Dacia was a mountainous region in eastern Europe, north of the Danube River, in the region of modern Romania known as Transylvania. Famous for its rich gold, silver, and iron mines, Dacia was a province* of the Roman Empire for almost 200 years.

The people of Dacia were farmers, miners, and traders. The many tribes of the area united under King Burebistas in the 50s B.C. In the A.D. 80s, under the leadership of a king named Decebalus, Dacia became a military power that threatened the northern borders of Roman territory. The Roman emperor Domitian attempted to bring Dacia under control. In three years of fighting, however, he was unable to conquer Dacia, and he settled for a peace treaty in A.D. 89. The emperor Trajan had greater success. In two military campaigns between A.D. 101 and 106, he conquered Dacia, destroying the capital city, Sarmizegetusa, and forcing Decebalus to kill himself. Trajan’s Column, a monument in Rome under which the emperor’s ashes were later buried, is decorated with carvings that celebrate the conquest.

Trajan made Dacia a province of the Roman Empire and colonized it with thousands of settlers from Italy and the other provinces. Many of these settlers were miners sent to work in Dacia’s mines. Several generations later, the Goths, a German tribe, began invading Dacia. Rome found the province too difficult to defend and abandoned it around A.D. 270. The influence of the Romans proved lasting, however. The Romanian language, derived from Latin, survived, even though the Romans held the area for only about 200 years.

* province overseas area controlled by Rome

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