The archaeological site Sarmizegetusa Code LMI HD-I-s-A-03190 Hunedoara County, GRÃDIŞTEA DE MUNTE village; ORÃŞTIOARA DE SUS commune History, description
The majority of and the most important Dacian monuments are preserved in the Şureanului or Orăştiei Mountains, as they are known. The Dacian villages and fortifications, spread at the base of the majestic heights or on the hilltops, astonish us through their carefully-chosen emplacement, their variety and monumentality that match the beauty of the mountainous landscape. The residence of the Dacian kings was transferred to Sarmizegetusa after the death of Burebista, probably at the initiative of the high priest Deceneu. The choice for this location was made either for strategic reasons, as it is difficult to reach, as well as for the reason that the Dacian “sacred mountain”, Cogaionon, was also in this area. The imposing capital of the Dacians contained the fortification, the sacred area and a large civilian settlement. The city walls, built in the commonly-used technique “murus Dacicus”, surrounded a height, following the terrain’s configuration. After the conquest, the Romans modified the city by dismantling the southern wall and increasing the defended surface. Because the stones from the dismantled wall were not enough to build the new one, the Roman soldiers used stones from the Dacian structures previously destroyed, slabs and blocks from the paved road, sewer segments, limestone and andesite column sections. The sacred area is located on two terraces 100 m east of the city, to which it is connected by a road paved with limestone slabs, which ends in a small square. The road also had on both sides edges made of limestone blocks that supported the bases and wooden poles on which rested the shingled roof. In the space called the “sacred area”, located on two terraces, 11 rectangular and circular temples were built, 9 of which are rectangular, some built in limestone, others in andesite. They were raised at different moments, between the reign of Burebista and the beginning of the 2nd c. A.D. In the first phase rectangular temples were built, which had wooden columns set on limestone circular bases, and during the last king’s reign the circular bases and columns were made of andesite. Some of the monuments had several construction phases. On the 11th terrace we come across a building made up of three concentric rooms, called the great circular temple. Outside there is a circle made up of andesite blocks and set against it, on the inside, there is another circle of andesite poles grouped in formations of six narrow poles plus one wide. The intermediary room had the wall made up of wooden poles bound by adobe, interrupted by four stone thresholds. The central room, also made up of wooden poles, is U-shaped and had two entrances. The building had a conical roof. On the same terrace, near the great circular temple, there is a monument of considerable dimensions, made of limestone and andesite blocks, resembling a disc and which played the role of an altar. It was made up of a double base of limestone blocks, the first set at the joining between the central disc with the andesite endings, while the other is set at the extremity of the andesite rays. In the 10 rays, near their external edge, there are rectangular hollow spaces, some of which contained fragments of marble, T-shaped objects. In one of the rays, towards the great circular temple, there is an orifice through which the liquid on the disc was evacuated in a basin with a beak and, from it, in the sewer. Also on the altar’s external edge there is a long ray made of limestone blocks and oriented northwards. The altar, apart from the role it must have played in the cult, also had astronomic meanings. The civilian settlement, located east and west of the sacred area and the city, extended on tens of terraces and forms the largest Dacian compact settlement known to us. There existed groups of dwellings, workshops, warehouses, barns and drinking water installations. In one of the dwellings was discovered the famous ceramic recipient stamped “DECEBALUS PER SCORILO”. The richest dwellings were grouped and formed some sort of an aristocratic district of Sarmizegetusa. The status of political and cultural-religious capital of the Dacian kingdom surely favoured economic prosperity, as the city represents the most important production centre in Dacia. Sarmizegetusa was the most imposing settlement in Dacia during its last period of existence. The conquest of Sarmizegetusa and the suicide of King Decebalus confirmed the Roman victory after two long and hard wars that interrupted the development of the Dacian civilization. After their victory over the Dacians, the Romans stationed in the city a garrison made up of detachments of the Legio IVFlavia Felix.