A Soldier's Life on the Edge of Europe
Castrum Cumidava: Home of the VI Cohors Cumidavensis Archaeology of the Roman Frontier
Roman Military Excavation and Survey

          The Transylvanian Limes (Limes Alutanus) was the richest, hard fought and unstable European frontier of the Roman Empire. The conquest of Dacia has been a long and arduous process. After the humiliating peace forced on Domitian in 88AD and the destruction of several legions, Trajan managed to conquer Transylvania after two hard fought wars in 102 and 106AD. Dacian resources has allowed the Roman Empire to keep its economy afloat for another two centuries.

          Our project seeks to explore the human dimension of the military presence on the imperial frontier, assessing the military aspects of Roman colonization from various anthropological perspectives. We are first and foremost interested in the various vectors of creolization resulting from the dynamic cultural, social, economic, religious, political and military interaction between the “representatives” of the Empire and the autochthonous Dacians. Our multiscalar and multidirectional approaches aim at exploring the various elements that constituted the daily lives and practices of the soldiers and how they responded to the imperatives and pressures generated by the liminal environments emerging on the imperial frontier.

          The VI Cohors Cumidavensis, stationed in Castrum Cumidava on the limes, was likely formed in Noricum, from German Romanized conquered populations. Through the exploration of their barracks, we will focus on the evolution of their personal and military practices as they dynamically integrate their Germanic origins, Roman imperatives and Dacian local realities. The excavation takes us from the early Dacian Wars wooden castrum to the stone fort abandoned during the Aurelian Retreat of 271AD.

          The project will introduce our participants to a multidisciplinary integrative approach, combining excavation, remote sensing, and geophysical, geochemical and field survey. They will learn to operate a ground penetrating radar, conduct phosphate surveys and perform geospatial analyses, such as military terrain analysis and/or using various vegetation indices to locate other structures as well as the civilian settlement(s) associated with the castrum.

            Castrum Cumidava is situated half way between the amazing medieval city of Brasov and Bram Stocker’s Dracula’s Bran Castle, at the foot of the imposing Bucegi Mountains, near the small city of Rasnov with its medieval fortress overlooking the Barsa Valley. It is one of the best places to experience Transylvania and its incredibly rich archaeology, history and natural beauty.

 

 

PROJECT OVERVIEW

 

 

          The region of Transylvania (Romania) has been one of the most important frontiers of Old Europe. Its huge and easily accessible salt deposits made it unavoidable since domestication took place in the early Neolithic. Large deposits of copper, tin, iron, silver and gold transformed this region into political, economic, cultural and, of course, military focal point from the rise of the Metal Ages forward. Its prehistory saw the rise of great civilizations such as the Ariusd-Cucuteni Culture during the Eneolithic and the mighty Dacians during the second Iron Age. The latter played an important role in the evolution of the Roman Republic and Empire, as attested by the pervasive Dacian imagery present throughout the Empire after the Dacian Wars.

          Our project, formerly known as Cumidava Archaeological Research Project (CARP), is an international endeavor seeking to better understand what is occurring in Dacia after the Roman conquest. By focusing on small scale interactions between Roman legions and Dacian civilians, we seek to understand what it actually meant to the average person to now be subjected to Roman rule.

          Castrum Cumidava was established during the Daco-Roman wars (102-106 A.D.), and was utilized for roughly 150 years by the Romans. This duration, along with evidence of several building episodes, indicates that the fort was an important part of the Roman limes in present day Transylvania. Even though the inside of the fort has been explored for many years, only recently has research begun on what was occurring just outside of the fort’s walls. This work began in 2010, by conducting an intensive survey of the area to locate the civilian settlement(s) that would have supported the fort. As a result of that survey, a promising location has been found, as well as some additional areas that also seem to be tied to the fort, but in what capacity is still unclear. 2011 - 2013 seasons were devoted to intra muros excavation, digging through the second phase of the barracks. Last summer, we uncovered the Roman road that transected the fort, and found many assorted artifacts, from Roman coins to what may turn out to be a cursed tablet, which was found directly under the road.

          Following the discoveries from the barracks’ area of Castrum Cumidava from the 2011-2015 seasons, we will be looking at how soldiers would have used the space in terms of short, medium and long term practices, and how the area shifted in use in the fort’s later stages. Our 2015 ground penetrating radar (GPR) survey has revealed a very complex a dynamic internal castrum structure. During our 2016 campaign, we will continue investigating the interaction between the foreign soldiers and the local Dacian populations, trying to establish vectors of creolization. We will conduct several remote sensing, geospatial and military terrain analyses to better understand the integration of the castrum in the landscape. The mix of established site along with exploratory work will offer a great deal of opportunity to experience different styles of archaeology, as well as dealing with research of forward thinking ideas about the past.

 

LOGISTICS

 

Location: Rasnov-Cumidava Castrum, Brasov County, Transylvania, Romania

 

Dates: TBD

 

Housing: housed in a beautifully renovated hotel, 2-3 participants per room, with private bathrooms

 

Meals: breakfast and dinner is served Mon-Fri at the hotel; traditional Romanian

 

Cost: US$1895 ($485 per week for short stays - 2 weeks minimum)

 

Fee includes: registration and field fees, lectures, field and laboratory gear, housing and meals as described above

... about travel and safety, room and board, sightseeing

WHAT'S UP?
LAST EVENT

NEW PROJECTS

 

  • The outstanding success of our 2018 and 2019 GPR projects, the Applied Field Geophysics Workshop - GPR Applications, prompted us to buy a second GPR unit with a different central frequency and a different configuration. As a result, our participants will have the unique opportunity to get fully proficient on a 250MHz GPR system, in a cart configuration, as well as 500MHz system, in a rough terrain configuration.

  • Furthermore, participants who are committed to expand their field skill set can register to our new Geophysics Exploration and Field Excavation program. It is a 4 week program, combining the GPR Applications Workshop (5 days) and  Roman Villa Excavation (3 weeks). Participants save $200 over the combined costs of the individual programs.

2020

New for our 2020 season: our Applied Field Geophysics Workshop-GPR Applications will allow the comparative professional training on the core GPR systems and configurations used in near surface investigations: 250MHz and 500MHz transducers, in respectively cart and rough terrain configurations. Our program is open to all disciplines, focusing on GPR theory, methods, techniques and applications.

 

As a result of overwhelming positive response and further request from our participants, we are offering the possibility to combine all sessions of our the GPR Applications Workshop with both field sessions of our Roman Villa Excavation as a stand alone program, allowing to save $200 on the combined fees. Our two research/training case study sites have been carefully chosen to combine increasing complexity of ancient, historical and modern features. These sites provide an unparalleled access to a diverse set of features and conditions.  We address urban and proto-urban settlement construction, complex anthropogenic stratigraphic relationships, variation in soil structure and conditions, wide range of materials and their use/reuse, unmapped ancient and modern utilities, potential graves, modern and ancient civil works projects (including the remains of roads, aqueducts, and wells), changes in hydrogeological environment caused by modern human intervention, and all as-yet undiscovered features. The highest quality for the best price on any GPR courses available anywhere!!!

CONTACT US
  • Facebook App Icon

© 2001/2011 - 2021 ArchaeoTek - Canada