Sarmizegetusa Regia

For the former Roman Dacia capital, see Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa. For the modern-day commune, see Sarmizegetusa (commune).
Sarmizegetusa Regia

Ruins of Dacian temples
Shown within Romania
Alternate name Dacian capital, Sarmisegetusa, Sarmizegethusa,[1] Sarmisegethusa, Sarmisegethuza, Sarmageze,[1] Sarmategte,[1] Sermizegetusa,[1] Zarmizegethusa,[1] Zarmizegethousa,[1] Zarmizegetusa,[1] Zermizegethouse
Location Grădiștea de Munte, Hunedoara County, Romania
Coordinates 45°37′19″N 23°18′33″E / 45.6219°N 23.3093°E / 45.6219; 23.3093Coordinates: 45°37′19″N 23°18′33″E / 45.6219°N 23.3093°E / 45.6219; 23.3093
Altitude 1,030 m (3,379 ft)
Abandoned 2nd century AD
Events Trajan's Dacian Wars, Battle of Sarmizegetusa
Site notes
  • A. Rusu
  • A. Sion
  • Eugen Iaroslavschi
  • H. G. Seiwerth
  • Ioan Andrițoiu
  • Ioan Glodariu
  • Ştefan Ferenczi
  • Gelu Florea
  • Gabriela Gheorghiu
  • Darius Sima
  • Adriana Pescaru Rusu
  • Liliana Dana Suciu
Condition Partially reconstructed
Reference no. 906
Reference no. HD-I-s-A-03190 [2]

Sarmizegetusa Regia, also Sarmisegetusa, Sarmisegethusa, Sarmisegethuza, Ζαρμιζεγεθούσα (Zarmizegethoúsa) or Ζερμιζεγεθούση (Zermizegethoúsē), was the capital and the most important military, religious and political centre of the Dacians prior to the wars with the Roman Empire. Erected on top of a 1200 m high mountain, the fortress, comprising six citadels, was the core of a strategic defensive system in the Orăştie Mountains (in present-day Romania).

Sarmizegetusa Regia should not be confused with Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa, the Roman capital of Dacia built by Roman Emperor Trajan some 40 km away, which was not the Dacian capital. Sarmizegetusa Ulpia was discovered earlier, was known already in the early 1900s, and was initially mistaken for the Dacian capital, a confusion which led to incorrect conclusions being made regarding the military history and organization of the Dacians.[3]


Several hypotheses have been advanced to explain the origin of the name Sarmizegetusa. The most important of these ascribe the following possible meanings to the city's name:


Map of the site

Sarmizegetusa Regia contained a citadel and residential areas with dwellings and workshops as well as a sacred zone.

The archaeological inventory found at the site demonstrates that Dacian society had a relatively high standard of living.


Variants of the Name of the City

Zarmizegethusa Regia on Dacia's map from a medieval book made after Ptolemy's Geographia (ca. 140 AD).

Historical records show considerable variation in the spelling of the name of the Dacian capital:[9]

Pre-Roman era

Towards the end of his reign, Burebista transferred the Geto-Dacian capital from Argedava to Sarmizegetusa.[10][11] Serving as the Dacian capital for at least one and a half centuries, Sarmizegethusa reached its zenith under King Decebal. Archeological findings suggest that the Dacian god Zalmoxis and his chief priest had an important role in Dacian society at this time.[12] They have also shed new light on the political, economic and scientific development of the Dacians and their successful assimilation of technical and scientific knowledge from the Greek and Romans.

The site has yielded two especially notable finds:

The smithies north of the sanctuary also provide evidence of the Dacians' skill in metalworking: findings include tools such as meter-long tongs, hammers and anvils which were used to make some 400 metallic artefacts — scythes, sickles, hoes, rakes, picks, pruning hooks, knives, plowshares, and carpenters' tools [14] — as well as weapons such as daggers, curved Dacian scimitars, spearpoints, and shield-bosses.[14]

Nevertheless, the flowering of Dacian civilization apparently underway during the reign of Decebalus came to an abrupt end when Trajan's legions destroyed the city and deported its population.[14]

The defensive system

The Dacians capital’s defensive system includes six Dacian fortresses — Sarmizegetusa, Costești-Blidaru, Piatra Roșie, Costeşti-Cetățuie, Căpâlna and Băniţa. All 6 have been named UNESCO World heritage sites.

Roman era

Sarmisegetusa's walls were partly dismantled at the end of First Dacian war in AD 102, when Dacia was invaded by the Emperor Trajan of the Roman Empire. The Dacians rebuilt them. The Romans systematically destroyed them again in 106 and deported the inhabitants.[14]

The Roman conquerors established a military garrison at Sarmisegetusa Regia. Later, the capital of Roman Dacia was established 40 km from the ruined Dacian capital, and was named after it - Colonia Ulpia Traiana Augusta Dacica Sarmizegetusa.

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Dana, Dan; Nemeti, Sorin (2014-01-09). "Ptolémée et la toponymie de la Dacie (II-V)". Classica et Christiana. p. 18. Retrieved 2014-03-30.
  2. "National Register of Historic Monuments in Romania, Hunedoara County" (PDF). Retrieved 18 October 2012.
  3. Schmitz (2005) 3
  4. Russu 1944, p. 376-399.
  5. Van Den Gheyn 1885, p. 176.
  6. Tomaschek 1883, p. 410.
  7. 1 2 Ruggles 2005, p. 370.
  8. MacKendrick 1975, p. 60-61.
  9. Ptolemy's maps of northern Europe: a reconstruction of the prototypes, Gudmund Schütte , H. Hagerup, 1917
  10. MacKendrick 1975, p. 48.
  11. Goodman & Sherwood 2002, p. 227.
  12. Matyszak 2009, p. 222.
  13. 1 2 MacKendrick 1975, p. 65.
  14. 1 2 3 4 MacKendrick 1975, p. 66.


Further reading

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Plans, surveys

3D reconstructions

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