D. Protase, N. Gudea and R. Ardevan, Din istoria militară a Daciei Romane. Castrul Roman de Interior de la Gherla. Aus der Militärgeschichte des Römischen Dakien. Das römische Binnenkastell von Gherla. Bibliotheca historica et archaeologica Banatica XLVI. Timişioara: Mirton, 2008. Pp. 503, incl. 33 figures and 99 plates. ISBN 978-973-52-0387-0. No price supplied.
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
At the beginning of the second century AD Trajan added Dacia (partly modern Rumania) to the Roman Empire. Ancient accounts of the conquest and provincialization of the area are lost; all that we have is the spectacular sculptural record on Trajan’s Column in his forum at Rome. However, deriving precise historical information from a work of art is notoriously difficult. Hence the archaeological investigations by Rumanian scholars are of especial value.
In this work Professors Protase, Gudea, and Ardevan, all veterans in the field, have produced a detailed account of the excavation of Gherla in Dacia Porolissensis. Gherla is not on the frontier itself, but some distance behind it. It was built of earth and timber under Trajan, transformed into stone either late under Hadrian or early under Antoninus Pius.
The account is usefully bilingual, Rumanian and German, which facilitates consultation by a wide audience. There is an introduction on the location and the present condition of the remains of the fort. This is followed by a history of its excavation from the beginning of the last century to the present. A detailed section covers the various building phases. There is a full catalogue of the inscriptions and coins discovered at the site together with metal, ceramic, and other finds. There is a brief discussion of the fate of the fort and the adjacent civilian settlement after 275. The work concludes with a description of the finds displayed in the Gherla and other museums. An index and a bibliography follow.
There is an interesting silver statuette of a captured German (certain German tribes supported the Dacians against the Romans). It would have been useful to have compared this with the Germans on Trajan’s Column and his Arch at Beneventum. Two military diplomas (bronze documents given Roman auxiliary soldiers as evidence of their Roman citizenship) are well preserved; one, of 123, was for a soldier in the Ala I Brittonum ‘translata in Dacia Porolissensi’ (Roman Military Diplomas = RMD 1.21), another for one from the Coh. I Brittanica in 133 (RMD 1.35). Both had been recruited in Pannonia (now Serbia). However, the regiment which built the fort was the Ala II Pannoniorum: several altars dedicated by some of its members survive at the site. Interestingly, a soldier from this regiment, Ti. Claudius Maximus, is portrayed on Trajan’s Column as capturing the Dacian king, Decebalus, during the Dacian Wars. And his tombstone, portraying the same event, survives at Philippi in northern Greece (L'Année Épigraphique [1969/70] 583).
This work is a detailed and useful addition to the military history of the Roman province of Dacia. Its authors are to be congratulated on it.