The book “Dacia – The Roman Wars: Volume I Sarmizegetusa” by Radu Oltean is an English-language book that focuses on the presentation of Trajan’s first Dacian war in 101-102 CE, based on the latest archaeological findings and studies.
Radu Oltean has a known name for military enthusiasts, especially those interested in ancient times. Oltean is a Romanian author of outstanding historical illustrations; in his portfolio, he has a lot of credible and extremely interesting works.
This book is the first of two parts in a series about, as I mentioned, Trajan’s wars in Dacia. I will not hide – I am delighted with the work that the author put into creating the graphics and writing the book.
The book consists of seven chapters:
- The first focuses on the presentation of the city of Rome itself, and its key architectural features, related to Trajan’s war and the emperor himself;
- The second one deals with the origin of the peoples (including the Getae and Dacians) inhabiting the territory of today’s Romania and the development of statehood and power;
- The third is a description of the conflicts of the Romans with the peoples living in or around Dacia, before the wars of Trajan.
- The fourth chapter focuses on the presentation of the achievements and results of archaeological research over the years in the Orăștie Mountains (central Romania). This place is an amazing treasury of knowledge about the Dacians. These mountains were heavily fortified throughout the 1st BCE – 1st century CE, and according to researchers, the capital Sarmizegetusa Regia was the place where the Dacian kings resided, among others Burebista or Decebal. Hills, numerous plateaus, artificial “terraces”, vast forests – these factors allowed the Dacians to create numerous fortresses, centers and fortifications, which together formed an impressive defence system. Traces of numerous towers and walls have been preserved to this day, and their remains are still being discovered along with numerous artefacts. However, as the author emphasizes, there are still many places that have not been explored.
- The fifth chapter is a presentation of the exemplary and coordinated war campaign of the Romans, who, using pontoon bridges, crossed the Danube and struck simultaneously from several sides. The author, through illustrations, photos and thorough descriptions, shows us what the offensive probably looked like and how effective the Roman army was in clashes with the brave Dacians. Numerous detachments of engineers allowed the Romans to conquer the enemy’s fortifications, move the Danube troops even on the non-navigable section of the Danube or build a road in a cliff.
- The sixth chapter is a summary and consequences of the first Dacian war;
- The seventh part is a description of the monuments that were created in honour of the victories and heroic struggle of the Roman army in Adamclisi, among others Tropaeum Traiani.
On the technical side, the book was published by Karwansaray BV. The copy has 152 pages and was printed in A4 format. At the end of the book, we find an extensive bibliography that proves how professional we are dealing with.
To sum up, it is impossible not to admire the beautiful edition of the book. Naturally, without diminishing the professionalism of the content and the multitude of information, the beautiful illustrations, maps and photos delight the most. I was pleased to learn about the multitude of details from the Dack Wars period and I will gladly reach for the next part of the series.