The first inhabitants of Dacia

Fragment from „Prehistoric Dacia” written by Nicolae Densușianu

Dacia presents an extreme antiquity in everything.
When studying the prehistoric times of the countries from the Carpathians and the Lower Danube, an ancient disappeared world, the cradle of the ante-Hellenic civilization, presents itself before our eyes. Behind the populations known in Greco-Roman antiquity under the name of Getae and Dacians, stretches back a long series of several thousand years, a buried history of some great events, whose importance had reached far beyond the horizon of this country, the history of a nation, genial, powerful and glorious, who, long before the Trojan times, had founded the first vast world empire, had founded the first cultural unity in Europe and had at the same time established a basis for the moral and material progress in western Asia and in north Africa.
Dacia, this country miraculously endowed by nature with all the goodness of the climate and soil, the work of remote geological times, had formed the first place perfect for the settling and development of the moral and industrial life of the migratory nations. Dacia, during the history of these dark ages, appears as the first geographical metropolis destined, by its particular position, by the abundance of its population and by the diversity of its riches, to extend during the prehistoric epoch, its ethnic and cultural influence, on one hand towards south, in the Balkan peninsula and beyond the Aegean Sea, and on the other hand towards west, on the great and long communication waterway of the Danube.
The civilizing action exercised by the prehistoric ante-Dacian population from the Carpathians and the Lower Danube, over the ante-Hellenic world, was much greater than we can imagine today, on the basis of fragments of monuments and of historical and folkloric traditions which we have from this extremely remote epoch.
In this regard we are now only at the dawn of prehistoric science [1].

[1. TN – Densusianu starts the footnotes by presenting the classification of the prehistoric epochs as they existed at his time: Paleolithic, Neolithic, Bronze and Iron, and their characteristics, after which he says: “From a chronological point of view, the Paleolithic period corresponds with the quaternary era of the geologists and with that part of the tertiary epoch, in the deposits of which we find stone objects, supposed to have been cut by an intelligent being. And the beginning of the Neolithic period corresponds with the disappearance of the “tarand stag” from the central and western parts of Europe.
In the countries of ancient Dacia, the intermediary epoch of copper follows immediately after the Neolithic. This stage is characterized by tools and weapons made of pure copper. Most of these artifacts of copper have the shape of the stone tools (Pulszky, Die Kupferzeit in Ungarn.Budapest,1884)”. The author presents then the different archaeological divisions of the Stone Age (Chellean, Musterian, Solutre and Magdalene), and also adds a table with these divisions. Speaking about the duration of the Quaternary epoch, he says that science could not yet fix the duration of the geological epochs with at least an approximate chronology, but that the doctrine about a lent and regular action of physical forces and agents was prevalent at his time].



We start here the study of these primitive and mysterious times – and we will tread a very new and difficult road – regarding the first beginnings of the civilization in Dacia.
The first question presented here is, in which epoch appear in the countries of Dacia the first traces of human existence?
Today, owing to tireless investigations made lately by the three sister sciences, geology, paleontology and prehistoric archaeology, it is certain and incontestable that man was scattered over a large part of the surface of our globe even in the first times of the quaternary epoch (Cartailhac, La France prehistorique Paris1889 pag.34); that he was contemporary almost in all the countries of Europe, Belgium, France, Germany, Austria, England, Italy and Russia, with the great mammals extinguished since the flood; that in this epoch man did not know the use of metals and had no other better tools than those of roughly cut stone, and animal bones, worked in a totally primitive shape. Or, in other words: today the prehistoric science has definitely established that in Europe man lived and witnessed the phenomena which characterized the entire quaternary epoch. He saw the violent actions of nature in those remote times, he lived when great masses of glaciers covered the high mountains, the valleys and even part of the plains of Europe; he contemplated the flood and its consequences and assisted to the last mountain lifting action of the earth, when different chains of mountains rose and lengthened [2].

[2. A Romanian geological tradition. In Romanian folk tales there is often presented a vague memory about the mountain building movements which took place in remote geological epochs, when the mountain chains lengthened and hit each other. This phenomenon is characterized in ancient traditions of the Romanian people by the words “when/ where the mountains beat their heads” (Ispirescu, Legends 1882 p.126; Fundescu, Tales 1875 p.35, etc). The geological science today has decided that different mountain chains, even the same mountain unit, were not formed at once, but were the consequence of many repeated mountain building upheavals, so the mountains which beat their heads remind us the consecutive lifting, crashing and smashing of the solid crust of the earth, happened during the geological epochs. This tradition, that mountains are a later formation of the earth crust is also found in Hesiodus’ Theogony (v.126-129). There exists even today a very widely spread tradition with the Romanian people, that in the beginning the earth was flat, without hills and mountains. This tradition has a semi-religious form. It is sung in carols and it attributes the lifting of the hills and mountains to St. Ion and Mos Ajun (TN – Old man eve/ referring to Christmas), (both identical with Ianus of the Romans).

That too-high God, let me (Ion-Sant-Ion) measure the earth,
The earth with the walking, the sky with the rod…,
I found too much earth, I pushed it, I made hills, I made valleys,
I made beautiful mountains, covered with snow.

(Communicated by Gr.Craciunas, Ciubanca, Transylvania)

We are two little angels, sent by God,
to measure the earth, and we found too much.
We wander, what are we to do? Then Mos-Ajun said:
High dark mountains, deep valleys, cold springs!

(Communicated from Baltati, Ramnicul-Sarat district)]


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