previous next

DINOGETIA (Bisericuţa-Garvăn) Dobrudja, Romania.

In the NW corner of the Dobrudja, about 8 km SE of Galaţi. Earlier a Geto-Dacian settlement, it was conquered by the Romans and changed into a boundary fortress. Ptolemy (3.8.2) places it on the left bank of the Danube (near the mouth of the Siret), while the Antonine Itinerary (225.5) places it on the right bank, between Arrubium and Noviodunum. Apparently an earlier Roman site of the same name was transferred from the more exposed left bank of the river in the vicinity to the later site on the right bank of a small rocky island in the Danube marshes. It is mentioned by Notitia dignitatum (39.24).

Thoroughly rebuilt by Diocletian, the fortress continued to play an outstanding role during the reign of Constantine the Great, as well as under his successors. The last important structures, after the crisis of the 5th c., were undertaken by Anastasius and Justinian. In 559, it was burnt down during the attack of the Kotrigurs led by Zabergan. After this invasion the site continued to the end of the 6th c., but never again flourished.

Archaeological excavations have uncovered the circuit wall and the towers, as well as a number of buildings within and outside the limits of the precinct. These ruins were heavily damaged by a feudal site built over the Roman one.

The higher part of the island, an irregularly shaped plateau of ca. 10,000 sq. m, was protected by the circuit wall (ca. 3 m wide) erected under Diocletian. Fourteen horseshoe-shaped towers increased the defensive capacity of the fortification.

The walls were made of local stone, alternating with horizontal rows of brick. The main gate of the fortress was in the middle of the S side of the circuit wall. Two smaller gates were placed on the W and N sides. The limited area of the fortress was crowded with buildings, separated by narrow streets. The praetorium, built in the same technique as the circuit wall, was near the center of the citadel. The ruins of a large house, possibly belonging to a local aristocrat, were discovered in the vicinity of the praetorium to the E. In the SW angle of the fortress a basilica, built in the 4th c., was renovated by Anastasius (several stamped bricks, carrying the name of the emperor were found among its remains and in its pavement). Other large public buildings have not yet been completely unearthed. The ruins of a Roman bath (4th c.) were brought to light outside the precinct (ca. 100 m to SE).

Some of the small finds include bricks with the stamps of the Legio V Macedonica, Cohors I Cilicum, Cohors II Mattiacorum, cl. Fl. Moesica (2d c.) and Legio I Iovia (4th c.). A bronze balance carries an inscription with the name of Flavios Gerontios, great eparchos (praefectus) of Constantinople, during the reign of Justinian.


G. Ştefan, “Dinogetia, I,” Dacia 7-8 (1937-40) 401-25; id., “O balanţă romană din sec. VI e.n. descoperită în Dobrogea,” Studii şi cercetări de istorie veche, I (1950) 152-62; id., “La legio I Iovia et la défense de la frontière danubienne au IVe siècle de notre ère,” Nouvelles études d'histoire, (1955) 339-46; id., “Un miliario dell'epoca di Diocleziano scoperto a Garvăn (Dinogetia),” Dacia, NS 1 (1957) 221-27; id., “Dinogetia. A problem of ancient topography,” Dacia, NS 2 (1958) 317-29; id. et al., Dinogetia, (1967); I. Barnea, “L'incendie de la cité de Dinogetia au VIe siècle,” Dacia, NS 10 (1966) 237-59; id., “Les Thermes de Dinogetia,” Dacia, NS 11 (1967) 225-52; id., Dinogetia (2d ed. 1969).


hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: