By happy coincidence, the Carpathian Mountains provide not only for the needs of all those that have lived in its morning shadow, but from them flowed all of the handsomest of natures wrought. Gold, silver, copper, tin, salt, amber, obsidian, flint and then the faunals of which the grape and bread corn prevail then the fuels of the earth in timber and oil all around. Of marvelous curiosities there number the ivory and the golden honey which the people brought forth from mudden hives, the strange fishes which everywhere swam and the horse that wanted for man.
All of these wonders they kept for themselves except for that which overabundance was apparent and its value where there was not was great indeed. The issue came that these bearers of such wealth found that those who were eager to trade had little to offer but worship and slavery.
And so they came to Dodona with themselves and their articles of great desire for Dodona was exactly 500 schoenes due south of the great civilization and so was marked the place where they would come each year for they did not want to other leg to be known to the lowly.
Archaeological evidence shows that mining in the area goes back to the Bronze Age (1900 – 1700 BC) (Kissling, 1967). The main ore exploited by that time was native copper from the oxidation zone of the deposit. Later on, the important iron ores occurring in the area determined the gradual switch from copper to iron mining.
Mining was an important activity of the ancient inhabitants of present day Romanian territory, the Dacians. After the Roman conquest in 106 AD., mining expanded all over the Roman province of Dacia, Ocna de Fier area included. At Berzovis (present day Berzovia, ten kilometres north-west of Ocna de Fier) a Roman metallurgy school, Schola fabrorum, was established, showing the keen interest the Romans had in metal extraction. At Cracul cu Aur (= “Golden Hill” in Romanian), north of Ocna de Fier, old Roman gold mining galleries are still to be seen. They are similar to the much better preserved ones at Rosia Montana (“Verespatak”) in the Apuseni Mountains.
Gold mining at Cracul cu Aur (“Wolfganger Gebirge” in German) was active until the 13th century. Mining in the area diminished from 1554 to 1718, during the Ottoman Turk occupation. After the Turkish-Austrian peace accord at Passarowitz (1718), the Banat region became part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Mining at Ocna de Fier – Dognecea was boosted by the new administration. The present day village of Dognecea was founded around 1720, while Ocna de Fier is mentioned for the first time in 1760 – 1765 (Kissling, 1967; Suciu, 1968). In 1719 an iron smelter was built at Bocsa, 7 km north of Ocna de Fier, and in 1721 the first copper smelter started operating at Dognecea. Ruins of the old smelters, as well as old slag dumps, can be still seen at Dognecea.
At Ocna de Fier mining progressed in both open pits and underground, while the Dognecea section of the deposit was mined mainly underground. The main open pits, listed from north-east to south-west, were (Plate 1): Eleonora, Paulus, Franciscus, Ignatius, Terezia, Delius, Magnet, Sfintii Arhangheli, Simon-Iuda, Elias-Enoch, Iuliana.
During the 18th and the 19th centuries iron ore production increased steadily, up to 146,150 t in 1897. This increase, combined with the discovery of important coal deposits some 20 km south-east of the area, triggered the development of an important iron smelting centre at Resita.
After the 1st World War the production decreased, mainly due to exhaustion of the richest parts of the deposits. A short revival of the mining occurred in the sixties and seventies when better ore dressing methods were used, allowing mining of lower grade ore.
Today the magnetite, lead, zinc and copper ore reserves that once made the region famous are completely exhausted. Mining is restricted to recycling old dumps with 18 – 25 % FeO. However, an estimated 2 Mt of hematite bearing (mainly granditic) skarns remain in the area. Provided that an adequate ore dressing technology can be applied (e.g., electrostatic separation), the life of the deposit could be extended by a decade or so. This could be even longer if the important reserves of industrial minerals (garnet) and dimension stone (marble, granodiorite) present in the area were mined.
Around 140 mineral species and varieties have been mentioned so far from the contact zone of the deposit. Table 2 gives a (comprehensive?) list of mineral species and varieties formed by contact metamorphism/metasomatism and subsequent hydrothermal processes. The list, based mainly on old mine records and on the work of Clark (1993), Codarcea (1931), Cotta (1864), Ghergari et al. (1986), Ilinca et al. (1993), Kissling (1967), Nicolescu (1982), Vlad (1974) and other references cited in the table, does not include rock forming minerals of igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks occurring in the area. Underlined species in italics are likely to be collected in the field.
Ludwigite was described “from the southern part” of the deposit (Iuliana area?) by Tschermak (1874), based on the analysis of Ludwig (hence the mineral name). It is an intermediate member of the ludwigite – vonsenite series, with up to 30 mol. % vonsenite (Kissling, 1967). Veszelyite, discovered by Schrauf the same year as ludwigite, was never found again at Ocna de Fier. According to data published by Clark (1993), in 1818 J. Leman renamed the “Tafelspath” of Stutz (1793, cited also by Karsten in 1800) to wollastonite (wollastonite-1T), on samples from Dognecea. However, although present at Dognecea, wollastonite has a subordinate character in the skarn here. It seems very likely that Stutz, who apparently did not visit the deposit, described “Tafelspath” in a hand-specimen brought to him, probably from another skarn deposit in Banat, i.e., Ciclova, where wollastonite is widespread and well developed. Thus, Ciclova and not Dognecea might be the true type locality for wollastonite (G. Papp, personal communication; see also Estner, 1797, and Esmark, 1798). Beudant (1832, p. 218 – 219), too, quotes “Csiklova” as the sole wollastonite occurrence in Banat. However, at this stage seems that more data are needed to “move” the type locality of wollastonite from Dognecea to Ciclova. It is sure though that wollastonite has to be added to the list of minerals first described from present day Romanian territory. This is a novelty for Romanian mineral history, overlooked so far in all reviews on mineral species described from Romania.
Detrital iron ore
At the Strosu and Amelia Hills (~ 1 km north of Ocna de Fier, along the limestone syncline), important concentrations of detrital magnetite and hematite ores were mined. These concentrations in Pliocene detrital rocks (sands, silts, clays), were made up of very large, over 1 m3, rolled magnetite and hematite blocks, with little or no skarn silicates. It is generally accepted that the ore blocks were eroded and transported from the primary skarn deposit, although it is difficult to imagine an agent strong enough to carry and roll magnetite blocks sometimes larger than 1 m3.
Birth of Metalurgy
Two main traditions existed in Greek antiquity about the beginning of mining, and both these traditions located the origin of metallurgy in the countries north of the Lower Istru.
According to the Pelasgian tradition, which was the oldest, divine Prometheus had been the first to know the value of metals, of gold, silver, copper and iron and was the first to invent the art of putting these elements in the service of mankind.
“Who could say that has found before me the copper, iron, silver and gold, these useful things hidden in the earth? I know well that nobody could maintain this, but only for wanting to boast in a foolish way” (Eschyl, Prometheus vinctus, v. 500-504). This is how Prometheus expresses himself in the traditions gathered by the ancient tragic poet Eschyl. And this Prometheus is the representative of the first European civilization, and according to all the southern legends his country appears to be at north of the Lower Istru, in the countries of ancient Dacia (see previous chapters).
We find a second tradition with Hesiodus. As this author tells us in his Theogony, the first workers of mines and metals had been the Cyclops, the sons of Uranos and Gaea.
In the beginning Hesiodus’ Cyclops dwelt underground. In the war with the Titans they manufactured Jove’s lightning and gave him the thunderbolt (v. 141. 504). They had therefore some advanced knowledge of pyrotechnic chemistry, knowledge which was lost later on. The Cyclops of Hesiodus were masters in various crafts (Ibid, v. 146). The cities echoed far with the sound of his hammers (Valerius Flaccus, Argon. IV. 286 seqq).
The country of these Cyclops, or second grade titans, was at north of the Greek horizon, this side of the great and famous river called Oceanos potamos (Istru), the land of origin of all the gods.
Later though, the Cyclops of Hesiodus, these miners and metal workers about whom the legends also told that they had a round eye on the forehead (Damastis Sigensis, fragm 1 in Fragm. Hist. graec. II. 65), were mistaken for the Arimaspians (Arimascii), a historic people which formed a branch of the great nation of the Hyperboreans. (Some authors believe that by this mythological eye must have been the lamp tied up on the forehead by those who worked in the dark underground tunnels: Diodorus Siculus, lib. III. 12).
The Arimaspians dwelt near Rhipaei mountains, near Istru, which formed in later times the western boundary of Scythia (Justinus, Hist. Philipp. Lib. II. c. 2), and which Stephanos Byzanthinos calls “the mountains of the Hyperboreans” (‘Ripaia, oros ‘yperboreon)
According to the geographer Mela, lib. II. c. 1, Rhipaei mountains belonged to Europe. There was a very fertile region close to them, followed by the Scythians and the Arimaspians.
According to Apollonius Rhodius (Argon. IV. 287), the babbling sources of Istru (the cataracts) were in Rhipaei mountains].
The epic poet Aristeas, who had lived, as some authors tell us, before Homer, characterizes like this in his poem Arimaspea, the legendary and brave people of the Arimaspians: “countless sturdy warlike man, rich in horses, sheep and cattle, with thick locks, the strongest of all people, each having one eye only in the forehead” (Tomaschek, Sitzungsberichte d. kais. Acad. d. Wiss. CXVI Bd. p. 758).
The country in which the Arimaspians dwelt had had in prehistoric antiquity an extraordinary celebrity because of its immense gold riches. Here, as Greek legends told, the gold was extracted from mines by the griffons (grypes), and the Arimaspians were in a continuous state of war with these mythological birds, from which they knew how to steal the gold (Pliny, H. N. VII. 2. 1) The griffons were a species of fabulous birds of antiquity. They had a real history though, because for the workers of the gold mines their existence had been a lasting belief.
According to what the naturalist Aelianus had heard (Hist. anim. IV. 27), the griffons had a lion’s body, strong talons, black feathers on their backs, red on the chest and white wings. According to Ctesias, they had violet feathers on their backs, a vulture’s head and eyes like lightning. They made their nests on mountains, where it was impossible to reach them. They guarded the gold, dug it out themselves, and made their nests of it. (Seeburg, Die Sage von den Greifen bei den Alten, p. 20).
According to Isidorus of Sevilla (Orig. XII. 2. 17), the griffons were born in the mountains of the Hyperboreans (meaning Rhipaei, Carpathians).
Some historical memories about the lands where the metal industry had first originated had been still preserved during Greek antiquity.
So, according to the oldest tradition, gold (aurul, aurum, chrysos) had been first discovered by Sol (Sore), the son of the Ocean, or of Istru (Pliny, lib. VII. 57. 6).
And the art of smelting copper (arama, aes, aeramen, chalchos) had been invented, according to another tradition gathered by Aristotle, by Lydus (Lud) from Scythia (Pliny, lib. VII. 57. 6), that is from the mountainous and blessed region of European Scythia, or from the Carpathians, because, as Herodotus writes (lib. IV. c. 71), the Scythians from north of the black Sea did not use copper.
The working of copper mines in the countries of Dacia goes back to very remote prehistoric times. Here have been discovered and are discovered all the time real treasures of objects, weapons and tools, made of pure copper, more than in any other country of Europe (Pulszky, Die Kupferzeit in Ungarn, B.Pest, 1884, p. 10). Here the industry of this metal was indigenous.
Copper was one of the metals of Dacia par excellence. Here has existed a prehistoric epoch called, from an archaeological point of view, of copper, which neither the southern countries, nor the northern or the western countries of Europe had ever had.
On another hand, iron (ferul, ferrum, sideros) is one of the metals to which Greek antiquity had attributed a Scythian origin.
The first known workers of iron had been, according to Greek traditions, Chalybii (Ammianus, 1. XXII. 8). One of their most significant centers of production was, as Eschyl tells us (Prom. vinct. v. 714-715), between Pharanx (Parang) mountain at north of Istru and the “violent and difficult to cross river”,
We have shown earlier that the name Chalybi (Chalybes), which the Greeks gave to the workers of iron in the parts of Scythia, derives from the old Pelasgian word “coliba” (cabane), meaning also shared by the German metallurgic word “Hutte” (Anlage zur Erzeugung oder Verarbeitung eines Metalls).
These Chalybi, renowned masters of the fabrication of iron, were considered in the southern parts, in Greece, in the islands of the Aegean Sea and in Asia Minor, as migrated and settled there from the lands of Scythia (Eschyl, Septem. Adv. Thebas, v. 729). Eschyl calls the mountainous part of Scythia where divine Prometheus had suffered, “Country mother of iron” (Prom. vinct. v. 301). And according to Stephanos Byzanthinos, iron had had in Greek antiquity the attribute of Scythian
Eschyl (Septem c. Thebas, v. 816-817) mentions the Scythian iron beaten with the pestle.
Other traditions attribute the discovery and working of iron and all other metals, to some ancient semi-religious colleges called Dactyles, Curetes, Corybantes and Cabeiri. The origin of all these societies was in the parts north of the Lower Istru.
According to the scholiast of Apollonius Rhodius, the Dactyles were of barbarian or Scythian origin. One of the Dactyles has even the name of Scythes (Pauly, R. E. Idaei Dactyli, p. 55).
The first beginnings of the history of silver (argint, argentums, argiros) were also in the metal rich lands of Scythia.According to the traditions gathered by Hyginus, the first who had found the importance of silver as a metal had been Indus (Sindus), a king from Scythia, or Erichtonius, the son of Vulcan, had been the first to take the silver from here to Athens (Fab. 274).
Other traditions attributed the discovery of this precious metal to an extraordinary fire which happened in the classical mountains of Rhipaei (the Greek grammarian Athenaeus – lib. VI – Fragm. Hist. Graec. Ed. Didot, III. 273). Here, in the huge and ancient forests, the fire spread to vast areas, and the silver from the upper strata of the earth melting, came out to the surface and started to flow like real rivers.
This tradition is also reproduced by the didactic poet Lucretius, who attributes the beginning of knowledge of all metals to “the great Mountains” (Montes magni, Ourea machra with Hesiodus), a name under which in ante-Herodotic times were understood especially Rhipaei or the Carpathians.
“Summing up”, says Lucretius (De rer. Nat. V. v. 1240 seqq), “ the copper, gold, iron, silver masses and heavy lead had been discovered in the great Mountains, where the flames of the fire had destroyed the immense forests, either because they had been lighted by the lightning of the sky, or because the people, warring through the forests with one another, had put fire in order to inspire terror into the enemy, or because they, attracted by the richness of the soil, had wanted to open new clearing for cultivation and to transform the grazing places into tilled fields.
But whatever the cause, the flames of the fire had consumed with frightening cracks the high woods, down to their roots, and the fire had baked the soil in depth, and its veins melting, had started to flow on the surface in rivers of silver, gold, lead and copper, which, gathering in the cavities of the earth, had congealed. And later, the people, seeing these cooled masses glistening on the surface of the earth, attracted by their fine color and seeing that these metals had taken the same shape as the cavities in which they had gathered, had the idea to melt these metals in fire and shape of them anything they wanted”.
These are the main traditions of the Greek world about the regions where the economic value of metals had been first known. In prehistoric times, the great centers for the fabrication of metals, like Alybe, Temesa, Tartessos and Chalcis or Baia-de-arama (TN – the Copper Mine), also appear on the northern parts of the Lower Istru.
The poet Homer mentions in the Iliad (II. v. 857) the renowned but remote mines from Alybe, in the region of the Halizoni, where, according to him, silver was born.
Homer’s Halizoni, Pelasgian people, allies of Priam, called by Herodotus (lib. IV. 17. 52) Alazoni, dwelt on both banks of the river Hypanis (Bug, in today county of Cherson). They were spread though right to the region of the upper Carpathians in Transylvania. (In Valerius Flaccus’ Argonautica, VI. v. 100-104, Alazonii appear as neighbors with Ba(s)ternii, and bear shining white shields, albentes parmas, an allusion to their silver mines, Alybe).
The word Alybe is not Greek, it belongs to the Pelasgian idiom spoken on the northern parts of Istru. Anyway, the original form of this name has been Albile or Albiile (TN – the White ones).
During Middle Age the most productive silver mines in the region of the Carpathians were at Rodna-Veche (TN – Old Rodna), on the north-eastern parts of Transylvania (Magister Rogerius, Carm. Mis. A.1241; Engel, Allg. Welthistorie, XLIX Th. 3. Bd. p. 7).
Still in this region of the eastern Carpathians, the folk traditions of the 18th century mentioned an entire mountain of silver, from where could be gathered huge quantities of the richest gold and silver, these traditions being reminiscences of a remote epoch.
This miraculous mountain of silver of the Carpathians was, according to the historian Sulzer, on the western part of Neamt district, at the frontier between Moldova and Transylvania (Geschichte d. transalpinischen Daciens, I, 1881, p. 143). In the international acts of 1791 regarding the delimitation of the boundary between Moldova and Transylvania, this important ridge of the Carpathians, rich in metals, appears under the name of Albiele (Conventiunea de delimitare, Bucuresti, 1887, p. 246, 267), while the Romanian people calls it even today Albia, Albele (Marele dict. geogr. al Romaniei, Vol. I. p. 36), or more correctly Albiele (1,597m – this massif is composed from the peaks Albia and Albiuta).
In close vicinity with this ridge there is on the territory of Moldova the mountain called “Piciorul Argintariei” and “Paraul Argintariei” (TN – The Foot and the Stream of Arginataria – Charta Moldovei, Instit. Geogr. al armatei); And on the south-western part, or on the territory of Transylvania, there is another height with the characteristic name “Petra Argintariei” (TN – the Rock of …), in which has its source and flows southwards another mountain stream called “Paraul Argintariei”.
Finally, towards west and north of this extensive group formed by the mountains Albiele, Piciorul Argintariei, Petra Argintariei and Paraiele Argintariei, are the heights called Arsita (two), Delul Arsurilor, “Petra arsa” in Transylvania, and Arsita Siragului in Moldova, names which indicate that once some vast and strong fires had consumed the ancient woods which covered these mountains (TN – ars(a) = burnt).
To this important mountain of ancient Dacia refers the text of the learned grammarian Athenaeus, from the 2nd century ad: namely, that in the mountain called in antiquity Rhipaea, later Olbia, and now Alpia, rivers of silver flowed as a result of the forests catching fire (Fragm. Hist. graec. III. Ed. Didot, p. 273).
This famous silver region, unique in folk traditions, composed by the mountains Albiele, Piciorul Argintariei, Petra Argintariei and Paraiele Argintariei, is incontestably identical with the famous mines from Alybe, where, as Homer tells us, silver had been born, or in other words, where the silver had come out to the surface, from the depth of the earth. Regarding Alybe, we also add here another geographical circumstance. On the southern part of this vast massif rich in silver flows the river called Bistriciora, which flows into Bistrita of Moldova, a name which we also see reflected in the name given by Homer to the hero from Alybe, Epistrophos.
The countries of Dacia are characterized until the Roman epoch by a great abundance of silver, and on another hand the Scythians from north of the Black Sea, as Herodotus tells us, did not use silver, a normal thing, as the plains of European Sarmatia had always lacked mines
A second important center for its metallic riches had been in ante-Hellenic times Temesa. In Homer’s Odyssey (I. 187), the goddess Minerva says the following to Telemachos, the son of Ulysses: “I went by ship over the Black sea, to Temesa, for copper, but I bring shining iron” (meaning steel). We have here a precious geographical indication. The road for the Greek traders who sailed to Temesa to buy copper and iron, was across the Black Sea or the Euxine Pontos.
We find a second important note about the situation of Temesa with the poet Ovid. According to him (Met. XV. 520), the itinerary of those who navigated to Temesa passed through the steep and difficult to navigate strait once called Ceraunia (the mountain of Cerna), and by a barbarian city, unknown today, called Romechium. We have here two topographical names which the poet Ovid had extracted from the old geographical descriptions, without realizing at his time the true situation of Homeric Temesa. This famous metals market of prehistoric times, from where the southern lands bought the copper needed for edifices and objects destined to their divine cult, had been without doubt in the region abundant in metals from north of the Lower Istru, where had been concentrated the main and the most productive mines of the ancient world
Some have believed that Temesa (Temesa) of Homer might have been identical with the city from Lower Italy called during the Roman epoch Tempsa and Temsa (Pliny, lib. XIV. 8, III. 10. 2; Livy, lib. XXXIV. 44). But neither the name, nor the geographical position correspond to the Homeric traditions, and never has been found, to this day, on the territory of this city from Brutium, any trace of some archaic mining works].
Various localities at the foot of the Carpathians (in Hungary and Transylvania) had, some in past times, others even today, the name of Timis (Temes). Of these we shall mention here only two: Timisoara, ancient and famous citadel, the most important and commercial city of Banat, situated south of the river Timis, which in older documents of Hungary figures under the name of castrum Temes, and a Romanian village in the district of Mihadia, today disappeared, which around 1408 was called Temes (Fejer, Codl. Dipl. III.1. 124. 1212; Pesty, Varispansagok, p. 500-502’; II. 543).
A third market city of prehistoric times, renowned for its mineral riches, had been at Tartessos (Certes), near the Columns of Hercules, close to Cerna, the vast source of commercial prosperity of the Tyriens (see Ch. XVI.11).
And finally, Stephanos Byzanthinos also mentions a locality in the regions of Scythia, with the name of Chalcis (Chalchis), meaning Baia-de-arama (TN – The Copper Mine).
In ancient times various localities had the name Chalcis. But this name had been particularly attributed to an important city, where according to some traditions copper had been first produced. This famous city, called Chalcis in Greek form, where the industry of copper mines had been first initiated, had existed in all probability in the region abundant in metals of Scythia, because according to ancient traditions Lydus (Lud, Pelasgian name) of Scythia had first discovered the art of melting and pouring copper.
The origin of copper was Scythian in any case, as can be stated by the so-called copper epoch which characterizes the Carpathians of Dacia
Some authors, Pliny (IV. 21. 3) and Stephanos Byzanthinos among them, had the view that the ancient city Chalcis, where copper had been first discovered, might have been the so-called Chalcis from the island Eubea in the Aegean Sea. Not only we do not have any positive information about the working of copper in Eubea, but according to some, this island has no metal bearing strata (Schrader, Sprachvergleichung u. Urgeschichte, p. 284)].
The city Chalcis from Scythia mentioned by Stephanos Byzanthinos, can not by other than the so-called Baia-de-Arama from the western parts of Romania, where the Austrian administration had stated even around 1719 that these mines, worked from remote times, had almost dried up (Wenzel, Magyarorsz, Banyaszatanak kritikai tortenete, p. 243); where on all the surrounding hills and valleys can be recognized even today countless traces of mines or excavations in the archaic system; where we ourselves have seen in 1892, 1899 and 1900 the vestiges of some ancient aqueducts dug in rocks and vast deposits of molten slag, covered in some places with an alluvial stratum of soil more than one meter thick
The archdeacon Paul of Aleppus, who had traveled through Moldova and the Romanian country between 1650-1660, writes about these mines the following: “in the Romanian country a fine copper mine exists, where the metal is extracted from very deep wells in the form of a black rock, which is then manufactured with much art” (Hasdeu, Arch. ist. Tom, I. P.2. p. 105).
It is a positive fact that the mine industry, this creation of Pelasgian genius and culture, had had an immense development in the countries of Dacia during ante-Hellenic times. This is the only region on the continent of Europe where, according to all the geographical and archaeological data, to all the geological conditions, a strong metallurgic civilization had existed, which, with its metal production had dominated during the sacred Pelasgian times, not only the southern countries, but also the western, northern and part of the eastern ones
In 1580 a certain Basilius Transalpensis described the metal riches of Transylvania in a petition addressed to the sultan (Hurmuzaki, Documente III. p. 57-58).
The river Aries seems to be the same river which figures with Herodotus (IV. 49) under the name of Auras. The word Alutum as metallurgical term meant in ancient times washed gold, from alluo. According to Pliny (XXXIV. 47) the gold mines of Lusitania and Gallaecia were called alutia, vulg. aluta; and the gold found in the upper stratum of the earth was alutatium (Ibid. XXXIII. 21)]. Here we find everywhere countless traces of archaic mine works: washing of gold, deserted mines, metal smelters, fields of slag, copper tablets, misshapen pieces of melted lead and gold and
In Homeric times the territory of Hellada was totally devoid of mines. Ancient Greeks did not extract metals from the earth. We have only examples that they procured them through exchange (E. Saglio, Dict. des antiquitees gr. et rom. v. Caelatura p. 784, note 51).
In European Sarmatia neither copper or silver mines, nor gold or iron mines have ever existed.
The same happened in Germany. “If the good gods” writes Tacitus, “or the unfavorable gods have denied the Germans the gold and the silver I cannot tell, but neither can I affirm that there might not exist in Germany some vein of gold or silver, because who has explored this land? They also don’t have much iron, as can be judged by their weapons” (Germania, c. 5).
In Gaul the metal objects had been generally imported through commerce, not the maritime commerce but via the great continental road of prehistoric ethnic migrations (Bertrand, La Gaule avant les Gaulois, p. 6, 195-196. And according to Diodorus Siculus – V. 27. 1 – in Gaul had not existed silver mines).
The distinguished Swedish archaeologist Montelius also states that the prehistoric objects of pure copper found on the territory of Scandinavia had been imported there from the region of Austro-Hungaria – Cf. Pulszky, Magyarorszag Archaeologiaja, I, p. 137).
About Africa, the archaeologist Morgan says: “not in Africa must be searched for the origin of iron” (Congr. Int. ant. Et arch. preh. Paris, 1889, p. 286). And about India Pliny writes: “India has neither gold, nor lead” (H. N. XXXIV. 48. 3).
On the contrary, the Pelasgian tribes from the Carpathians had been famous from the most remote times of European civilization not only for their riches in flocks, herds and studs, not only for their prodigiously productive plains, but also for their wealth in metals. Here were the legendary Arimaspians, on whose locks ornaments of gold and precious stones shone (Lucanis, Phars. III. 278-279).
From here traveled the god Apollo towards the southern lands, astride a griffon, symbol of gold riches (see Ch.V.2).
Here lived the opulent Agathyrses, with their costumes laden with gold (Herodotus, lib. IV. c. 104) . Even in the times of Domitian and Trajan, the metal riches of Dacia had achieved an extraordinary fame.
King Decebalus, as Dio Cassius tells us, had hidden his famous treasures of gold, silver and various precious objects, under the bed of the river Sargetia, which flew along his capital. But Trajan, helped by Bicile, one of the intimate friends of Decebalus, discovered the secret and seized these immense riches (Hist. rom., Ed. Gros et Boissee, lib. LXVIII. c. 14).
The Column of Trajan also presents several characteristic scenes, showing how after the defeat of Dacia, the Roman soldiers bring before Trajan some robust mountain horses laden with precious vases of gold and silver.
We find an important historical note about the huge booty of gold and silver seized from Dacia by the emperor Trajan, with the 6th century historian Ion Laurentius Lydus (De Magistr. II. c. 8).
The emperor Justinian, this author tells us, in haste to do something useful for the state, decided to institute the function of prefect of Scythia; that is because, being a wise man and studying what had been written, he had discovered that the region of Scythia had been blessed not only for its riches, but also for its brave men, and not only in the old times, but still at his present time. This region had been first defeated by Trajan, when Decebalus had been king of the Getae, from whom he took as war booty 5,000,000 gold pounds / librae (5,071,400,000 fr) and 10,000,000 silver pounds (897,354,684 fr. Calculation done by considering the weight of Roman libra of 327.1873g and the ratio between silver and gold at the time of Domitian of 11,303 : 1).
This was apart from priceless cups and vases, flocks, weapons and more than 500,000 people, the most warlike men together with their weapons, as had been stated by Crito, who had witnessed this war.
So Justinian, not wanting to be less than Trajan in any matter, decided to keep under his power also the northern lands, which had once freed themselves from the Roman yoke.
The emperor Trajan had seized therefore from Dacia, apart from the enormous sums in coinage and various masses of gold and silver, a prodigious number of precious vases. Their value, says Crito, was incalculable. And without doubt these objects made of gold, silver and precious stones, worked in the style of the Hyperboreans or the Arimaspians, had in that epoch of opulence and luxurious lifestyle of the Romans, an unheard of price .
[12. Homer (Iliad. XXIV, 234) mentions a magnificent gold cup of Priam, which he had received as a gift from the Thracians, when they had come in a mission to him. The ancients understood under the name of Thracians the entire people of the Getae, from south and north of the Lower Danube, together with the Scythians (Stephanos Byzanthinos; Herodotus, IV. 93; VII. 20)].
Finally if, apart from the booty seized for the treasury of the state, we also took into account the vast plunder committed by the tribunes, the centurions and the soldiers, who all became rich men as a result of this war, and if we considered that the entire Dacian nation had been despoiled of its wealth, then we could say that the war booty seized from Dacia in precious metals had reached at least 10 billion (milliard) francs.
We can have an idea of the value which these sums represented in Trajan’s time from what Pliny tells us (H. N. lib. XXXIII. c. 17), that until his time the public treasury of the Roman state, which was deposited in the temple of Saturn, had never been more than 1,620,829 gold librae, or in other words, the metal treasure of the Roman empire, after so many successful wars and so many taxes imposed on the subjected countries, did not reach even a third of the value of the gold and silver booty taken from the Dacians.
Trajan’s spoils from Dacia exceeded in wealth and magnificence everything that the Roman people had seen until that time. It was the greatest triumph of Rome, not only over the strength and bravery of a feared nation (Lucanis, Phars. II. 54; VIII. 423), but over the riches of gold and silver of a “blessed” country, riches accumulated in the course of centuries and millennia.
With these prodigious spoils the emperor Trajan built his vast Forum, decorated with various statues and figures of Dacians, forum in which he erected his Triumphal Arch, on which were represented various scenes from the Dacian war, Basilica Ulpia, the Column of Trajan, the two Ulpia Libraries and a temple of the emperor, a building which Ammianis Marcellinus names unique in the universe and deserving even the admiration of the gods, as it surpassed any description, and which no mortal could ever replicate (lib. XVI. c. 10). And Gellius writes (Noct. Attic. XIII. 24) that around the periphery of the forum were also placed various military gilded simulacra and ensigns, having the inscription: Ex manubiis, meaning from the sums obtained by the selling of the spoils.
But what presents a particular characteristic of the wealth of this country in precious objects of art is that, notwithstanding the despoliation by the Romans and the barbarians, the soil of Dacia is even today a bountiful source of prehistoric gold and silver treasures, so that the treasures of Priam, of the dynasties of Mycenae and of Orchomenos appear in truth as precious family treasures, but modest anyway compared to the immense treasures which have been discovered so far on the territory of Transylvania, Hungary and the Romanian countries, of which not even the tenth part has been carefully collected and conserved.
The metallurgic civilization, which opens a new era of prosperity in the history of mankind, begins, as we see, at north of the Lower Danube, on the territory of Dacia.Here existed in prehistoric times the great centers of production of metals. Here appears the first phase of the fabrication of metal objects, of weapons, tools and ornaments, an industry which makes more and more progresses (Pulszky, Magyarorszag Archaeologiaja, I. p. 141).
From here these products, especially those of copper, bronze and iron take a prodigious expansion. Transported by prehistoric migrations and spread out by commerce to every part of Europe, to Asia and north Africa, they present by their shape, by their symbolic marks and sometimes by their inscriptions, one and the same common origin (Bertrand, La Gaule avant les Gaulois, p. 222), one and the same characteristic type of the metallurgic industry from the Carpathians.