Fortificația și necropola romană de la Galați, Cartier „Dunărea”. Raport arheologic

Cercetări Arheologice 13, 2006, 39-88

Fortificația și necropola romană de la Galați, Cartier "Dunărea". Raport arheologic

Authors: Ovidiu Țentea, Sorin Cleșiu

Keywords: Fortlet; cemetery; amphora


The archaeological and epigraphical documentation of the Roman territorium inside the Traian – Tuluceşti vallum, located on the left bank of the Danube, in the area where the Siret River meets the Danube, is well known espcially due to due especially to the discoveries made inside the fortress and settlement at Barboşi and more recently, following rescue excavations, the site from Galaţi city, “Dunărea” neighbourhood (located 1.5 km east of Barboşi), on Danube’s bank. Our observations will focus on the recent research undertaken in the roman fortlet and cemetery located on the „Dunărea” site. It was considered, for example, that a detailed chronology of the fortress can be established with the aid of the amphorae discovered in three different layers of filling in the ditches! Therefore the fortress in question would have functioned for almost two centuries. The identification of the amphorae in several layers of filling in the ditches cannot represent an argument for establishing a chronology of the fortlet functioning phases in the absence of the internal stratigraphy. During the 2004 research campaign we noticed that the ditches’ slopes bear no traces of the usual maintenance work undertaken by the soldiers of the garrison, in some places the slopes being difficult to be traced, their upper parts collapsing immediately after the fortlet was abandoned. Thus, the amphorae – apart from their earlier or later datation– discovered following archaeological investigation in the fortlet ditches, are simple residues. The ditches’s slopes lack of maintainance caused them to be altered. Thus, after the fortlet was abandoned, most of the earth that filled-out the ditches came from the dislocation of their upper parts’s margins. This phenomenon also explains the irregular aspect of the ditches’s slopes, as noticed during the archaeological investigation. The research on wide surfaces of the fortlet preserved corners did not lead to the discovery of any elements belonging to the defensive system or of buildings inside it. The fortlet has a square shape, each side of 40 m from the inside limit of the defensive system’s slopes. If we consider a 1 m berma and a vallum with the dimensions similar to the fossa (4 m), the fortlet’s inner surface was of most 0.09 ha. During the 2004 campaign, inside the ditches were discovered an important number of narrownecked light-clay amphorae, defined by D.B. Šelov and S.Yu. Vnukov (the variants discovered by us are B, C type (Šelov B = Zeest 64 / Šelov C = Zeest 94). Accepting the fact that the frequency for these artefacts is grater for the 2nd century A.D., consider that it is possible for the fortlet to have functioned in the first half of the same century. Judging after the tituli picti and the traces of resin inside some of the recipients, I consider that this type of amphora was used for transporting wine. These amphorae are widespread on the shores of the Black Sea, especially on the northern and western shores, and are rarely found in the Mediterranean space. One must make the difference between this temporary fortlet and a camp, because fort’s small dimensions do not allow such comparison. By a temporary fortlet we understand a garrison that functioned for a short period of time. The argumentation is based, as we have mentioned, exclusively on archaeological observations on the fortlet’s ditches, the only elements preserved of the entire structure. The ditches’ dimensions are big in comparison to those of the fortlet, situation which may be explained if we consider the place of a training camp. The fortlet’s possible strategic role can be further analyzed only if similar discoveries are made in the area. The fortlet allows to consider this structure belonging to the category of the small fortlets used for sheltering groups of soldiers in certain outposts, with the mission of surveying fords, roads or places of specific strategic importance. In these circumstances, a vexillatio could be sent near the garrison, in a place where a centurio or a variable number of soldiers could be stationed. The sources indicate that such vexillations could be deployed as mentioned even for as long as several years. The closest analogies are the fortlets at Martinhoe or Barburgh Mill (Britannia), those at Abrud, Boiţa, Săpata de Jos (Dacia) or the fortlets in the Iron Gates area in Moesia Superior. Other analogies are the outposts or campaign fortlets in the Barbaricum, located north of the Danube, in the area between the Flavianis (Mautern) – Noricum and Brigetio (Komárom) forts – Pannonia Superior. A good analogy for the strategy adopted in the Galaţi-Barboşi sector is Kelamantia (Iža-Leányvár). Seven graves have been unearthed – of which five of cremation and two of inhumation. The characteristics of the cremation graves: the pit bears traces of fire that caused the walls to turn red (3-5 cm thick) down to the lower part of the complex, situation identified in graves M 1, M 2, M 5 and M 7. The same situation was come across in the case of graves researched approximately 500 m north of the fort at Barboşi. The closest analogies for the graves in the necropolis at Galaţi can be found in the necropolises of neighboring towns: Carsium, Noviodunum or Histria. The objects identified in five of the seven graves researched can be dated to the end of the 1st century A.D. and during the middle of the 3rd century A.D. Taking into account the fact that in the case of the earliest objects we have used analogies offered by their prototypes, we must also consider the fact that the spread of these specific models in the provincial milieu took a certain period of time. Clues concerning the graves’ datation, given by their preserved inventory, indicate mostly the 2nd but also the 3rd centuries A.D. After the indications and maps drawn up by V. Pârvan, the necropolis at Barboşi extendes especially in the northern area of the fort. The distance between the tumulus at Barboşi and those mapped in the “Dunărea” district is of approximately 700 m. The area where the tumulus and other funerary complexes have not been mapped is precisely the lowest area neighboring the Balta Cătuşa, where the Galaţi-Tecuci (Brăila) road was built in the modern period, with ramifications towards Barboşi and the railway. If we compare this necropolis to similar ones in the neighboring area (at Noviodunum, Carsium or Histria) and we admit that certain funerary complexes along the modern roads may have been destroyed, then we can speak of a single necropolis laid along the road that crossed the Danube’s ford, extended north of the fort at Barboşi and followed the Siret River in Barbaricum.

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How to cite: Ovidiu Țentea, Sorin Cleșiu, Fortificația și necropola romană de la Galați, Cartier "Dunărea". Raport arheologic, Cercetări Arheologice, Vol. 13, pag. 39-88, 2006, doi:

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