The adoptian and he the death of Nerva took Traian by surprise in the Germanic provinces, remaining at the frontiers from the Rhine, from Panonia as far as the Danube till the end of the year 99 (…). This long staying prepared his important expeditions.
Before returning to Rome, in the winter of 98-99 BC, Traian went on an expedition tour along the Danubian frontier.
In his «?Panegiricum?» published during and after the first Dacian war, Plinius underlines thaat in this way Traian would intimidate Decebal and messed with all his plans of ofense. In fact, what Traian was up to was especially to verify and to consolidate the ability o fight of the legions dstationed in the Danubian area.
Four of these lay in Pannonia (Adiutrix, XII Gemina, XIV Gemina, XVApollinaris), three – in rhe Superior Moesia (IV Flavia, II Adiutrix, VII Claudia) and another two – in the Inferior Moesia ((I Italica si V Macedonica). Traian inspected the camps of those legions, their auxiliary forces and the fortifications from the frontier. He also made some important works like: building or only finishing the building of a highway along the Southern bank of the Danube, at the Cazane, which prelongued some older road settings.
As stated in the well-known inscription “Tabula Traiana”, this highway was accomplished by cutting a few rock pieces and the fllor was being sustained by a few pieces of wood fixed in the rocky bank. New fortifications have been made in various places. All these actions were part of a preparation plan of the vas anti-Dacian campaign. Not even the peace declarations – mentioned by Plinius – could fool anyone.
THE FIRST DACIAN WAR
– Traian’s intention was to erase the assumed shame that resulted from the treaty signed between Domitianus and the Dacians?;
-. Plinius was referring to the Dacians’s DISPRET towards the Roman Empire, which was a reaction to the text of the treaty, fact that was proven by the voyages in Roman territories.
– Also Critonus mentions that Decebal had humiliated the Romans by signing the peace in 89 BC., considering this to be the fundamental cause of of Traian’s war and of the conquering of the Dacian kingdom. Decebal used the clauses of the treaty to enhance his fighting capacity. Thus he attracted in the ranks of the Dacian army a great number of refugees recruited from the most skillful military men.
The Dacians fortified their cities and built very efficient fighting machines. The Dacian army, prepared by Roman military men, was learning the Roman fighting tactics.
The immediate causes of conquering Dacia were?: a) political and military and b) economical.
a) The political and military causes?:
– The Dacian state had become too powerful for the Romans to be able to ensure the full security of the Danubian frontier.
Traian’s intention was to make in the Eastern Europe a powerful latinity, a replica to that created in the West by Caesar and Augustus; Dacia was to become an advanced land of this Latinity, right imn the middle of the fearful enemies of the Romans.
-. The defense of the migrating tribes. Still he did not want to leave the entire Eastern empire in the helenistic linguistic and cultural sphere and hoped to create a latin sunrise beside the Greek one.
– The Romans wished o conquer all the civilized states that lay at their frontiers, called “the lived world” which the Dacians were also a part of. By this they intended to conquer the Part kingdom, which was the main civilized state.
– Traian didn’t consider possible a big action against the Parts, before having ensured his back, that is, before having eliminated the danger that was posed by Decebal’s Dacian state.
b) Economical causes
– The Dacian’s gold, the resources of the Dacian ground and underground, of its mines and its lands have largely deermined Dacia’s conquering, which thus could materially sustain the other campaigns.
– The possibility of colonising new territories promited a partial solution to social disparity and to meeting some dissatisfactions.
-. The line of the Danube was easier to protect than any other frontier inside Dacia. The experiences of the Bizantin and the Otoman Empires as well as those of the Roman empire are a proof for that.
Decebal created a very agile system of alliances which lead to the formation of a big antiroman coalition which the Dacia, the Germanic and the Sarmatic tribes were part of?: especially he Germanics and the Roxolans. It is estimated that he concentrated against Traianus an army mad up of 160.000 fighters (which at that time meant a lot), out of which 140.000 were Dacian and 20.000 were allies. Decebal also tried to establish an alliance with the Parts, even if he did not know of Traian’s intention to attack them after having conquered Dacia.
Besides building the great military road and strengthening the military camps and the fortifications, Traian dug a canal long of 3 km on the right bank of the Danube, in the Iron Gates area which was difficult to navigate which was meant to ensure the passing of the Roman fleets on the Danube (fact attested by the discovering of a second “Tabula Traiana”). He also strengthened his army by bringing some legions from other territories which did not have military problems. The auxiliary forces were strengthened with irregulary “ethnic” units, recruited from the unromanized populations such as: the Maurs, the Atures, the Sirians, , the Palmirians, the Marcomans, the Germanics. The Roman forces used during the first war had an amount of 120.000 military men.
The first campaign started on March 25 101. Having reached the Danube, Traianus crossed the river on a bridge of ships at Lederata (present-day Rama). The second Roma column crossed the river at Dierna (present-day’s Orsova) in order to be united afterwards with the main forces of the expedition.
While the Dacians retire quite deeply in the interior, the Romans are advancing systematically in Banat. Traian gives up the idea of a rapid advancing to Sarmizegetusa because an emissary informs him that the burs and other allies of the Dacians (the Dacians from the North that were not a part of Decebal’s state) require the peace signing with Decebal. The Roman troops made roads, built bridges and built castra that ensured the ferm occupation of the country and the liaison with the provinces that were South of Danube. The forces lead by Traian advanced northward, passing by Arcidava (present-day Varadia), Centrum Putea then turning eastward passing by Brezovia (Barzova) towards A(zi)zis (Pogonis), their main objective being Tibiscum. Here is made the junction with the forces that left Dierna. From here they go on the Bistra Valey, in a very narrow and woody DEFILEU, called The Iron Gate of Transilvania. Along this long CULOAR at Tapae takes place the first important confruntation between the two troops and victorious were the Romans.
The Dacians retired because the weather was not on their side as well as the Romans and send peace emissaries but they are rejected.
The Romans ener the Hateg DEPRESIUNE and they begin conquering the Dacian cities from the mountaions where there the srong citadelles of Gradistea, Costesi, Blidaru and Piatra Rosie. Traian’s forces reach the facade of a city on whose walls there were – stuck on pillars – the skulls of the Roiman prisoners, those that had been captured during Domitianus’s campaign. Due to the winter time, Traian waas forced to slow down even more the advancing, some of the most effective Roma troops remaining over winter in the Hateg County.
Decebal takes advantage of the time given by the winter trying to set up a diversion meant to force the Romans retire completely out of Dacia. In this respect he obtained the substantial support of his allies. This diversion was se up in the winter of 101-102, in the Inferior Moesia. The action area was large enough because in comprended Dobrogea and the North part of present-day Bulgaria. The forces sent by Decebal were united with the burs who descended fron the Eastern Carpathian Mountains snd with the roxolans of Susagus who were very well armed. The attackers crossed the Danube with great difficultybecause the ice broke under their weight and caused them to lose people. The attacked the fortified areas of the enemies which were very poorly defended by the Roman auxiliarieswhom they stel from having a few victories. This leades o the embarking of Traian along with a great part of his units in Dacia, who immediately after landing engage in various battles with the?«?barbarians?». There 3 great battles with great losses on both sides. The most important is that of Adamclisi, where Traian personnally took part in the battle tearing his own clothes to help the wounded and where the Romans were victorious. In this way the Moesian diversion was eliminated.
In order to consolidate the Danube line the emperor left Liberius Maximus as the leader of a legion in the Inferior Moesia.
In the meantiome, Decebal attacked the troops from Tara Hategului, weekening thus even more the Roman troops.
The third campaign took place in the spring of 102 when the Romans attacked from four directions. One column lead by the emperor attacked through Transilvania in the Mures Valey the Dacian cities from the Orastie Mountains. The advanced along Apa Orasului (Gradistii) and conquered one by one the Dacian cities from the mountains. The city of Costesti, the former capital of the Dacians is also under heavy attack.
Another column had entered by the V?lcan passing along the Jiu river and had defeated the Dacians in the Petrosani area.
A third column had entered by the Turnu Rosu passing, causing the Dacians great losses and taking many prisoners. This column is united with the forces of Traian, continuing to conquer the cities in the mountains.
In order to lower the Dacians’ moral and to eliminate their resources, the Romans burnt the local villages.
The fourth column had attacked from East or North-East, occupying a Dacian city where was the sister of Decebal. This column too is united with the other Roman forces lead by Traian.
This troop meet the Dacian army near Sarmizegetusa. At first the Romans were disoriented and became victorious with great dificulty with the help of some Dacian traitor aristocrats.
This battle that had exhausted both camps and the coming of winter determined Traian to grant Decebal the requested peace but on very hard terms for the Dacians.
The second war of Traian against Decebal begins in the summer of 105 when Traian arrives at Drobeta Turnu-Severin. As a parenthesis, we remind you that in the meantime there was an attempted murder against Traian which failed. Would the suucces of the attempted murder have changed our presen-day destiny?? … Would we have looked different?? … Would we have spoken another language?? … Here are some still unanswered questions. Let’s come back to the Roman troops who wanting not fame but the Dacians’ gold were advancing in three columns?:
– The first column advanced by Valea Cernei (by the placwes where the Tracian legends told that the PHOENIX bird came here from North of the Nile to die?; she kept in her CIOC a very old pelasgic sign and in her claws she held «?the egg?», from whoose ashes – somewhere ijn the Mountains of Cerna – the PHOENIX bird was reborn). So the first Roman column advanced through the Cerna Valey, the Hateg County, reaching the cities of Costesti, Blidaru and Piatra Rosie which they destroy.
– The second column ascended through the Jiu Valey, the Castrum of Bumbesti, entering the Sureanu Mountain at Banita.
– The third column lead by Traian left Drobeta through Sucidava and Romula, passed the Olt Valey up to the Castra Traiana (Simbotin – Valcea), reached Tilisca and then Capalna.
The rest of the Roman forces who left the Inferior Moesia pass by Bran, Bratocea, Oituz.
The batlle for Sarmizegetusa Regia takes place at the beginning of the summer of 106 BC with the participation of the ADRIUTIX II and FLAVIA FELIX legions and of a detachment (vexillatio) from the FERRATA VI Legion. The Dacian reject the first attack but the water pipes from the Dacian capital were destroyed. The city is on fire, all the pillars of the sacred sanctuaries are cut down, the whole fortification is destroyed. But the war goes on. By the reason of Bacilis (a confident of the Dacian king) the Romans find Decebal’s treasure in the river of Sargesia (evaluated by Jerome Carcopino at 165500 kf of gold and 331000 kg of silver). The last battle wuith the army of the Dacian king takes place at Porolissum (Moigrad).
The Dacian had a very powerful custom which said not to be affraid of dying. This is why it was said about them that they left for war merrier than in any other journey. In his retirement i the mountains, Decebal is followed by the Roman cavalry lead by Tiberius Claudius Maximus. The Dacian religion of Zamolxes admited suicide as a lst resort by those who were in pain and misery. The Dacian’s who listened Decebal?‘s last speech spread and commit suicide. Only the unkneeled king greater than his god would not seek to forget about his death, but would try to retire from rhe Romans, hoping that he could still find in the mountains and in the unwalked woods the means to prepare the recommencement of the battle and to seek revenge. But the Roman cavalry followed him without rest, they almost catch him and it is than that the great Decebal meets his destiny by ending his life. The great scene of his death may be found on the Column of Traian