TIBISCUM - SARMIZEGETUSA
“Every road begins with the first step,” says a Chinese proverb and it represents also an urge for the Asian tourists who travel to the “old” Europe every year. In Mountainous Banat you can look for the footsteps of the Romans in the archaeological sites, in the vestiges of villa rusticae, the waves and the ruins of the Roman camps that you will encounter on the three major Roman roads from Banat:
Road I Lederata – Tibiscum:
Lederata (at the mouth of Caras into the Danube) – Arcidava (Vărădia)
Centum Putea (Surduc) -Bersobis (Berzow) -Aizizis (Ezers-Frliug)
Caput Bubalis (Păltiniş-Banat) – Tibiscum (Jupa-Caransebeş)
Road II Dierna – Tibiscum:
Dierna (Orşova) – Ad Mediam (Herculane’s Bath) – Praetorium (Mehadia)
Ad Pannonios (Domaşnea) -Gaganis (Teregova) –
Masclianis (Slatina Timis -Bucosnita) – Tibiscum (Jupa-Caransebeș)
Road III Tibiscum – Sarmizegetusa:
Tibiscum (Jupa-Caransebeș) – Traianu (Iaz)
Agmonia (Zavoi) – Pons Augusti (Marga)
Tapae (Bucova) – Sarmizegetusa Ulpia Traiana Augusta
“All roads lead to Rome” is a thought with much truth in it, representative for the Roman flourishing period. Wherever they had defeated, the Romans sought to connect the conquered provinces with Rome through military and commercial roads, bringing culture and Latin civilization from the heart of the empire, succeeding in turning the wild regions into thriving lands, full of Roman camps and fortresses about which Banat offers the tourists the most beautiful evidence.
At the same time, “the Romans also settled down on the lands they had conquered”; the old settlers happily changed they old houses with the newly conquered countries, because they were trying to make their livelihood easier, bringing a more cozy life there”. [Simu T., 1924].
After the two wars with the Dacians (101-102 and 105-106 AD), Emperor Trajan puts put a lot of settlers in Dacia from Illiria and Pannonia who, merging especially with the Dacian women, turned the province endowed with all kinds of riches from nature in “Dacia Felix” – a very fruitful province in which “heaven was on earth“. This is how it happened also in Banat, where you can still see lasting vestiges.
Almost the whole area of Mountainous Banat was pressed like in a pair of pliers by the belt of Roman military roads built during the two wars between the Dacians and the Romans. Two roads were opened from the Danube: a road from Lederata (Ram-Baziaş) to the west, and another from Dierna (Orsova) to the east. The crossroad of the road was Tibiscum (Caransebeș-Jupa), from where it continued on the third road, leading to the Bistro Valley till the new capital of the province – Sarmizegetusa Ulpia Traiana Augusta.
Tourist route no. 4: The Romans’ Road (III)
III. Tibiscum – Sarmisegetuza:
Tibiscum (Jupa-Caransebeş) – Traianu (Iaz) –
Agmonia (Zăvoi) – Pons Augusti (Marga) –
Tapae (Bucova) – Sarmisegetuza Ulpia Traiana Augusta (Sarmisegetuza)
The departure by personal car or coach is made from the centre of Caransebeș. It goes on the European road E70 towards Timisoara and after 6 km it reaches Jupa-Caransebeș where is the Archaeological Reserve Tibiscum.
Tibiscum (Jupa – Caransebeș)
Coming from Caransebeș on the European road E70, in Jupa, one kilometre from the road, lies the Archaeological Site Tibiscum. The 17-hectare stone reservation features a museum and ancient Roman monuments, being points of attractions for both tourists and specialists.
Founded by the Romans around AD 106, as an important military fortification, Tibiscum becomes shortly an important commercial, political and religious civilian settlement too, and during the time of Septimius Severus or Caracalla, was raised to the rank of municipium. The city stretched along the banks of the river Timiş, formerly called Tibis, from the Thraco -Dacian language.
Arriving inside the fortress of the Legion XIII Gemina, you can see the Big Fortress and the Little Fortress. Particularly interesting is the part of the ancient city where a 100 m paved road with tiled data has been preserved. On both sides of the road 10 buildings are preserved, among which you should look for the temple dedicated to Jupiter (building III). You should also visit the Museum of the Reservation, inaugurated in 1980, which has a 350 m2hall where the main archaeological discoveries are exhibited. Here you can admire: the altar dedicated to the Apollo god, Roman columns and pots, and 800 other objects of ceramics, glass, iron, brass and marble. Look for the two roman necropolises arranged on both sides of the road leading to the Roman settlement Tibiscum-Iaz. The trip will continue on the Caransebeş ring road to Oţelu Roşu, on the Bistra Valley, up, till Sarmizegetusa.
Taberna Traianu (Iaz)
From the Roman fortress Tibiscum-Jupa, the road returns to the east to the Roman settlement Tibiscum-Iaz, the two vestiges being separated by the river Timiş.
The ruins of the Roman city can be seen in the place called “Traianu” (enduring or durable, from the Serbian language!) at the border of Iaz, where some Roman dwellings have recently been discovered. Here you will find the ruins of the Roman Taberna store located on the main shopping street “Decumanus Maximus“, which crossed the municipium from the west to the east. From this artery almost 400 meters have been preserved till nowadays, with the traces of the buildings on both sides of it. You will find that the Roman store at Tibiscum-Iaz has an identical structure to that of Pompeii, with the dimensions of 8 m lenght and 2 m width, and the foundation was made both of stone and marble, indicating that the owner had a prosperous business.
It is enlightening for the Christian life at Tibiscum the discovery in the area of the altar dedicated to Empress Cornelia Salonina, who received the title Augusta from 260 AD. The existence of this altar raised by the highest forum of the city “ordo municipii Tibiscensium” for the health of a queen was quite surprising, but it represents the gratitude of the Christian community at Tibiscum. It is known that the Empress Salonina Augusta embraced the Christian faith and she also persuaded Emperor Gallienus to be tolerant with Christians.
Starting from Tibiscum – Iaz to Sarmizegetusa, the Roman road leads to Roman fortress Agmonia, from Zăvoi, situated at 14 Roman miles (1 mile = 1.48 km), i.e. almost 20 km from Tibiscum – Caransebeș.
Here lies the “Trajan’s Fortress“, one of the most important archaeological discoveries in Romania, at the beginning of this millennium. In the spring of 2009, while digging a hole in the cemetery in Zăvoi, the vestiges of a 1910-old Romanian palace were found. The archaeological site is unique in Romania by its construction, keeping entirely the tradition of Roman architecture.
As the Banat historian Adrian Ardeţ, the director of the Museum of Ethnography and Border Regiment from Caransebeş says: “the walls were made of shaped quarry stone, the rooms had a floor heating system, with the help of some ceramic tubes (the Hipocaustum process) , and the bathrooms were isolated with a special mixture of brick and mortar using the “Opus Signium” technique that did not allow water infiltration into the walls. They found traces of a 100 m² hall, a bathroom, a swimming pool, an entrance to the building, a part of the inner courtyard where the water drains are, paved with brick and covered by stone slabs. Among the building materials there is no marble, as the marble quarry in Bucova will have only been exploited after the conquest of the Dacian state by the Romans. The fortress was built in the autumn of 101 AD and was used by Emperor Trajan during the winter of 101-102, before the decisive struggle with Decebal and the conquest by the Romans of the Dacian Kingdom. “[Caraş-Severin’s Journal”, 2009].
The fortress of Agmonia was erected by architects and craftsmen brought from Italy.
According to the historic sources regarding the first Dacian-Roman war (101-102 AD), on March 25, 101, Trajan leaves Rome and at the forefront of the 14 Roman legions with 150,000 soldiers, he crosses the Danube crosses on a bridge of ships in two places: at Lederata, near the mouth of Caraş in the Danube, and at Dierna, at the mouth of Cerna into the Danube. The first column, led by Trajan accompanied by Hadrian, his future successor, crossed the Danube to Lederata. From Lederata they followed the road to Caraş Valley till Arcidava (Vărădia), through Centum Putea (Surduc) and Bersobis (Berzovia), then through Aizizis (Ezeriş-Fârliug), Caput Bubali (Păltiniş-Banat) to Tibiscum (Caransebeş) .
At Tibiscum, Trajan’s army made a junction with a second column of Roman soldiers who crossed the Danube also on a bridge of ships towards Dierna (Orsova) under the leadership of Laberius Maximus.
Trajan arrived on the Bistra Valley with the thought of conquering the Sarmizegetusa fortress. However, due to the difficult road and attacks of the Dacian tribes, the Roman offensive stopped during the winter in the palace near Agmonia Fortress.
“Emperor Trajan prefers to stop the advance and let the troops rest,” wrote Hadrian Daicoviciu in his work “Dacians“. Thus, Trajan and his army spent the winter of 101-102 in Dacia, pursuing the continuation of the offensive in the next spring. Until the discovery from the year 2009, it was not known exactly where this place was. By preserving and restoring vestiges, Trajan’s Palace in Zăvoi will become a tourist attraction that will certainly attract a large number of tourists and specialists, as well as curious people passionate about the Dacian-Roman history
Pons Augusti (Marga)
From Zăvoi, the Roman road leads to the Pons Augusti fortress and bridge (Emperor’s Bridge) from the flow of Nemes River into Bistra, near the touristic village Marga, the distance considered by the Romans being of 8 miles (12 km). Here was a customs point for all those who were passing through the Intra-Carpathian Dacia to the provinces from the south of the Danube. The custom officers could collect taxes for the goods and for the passengers. Between the years 100-120 AD the Roman strategists built the Margum fortress, from where the name of the locality derives. In the immediate vicinity of the Pons Augusti camp, at Voislova, a civilian settlement dating from the Roman period is kept, where a votive altar dedicated to the Marte God was discovered and another votive altar dedicated to the Nemesis Goddess for the health of the manufacturers in Roman Dacia. Also in Marga you can see traces of mines and gold flotation from Roman times.
The Roman road reaches the “Iron Gates of Transylvania”, after passing through the villages of Bauţari and Bucova. This is where the Tapae settlement is located, where two resounding battles took place between the Roman armies and those led by Decebalus, one against Emperor Domitian in 87 AD and one against Emperor Trajan in AD 102.
The battles between the Dacians, led by Decebal and the conquering Romans, led by Trajan took place at the Iron Gates of Transylvania, an old crossing path between Banat and Transylvania, at 700 m altitude.
In the first Dacian-Roman war (101-102), from Tibiscum, the Roman army advanced to the heart of Dacia, crossing the Bistrita Valley, and the battle was given in Tapae, where the Dacians were defeated and, after the concluded peace treaty, Decebal was forced, among other things, to give the Romans the territory of Banat.
According to historian Dio Cassius, “at Tapae there was a terrible battle between the Dacians and the Romans. The Romans had countless dead and wounded soldiers, and because they did not have anything left to bind the wounds, Trajan himself did not spare his garment and cut it off turning it into bandages, and he ordered that an altar should be raised for the memories of the soldiers killed in the battle. ”
Look for the traces of this altar in order to locate permanently the place of the Battle of Tapae.
Until discovering the Tapae altar, identify the Dacians’ defense ditches and waves at the site called “In the Ditches” and locate the ancient marble quarry of Bucova in Prigor Hill.
Sarmizegetusa Ulpia Traiana Augusta (Sarmizegetusa)
At 20 roman miles (30 km) from the Iron Gates of Transylvania and from the ancient settlement of Tapae, in Haţeg depression, is the Roman Dacia’s capital “Sarmizegetusa Ulpia Traiana Augusta“.
The Roman capital was built during 108-110 AD and gets the name of Sarmizegetusa, after the capital of the Decebal’s Dacian Kingdom, Sarmizegetusa Regia, only 40 km away.
Tourists who travel on the Romans’ road from Banat, Tibiscum – Sarmizegetusa, and cross the threshold of the County Archaeological Site from Hunedoara, will need to test their imagination and reconstruct in their mind all the buildings that today are only traces of walls: the Roman Forum, where the most important decisions have been made, regarding both military and administrative strategies, the Augustus Fortress, the Temple of Nemesis, where the women offered sacrifices to the goddess, the paved, tiled roman baths with hot water, the amphitheatre with the lodges where the audience stood to see the struggle between the bull and the gladiators and also the great temple that was buzzing of people coming in and out.