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TROPAEUM TRAIANI (Adamclisi) Dobrudja, Romania.

A Geto-Dacian settlement S of Dobrudja midway on the route between Constanţa and Silistra (Bulgaria) at an important crossroads. The site was changed by Trajan into a statio; and a vicus sprang up nearby.

Mentioned in only three sources of the late antiquity, the site was identified by excavations at the turn of the century. The life of the site in the 2d and 3d c. is known particularly through inscriptions reused as building material for the 4th-6th c. fortress. In the beginning the site was populated by Dacians and veterans of Roman military units from the lower Danube. In 115-116 the inhabitants, under the name of Traianenses Tropaeenses, dedicated a statue to the emperor Trajan. A millianium (A.D. 118), discovered S of the site, indicates that early in his reign the emperor Hadrian ordered the repair of the imperial road passing through the settlement. Under Antoninus Pius a powerful detachment of Legio XI Claudia settled here. The site became a municipium shortly before 170 (the year of the invasion of the Costoboks) during the reign of Marcus Aurelius.

In the course of the 3d c. the fortress was repaired under Septimius Severus, Severus Alexander, and Gordian, but later, the site gradually lost its importance and was destroyed by the Goths at the end of the 3d c. Rebuilt from the foundations by Constantine the Great and Licinius (313-16) after the general victory over the barbarians, the Tropaeensium civitas existed until the late 6th c. when it was destroyed by the Avaro-Slavians.

The visible ruins belong to the 4th-6th c. The circuit wall enclosed an irregularly shaped plateau of ca. 10 ha and was provided with horseshoe-shaped defensive towers (a single one was rectangular). Three gates have been unearthed: two on the E and W sides and a smaller one on the S side. The main street (ca. 300 m long), lined on both sides with porticos, linked the E and W gates. Under its pavement lay one of the aqueducts and a drain.

A large basilica forensis (4th c.) stood near the center of the fortress, S of the main street. On both sides of the same street, excavations have brought to light the ruins of four Christian basilicas (4th-6th c.), three of them with crypts, and one with an elegant baptistery. A cemetery basilica stood on the hill N of the fortress.

On a high plateau (ca. 2 km E of the site) was the triumphal monument erected by Trajan (109) to commemorate his victory over the Dacians and their allies. The only remnant of it preserved in situ is the nucleus (in opus coementicium) with seven steps and the first (incomplete) row of regularly cut stone blocks. The relief-carved stones, once dressing the monument, as well as the tropaion are exhibited nearby. The monument, ca. 40 m high, consisted of a cylindrical structure with diameter equal to the height with a conical roof of scale-like stone plates. Two superposed hexagonal bases supported the tropaion (over 10 m high). A row of 54 metopes (48 are preserved) were placed between two richly adorned friezes. The metopes were separated by pillars, also carved in relief. The sculptures of the metopes illustrated episodes in the battles against the Dacians and their allies. The cylindrical structure was crowned by 26 crenellations (22 are preserved in place) each showing a prisoner in relief carved, bound to the trunk of a tree. The same inscription was engraved on two opposite facades of the upper hexagonal base, and states that the monument was dedicated to Mars Ultor, in honor of Trajan's victory over the Dacians and their allies.

The remains of a square altar (12 x 12 m; 6 m high) are ca. 200 m E of the triumphal monument. Some 3800 names of soldiers who died in battle are inscribed on its walls. About 50 m N of the same monument, an earthen mound covered a circular mausoleum (40 m in diameter), probably the tomb of the commander killed in battle and listed first on the altar. Both the altar and the mausoleum seem to be contemporary with the triumphal monument.


G. Tocilescu et al., Das Monument von Adamklissi: Tropaeum Traiani (1895); V. Pârvan, “Cetatea Tropaeum. Consideraţii istorice,” BCMI 4 (1911) 1-12, 163-91; V. Barbu, Adamclisi (1965); F. Florescu, Das Siegesdenkmal von Adamklissi: Tropaeum Traiani (1965); G. Bordenache & R. Vulpe, “Tropaeum Traiani,” EAA 7 (1966) 1022-25; R. Vulpe & I. Barnea, Din istona Dobrogei, II (1968) passim; TIR, L.35 (1969) s.v.; A. Ştefan, BMI 41.3 (1972) 43-53.


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