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Every custom was once an eccentricity; every idea was once an absurdity. - Holbrook Jackson

The following list points to resources across the Internet dealing with Romanian history.

December 1989 *

View this 5 dramatic photographs by Mihai Popescu Stoenesti of the Romanian Revolution.

Romanian History *

A brief history of Romania is provided from ancient times through the Revolution.

Romanian Revolution *

Learn more about the Coup d' Etat of 1989.


The first material testimonies attest to the existence of man on present-day Romanian soil since 2,000,000 years ago (Bugiulesti, Valcea County). The originality of the cultural area, related to the other European prehistorical cultures can be noted in the art of clay moulding (the painted vessels of Cris, Turdas, Cucuteni, the zoomorphic and anthropomorphic clay statuettes. To mention only "The Thinker", discovered at Hamangia (Cernavoda), "The Clay Tables of Tartaria" (incised pictorial motifs), which all point to the existence of an early archaic writing - the first in Europe - around the year 4,000 B.C. This alphabet dates to about the same period as the Sumerian writing. The continuators of this ancient civilization were the Geto-Dacians.

In the first century B.C. the Dacian king Burebista (82-44 B.C.) helped by the great priest Deceneu, united all the Geto-Dacian tribes under his rule, founding the kingdom of Dacia, a powerful body politic, with the political and religious capital in Transylvania, at Sarmizegetusa. In the early second century A.D., when the Dacian state was at its acme, thanks to the rule of king Decebal (87-106), the Roman imperial armies, led by emperor Traian (98-117) conquered Dacia (A.D. 106) and turned it into a Roman province which they colonized with Romans and Romanized elements. Thus the Geto-Dacians were Romanized too. After the withdrawal of the Roman army administration south of the Danube, between the years 271 and 275, despite the migratory people's attacks, the Daco-Roman population continued uninterruptedly to live in the land of their birth. Until the 7th century, their neighbours were the Roman Empire and then the eastern Roman Empire which held numerous bridgeheads north of the Danube. The ethnogenesis of the Romanian people was thus concluded. Numerous migratory peoples (Goths, Huns, Gepidae, Avarians, Slavs, Bulgarians, Cumani, Petchenegs, Hungarians etc.) roamed the territory of Romania, exercising a passing influence which, in most of the cases, ended with their assimilation by the autochthons.

The Romanians became Christian starting the 4th century, and after the great schism of the Christian church, in 1054, they preserved an Orthodox rite. The state organization was first attested in the 10th century - feudal bodies politic foreshadowing the big Romanian feudal states. The pre-state politic bodies in Transylvania were led by dukes, kniezes or voivodes like Gelu, Glad, Menumorut, Ahtum; in Moldavia, Wallachia and Dobruja by djupans, kniezes or voivodes like Gheorghe, Sestlav, Satza, Tatu, Roman, a.o. Bigger state entities are attested in the 13th century, under the rule of voivodes Litovoi, Ioan, Farcas and Seneslau. In the 13th century, the hungarian lords ended the conquest of Transylvania, begun in the l0th century by the Hungarian tribes, stopping their advance and settling in the Pannonian Plain. The voivodship of Transylvania was to belong to the Hungarian crown until 1541, when the Kingdom of Hungary disappeared as a state. South of the Carpathians, in the 14th century, Basarab I (1324-1352) unified the bodies politic, rounding the great voivodship of Wallachia, and Bogdan I (1359-1365) created the great voivodship of Moldavia. Both rulers consolidated the independence of their states, defeating the armies of the Hungarian Kingdom that attempted to strengthen its domination over these two states.

In the late 14th century, the Ottoman danger loomed at the Danube. The three Romanian Lands, the voivodship of Transylvania, Moldavia and Wallachia, were to turn, for several centuries, into the bastion defending the Christian world from the onrush of the Islam. Princes like Mircea cel Batran, Iancu de Hunedoara, Vlad Tepes, Stefan cel Mare, Radu de la Afumati, and Petru Rares vanquished the armies of mighty sultans like Baiazid I Ildirim (The Thunder), Mahommet II (the conqueror of Constantinople) and Soleyman the Magnificent. In the 14th century Turkish suzerainty was established over the three Romanian Lands, which, nonetheless, preserved their autonomy. The prince of Wallachia, Mihai Viteazul (1593-1601) regained the country's independence and unified all the Romanians in the first centralized Romanian state, including Wallachia, Transylvania and Moldavia (1600-1601). The short-lived was undone by the intervention of the Ottoman Empire, the kingdom of Poland, and the Habsburg
Empire, worried to have a powerful Romanian state. The accomplishment of Mihai Viteazul was made possible by the unity of kin and language of all the Romanians, by awakening national consciousness and its assertion throughout the entire Romanian space. His deed served as an example. The voivodes of the three Romanian Lands, ruling after Mihai Viteazul, tried to follow suit, and recreate the ancient kingdom of Dacia. Very near to this goal was Matei Basarab (1632-1654), the mastermind and general commander of the anti-Ottoman league, set up by the Romanian Lands, Poland and Russia. The man who founded ideologically the doctrine of the Romanian people's unity was the scholar prince of Moldavia, Dimitrie Cantemir (1693, 1710-1711), a member of the Berlin Academy. Under the influence of the European Enlightenment, in Transylvania - since 1661 a voivodship under the suzerainty of the Habsburg Empire - bishop Inochentie Micu and the representatives of the Transylvanian School (Samuil Micu, Gheorghe Sincai, Petru Maior, Ion Budai Deleanu, a.o.) jellied into form the national ideology, which they buttressed up with historical, linguistic and philosophical arguments.


Archaeology

The history of archaeological research begins in the 19th century. A distinct place is held by Alexandru Odobescu, who supported and encouraged the first systematic archaeological diggings in Romania, as he organized and coordinated the national Museum of Antiquities of the Bucharest University, where he also was the first professor to teach archaeology. One of his important works is the description of the Pietroasa Treasure Trove (1900, 3 volumes) which is also called "The Hen with Brood" and which is currently at the National History Museum in Bucharest.

The prehistoric archaeology of the Carpathian-Danubian space was focused upon by professor Gr. Tocilescu, the first to study thoroughly the Roman monument of Adamclisi (Tropaeum Traiani) erected by emperor Trajan in A.D. 109.

A laborious archaeological research of the Romanian prehistory develops in the 20th century, when Vasile Parvan, an university professor, member of the Romanian Academy and director of the National Museum of Antiquities, brings this activity to an European level. V. Parvan focused on the pre-Roman period, to the end of solving the issues related to the history of Dacia, and opened many archaeological sites. His vast historicalarchaeological synthesis titled Getica (1926) illustrates the political and cultural role of the Geto-Dacians. Parvan was also the initiatior of the archaeological site at Histria (an old Hellenistic citadel on the Black Sea coast) and the founder of the Romania

School in Rome, an institution for the professional improvement of young archaeologists and historians. In his work and in the lectures he delivered at Cambridge. he underlined the importance of the native Daco-Getian population and its relations with the Italiotes, the Scythians, the Celts, and the Romans. In the postwar period, the development - in Bucharest, Cluj and Iasi- of some history and archaeology institutes attracted many spe- cialists (Ion Andriescu, Radu Vulpe, Ion Nestor, Dumitru Berciu, I.H. Crisan, H. Daicoviciu, D. Tudor a.o.). More and more museums proved to be interested in archaeology so that in the 60s, all regions of the country were already systematically researched to the end of clarifying the main problems of the national history. Thus, complete information was
gathered about the primitive communal system, new major proofs being found in relation to the emergence, development and dissolution of the prehistoric communities in the Carpathian-Danubian space. Archaeological diggings helped to research partially and sometimes wholly as in the case of the Neolithic cultures of Cucuteni, Ariusd, Gumelnita, Petresti, etc. - a considerable number of objectives from the Paleolithic, the
Neolothic, the Bronze Age, the first and the second Iron Age. A great deal of attention was given to settlements dating back to the Dacian period, and to the period of the Roman conquest and the emergence of the Romanjan people and language. Thus, the archaeologists unearthed the oldest art object in Romania, a 21,000 year-old pendant- amulet, nearly l0,000 baked clay statuettes, about 800 treasures comprising gold and silver jewelry and vessels, as well as thousands of household, military and other objects.
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Updated: 1997-06- Please write to us with your comments and suggestions.