DACIA, in ancient geography, the land of the Daci, a large district of central Europe, bounded on the N. by the Carpathians, on the S. by the Danube, on the W. by the Pathissus (Theiss), on the E. by the Tyras (Dniester) , thus corresponding in the main to the modern Rumania and Transylvania. Towards the west it may originally have extended as far as the Danube where it runs from north to south at Waitzen (Vacz), while on the other hand Ptolemy puts its eastern boundary as far back as the Hierasus (Sereth). The inhabitants of this district were a Thracian stock, originally called ASoi, a name which after the 4th century B.C. gave place to Acucoi. Of the other Thracian tribes the Getae (q.v.) were most akin to them in language and manners; by the Greeks the Dacians were usually called Getae, by the Romans Daci. Aoos and Tera (Davus, Geta) were common as names of slaves in Attic comedy and in the adaptations of Plautus and Terence.
The Dacians had attained a considerable degree of civilization when they first became known to the Romans. They believed in the immortality of the soul, and regarded death as merely a change of country (/ierouafecrflai.). Their chief priest held a prominent position as the representative of the deity upon earth; he was the king's chief adviser and his decisions were accepted as final. They were divided, into two classes an aristocracy and a proletariate. The first alone had the right to cover their heads and wore a felt hat (hence tarabostesei = iri\ot6poi, pileati); they formed a privileged class, and were the predecessors of the Rumanian boyars. The second class, who comprised the rank and file of the army, the peasants and artisans, wore their hair long ((cop?Tai, capillati). They dwelt in wooden huts surrounded by palisades, but in later times, aided by Roman architects, built walled strongholds and conical stone towers. Their chief occupations were agriculture and cattle breeding; horses were mainly used as draught animals. They also worked the gold and silver mines of Transylvania, and carried on a considerable outside trade, as is shown by the number of foreign coins found in the country.
A kingdom of Dacia was in existence at least as early as the beginning of the 2nd century B.C. under a king Oroles. Conflicts with the Bastarnae and the Romans (112-109, 74), against whom they had assisted the Scordisci and Dardani, had greatly weakened the resources of the Dacians. Under Burbista (Boerebista), a contemporary of Caesar, who thoroughly reorganized the army and raised the moral standard of the people, the limits of the kingdom were extended; the Bastarnae and Boii were conquered, and even Greek towns (Olbia, Apollonia) on the Euxine fell into his hands. Indeed the Dacians appeared so formidable that Caesar contemplated an expedition against them, which was prevented by his death. About the same time Burbista was murdered, and the kingdom was divided into four (or five) parts under separate rulers. One of these was Cotiso, whose daughter Augustus is said to have desired to marry and to whom he betrothed his own five-year-old daughter Julia. He is well known from the line in Horace (" Occidit Daci Cotisonis agmen," Odes, iii. 8. 18), which, as the ode was written on the ist of March 29, probably refers to the campaign of Marcus Crassus (30-28), not to that of Cornelius Lentulus, who was not consul till 1 8. The Dacians are often mentioned under Augustus, according to whom they were compelled to recognize the Roman supremacy. But they were by no means subdued, and in later times seized every opportunity of crossing the frozen Danube and ravaging the province of Moesia. From A.D. 85 to 89 the Dacians were engaged in two wars with the Romans, under Duras or Diurpaneus, and the great Decebalus, who ruled from 86-87 to 107. After two severe reverses, the Romans, under Tettiu Julianus, gained a signal advantage, but were obliged to mak peace owing to the defeat of Domitian by the Marcomanni Decebalus restored the arms he had taken and some of the prisoners and received the crown from Domitian's hands an apparent acknowledgment of Roman suzerainty. But thi Dacians were really left independent, as is shown by the fact tha Domitian agreed to purchase immunity from further Dacian in roads by the payment of an annual tribute.
To put an end to this disgraceful arrangement, Trajan resolvet to crush the Dacians once and for all. The result of his first campaign (101-102) was the occupation of the Dacian capita Sarmizegethusa (Varhely) and the surrounding country; of the second (105-107), the suicide of Decebalus, the conquest o: the whole kingdom and its conversion into a Roman province The history of the war is given in Dio Cassius, but the best commentary upon it is the famous column of Trajan. According to Marquardt, the boundaries of the province were the Tibiscus (Temes) on the W., the Carpathians on the N., the Tyras on the E., and the Danube on the S., but Brandis (in Pauly-Wissowa's Realencydopadie) maintains that it did not extend farther eastwards than the river Olt (Aluta) the country beyond belonging to lower Moesia and not so far as the Theiss westwards, being thus limited to Transylvania and Little Walachia. It was under a governor of praetorian rank, and the legio xiii. gemina with numerous auxiliaries had their fixed quarters in the province. To make up for the ravages caused by the recent wars colonists were imported to cultivate the land and work the mines, and the old inhabitants gradually returned. Forts were built as a protection against the incursions of the surrounding barbarians, and three great military roads were constructed to unite the chief towns, while a fourth, named after Trajan, traversed the Carpathians and entered Transylvania by the Roteturm pass. The two chief towns were Sarmizegethusa (afterwards Ulpia Trajana) and Apulum (Karlsburg). With the religion the Dacians also adopted the language of the conquerors, and modern Rumanian is full of Latin words easily recognizable. In 129, under Hadrian, Dacia was divided into Dacia Superior and Inferior, the former comprising Transylvania, the latter Little Walachia, with procurators, probably both under the same praetorian legate (according to Brandis, the procurator of Dacia inferior was independent, but see A. Domaszewski in Rheinisches Museum, xlviii., 1893). Marcus Aurelius redivided it into three (tres Daciae) : Porolissensis, from the chief town Porolissum (near Mojrad), Apulensis from Apulum and Maluensis (site unknown). The Ires Daciae formed a commune in so far that they had a common capital, Sarmizegethusa, and a common diet, which discussed provincial affairs, formulated complaints and adjusted the incidence of taxation; but in other respects they were practically independent provinces, each under an ordinary procurator, subordinate to a governor of consular rank.
The Roman hold on the country was, however, still precarious. Indeed it is said that Hadrian, conscious of the difficulty of retaining it, had contemplated its abandonment and was only deterred by consideration for the safety of the numerous Roman settlers. Under Gallienus (256), the Goths crossed the Carpathians and drove the Romans from Dacia, with the exception of a few fortified places between the Temes and the Danube. No details of the event are recorded, and the chief argument in support of the statement in Ruf(i)us Festus that " under the Emperor Gallienus Dacia was lost " is the sudden cessation of Roman inscriptions and coins in the country after 256. Aurelian (270-275) withdrew the troops altogether and settled the Roman colonists on the south of the Danube, in Moesia, where he created the province Dacia Aureliani. This was subsequently divided into Dacia Ripensis on the Danube, with capital Ratiaria (Arcar in Bosnia), and Dacia Mediterranea, with capital Sardica (Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria), the latter again being subdivided into Dardania and Dacia Mediterranea.
See J. D. F. Neigebaur, Dacien aus den Uberresten des klassischen Alterthums (Kronstadt, 1851) ; C. Gooss, Studien zur Geographie und Oeschichte des trajanischen Daciens (Hermannstadt, 1874)- E R Rosier, Dacier und Romanen (Vienna, 1866), and Romanische Studien (Leipzig, 1871); J. Jung, Romer und Romanen in den Donauldndern (Innsbruck, 1877), Die romanischen Landschaften des romischen Ketches (1881;, and Fasten der Provinz Dacien (1894); W. Tomaschek, Die alten Thraker," in Sitzungsberichte der k. Akad. der Wissenschaften, cxxviii. (Vienna, 1893); J. Marquardt, Romische Staatsverwallung, i. (1881), p. 308; T. Mommsen in Corpus Inscriptwnum Lahnarum, iii. 160, and Provinces of Roman Empire (Eng. trans., 1886) ; C. G. Brandis in Pauly-Wissowa's Realencyclopadte, iv. |P t. 2 (1901) ; W. Miller, The Balkans in " The Story of the Nations, vol. 44; on the boundaries of the Roman province of IJacia, see 1. Hodgkin and F. Haverfield in English Historical Review, 11. 100, 734. (See also VLACHS.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)