Tropaeum Traiani is a monument located in the former Roman castrum Civitas Tropaensium (now Adamclisi, approx. 60 km from Constana; in Romania), which was built in 109 CE in the former Province of Lower Moesia (Moesia Inferior). The building was built to celebrate the victory of Emperor Trajan over the Dacians in the winter of 101-102 CE under Adamclisi.
It is one of the lesser-known monuments to the glory of the emperor for defeating the kingdom of Decembala – Dacia – once located in the territory of today’s Romania.
Before the monument, there was an altar in this place, on the walls of which were engraved the names of 3,000 legionaries and troops auxilia who fell for their homeland during the reign of Emperor Domitian (81-96 CE). The construction of this monument was therefore a symbol of the legions’ victory and honouring the fallen. The construction of the monument was also intended, apart from commemorating the victory, to warn adjacent tribes against aggression against Rome. The object was modelled on Augustus’ Mausoleum and was dedicated to Mars Ultor (the “Avenger”) in 107/108 CE There are 54 metopes on the building showing the Roman legions fighting the enemy and the emperor himself fighting the barbarian. Moreover, the monument has 26 decorative plates at the base.
Until the 20th century, the monument was demolished to such an extent that only a mound of stones and mortar with a large number of unique reliefs around have survived. The currently visible building is a reconstruction from 1977. It is worth mentioning that the monument is one of the largest Roman monuments of victory.
There is an inscription on the monument dedicated to Mars (the avenger), which has been partially preserved. The inscription reads:
MARTI ULTOR [I]
IM [P (erator) CAES]AR DIVI
NERVA [E]F (ILIUS) N [E]RVA
TRA]IANUS [AUG (USTUS) GERM (ANICUS)]
DAC]I [CU]S PONT (IFEX) MAX (IMUS)
TRIB (UNICIA) TEST (ATE) XIII
IMP (ERATOR) VI CO (N) S (UL) V P (ater) P (atriae)
? VICTO EXERC]ITU D [ACORUM]
? —- ET SARMATA]RUM
In free translation:
“To Mars Ultor,
Caesar the emperor, son of the divine Nerva,
Nerva Trajan Augustus, Germanicus,
Dacicus, Pontifex Maximus,
Plebeian tribune for the 13th time,
[proclaimed] Emperor [by the army] for the 6th time,
Consul for the 5th time, Father the Fatherland,
Conquered the Dacian and the Sarmatian armies …”