THE SUSPENDED ROMAN ROAD ABOVE THE OLT FROM COPĂCENI
The road carved into the rock is located about 530 m southwest of the Copăceni fortification and 200 m southeast of the Cornetu dam, on Barajului street. (Fig. 1). This segment required remarkable planning and logistics to be built.
The area that has been preserved corresponds to a gorge where the course of the Olt was different before the dam regularized it (Fig. 2). The road crossing on this stretch was built using a wooden beam infrastructure that was suspended over the river across at least 50 meters.
An alignment of nine holes dug in the rock, across a length of about 45-50 m was documented here. They have a squared shape (Fig. 3), and the corners are lightly rounded, having sides of about 25 to 20 cm. They were carved into the rock to an average depth of 50 70 cm, narrowing very slightly inward. Throughout the alignment, there are chisel marks, coming from the careful arrangement of the slope. The cavities carved into the rock for fixing the wooden beams have been preserved in remarkable conditions and have a unique character in the territory of Romania. The best analogues are found in the structure of the Roman road in the Porțile de Fier area, built by the masons of the time montibus excisis (carved into the mountain) on the right bank of the Danube, with anconibus sublatis (suspended wooden brackets).
The people from Trajan’s time had a path from Cozia to Cornet on the eastern bank of the Olt, where there are still large signs and half-roads in the stone cliffs in different places, but so ruined […] in addition there is a gate near Cozia, through which one passes, therefore still in completely good condition, almost like an honour gate, therefore through a tall rock (over which one cannot pass) and one can still see each sign of the stonemason, worked smoothly as a wall and uniform as a table. As I asked about it, the builders said it was made by Caesar Trajan. From this rock you can see Cornet [ …] around the rock you can see up to 18 holes in which were placed the frames of the podium like at Dobra (Golubac) made of wood because you cannot see any wall traces. In this area is a large broken cave with two large and beautiful rooms […].”
During the drafting of the map of Oltenia, Michael Schendos de Van Der Beck (1691?–1736), a physician appointed by Field Marshal Stainville, the Austrian administrator of Oltenia and Transylvania, noted the existence of these rooms.
A cave-like room (Fig. 4) was found at a height of about 5 m between cavities 7 and 8. This cave is located under Dealul Târglui, in the place called “Sub Pietre”. D. Tudor suggested that the nine holes have a system like those from Cazane and the rooms were created by Roman masons for storing tools or as dwellings. Steps were carved into the rock to provide access to the rooms, which are partially covered in vegetation. The mention of this road and this room dates to the eighteenth century, as documented in the letter of Fr. Schwantz to Count Stainville on January 23, 1717.
The Roman road around the Copăceni fortlet area (Fig. 5) was repaired in the year 236 AD. The text of an inscription on a bronze piece indicated the possible presence of some beneficiarii consularis.
The Roman fortification from Copăceni was located at about 500 m S-SE from the Racovița camp (Fig. 6, Fig. 7). Most of the recently known data about it comes from reports made during rescue excavations undertaken by C. M. Vlădescu and Gh. Poenaru-Bordea on the occasion of the extensive improvement works of the Olt River, plus the research done here by Gr. Tocilescu and P. Polonic. Due to a graphic error or the desire to name the lower terrace as being the old course of the Olt, it was considered that the river destroyed this fortification.
Gr. Tocilescu and P. Polonic discovered two stones with inscriptions and a milestone pillar during the excavations. A shallow alveole, up to 20 m wide, marked as a fortification ditch to the east of porta praetoria could also be distinguished. Epigraphic information indicates the construction of the castrum in 138 by numerus burgariorum et veredariorum Daciae inferioris sub / Fl(avio) Constante proc(uratore) Aug(usti), with another phase of renovation in 140, the one archaeologically documented.
A comparative analysis of typological details was created with other Roman fortifications around the Cozia Massif (the closest analogues being with the fortifications from Arutela and Racovița) that revealed similarities in dimensions and features. The porta praetoria from Copăceni seems to be located on the eastern side (just like at Titești, Rădăcinești and apparently all the fortifications in this area), next to the road (just like at Arutela). The eastern side of the enclosure is about 64 m, similar to that of Arutela, which measures 60.8 m. The rectangular shape of the gate towers with protrusions on the outside is also found at Racovița and Arutela. Fig. 8.
Racovița fortlet (commonly associated with the ancient name Praetorium II), is part of the alutan limes line, being the largest castrum in its mountainous area. The fortification stands out in the centre of the present village across the surface of six private properties. Although hidden by vegetation, the fortification enclosure (partially restored) is visible across most of the perimeter, especially on the boundaries of existing properties. The southeast and northwest towers are well preserved. The headquarters building (principia) from the inside is outlined by excessive vegetation, as visible in aerial photographs Fig. 9, Fig. 10.
Because currently the route designed for the A1 motorway, Sibiu-Pitești, section 2, passes through the vicinity of this ancient road (Fig. 11), following our notification to CNAIR, this segment came to the attention of designers in order to identify the optimal solutions for protecting the monument. They hope that the best solutions will be provided for bypassing the monument and for the best measures to be taken and put to good use.
The results of the documentation of monuments in Racovița village, Vâlcea county (Fig. 12), made within the framework of the National LIMES Program, bring to the public attention their value from a scientific point of view since they provide the necessary evidence to support their inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List (Frontiers of the Roman Empire). At the same time, the documentation represents the necessary technical support for the preservation and highlighting by the highway constructors.
Ovidiu Țentea, Vlad-Nicolae Călina, Ioana-Iulia Manea, Drumul și castrul roman de la Copăceni (com. Racovita, jud. Vâlcea). Reevaluarea recentă a unor monumente uitate, Cercetări Arheologice 29.2, 2022, 557-572. DOI: https://doi.org/10.46535/ca.29.2.07
Ovidiu Țentea, Florian Matei-Popescu și Vlad Călina, Frontiera romană din Dacia Inferior. O trecere în revistă și o actualizare. 1. Cercetări Arheologice 28.1, 2021, 9-90. DOI: https://doi.org/10.46535/ca.28.1.01