Through the years, I have had a hobby. I have traveled a lot and lived in lots of different countries. I like to read about the countries where I live, and one of the things I enjoy reading about them is: “Who got to that land first?” Many people know I spent eight years in Romania. If you don’t know where Romania is, it is between Hungary and Turkey just south of the Ukraine and just north of Bulgaria. Before I went, I found all the books I could to read about it, and after I got there, I read also. I also went site seeing and even had a Romanian history book I read in Romanian. I like to understand where I live. Here are some things I learned about Romania you may find interesting.
The fist people in Romania were called Dacians. History says that they were there at least by the Bronze age and maybe before that too. They were the first people group to go into Europe. They were related to the Thracians. Some things I read said they were an outpost of the Thracian empire, and others said they were a subgroup of the Thracians. Still others said they were just related to the Thracians. That probably makes you wonder who the Thracians were.
Since I am an English professor and have read a lot of early literature of Europe, I knew that the Greeks had an early association with the Thracians. The Greeks considered the people of Thrace to be decedents of Ares, the Greek god of war. The Thracians were known as a very warlike people, and the Dacians were either part of them or related to them. The decedents of the Thracians can be found in modern day Greece, Bulgaria, and Turkey. The Dacians actually spanned over what is now several countries. They were in Romania, Ukraine, Eastern Serbia, Northern Bulgaria, Slovakia, Hungary, and southern Poland.
The Dacians were tall people with long straight blond hair, and the men wore trimmed beards. They were polygamist which means they had many wives, sometimes as many as 10, 11, 12, or even more. One of their leaders began advocating homosexuality, and the women banned together and killed him. The Dacians were monotheistic which means they believed in one supreme god named Zalmoxis.
In the myths and legends, there was a strong association between the Dacians and wolves. The Dacians used to wear wolves’ skins and wear wolves’ masks. Their legendary ancestor was someone who looked like a wolf. The Hitite people who lived in southeastern Europe called them wolves because they called anyone who came in as robbers wolves, and the Dacians used to bother the Hitite people. The legends of werewolves originated because of the Dacian people; the original werewolf stories were about them.
A strong, stable Dacian empire appeared in the 5th Century B. C. They were known for painting their bodies. They were taller, brawnier, and ruddier than other Grecian cultures. The peak of the Dacian Kingdom was from 22-44 B. C.
Through the years, they were influenced by Scythians and Celts. Celts came to live with them in the 14th Century B. C. in Transylvania, middle and western Romania by Hungary. Finally, in 335 B. C., Alexander the great conquered the Dacians and made them into a military Democracy. They became an outpost of the Roman empire, and the Roman soldiers and the Dacians mixed. When Rome fell, Romania was the first place the Roman soldiers were pulled out of in 271 A. D. However, the Roman soldiers liked Dacia and many decided not to leave. The Roman soldiers mixed with the Dacian people and became known as Roma-Dacia from 106-275 A. D. They changed the look of the people in Romania. Everyone knows that dark hair is dominant, and the Romanian people are known today for predominately being a people with dark hair, dark eyes, and white skin.
Some time during the first century is when Christianity came to Dacia or Romania. When the Apostles were sent throughout the known world to teach people about Christ, the Apostle Thomas went into Romania and first brought Christianity to the Dacian/Roman people.
This is just the beginning of Romania. Romania has a very long, and colorful history. Everyone has heard about Dracula who was a Transylvanian prince. Transylvania is one of the three states that came together to make modern day Romania. Dracula didn’t exist as a vampire because there is no such thing just as werewolves don’t exist, but there is a reason Brahms Stoker from England called Vlad Tepis, a Transylvanian prince, Dracula. When I was in Romania, I heard many interesting names because streets and towns were named after these people like Mihai Viteazul and Stephan Cele Mare. Through the years, I have researched it all to figure out what they were talking about. Many have heard about Romania, the Iron Guard, the miners, and people like Ceasescu. I actually saw the miners march on Bucharest, the capital city of Romania. We were all glued to our television sets when I was in Romania watching the events unfold wondering what was going to happen to Romania and to us. This blog is just about the beginning of Romanian history, but I will outline some of the more interesting stories coming out of Romania in succeeding blogs.