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ULPIA TRAIANA (Sarmisegetuza) Hunedoara, Romania.

The capital city of Roman Dacia, on a plain in the SW corner of Haţeg, is now partly covered by the modern village.

Founded between 108 and 110 as Colonia Dacia, Hadrian gave it the Roman name of Ulpia Traiana Augusta and the Dacian name of Sarmisegetusa, the name of the capital of the Dacians before the Roman conquest. Severus Alexander added the title of metropolis. The inscription commemorating the founding of the town (CIL III, 1443) is preserved, as well as a sestertius minted by Trajan, which marked the event.

The capital was colonized by Roman citizens belonging to the tribus Papiria, and was granted the ius Italicum.

The political and administrative center of the province as well as the residence of the governor, it became in the 3d c. the residence also of a concilium Daciarum trium. On the main highway crossing the province from SW to N, the city was a customs station and became the most important cultural and religious center of Dacia.

The town, surrounded by walls, covered an area of 32.5 ha. Inside the walls, public buildings, both religious and profane have been discovered; outside the walls, excavations have uncovered villae suburbanae, temples, an amphitheater; and E and NE of the town, two necropoleis along the main Roman highway.

The town wall, built under Trajan, was 1.8 m thick and 4 to 5 m high. Outside the wall were a berma and two ditches, with rectangular bastions at each corner; only the one at the SE corner has been preserved.

In the middle of the town is an Aedes Augustalium (85 x 65 m). It was built in the middle of the 2d c. and rebuilt in the 3d c. (CIL, III, 6270, 1425).

The governor's palace was built of stone, brick, limestone, and marble; the walls were painted various colors and the roof was tiled. In the middle of the palace two interior paved courts are separated by an arcade and marble half-columns. The court facing N was larger and contained basilicas (one towards the W and the other towards the E), and on the N was a building with several rooms. In the middle of this court was an altar for the cult of the emperor and Rome. The court facing S was smaller and formed a portico in front of the main building, which contained several rooms. One underground was used to safeguard cult objects; another, with two cisterns under it, served as a sanctuary. The remaining rooms were used for dwelling and for conference halls.

The forum, partially excavated, has two parts. The narrower, close to the building of the Augustales, is a kind of basilica 85 m long. It is surrounded by walls faced with marble. Along the N and E walls were honorary monuments. From the basilica one could enter the forum proper, 42 m wide, which was open and was stone-paved.

Outside the town, beyond the N side of the interior wall, was the amphitheater (88 x 69 m), which could seat ca. 5000 people. It was built in the first half of the 2d c. of stone and brick. At the ends of the long axis were the gates for the gladiators, and on the shorter axis a secondary entrance with well-preserved thresholds. In front of the secondary entrance, towards the N is a channel for waste water from the arena, and in the middle of the arena a squared underground room, serving probably as water basin; there are traces of wooden pipes. The arena is surrounded by a wall, 3 m high, with a stone parapet, interrupted by the four gates and ornamented with columns of marble. Close to the amphitheater and the E gate are the ruins of a sanctuary to the goddess Nemesis.

In the necropolis in the E part of the town a mausoleum of the Aurelian family was discovered, built in the middle of the 3d c. It is of brick and circular (21 m in diam.).

Among earlier discoveries, lost today was a multi-colored mosaic representing the Judgment of Paris and another representing Priam pleading for Hector's body. Temples of Mithras and of the Syrian gods were found outside the town. Recent excavations have brought to light two temples: one of Aesculapius and Hygeia and the other of Liber Pater.

The epigraphic and archaeological material is in the Deva-Hunedoara county museum, the local museum of Sarmizegethuza, and in other major museums of Romania.


C. Daicoviciu, “Fouilles et recherches à Sarmisegetusa,” Dacia 1 (1924) 224-63; 3-4 (1927-32) 516-56; id., Ulpia Traiana (1966).


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