Dr. Aurora Pețan

The Dacian remains in Transylvania and the Austrian excavations at Sarmizegetusa Regia in 1803-1804

Institut für Kunst und Technologie Naturwissenschaften in der Konservierung - Wien


Sarmizegetusa Regia, the capital of the Dacian Kingdom (1st century BC – 2nd century AD), is one of the most interesting archaeological sites in Europe. Although it has been investigated for two centuries, this site is very little known to the scientific world and to the general public due to the scarcity of publications. Sarmizegetusa was one of the largest cities in Europe outside the Greco-Roman world at that time and the centre of a powerful barbarian kingdom, which was conquered by the Romans under the emperor Trajan, in 106 AD.

After de conquest, the site remained abandoned in the mountains, covered by forests, until it was rediscovered by the Austrian administration of Transylvania, at the beginning of the 19th century. They carried out extensive excavations there with the aim of finding gold, but the scholars of the time quickly understood the scientific value of the ruins and asked for careful interventions on site and periodical reports. The resulting documentation shows a very well-preserved site, untouched by major interventions. However, these reports remained unknown and untapped until recently. The impact of the Austrian research upon the archaeological file of Sarmizegetusa Regia is very significant, with major contribution to understanding of the organization, functioning, chronology and history of this site, but also upon the overall understanding of the Dacian civilization.

Aurora Pețan is the author of the book ‘Sarmizegetusa Regia – Rediscovering the fortress’. She is a researcher within the Study Centre of Dacica Foundation (Alun, Romania), with a degree in Classical Studies, two MAs, in Classical Studies and Archaeology and, as well as two PhDs, one in Philology and another one in History.