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Sarmizegetusa Regia

Sarmizegetusa Regia
Ruins of Dacian temples
Sarmizegetusa Regia is located in Romania
Location within Romania
Alternative name(s) Sarmisegetusa, Sarmizegethusa,[1] Sarmisegethusa, Sarmisegethuza, Sarmageze,[1] Sarmategte,[1] Sermizegetusa,[1] Zarmizegethusa,[1] Zarmizegethousa,[1] Zarmizegetusa,[1] Zermizegethouse
Known also as Dacian capital
Abandoned 2nd century AD
Events Trajan's Dacian Wars, Battle of Sarmizegetusa
Altitude 1,030 m (3,379 ft)
Town Grădiștea de Munte
County Hunedoara County
Country  Romania
RO-LMI HD-I-s-A-03190 [2]
RO-RAN 90397.01 [3]
Site notes
Recognition UNESCO World Heritage Site
National Historical Monument
Condition Partially reconstructed

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

  • „Paved road" from Sarmizegetusa Regia, 3D reconstruction (v.1)
  • „Greate Round Temple" from Sarmizegetusa Regia, 3D reconstruction (v.2), „Large circular sanctuary" from Sacred Area

3D reconstructions

  • „Plan TOPO 2D", 2D topographical plan of the archaeological site of Sarmizegetusa Regia (v.1), source files .DWG, .PDF
  • „Plan TOPO 3D", 3D topographical plan of the archaeological site of Sarmizegetusa Regia (v.2), source files .DWG, .PDF

Plans, surveys

  • Cetățile dacice din Munții Orăștiei - Sarmizegetusa Regia
  • The Dacian Fortresses of the Orastie Mountains
  • Virtual 3D Reconstruction of Sarmizegetusa Regia
  • „Large circular sanctuary" from Sarmizegetusa Regia, 3D reconstruction (v.1)
  • 3D Reconstruction of Sarmizegetusa from Documentary "Decoding Dacia" by Kogainon Films

External links

Further reading

  • Schmitz, Michael (2005). The Dacian threat, 101-106 AD. Armidale, N.S.W. : Caeros Publishing.  
  • Tomaschek, Wilhelm (1883). "Les Restes de la langue dace" in "Le Muséon, Volume 2".  
  • Ruggles, Clive L. N (2005). Ancient astronomy: an encyclopedia of cosmologies and myth. Greenwood: ABC-CLIO.  
  • Paul Lachlan MacKendrick (2000). The Dacian Stones Speak. UNC Press Books. pp. 60–61.  
  • Van Den Gheyn, Joseph (1885). "Populations Danubiennes" in "Revue des questions scientifiques".  
  • Goodman, Martin; Sherwood, Jane (2002). The Roman World 44 BC–AD 180. Routledge.  
  • Russu, I.I. (1944). Sarmizegetusa, capitala Geto-Dacilor. .
  • Daicoviciu, Hadrian (1972). "Dacia de la Burebista la cucerirea romană",. Editura Dacia. 
  • Matyszak, Philip (2009). The Enemies of Rome: From Hannibal to Attila the Hun. Thames and Hudson.  


  1. ^ a b c d e f g 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. ^ "National Archaeological Record (RAN)". Retrieved 18 October 2012. 
  4. ^ Schmitz (2005) 3
  5. ^ Russu 1944, p. 376-399.
  6. ^ Van Den Gheyn 1885, p. 176.
  7. ^ Tomaschek 1883, p. 410.
  8. ^ a b Ruggles 2005, p. 370.
  9. ^ MacKendrick 1975, p. 60-61.
  10. ^ Ptolemy's maps of northern Europe: a reconstruction of the prototypes, Gudmund Schütte , H. Hagerup, 1917
  11. ^ MacKendrick 1975, p. 48.
  12. ^ Goodman & Sherwood 2002, p. 227.
  13. ^ Matyszak 2009, p. 222.
  14. ^ a b MacKendrick 1975, p. 65.
  15. ^ a b c d MacKendrick 1975, p. 66.


See also


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.

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.[15]

Roman era

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.

The defensive system

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.[15]

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 [15] — as well as weapons such as daggers, curved Dacian scimitars, spearpoints, and shield-bosses.[15]

  • A medical kit, in a brassbound wooden box with an iron handle, containing a scalpel, tweezers, powdered pumice and miniature pots for pharmaceuticals[14]
  • A huge vase, 24 in (0.6 m) high and 41 in (1 m) across, bearing an inscription in the Roman alphabet: DECEBAL PER SCORILO, i.e. ‘Decebalus, son (cf. Latin puer) of Scorilus’ [14]

The site has yielded two especially notable finds:

Towards the end of his reign, Burebista transferred the Geto-Dacian capital from Argedava to Sarmizegetusa.[11][12] 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.[13] 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.

Pre-Roman era

Historical records show considerable variation in the spelling of the name of the Dacian capital:[10]

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

Variants of the Name of the City


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

  • Civilians lived below the citadel itself in settlements built on artificial terraces, such as the one at Feţele Albe.[9] A system of ceramic pipes channeled running water into the residences of the nobility.
  • An artifact referred to as the “Andesite Sun" seems to have been used as a sundial. Since it is known that Dacian culture was influenced by contact with Hellenisitic Greece, the sundial may have resulted from the Dacians' exposure to Hellenistic learning in geometry and astronomy.[8]
  • The sacred zone — among the most important and largest circular and rectangular Dacian sanctuaries – includes a number of rectangular temples, the bases of their supporting columns still visible in regular arrays. Perhaps the most enigmatic construction at the site is the large circular sanctuary. It consisted of a setting of timber posts in the shape of a D, surrounded by a timber circle which in turn was surrounded by a low stone kerb. The layout of the timber settings bears some resemblance to the stone monument at Stonehenge in England.[8]
  • The fortress, a quadrilateral formed by massive stone blocks (murus dacicus), was constructed on five terraces, on an area of almost 30,000 m².

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

Map of the site


  • ‘Citadel built of palisades on a mountain peak’ from zermi (*gher-mi ‘mountain peak, top’, cf. *gher ‘stone; high’) and zeget (*geg(H)t)[5]
  • ‘City of the warm river’ from zarmi ‘warm’ (cognate with Sanskrit gharma ‘warm’) and zeget ‘flow’ (cognate with Sanskrit sarj- in sarjana- ‘flow’ and Bactrian harez- in harezâna ‘id.’), the city being named after the nearby river Sargetia[6]
  • ‘Palace illuminating the world of life’ from zaryma ‘palace’ (cf. Sanskrit harmya ‘palace’), zegeth ‘world of life’ (cf. Sanskrit jagat- ‘go’, and jigat- ‘mobility; world of life’) and usa ‘illuminating, enlightening; burning’)[7]

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:



  • Etymology 1
  • Layout 2
  • History 3
    • Variants of the Name of the City 3.1
    • Pre-Roman era 3.2
    • The defensive system 3.3
    • Roman era 3.4
  • Gallery 4
  • See also 5
  • Notes 6
  • References 7
  • Further reading 8
  • External links 9


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