Archaeological diggings revealed the existence of intense economic ties between the free Dacians, the Roman administration and the inhabitants of the conquered province and also unearthed the famous Dacian pottery kilns
The region making up today’s central Romania, inside the Carpathian arch up to the Danube River in the south and southwest, was conquered in 106 by the Roman Emperor Trajan to later become, for 165 years, the Roman Province of Dacia.
Many of the territories Dacians inhabited at the time remained free, but were under the cultural and economic influence of the Roman Empire. One of these territories inhabited by free Dacians was located in the north of today’s Romania, more precisely in Satu Mare County.
Archaeological diggings revealed the existence of intense economic ties between the free Dacians, the Roman administration and the inhabitants of the conquered province. Diggings also unearthed Dacian kilns for burning clay in Medieşu-Aurit. At present, this site is deemed to have been the biggest centre for manufacturing ceramic objects in the whole of Europe during the Roman Empire period. The first archaeological diggings took place between 1965 and 1967, when 10 kilns were unearthed.
Diggings were resumed in 2000 and ever since, practically every year, the number of discovered kilns has grown, reaching almost 260. The kilns were used mainly for burning ceramic containers for food. The containers had more than 1 meter in height and their diameter sometimes exceeded 200 cm. The objects found as well as the kilns date back to the 2nd and 3rd centuries. In Medieşu-Aurit Dacians used to make kilns in the same area where they lived, unlike other regions where the production area was located on the outskirts of settlements.
Archaeologist Robert Gindele, who is in charge of the archaeological site in Mediesu-Aurit, will now tell us more about the area where the Dacian kilns were discovered: “The site is unique because that was an almost industrial area, the whole activity in the region focused on making ceramic objects. In other places, the kilns were placed near human settlements. In this case, the Dacians lived in the very area with kilns, their main activity being the production of ceramic objects. The site is located 100 kms away from the Roman city of Porolissum (currently the village of Moigrad in Salaj County). Given the context, we do not rule out the idea that this ceramics centre provided ceramic objects to the Roman army. We have unearthed several military objects which point to the presence of the Roman army in the area. Basically, it was the ancient correspondent of a present-day industrial zone. Very recently, we have also discovered a centre for iron ore reduction only 3 km away. It was a very active industrial region, if we may say so, and it was the most important such area in the ‘barbarian’ Europe of those times.”
With every digging session, tens of thousands of pottery fragments are found. Some of them are regarded by experts as “ethnic indicators.” Robert Gindele tells us what the stylistic and other elements are, which help archaeologists distinguish between the Germanic pottery and the Dacian one, for instance: “We can safely say that the site was inhabited, and that the pots had been made by free Dacians. This is very interesting, because in the same area archaeologists also discovered Germanic sites, Vandal to be more precise. But the Mediesu site only contains Dacian items. It is Dacian, ancient, hand-made pottery. It has certain well-known characteristics, displayed even by the typical 3rd-century models like the Dacian teacup, the alveolar band on pots and other motifs dating back to the rules of Decebalus and Burebista, before the Roman conquest. These archaic, traditional motifs were in use until the 4th century.”
Some of the pottery pieces found in Mediesu-Aurit, in Satu-Mare County, are on display in various museums across Romania. Part of the site is also open for tourists, who can see first-hand the famous Dacian pottery kilns, and can watch the archaeologists at work.