Civitas Tropaensium

Civitas Tropaensium, situated in Moesia Inferior in modern Constanţa County, was a Roman castrum settled by Roman veterans of the Dacian Wars. It received the status of a municipium around 200 AD and became the largest Roman city of the province, covering an area of about 10 hectares. It was located at an important crossroad, almost halfway on the road that connected Durostorum (Silistra, Bulgaria) with Tomis (Constanța, Romania) on the western shore of the Black Sea, and on the road that led from Marcianopolis (Devnya, Bulgaria) to Noviodunum on the Danube. A milestone (CIL 03, 14464), dated to between 128 and 138 AD and discovered south of the site, indicates that Hadrian ordered the repair of the imperial road passing through the settlement.

In 116 AD, the inhabitants, under the name of Traianenses Tropaeenses, dedicated a statue to the emperor Trajan (CIL 03, 12470).
© Constanta – Muzeul National de Istorie si Arheologie, Foto: Ortolf Harl, 2012
Courtesy of Ubi Erat Lupa

The site was identified by excavations at the end of the 19th century. Four city gates, the main street (via principalis), countryside villas (villae rusticae) and the remains of six basilicas have been uncovered. The life of the site in the 2nd and 3rd century is known particularly through inscriptions reused as building material for the 4th-6th century fortress. The site became a municipium shortly before 170 AD during the reign of Marcus Aurelius.

In the course of the 3d century AD, the fortress was repaired under Septimius Severus, Severus Alexander and Gordian, but later the site gradually lost its importance and was destroyed by the Goths. It was rebuilt during the rule of Constantine the Great with improved defensive walls. Civitas Tropaensium survived as an important religious centre and a bishopric until the Avars sacked the settlement in 587 AD. The city was no longer mentioned for seven hundred years.

The visible ruins belong to the 4th-6th centuries. The defensive walls were provided with horseshoe-shaped defensive towers (a single one was rectangular). Three gates were unearthed: two on the east and west sides and a smaller one on the south side. The via principalis (ca. 300 m long), lined on both sides with porticoes, linked the east and west gates. A large basilica forensis dated to the 4th century stood in the centre of the fortress, south of the main street. On both sides of the same street, excavations have brought to light the ruins of four Christian basilicas, three of them with crypts, and one with an elegant baptistery. A cemetery basilica stood on the hill north of the fortress.

Nearby stands the Tropaeum Traiani (‘Trajan’s Trophy’), a triumphal monument near Civitas Tropaensium built in 109 AD to commemorate Trajan’s victory over the Dacians in 102 AD, in the Battle of Tapae. Before Trajan’s construction, an altar stood there, on the wall of which were inscribed the names of the 3,000 legionaries and auxiliaries who had died “fighting for the Republic”. The Tropaeum Traiani contained fifty-four separate metopes with sculpted scenes of the Roman campaigns. Most of these metopes are now in the site Museum in Adamclisi.

Coordinates: 44°05’31.7″N 27°56’39.3″E


The eastern entrance to the settlement.
The eastern gate with horseshoe-shaped defensive tower.
The via principalis, lined on both sides with porticoes, linked the east and west gates. Under its pavement lay one of the aqueducts and a drain.
The large basilica forensis. It stood in the centre of the fortress, south of the main street.
The large basilica forensis.

Remains of buildings located on the northern side of the via principalis.
Remains of buildings on the northern side of the via principalis with the reconstructed Tropaeum Traiani in the distance.
View towards the western gate.
The western gate with U-shaped defending towers.
The defensive walls.

The 1977 reconstruction of the Tropaeum Traiani.
Original metopes from the Tropaeum Traiani.



One thought on “Civitas Tropaensium

  1. Pingback: Der Rest der Stadt – Civitas Tropaensium | Die Goldene Landschaft

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