureanu) we have made Table 1. Before commenting the numbers, let us see first what
the table contains. On the first two columns there are noted routes through the mountains, containing
known camps or relevant landmarks and the ridge routes (noted crest’), the last needed for an
intermediary calculation on multiple routes.
Under the label ‘ascending’ one can see four columns, displaying the next:
total amount of meters to ascend, along the route;19
length of the ascending route (km), on the 3D path;
average declivity of the ascending route (percent);
estimated hours needed to walk the route.
15 E.g. Petolescu 2010, 137. See also Glodariu 2000 for a brief presentation of the Roman army operations in the
area of Şureanu Mountains, named there ‘Orăştie Mountains’, as the whole Cluj-Napoca school does.
16 Rendered as ´Porceni´ by Al. Stefan (2005, 317-321).
17 Vlădescu 1983, 73-74; Gudea 1997, cat. 93-94.
18 Stefan 2005, 573.
19 This is not the altimetric difference between the departure point and the finish, but all ascending parts of the track,
calculated by the GIS software, within the report Paths Details under Path Profile (in Global Mapper). The length
and declivity are given the same.
Table 1. Routes in Parâng Mountains and eastern Șureanu Mountains
from to
ascending descending total
m L
% hours m L
% hours hours days
Vârtop Cracul
Găurilor 2928 23.30 12.57 10.02 1341 12.26 10.94 4.46 14.92 2
Vârful lui
Pătru 1639 13.72 11.95 21.63 1549 13.59 11.40 5.04 27.47 3
Lonea Vârful lui
Pătru 1715 11.64 14.73 12.87 423 4.68 9.04 1.58 14.88 2
Vf. lui
nicel 576 5.18 11.11 7.64 671 6.60 10.17 2.33 10.26 1
Bănița Jiguru
Mare 931 6.37 14.61 7.98 168 1.96 8.59 0.65 8.89 1
nicel 967 7.92 12.22 6.02 638 6.16 10.36 2.19 8.46 1
(crest) 206 2.31 8.92 1.36 248 3.06 8.11 1.00 2.43 1/4
(crest) 129 1.63 7.91 0.67 212 2.04 10.38 0.73 1.43 1/6
22 0.65 3.40 0.29 37 0.74 5.02 0.22 0.52 1/9
Muncel 196 2.71 7.25 1.44 287 3.68 7.81 1.18 2.70 1/3
nicel Muncel 553 7.29 7.58 3.35 784 9.51 8.24 3.11 6.65 1
Șesului 22 0.41 5.43 0.23 445 3.29 13.52 1.34 1.62 1/5
Vf. lui
Șesului 955 10.18 9.38 3.70 1613 15.73 10.25 5.56 9.54 1
The last mentioned issue in the list above is far from simple. The normal speed for a man is considered to
be 5 km on a flat terrain. The same man will do less if loaded, for instance with at least 30 kg of
equipment (all types, from weapons to kitchenware), as seems the case for Roman militaries.20 Those
which made the service in army know exactly what that means; the standard marching test in the
Romanian army in 1980s was 20 km ‘quick movement’ carrying about 20 kg of equipment, and it was
horrifying (true enough, due mainly to the imposed speed, over 5 km per hour). Making the same in
mountains it is obviously still worst. People accustomed with mountain know that the distances are never
expressed in km (which is futile information) but in hours (for average trained travellers). The estimation
is performed with the help of two columns not shown here (for layout reasons): the first is calculating the
needed time on a flat landscape, dividing the length to 4 km (the conventional speed for a loaded man),
the second is calculating the slow-down effect of the mountainous terrain, depending on declivity. The
implemented formula (1-(x/0.3)), where x is the declivity, says, in essence, that the speed is mostly null
for a declivity of 30o, which is not fully true, but very close. The rest is a calculation of proportions: at
declivities up to 15o, the speed would be then about half, but around 80% on some tracks on the ridge of
20 Some estimates go as high as 45 kg load for a man (Roth 1999, 75), which is difficult to take – in our experience –
no matter the pretended experiments performed in modern times.
the mountain. Easy to observe, the worst routes are those accessing the lower parts of the mountains (both
Parâng and Şureanu).
Figure 9.
Parâng Mountains
and the main military
objectives in the time
of the Trajan’s wars.
SRTM-30 (2018),
UTM projection.
Legend as at the
Figure 1.
Under the label ‘descending’ one will find the same columns as the previous, except the calculation of
slow-down effect, for which the formula is changed in 1-(x/0.35). In fact, the calculation for ‘descending’
could be the same as for ‘ascending’, as at least some of the militaries had to make the route in both
directions (for instance the logistic caravans).
Under ‘total’ the calculated hours needed to ascend and descent along the route are summed, adding a
3%. This addition is due to a certain fact: a 30 m resolution terrain model is obliterating many details of
the terrain; a test made on the very surface of the camp at Cracul Găurilor proved that one and the same
line is 1.6% shorter on SRTM (resolution at 30 m)21 than on our terrain-model, at the resolution of 0.23
m. In fact, no matter how fine is a terrain-model, there are obvious limits in peaking up the ‘ideal’ path
for a caravan; therefore we have added to the needed time not 1.6%, but 3%.
The ‘hours’ under ‘total’ were finally turned to days of march, considering that 8 to 9 hours of march
would be top army could do, on a daily basis. One would not forget that a Roman military has not only to
walk a long distance each day, but also to pack the camp (the tent, personal goods, arms, etc.), to unpack
them and sometimes at least to dig the ditches of a new encampment, and all those in a single day,
before dark.
On brief, our calculations and final figures (necessary days of march) should be taken as a minimum,
because it is difficult to believe that infantry and logistic caravans could make it better. The final results
were a bit surprising for ourselves, here and there. For instance, in our expectations the route between
Cracul Găurilor and Vârful lui Pătru would be a two days journey, but in fact there are surely at least
three. The ‘detail’ is critical, because the areas where the missing camps could be found are different from
case to case. For a change, the distance between Vârtop and Cracul Găurilor is two days, the night stop
being expected probably around the peak Molidvișu (1757.5 m).22
21 We are using also Alos Palsar terrain model, much better (resolution 12.5 m), but unfortunately it does not cover
the whole area in work. For the sake of homogeneity we have used the file which is stretching out all over the area
where travel calculation was needed.
22 Although having good orthophotos for the area, we have not been able so far to find it, but not the whole route is
clear of woods.
Speaking of lengths of the vary routes heading Sarmizegetusa Regia, we have to note that the way over
Parâng Mountains is not definitely longer than the alternative crossing the Vâlcan Pass. Only for reaching
from Oltenia in the Jiu Depression the way is painfully long (27 km), climbing from 300 m altitude to
1678 m (Vâlcan Pass), descending then to 570 m, which is a two days journey. The road to Lonea camp23
(estimated to another 15 km) would take another day, in an area much closer to the enemy’s armed forces.
Another two days are necessary to reach Pătru Peak, facing the worst declivity from our table (14.73o as
an average on climbing). To be precise, departing from the mouth of Jiu Gorges, at Vârtop, and going to
Vârful lui Pătru trough Parâng Mountains will take also five days. This is clearly illustrating the attempt
made by the Romans to find multiple ways of reaching Şureanu crest, which is above the Dacian capital.
The strategy behind is simple: if one way is locked by the resistance opposed by the enemy, another one
will be unlocked by another military column.
Of course, as long as the middle distance encampment between Vârtop and the one on the crest, at Cracul
Găurilor, is not positively know, the route is not secure as a historical certitude. One shouldn’t rule out the
possibility that the troops encamped at Cracul Găurilor came from east, following the crests of Căpăţânii
Mountains, then Parâng. That would mean a far longer journey to reach Şureanu Mountains, but it is not
impossible, the traveling conditions along Căpăţânii Mountains being the same as along Şureanu
Mountains, far better than expected, mainly on the ridge. At the south-western feet of Căpăţânii Mts.
there is an old Dacian fortress, Polovragi, probably in ruins when Trajan has pushed his troops over the
Danube.24 Yet we do not know any Roman fortifications at the middle way between Jiu Valley and Olt
Valley, in order to take advantage of the former Dacian way connecting Polovragi by Sarmizegetusa.
Another about 50 km east of Polovragi one can find another Dacian fortress, Buridava, near the Olt River.
In its proximity, on the river bank, there was a Roman fort, within nowadays village Stolniceni. Older
researches in the area recovered stamps left by vexillations of legionaries from I Italica, V Macedonica
and XI Claudia, all mobilised from Moesia inferior. For about the same place the so-called Hunt Papyrus
mentions parts of cohors I Hispanorum veterana quingenaria as being at Buridavae in vexillatione.25
Such a concentration of elite troops is not abnormal south of Carpathians Mountains, being encountered
especially in middle northern Muntenia, in forts driving from Danube to the Tatar Pass (as Târgşor and
Drajna de Sus),26 heading south-eastern Transylvania,27 a secondary but still important front in the
Dacian Wars. Well, then: what was doing such an important task force at Buridava? The Olt gorges was
very likely not an option within the war, although some historians still consider it.28 As no other mountain
23 Ferenczi 1983, 185, about some consistent Roman remains (pottery, bricks and tiles, some stamped by legio XIII
Gemina) found in the neighborhood Lonea from the eastern part of the town Petrila, at the foot of the Mount Capra,
supposed rather to bespoke about an early camp than a civilian settlement. Alexandru Stefan (2005, 577) name it
Campa (correct Cimpa), which is in the close vicinity of Lonea, but here and there some could find also other
names, as, for instance, ´Gropile lui Pyrrhus´.
24 Glodariu 1983, 80-82, considered by many as ruined before the Trajan’s wars, but the author has cast doubt. In
our view, the simple fact that no Roman camp is known there and nowhere around, makes us go with the majority.
25 Petolescu 2010, 162-163.
26 Zahariade, Lichiardopol, 2006, esp. 122. Stamps of those three mentioned legions are spread all over the northern
Muntenia, mainly in the pre-mountainous areas, but all of them are present only at Drajna de Sus, which is the last
fort before the mountain paths. This might be relevant for the importance of the discoveries from Stolniceni-
27 A completely different explication gave Ţentea and Matei Popescu (2016, 61-63), preferring to connect all
military structures from northern Muntenia by the reach salt deposits from the area, not by the routes connecting the
two sides of the mountains. That was anyway before Dan and Magdalena Ştefan published (2018) their research on
the top of the mountains (Siriu) driving to Tatar Pass (sometimes namedBuzău Pass), including two Roman
temporary encampments.
28 Petolescu 2010, 139, citing also Constantin and Hadrian Daicoviciu (commenting Cassius Dio LXVIII 9, 4, about
Laberius Maximus, the governor of Moesia inferior, which captured Decebalus’ sister and a stronghold, either
Costeşti or Tilişca, both on the northern frame of the mountains). The fort Arutela, located at the lower entrance in
the gorges, was built in 138, as well as Copăceni, further north. The forts from the inner road, bypassing Cozia
Mountain on east, as Rădăcineşti and Titeşti, are small and give no hint about the presence of the vexillations
coming from Moesia inferior, being most likely built in Hadrian’s time. As for the fort closing Olt gorges at the
northern end, Caput Stenarum (Boiţa), it is still later, made in the time of Marcus Aurelius (Vlădescu 1983, 92-115).
The idea that the Olt gorge was used for military operations within the Dacian wars was repeatedly rejected by
archaeologists, as Zahariade, Dvorski 1997, 60 or Glodariu 2004, 539. A similar point of view was recently made
pass exists about 70 km around Buridava, one has to examine another option: taking the mountain paths
towards Sarmizegetusa.29 Only a full cover of LiDAR data for the Romania’s territory will prove this true
or wrong.
The Roman encampment from Cracul Găurilor is relatively typical for the Roman camps made around
Sarmizegetusa Regia, both as size and layout. What is not exactly the norm is the strong slope on which it
was made, being apparently the result of a crisis situation, possibly an imminent clash with the enemy. Its
location is a strong suggestion that Romans moved towards the Dacian capital on more than
‘traditionally’ three columns admitted so far by historians.
Eugen S. Teodor ( is archaeologist at the History National Museum from
Aurora Peţan ( is leading Dacica Fundation, Alun, Boşorod, Hunedoara County
Alexandru Hegyi ( is GIS specialist and geophysicist at the West University
in Timişoara
Campbell 2017 Campbell, D., The Roman Army Camp, in Strassler, R.B., Raaflaub, K.A. (eds.),
The Landmark Julius Caesar. Web Essays, Pantheon Books: New York, Toronto,
Ferenczi, 1951
Daicoviciu, C., Ferenczi, A., Aşezările dacice din Munţii Orăştiei, Ed. Academiei:
Ferenczi 1983 Ferenczi, Ș., Observații tipologice și comparative la castrele de marș romane situate
în zona cetăților dacice din Munții Șurianului, Sargetia, 16-17 (1982-1983), 179-
Glodariu 1974 Glodariu, I., Itinerarii posibile ale cavaleriei maure în războaiele dacice, in In
memoriam Constantini Daicoviciu, Ed. Dacia: Cluj, 151-164.
Glodariu 1983 Glodariu, I., Arhitectura dacilor, civilă şi militară (sec. II î.e.n.-I e.n.), Ed. Dacia:
Glodariu 2000 La zone de Sarmizegetusa Regia et les guerres de Trajan, Studia Antiqua et
Archaeologica, 7, 363-376.
Glodariu 2004 Glodariu, I., Roads across the Carpathians during the Dacian antiquity, Orbis
Antiquus. Studia in Honorem Ioannis Pisonis, Nereamia Napocae Press: Cluj-
Napoca, 538-541.
by Ţentea, Matei-Popescu 2016, 57-58, saying that the Romans did not go further north of Buridava, within the
Dacian wars, although in the same book (idem, 12-13) one will find a map of the forts existing in the time of the
conqueror, including those located north of Castra Traiana. There is still one voice claiming the contrary, as an
(unsustainable) hypothesis, see Schuster 2013 (a good archaeologist, yet with another specialisation).
29 The idea is yet not new at all (Stefan 2005, 574, note 124, with literature).
Gudea 1997 Gudea, N., Der dakische Limes. Materialien zu seiner Geschichte, Jahrbuch des
Römisch Germanischen Zentralmuseums Mainz, 44, 2, 497-609.
Oltean 2012 Oltean, D., Regii dacilor și războaiele cu romanii, (no publisher): Deva.
Olteanu, Hanson
Olteanu, I.A., Hanson, S.H., Conquest strategy and political discourse new
evidence for the conquest of Dacia from LiDAR analysis at Sarmizegetusa Regia,
in Journal of Roman Archaeology, 30, 2017, 430-446.
Petolescu 2010 Petolescu, C.C., Dacia. Un mileniu de istorie, Ed. Academiei Române: București.
Roth 1999 Roth, J.P., The Logistics of the Roman Army at War, Brill: Leiden, Boston, Köln.
Schuster 2013 Schuster, C., Castelul de la Caput Stenarum şi Cohors I Flavia Commagenorum,
Terra Sebus, 5, 237-253.
Stefan 2005 Stefan, A.S., Les guerres daciques de Domitien et de Trajan: architecture militaire,
topographie, images et histoire, Collection de l'École française de Rome - 353,
École française de Rome: Roma.
Ştefan, Ştefan,
Ştefan, D., Ştefan, M., Remote-sensing for Mountain Archaeology in the Curvature
Mountains. The fortifications around Crai’s Peak, Istros, 24, in press.
Teodor 2018 Teodor, E.S., Watching and Warning along the Limes Transalutanus. The Search
for Watchtowers along its Southern Sector, in Sommer, C.S., Matešić, S. (eds.),
Limes XXIII. Proceedings of the 23rd International Congress of Roman Frontier
Studies, Ingolstadt 2015, Nünnerich-Asmus Verlag: Mainz, 331-340.
Teodor, Peţan,
Berzovan, 2013 a
Teodor, E.S., Peţan, A., Berzovan, A., Cercetări perieghetice pe Platforma Luncani.
I. Târsa şi Poiana Omului,
Teodor, Peţan,
Berzovan, 2013 b
Teodor, E.S., Peţan, A., Berzovan, A., Cercetări perieghetice pe Platforma Luncani.
II. Ponorici și Chiciura,
Teodor, Pețan,
Hegyi 2018
Teodor, E.S., Pețan, A., Hegyi, A., Comments on the Morphology of the Hillfort
from Muncel, ArheoVest VI, In Memoriam Marian Gumă, Timişoara, 24 nov. 2018,
JATPress Kiadó: Szeged, 683-706.
Ţentea, Matei-
Popescu 2016
Ţentea, O., Matei-Popescu, F., Between Dacia and Moesia Inferior. The Roman
forts in Muntenia under Trajan, (no publisher): București.
Vlădescu 1983 Vlădescu, C.M., Armata romană în Dacia Inferior, Ed. Militară: București.
Zahariade, Dvorski
Zahariade, M., Dvorski, T., 1997, The Lower Moesian Army in Northern Wallachia
(AD 101-117). An Epigraphical and Historical Study on the Brick and Tile Stamps
Found in the Drajna de Sus Roman Fort, The Sylvi Pub. House: Bucharest.
Lichiardopol 2006
Zahariade, M., Lichiardopol, D., Componenţa şi structura armatei romane în nordul
Munteniei, între anii 101-118, in Teodor, E.S., Ţentea, O. (ed.), DACIA AVGVSTI
PROVINCIA, crearea provinciei, Cetatea de Scaun: Târgovişte, 121-133.
Lista ilustrațiilor:
Figura 1. Principalele obiective militare din Munții Șureanu, în vremea războaielor de la începutul sec. II
p.Chr. Model teren SRTM-30 (2018), proiecție UTM. Legenda: pătrate roșii – castre de marș; cercuri
duble – cetăți dacice; carouri verzi – alte fortificații dacice; pătrate transparente – alte posibile lucrări de
fortificare; linii magenta (roz intens) – drumuri de plai.
Figura 2. Planul castrului de marș de la Cracul Găurilor. Model-teren cu rezoluția de 0,23 m (dronă),
reprezentat după valoarea pantelor (nuanțele mai închise pentru pante accentuate). Linii de contur la 5 m.
Legenda: linii roșii continue – contur vizibil al șanțului de apărare; linii roșii întrerupte – linii care nu sunt
vizibile pe modelul-teren (dar sunt parțial vizibile pe ortofotoplan).
Figura 3. Capătul nordic al castrului de la Cracul Găurilor. Fotografie luată din afara incintei, de la colțul
de NE, pe direcția porții de nord, arătând sistemul de fortificație.
Figura 4. Secțiuni topografice prin sistemul de fortificare, arătând starea de conservare, în ordine pentru
porțile de est și vest, apoi colțul de NV. Coordonate UTM.
Figura 5. Secțiune topografică longitudinală prin castrul de la Cracul Găurilor, de la nord spre sud.
Coordonate UTM.
Figura 6. Reprezentare a pantelor în interiorul și exteriorul castrului de la Cracul Găurilor. Vezi legenda
(în grade).
Figura 7. Fotografie luată de pe Muntele Ciobanu (aflat la 2 km spre sud) spre partea frontală a castrului
de la Cracul Găurilor.
Figura 8. Profil topografic longitudinal prin castrul de la Comărnicel 1, de la SV (partea frontală) spre NV
(partea dorsală), model Alos Palsar (rezoluție 12,5 m).
Figura 9. Munții Parând și principalele obiective militare în epoca lui Traian. Model teren SRTM-30
(2018). Proiecție UTM. Legenda ca la Figura 1.
Tabelul 1. Rute de creastă prin Masivul Parând și partea orientală a Munților Șureanu.
Full-text available
This study aims to investigate potential archaeological proxies at a large Bronze Age fortification in Hungary, namely the Csanádpalota-Juhász T. tanya site, using open-access satellite data. Available Sentinel-2 images acquired between April 2017 and September 2022 were used. More than 700 images (727) were initially processed and filtered, accounting at the end of more than 400 (412) available calibrated Level 2A Sentinel images over the case study area. Sentinel-2 images were processed through image analysis. Based on pan-sharpened data, the visibility of crop marks was improved and enhanced by implementing orthogonal equations. Several crop marks, some still unknown, were revealed in this study. In addition, multi-temporal phenological observations were recorded on three archaeological proxies (crop marks) within the case study area, while an additional area was selected for calibration purposes (agricultural field). Phenological observations were performed for at least four complete phenological cycles throughout the study period. Statistical comparisons between the selected archaeological proxies were applied using a range of vegetation indices. The overall results indicated that phenological observations could be used as archaeological proxies for detecting the formation of crop marks.
Full-text available
Rezumat. Ne referim la fortificaţia cunoscută în literatură sub numele Muncel, aflată pe mun-tele de la nord de capitala regatului dacic, la o mică distanţă dar 500 de m mai sus, reprezentând cheia defensivei (sau ofensivei) din războaiele daco-romane de la începutul sec. II dHr. Există practic un consens în a atribui lucrările de acolo romanilor, deşi sondajele arheologice minuscule , de până acum, indică inventar de tip dacic. Ultima luare de poziţie în materie 1 reprezintă un moment important, câtă vreme este semnată de autori cu un renume solid în cercetarea aeriană şi arheologia militară romană; mai mult, studiul respectiv beneficiază de modelul teren de tip LiDAR, care reprezintă premiza unei expertize topografice de fineţe. Din nefericire, nu a fost cazul. Am profitat de pre-existenţa unui model-teren realizat în 2016 (din dronă) pentru a verifica analiza cercetătorilor britanici şi am ajuns la concluzii diametral opuse. Între motivele unei asemenea încheieri enumerăm aici absenţa unui şanţ exterior (susţinută de autorii menţi-onaţi, dar şi de Al. Stefan, cu peste un deceniu în urmă), existenţa unui larg şanţ interior (carac-teristică tipic dacică), grosimea neobişnuită a valului (pentru castrele de marş), existenţa unor "anexe" fără analogie funcţională în lumea romană (în special dubla palisadă de la vest), absen-ţa porţilor (care ar trebui să fie vizibile în plan, în ipoteza menţionată), prezenţa gropilor mari de pe conturul interior (care nu sunt moderne), dar şi recentele descoperirile "întâmplătoare" (cu detectorul de metale) din urmă cu un deceniu. Analiza unui model-teren nu poate substitui cercetarea arheologică prin săpătură, dar o poate orienta, ceea ce şi cititorul român poate aprecia fie şi doar din ilustraţia ataşată. Cuvinte cheie: topografie, model teren, amenajări defensive, fortificaţii dacice, castre de marş.
Full-text available
The construction and short-term operation of the fortifications at Târgşor, Mălăieşti, Drajna de Sus and Pietroasele must be understood within the same context with those at Rucăr and that supposed at Voineşti. Unlike the traditional historiography, we believe that the construction of the fortifications in said locations should rather be related to the exploitation of highly important resources for the Roman army. It is this way that one should understand also the deployment of certain units in the fort at Pietroasele, respectively Buridava. Thus, the displacement of the army to these locations corresponds firstly to logistic reasons. Noticeably, over the course of several historical periods, salt was one of the most important deposits in Transylvania and the hill area south the Carpathian Mountains. This resource from the territory of the Dacians was most definitely one of the important parts of the trade with the Roman Empire. The hoard finds in the Teleajen valley area and nearby are very significant to this effect, even though they belong to a rather broad chronological interval. This corridor enters in an area with many salt resources, being one of the communication routes with south-east Transylvania, at its turn rich in salt. The rich salt resources on the territory of Dacia were very precious due both to the impressive quantity of the deposits and the fact that solid salt lacked from an expanse territory (Pannonia, the Balkan Peninsula or the north of the Black Sea). Salt must have been one of the components of the trade relations between the Dacians and the Sarmatians, as it was highly necessary to a nomad population, whose economy was mainly centered on cattle breeding. Another reason for the deployment of the Roman troops in this area might have been the attempt to impede the allied tribes – the Sarmatians – to carry out a normal economic life, namely to limit the free movement specific to nomad populations. Cassius Dio says that such manoeuvre did not aim to seize their land, but to punish them! Over the last three decades, were researched and published many data indicative of a special dynamics of the Roman armies, noticeable from the spatial distribution of the Roman fortifications north the Danube in the Vindobona and Kelamantia segment, datable starting with the second half of the 2nd century AD. We believe that Trajan’s policy concerning some of the nomad populations, namely the Sarmatians, was to ban migration in economically vital areas for them. This, as seen, had serious consequences on the relations with the Iazyges and then with the Roxolani. During the pacification process of the entire north-Danube area, Hadrian withdraws some legions, rethinks the defensive system in affected provinces and brings, in a series of key points, auxiliary units of which excel those very mobile, due to their cavalry units. In addition, the emperor chooses specialised irregular units. Adaptability to the circumstances in Dacia, detailed thinking of strategic and, why not, economic solutions are noteworthy. Maintenance of the new units was cheaper, as they were more adaptable, likely less pretentious to the conditions existent in the newly established province. In Muntenia’s case, one may speak of the withdrawal/displacement of units from certain strategic areas (either economically and/or militarily), which had had the role of preventing the Sarmatian tribes to access certain vital resources for their pastoral lifestyle. In this case, these are areas beneficial for winter spending and salt mining. Therefore, this was neither an occupation of Muntenia and south Moldova nor a later withdrawal from a vast territory. The so-called occupation, respectively abandonment of a vast territory (the Plain of Muntenia and south Moldova) must be regarded rather as a displacement of units from a few key positions (military occupation), subsequent to constraints to which some of the nomad populations were subjected to, and not as significant loss of a territory not intended for colonisation. This space, generally described by modern names (East Oltenia, Muntenia, south Moldova), was not incorporated in the province of Moesia Inferior, the governor of this province bearing authority only over army controlled areas. This is how the lack of data on the colonisation of the newly-conquered area may be explained. In fact, even though legally, these territories were defined as intra provinciam (the Hunt papyrus), one should not forget that provincia was the competence field of a magistrate and not the proper territorial expression. Thus, territories were part of the competence field of the governor of Moesia Inferior, however since specific civil structures did not emerge, one may not speak of a territorially established province. In fact, this is not the single case when the authority of the governor of Moesia Inferior exceeds the proper limits of the province, the Roman control of the northern region of the Black Sea being indicative to this effect. All these hypotheses open the discussion on the collocations defining the conquest of Muntenia and south Moldova and the integration of these territories in the province of Moesia Inferior, respectively the withdrawal of the Roman army from this vast territory. They were given historical value by association with Hadrian’s decision to “abandon these territories”, the “similar” situations in Assyria and Mesopotamia, within a strategic vision likely based on Augustus’s policy, that of affixing empire borders along natural barriers. The conquest, respectively withdrawal of the army from the territory of Muntenia and south Moldavia became paradigms in the historical context where the military operations of the Romans north the Danube under Trajan aimed at encircling the Dacian kingdom (seen as centralized structure, well organized administratively and militarily). Furthermore, we mention that in the case of Muntenia there is no evidence of Roman colonisation or of any intent recording this might have happened. The extended Dacian campaigns and deployment within the territory of the Roman units seem to indicate that the authority of the governor of Moesia Inferior was exercised only over areas where effective presence of the Roman army may be substantiated. Compared to the general situation, whereby the provincia might have inferred only the area where the consular legate exercised its imperium, we may argue that the territory controlled by the Romans in Muntenia was rather restricted.
By the end of the 1st c. A.D., Dacia had been an intermittent thorn in Rome's side for almost two centuries. The ambitions of Burebista and the actions of his various successors continued to threaten Roman hegemony along the lower Danube, culminating in the rise of the powerful kingdom of Decebalus and a substantial Roman defeat in Moesia. Domitian sent troops against the Dacians to restore the dignity of Rome (85-86 and 88-88/89), but with mixed success, finally having to settle for buying peace at a substantial price in order to free himself to deal with threats to security in both Germany and Pannonia. No doubt both the costs involved and the perceived lack of success further contributed to the hostility of Roman authors towards Domitian and left unfinished business on the Danube frontier. It is no great surprise, therefore, that Dacia was the first area to which Trajan — to whom the attitude of contemporary sources (e.g., Pliny's Panegyricus ) could not have been in greater contrast — turned his attention within three years of his accession.
The Roman vestiges from Boiţa have stirred a special interest ever since the 19th century. The archaeological excavations started here in 1957, the last ones having been carried out in 1981. The stone fortification identified at the site. în Rude has been included in the castellum type due to its small size (46 × 47 m). Most probably, it was built after 167-169 AD by a detachment of the Legio XIII Gemina. The investigations of 1973 resulted in the identification of possible traces of an earthen cestrum, built prior to the stone fortification, maybe even during the wars for the conquest of Dacia under Emperor Trajan. On the same occasion, a tile fragment bearing the stamp COH I was recovered. In an article published in 1974, its finder, Nicolae Lupu, assigned the fragment to the Cohorts I Tyriorum sagittariorum. Yet, he did not rule out the possibility for the unit stationed there to have been Cohors I Flavia Commagenorum. It was upon these two hypotheses that he focused his attention in a more extensive study published in 2002. Regarding the construction date of the earthen castle and the unit stationed here in its first years, a series of scholars have expressed their opinions along the years (D. Tudor, I. I. Russu, C. C. Petolescu, C. Vlǎdescu, M. Zahariade, N. Gudea etc.). Our article is an attempt to bring forth arguments for the presence of the Cohors I Flavia Commagenorum in Boiţa, a place known in antiquity, according to Tabula Peutingeriana, by the name of Caput Stenarum, even from the end of the first Dacian War. The earthen phase of the castellum, contemporary with the earthen phases of other several fortifications in South-East Transylvania, points to the fact that this territory, like Oltenia, Muntenia and Southern Moldova, were under effective Roman control as part of Moesia Inferior province after 102 and until 117/118. After Trajan's First Dacian War, Cohors I Flavia Commagenorum, similarly to other auxiliary units (Cohors I Hispanorum veterana quingenaria equitata and Cohors II Flavia Bessorum), played a special role through the detachments stationed in the castri from Buridava, Castra Traiana, Caput Stenarum, Drajna de Sus, Bârseşti, Rucǎr, Piroboridava or Angustia. In the absence of certain detachments, the mission of these auxiliary troops and maybe also Ala I Asturum, was to keep the regions of the Upper Olt river in South-Eastern Transylvania under control to prevent any potential raids of the Dacians upon Oltenia and Muntenia, or even Southern Moldova.
Aşezările dacice din Munţii Orăştiei
  • C Daicoviciu
  • A Ferenczi
Daicoviciu, C., Ferenczi, A., Aşezările dacice din Munţii Orăştiei, Ed. Academiei: Bucureşti. Ferenczi 1983
Observații tipologice și comparative la castrele de marș romane situate în zona cetăților dacice din Munții Șurianului, Sargetia
  • Ș Ferenczi
Ferenczi, Ș., Observații tipologice și comparative la castrele de marș romane situate în zona cetăților dacice din Munții Șurianului, Sargetia, 16-17 (1982-1983), 179-198. Glodariu 1974
Itinerarii posibile ale cavaleriei maure în războaiele dacice
  • I Glodariu
Glodariu, I., Itinerarii posibile ale cavaleriei maure în războaiele dacice, in In memoriam Constantini Daicoviciu, Ed. Dacia: Cluj, 151-164.
Arhitectura dacilor, civilă şi militară (sec. II î.e.n.-I e.n.), Ed. Dacia: Cluj-Napoca
  • I Glodariu
Glodariu, I., Arhitectura dacilor, civilă şi militară (sec. II î.e.n.-I e.n.), Ed. Dacia: Cluj-Napoca. Glodariu 2000 La zone de Sarmizegetusa Regia et les guerres de Trajan, Studia Antiqua et Archaeologica, 7, 363-376.
Roads across the Carpathians during the Dacian antiquity
  • I Glodariu
Glodariu, I., Roads across the Carpathians during the Dacian antiquity, Orbis Antiquus. Studia in Honorem Ioannis Pisonis, Nereamia Napocae Press: Cluj-Napoca, 538-541.