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The present state and future scope of Roman archaeology of Dacia

March 21, 2016

In almost every decade, there is an article or study which ask the question: where are we and what should we do in our discipline? Since Greg Woolf’s great article from 2004, Roman archeology, as a discipline evolved rapidly and produced numerous important works and  new approaches. In this seminal work, he stated, that a synthesis focusing exclusively on a single Roman province is indeed, a great work and prove of encyclopedic knowledge, but inevitably will missing the focus point of the “bigger picture”, the Roman Empire, as a whole.

Despite of this, writing syntheses on various Roman provinces is still a popular genre, although numerous modern works are trying to use more often larger economic, administrative, cultural or geographic units, such as the area of Lower Danube, Illyricum, Roman North, North African provinces, Roman East, etc.

transterk-map2Several syntheses exist on Roman Dacia too. In Romania, the most well known, and still in use monograph is the 1969 seminal work of Mihail Macrea and the 2010 companion of History of Romanians (II. volume). None of these are used by foreign researchers. In Germany, the most well known work is that of N. Gudea and Th. Lobüscher from 2008.  In Latin speaking world, perhaps the recent synthesis of R. Ardevan and L.Zerbini. The most important work however on Roman Dacia is the volume of numerous studies edited by I. Haynes and W. Hanson in 2004 and the seminal work of I. Oltean from 2007.  Important to note, that the long time ago outdated work of V. Parvan was recently republished in English.

From these works, only the one edited by Haynes-Hanson and Oltean deals with Roman Dacia, as a small puzzle of a much larger picture, focusing on general and specific patterns of the Roman consumer society and its local manifestation and dynamics. A similar method is used – although presenting only the economic aspects of the province – by the seminal work of C. Gazdac from 2010 too.

Due to the large amount of prime material discovered since 2004 and the emerge of important works and currents in the study of Roman archaeology and history, a synthesis on Roman Dacia, as a specific case study within the Roman Empire would be necessary. Such a work  would serve first of all as a manual for Romanian and foreign scholars and students, but also would reposition Dacia in the abundant field of various disciplines.

The recent panel organized in March, 2016 by C. Gazdac and myself in the framework of the Roman Archaeological Conference presented some new aspects and results and highlighted the necessity of such a work.

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