STONE TESTIMONY OF THE ROMAN ROADS
“The Emperor Caesar, the son of the divine Nerva, Nerva Traianus Augustus Germanicus, a great pontiff, invested with the power of tribune for the fourth time, father of the homeland, consul for the third time, cut the mountain and made this road along the river”.
If we were to look for a second attribute to the Danube Gorge beside “beauty”, it would be “diversity”, from the geographic and geological one to the historical, ethnical, cultural and religious point of view. Perhaps this way we are going to stir your curiosity to see from the ship’s deck the only testimony out of the ten votive tabulae carved in the Danube Gorge of the Roman roads built along the river.
At the entrance to the Small Cauldrons of the Danube from Orşova, on the Serbian bank, at km 964.5 fluvial, Tabula Traiana is still preserved. Today it is raised more than 30 m above its original location, so as not to be flooded by the water of the river by building the Iron Gates Storage Lake (1964-1971).
Tabula Traiana was dedicated to Emperor Traian in 103 AD, when the works of the Roman road, on the right bank of the Danube, were completed. The construction of the road along the river began in the years 33-34 AD, under the reign of Emperor Tiberius, and was continued during the time of Vespasian, up to the locality of Milanovać. Then the road was restored by Domitianus’s command (75-80 AD) and finished in Traian’s time, eager to occupy Dacia as soon as possible. For the construction of the road, the rock was broken with fire and chisel, which is why the work lasted so many years. The Roman road dug near the shore was so narrow that the chariots could barely pass in one row. It had suspended portions above the water, with wooden floors laid on oak beams embedded in the rock wall. At the same time, the road built by the Romans was used for towing the crafts when passing through dangerous places. This technique, called “towage”, was used until the dam was built, only that, in time, the force of the people was replaced by the power of the oxen and then by the steam engines.
Most of the Roman road from the right bank of the Danube is today under the waters of the storage lake. Above it, a modern road with viaducts and tunnels has been built that offers an unforgettable panorama of the Danube Cauldrons from the Serbian side.
Only Tabula Traiana remained with the inscription carved in the rock on a smooth surface and bordered by a “frame” on which two dolphins are floating on the water and a Roman eagle is depicted in flight. Coincidentally or not, just like the Statue of Decebalus on the Romanian bank, Tabula Traiana also has a “golden ratio” between the length of 4 m and its width of 2.5 m, only that the the scale is 10 times larger for Decebalus’ face.
The free translation of the Latin text from the tabula dedicated to Emperor Traian and to the Roman roads on the Danube Gorge can be read beside the inserted pictures.