Translated by Francine Gardner and haiducul
Historians, both past and present, make mention of the Gets’ raids into the Roman provinces south of the Danube, but fail to describe the savage incursions of the Romans, initially under Lucullus, who were based to the north Danube.
During the period 73-62BC, both Varro and C. Antonius forcibly moved entire populations from their homelands, destroying the fortifications that stood in their way.From these actionsit can be construed that Dacian power was rising, and indeed was seen as as problem to the Romans. As with Persia, Trajan did not succeed in conquering the entire Dacian population, as part of the Burebista Empire, continued to play an important role in the fight with the barbarians. The Free Dacian's (the Carps and the Costobocs) succeeded in ruling a huge territory from Oder to Vistula up to the marshes of Pripeat, and from Niprui until the end of the Danube and the north and east Carpathians. They lived in Moesia and Pannonia, representing, according to Parvan,“the last Dacian population that contributed to the birth of the Romanians.” Their repeated invasions into Dacia and the provinces south of the Danube were devastating, and they existed independent of Imperial Rome.
The Carpians were never conquered by Vandals or other barbarian tribes and in the time of Marcus Aurelius they successfully defended their own land. The Carpians held a large influence and direct control over Roman Dacia. Their political and military actions had a direct impactupon all the surrounding Roman provinces. Parvan writes that, “the Costobocs are not playing any role in the history of the east after the second century, but the Carps, along with the Bastarns from Moldavia and Gots from Galitia and Ukraine are accursed from the Roman provinces close to the Danube. All the victories against them are in vain, their numbers are limitless.”
Along with the Vandals the Carps came from the south of Moldavia and raided into Greece. From the inscription of Tiberius Plautius Sil Vanus Aelianus, a once-time governor of Moesia, we can see the oppressive action of the Romans against these tribes which included the exchanging of hostages between both parties and tribute in the form of large quantities of grain for the Roman Empire. The inscriptions describe the disasters caused by the Gots, Sarmatians, Bastarns and the Carps. Zosimos mentions the Carps in 380 AD as allies of the Huns and the Skirs.
The Carpathians is the name of the mountain ranges (Ptolemeu mentions Karpates Oros and Ammianus Montes Serrorum) in which the Carps lived. They started their invasions in the time of Antonius Pius and in 143 AD and between 156-157 AD, assisted by the Germans, they invaded Dacia and caused chaos.
Antonius Pius took defensive measures, and in the time of Marc Aureliuswaged war against the Macromanic tribe which also affected the Dacian province. Alburnus Maior was destroyed and the emperor gave orders to send new troops into Dacia.Of these, the Fifth Legion ‘Macedonica’, under the command of the governor Claudius Fronto, was charged with defending the capital. On the city’s monuments the inhabitants had placed inscriptions thanking the emperor and governor for their protection.
In 170AD, the German tribe of the Vandals pushed the Costobocs through the Danube from Scythia Minor, until they reached Macedonia and Ahaia, where they pillaged and plundered, increasing the emperors concerns. The Costobocs were eventually defeated and forced to retreat. Their passage is recorded in inscriptions found in Callatis and upon the ‘Tropaeum Traiani’ or Triumphal Monument found in Adamclisi, which is now known as Mangalia. Whilst Commodus was emperor, a huge riot broke out in Roman Dacia. The inhabitants were eventually pacified and things remained peaceful until the appearance of the ‘Gots’ in the time of Caracalla.
The Gots, along with the free Dacian tribes, organised several forays into the empire, starting their attacks against the province of Scythia Minor. Caracalla proceeded to stop these incursions but wasunsuccessful in completely defeating the Dacian's and the Goths.As aconsequence of this defeat the Dacian's were forced to hand over hostages as a guarantee against further attacks.
In the time of Severus Alexander, the free Dacian's once again commenced attacks the empire thus obliging the Romans toretaliate with another campaign against them. In the year 235AD, Emperor Maximinus Thrax was forced to fight against the Carp federation, even though he was a Dacian.During the campaigns he fought with a certain amount of success, which brought him the name of ‘Carpicus Maximus’ meaning Great Carpian. He was however, unable to completely defeat them. The peace lasted only two yearsbefore the Dacian's attacked the empire yet again.
General Tullius Menophilus organised thedefense against the Carps. Maximus Thrax’s planned second invasion into the south of Moldavia never took place because, forunknown reasons, he was killed by his own soldiers.
The Romans agreed a truce with the Gots, but not with the Carps and therefore, they attacked the Roman Empire once again. Emperor Gordianus III had to postpone a planned expedition against Persia, as he was forced to enter Moesia with an entire army. He defeated the Carps, but this new victory did little to change the balance of the force in this area in favour of the Romans.
In 245AD, the Carps returned to Moesia where Phillip the Arab fought many battles against them, eventually defeating, but not completely destroying them. From a coin dated in the year 247AD we can see that both Phillip and his son obtained the title of Carpicus, “The One who defeated the Carps”.
All these events show us that during this time, the borders of the three Dacian provinces were becoming lesssecure, making the possibility of a united Dacia more plausible. Eventually, in 256AD a massive Carpic army crossed into Dacia with the help of the Gots who forged on into Thracia and Macedonia, through to Tessalonica, leaving the Carps in Dacia as an occupying force.
What happened to the governor and the Dacian legions that weren’t send to the to fight the Persians (under Emperor Gordianus III)? How was the Dacian province administrated, and by whom? What became of Dacia under the occupation of the Carps?
These are questions to which historians are unable to provide straightforward answers. However it is possible that the governor retreated, maybe strategically with his legions, south of the Danube that created a natural border. Whilst under the occupation of their free brothers who entered Dacia, the population of Dacia continued their life as before; the peasants continued cultivating their land, exploiting the forests and the mines and paying taxes to a Carpic administration. The Carps were better organised in Sycthia Minor and made a federal state which became stronger than that of the Gots based to the east of Dacia.
Did the Carps change Dacia in any way? What are the remains of this occupation? There are no apparent changes, probably because the area was already predominantly subjected to Roman ways, influences and the Latin language. This invasion can be perceived as a unification of the Dacian Kingdom and the creation of ‘Decebal Dacia’.
Eventually the Carps left Dacia and the frontiers of the Roman Empire were rebuilt, firstly by Claudius II(the Senate ordered the construction of gold statues to commemorate this) and also by Probus who also strengthened the borders of the Empire after their complete abandonment by Emperor Aurelian in 271AD.
As we can see, the Carpic occupation of Dacia started some time before the Emperor Aurelian decided to confirm the situation of autonomy, which had already existed for fourteen years. The Emperor recalled the three governors and the financial administrators, from the province as there was no longer any official need for them and in order to avoid destroying their reputations, the emperor created a province in the south of the Danube which he named Dacia Ripensis. Later on the Emperor Diocletian also created Dacia Mediterranea.Due to the need for legions in other provinces, the Emperor left only a small group of troops on the shores of the Danube together with a fleet for mobility.
The autonomy of Dacia under the Carps was a strategy commonly chosen by the Roman Empire at this time where the situation was volatile. They would organise a new administration with either local lords or Roman generals and their legions placed in power. However the Roman Empire never gave up on these provinces once they that had become ‘independent’ and they would always try to recover the provinces in one way or another.
In 278AD, the ‘Dacia Felix’ (Roman name for Dacia) from the north of the Danube, took advantage of these military decisions made by the Roman Empire and strengthened its frontier with fortifications, as the land had an agriculturally economic value.
In 292AD Diocletian fought a war with the Sarmatians in the east of the Tyras (Nistru). The Sarmatians lostand the influence of the Empire rose further.
These facts about Dacia show us that the province continued to exist and to be overseen by the Roman Emperors, despite later invasions in the area by other nations.