[Table of Contents] [Previous] [Next] [HMK Home] THE ORIGINS OF THE RUMANIANS

Chapter VI






a) The free Dacians and the Carps


In the 3rd century, i.e., in the time of Roman Dacia, Carps inhabited the territory of what today is Moldavia; free Dacians lived north and northwest of Transylvania, in parts of the Banat and Muntenia.

The material culture of the Carps is mainly known from the cemeteries of the type PoieneŐti, after the name of a village in the region of Vaslui. Cemeteries of this type were also found at VârtiŐcoi, near FocŐani, as well as in the surroundings of Roman, Bac|u, etc. Isolated finds were reported from the entire Moldavia, which is said to indicate that this culture was widespread and that the Carps were numerous. The predominant rite in these cemeteries is cremation.

There are urns made by hand and decorated by alveolar streaks in relief, of a form characteristic of the Geto-Dacian tradition. This culture shows very powerful influences also from the Romans and particularly from the Sarmatians. The Roman influence is most noticeable in the pottery, in which new types of vases appear (e.g. amphorae), and superior techniques are used (a clay of better quality, more uniform burning, etc.). The Sarmatian influence is more intense: new forms of pottery pieces appear (e.g., vases with characteristic Alanian features), as well as new kinds of jewels (a large number of pearls made of corals from the region of the Persian Gulf). There is also a metal mirror, made after the model of Greek mirrors, highly characteristic of the Alanian remains. In some places also the funeral rites changed.

The Carps probably lived in tribal unions. Their main trade was agriculture and animal breeding. Many Roman coins as well as products from the Empire from the 3rd century were discovered in Moldavia, indicating that the Carps had economic contacts with the Romans.

In the mid-third century, the Carps made several incursions into the Roman Empire. Ten hoards of coins from this period were found in Transylvania and in Oltenia, suggesting invasions. In connection with these incursions, the Romans left the limes Transalutanus (245 AD). Archaeological finds show that the area between the limes and the Olt as well as eastern Transylvania were, in the mid-third century, populated by free Dacians and Carps. In the years 295B297, the Carps were defeated by the Roman army and, according to Roman historians, the whole nation was settled within the frontiers of the Empire. There are, however, records on Carps from the mid-fourth century: during the period of Constantine the Great, Carps were recorded to have attacked the East Roman Empire and according to Zosimos (IV, 34, 6; in Fontes II, p. 312):


Theodosius repulsed the Scirs and the Carpodacians who were mixed with the Huns, and conquering them in a battle, forced them to cross the Danube and return to their places.


Most of the territories of the Carps were, towards the end of the 3rd century, occupied by the Goths, and no traces of the PoieneŐti culture were found from the 4th century.

Vestiges of free Dacians who migrated to the former province were found in southern Oltenia, and at Cip|u (Hung. Csapó), Apunctul Gârla@, in Transylvania. A cemetery of cremation dated to the second half of the 3rd century discovered there probably belonged to the western Dacians, as judged by the funeral rite and the urns. Some elements of this material culture were powerfully influenced by the Sarmatian Iazyges. The last mention of Dacians is from the 4th century, and their language disappeared probably in the 6th-7th centuries.


b) The Sarmatians


The Sarmatians belonged to the western Iranian populations. In the 5th century BC, they lived east of the river Don and their western neighbours were the Scythians. They started to migrate westwards probably during the 3rd century BC. They were nomadic shepherds and equestrian warriors living on the steppes.


West of the Dniester, they came into contact with the Geto-Dacian populations whose history will be influenced, for several centuries to come, by the complex and varying contacts with the newcomers. The Sarmatians infiltrated and settled in certain regions of the CarpathoBDanubian area of the Geto-Dacian tribes.


The Roman poet Ovide, living in exile in Tomis (present day ConstanŰa) in the years 9 to 17 AD, mentioned Sarmatians crossing the Danube in a southern direction. Tacitus (Annales, XII, 29 and 30) reported them living in the first century AD between the Danube and the Tisza. Their presence in present day CriŐana and the western parts of the Banat is proved by archaeological finds which date from the 2nd and 3rd centuries. The earliest find is from about 100 AD, left by the Sarmatian Iazyges. After the retreat of the Romans, they occupied also the central parts of the Banat. In 332, they were attacked by the Goths, but received help from Constantine the Great, who defeated the Goths. In the course of this war, the ruling class, called Sarmati Argaragantes, gave arms to their slaves (the Sarmati Limigantes). These then revolted against their outnumbered ruling class and finally succeeded in driving them out of the country.

The Roxolani, another group of Sarmatian peoples, populated Moldavia and Muntenia starting with the first decades of the 2nd century AD. Towards the end of the 2nd century and during the first half of the 3rd, they were living in these areas in considerable numbers. They disappeared at the end of the third century, probably migrating to the present day Hungarian plain. A small number of Roaxolani tombs were found also in the Banat and in CriŐana.

The Alani, the last wave of the Sarmatian peoples in southeastern Europe, started to migrate westwards of the Don in the first half of the 3rd century AD and reached the territories of the present day Republic of Moldavia and the province of Moldavia (Rum. Moldova) in Rumania, as well as Muntenia during the second half of that century.

In Transylvania and in Oltenia no remains of the Sarmatians were found. In other areas of present day Rumania, they are numerous: Sarmatian tombs were discovered at 134 different sites. The funeral rite was inhumation. The tombs contain remains of men, women and children. In the tombs of women, jewels were often laid down and in those of children, bells of bronze. Of weapons, there are short swords and daggers. Their pottery, besides typically Sarmatian forms, contain also pieces of the Dacian and of the provincial Roman style. Very characteristic of these tombs is the circular or fronto-occipital deformation of the cranium by a bandage applied in childhood. This was regarded a sign of beauty and distinction. This rite was not practized by the Iazyges.

The cultural influence of the Sarmatian peoples on what is considered the material culture of the Dacians and the Carps was quite powerful. The two populations intermingled to such a high extent that sometimes Aobjects specific only of the Carps or only of the Sarmatians become cultural assets shared by both peoples.@

The Sarmatians left a considerable number of placenames, handed down to the Rumanians by Slavs. One group of these peoples, the Alanians, still live in the Caucasus; the present day Osset-s.


c) The Goths


The Goths belonged to the eastern branch of the Old Germanic populations. They migrated from the area around the estuary of the Vistula in a southern and southeastern direction; from the second half of the second century AD, they were living north and east of Dacia Traiana.

The first battle between the Goths and the Roman army took place during the reign of Emperor Caracalla, probably in 213B214 AD, and was followed by many attacks led by the Goths during the 3rd century. From the end of that century, the Goths were divided into two branches: Ostrogoths and Visigoths (eastern and western Goths, respectively). The Visigoths migrated in large numbers into the areas west of the Pruth and their material remains, from the end of the third and from the 4th century were found in Moldavia, Muntenia, Oltenia, and Transylvania. The occupation of these territories by the Goths created a new ethnic configuration. The settlements and the cemeteries of the type PoieneŐti in Moldavia, attributed to the Carps, as well as those of the type BucureŐti-Militari in Muntenia were abandoned at the end of the 3rd century. The country was populated and dominated by the Goths and was, accordingly, called Gothia.

In southwestern Russia, the material culture left by the Goths is known as the Cerneachov-culture, after a cemetery at the river Dnieper. In Rumania, it is named, after a cemetery in the valley of the MureŐ, Sântana de MureŐ culture. It covers a large territory, from the Dnieper to central Transylvania and from the region of the rivers Pripet and Bug to the lower Danube. This territory was dominated by the Goths.

A large number of settlements and cemeteries left by the Goths were discovered and studied after the second World War. In Moldavia, 150 settlements are known and in Muntenia, 100. They are also numerous in the regions of the upper Olt, the Târnava Mare and Târnava Mic| (Hung. NagyküküllĹ and KisküküllĹ) and the MureŐ, in Transylvania. The settlements were often built on the sun-lit shores of the rivers and were not fortified.

About 1500 tombs of the type Cerneachov-Sântana de MureŐ are known. In the vicinity of the village Sântana de MureŐ (Hung. Marosszentanna), 74 were excavated. The predominant funeral rite was inhumation, and the tombs were arranged in a north-south direction. Such tombs are attributed to the Goths and the Sarmatians, while those of cremation (the type found at TârgŐorBOlteni) probably belonged to the Taifals. In certain places, also earthenware of the Dacian style was found (in the tombs of the type TârgŐorBGher|seni). No weapons were put in the tombs but often food, for example, eggs.

Most of what remained from this culture is earthenware. Very characteristic are the complex reverberating kilns in which earthenware of high quality, both red and grey, was produced. The wheel driven by foot was used in the making of pottery pieces. As shown by finds of coulters and sickles, the inhabitants also pursued agriculture and the raising of animals, as well as handicraft.

In the territory of Rumania, this culture ended at the end of the 4th century, when the Huns conquered large parts of eastern Europe.


d) The Huns


In the 3rd century BC, the Huns lived in parts of northern China, in the present day provinces Sansi, Sensi, and Hopei. After having been attacked by the Chinese, they migrated westwards and were living for a long period of time in the region of the Volga. In 375 AD, they attacked the Goths in Moldavia and Muntenia and occupied in a short time all the territory formerly dominated by the Goths.

The Huns are recorded to have been living in Dacia and in Pannonia, together with other populations subjugated by them. Thus, Iordanes wrote in Getica, 226: ...Athe provinces of Dacia and Pannonia, in which in that period the Huns lived with several subjugated populations.@ There is a record of their mixing with the Carps (Zosimos, cf. above, p. 259).

Archaeological finds of Hunnish material remains (jewels, kettles, etc.) are known from the valleys of the Pruth, the Buz|u, and the Danube, from the surroundings of the towns BraŐov (Hung. Brassó), and Roman, etc. No Hunnish cemeteries, only isolated tombs were found in the territory of Rumania.

The power of the Huns was at its height in the mid-fifth century. In 451, the West Roman Empire defeated them in the battle at Catalaunum (near Troyes in France). Attila died in 453. In the following year, a coalition led by the Gepidae defeated the Huns at the river Nedao in Pannonia, which marks the end of the Hunnish power in Europe.


e) The Gepidae


The Gepidae, a branch of the Old Germanic peoples who at the beginning of the first millennium AD were living along the shores of the Baltic Sea, started to migrate southward in the mid-third century. They settled in the region of the upper course of the Tisza (Rum. Tisa). Most of them remained in their places during the Hunnish domination and regained their independence in 453. In 471, they occupied the town Sirmium at the shore of the Sava and made it the residence of their kings. In the following century, they ruled over a large territory from the Sava to the eastern Carpathian mountains. In 567, the Avars, in coalition with the Longobards, defeated the Gepidae and abolished their kingdom. Gepidae are, however, mentioned in historical records even later. Theophylaktos Simokattes related that Priskos, the Byzantine general, when fighting the Avars in the Banat in 601 AD, found three Gepidic villages there. According to Theophanes, Priskos defeated the Avars and collected 9.000 prizoners, of whom 3000 were Avars, 800 Slavs, 3.200 Gepidae, and 2.000 Abarbarians@. Archaeological excavations revealed material remains of the Gepidae which date as late as from the mid-seventh century.

Gepidia extended, according to Iordanes, from the plains between the Danube and the Tisza to the east, as far as to the river AFlutausis@ (probably the Olt). This record was confirmed by archaeological finds. Two periods may be distinguished: the first is that of the Gepidic kingdom (475B567 AD). Characteristic are the settlements with large dwelling places with cottages around (MoreŐtiBMalomfalva, Ôeica Mic| BKissejk, Porumbenii MiciBKisgalambfalva) and the cemeteries of inhumation, with rows of tombs (ClujBCardoŐ, LechinŰa de MureŐBMaroslekence, MoreŐtiBMalomfalva, SomeŐeniBSzamosfalva, etc.). There are many objects typical of the Gepidic settlements, such as combs, fibulae with 3 or 5 buttons, clasps, sometimes decorated by the pattern of an eagle-head, arms, sickles, fusaiol-s (cf. above, p. 168, note 3), earthenware made on a wheel or by hand, etc. Weapons are rare in the tombs. The orientation of the tombs in a west to east direction and certain Christian symbols, for example on a breast-plate found at ClujBSomeŐeni suggest the presence of Christianity at the end of the 5th century and in the 6th. The first period ended in 567 AD, when the Gepidic kingdom was defeated by the Avars. In the following, second period, the Gepidic material remains show a different character. This period is characterized by large cemeteries with hundreds of tombs (BandBMezĹbánd, BrateiBBaráthely, NoŐlac B Nagylak). The fibulae disappear, there are sets of belts, more lances and bows; inlay of iron with silver (Tauschierung) was used; among earthenware pieces, pear-formed vases dominate. New funeral rites appear: horses are being put into the tombs. In this period, the Gepidae were ruled by the Avars and a part of the new material culture was probably induced by Avar influence.

The Gepidae pursued agriculture and raised cattle; workrooms of silversmiths and of weaving were discovered at Band and at MoreŐti, respectively.


f) The Avars


Probably coming from Mongolia, the Avars occupied the steppes of southern Russia some time before the 6th century. In 558, they sent an envoy to Byzantium, offering their services in exchange for certain territories and for money. In 567, the Avars attacked the Gepidae, defeated them and occupied their country. During the second half of the 6th century and the first three decades of the 7th, Byzantium suffered many invasions from the Avars, who reduced Sirmium after a siege of three years. In alliance with the Persians, the Avars laid siege to Constnatinople but were driven back.

At the height of their power, the Avars reigned over a vast territory between the Alps, the Adriatic Sea and the Black Sea. The main sources concerning the ethnic composition of the Avar Empire are the writings of Byzantine authors, who recorded Avars, Gepidae, and Slavs. Several successfull uprisings of Slavic tribes are recorded, for example the revolt of the Vends in 623.

A large number of Avar settlements and cemeteries were found, particularly in Hungary. Fortifications are described in historical records. Best known are the cemeteries: more than 30.000 tombs were excavated. Characteristic of the material in this tombs is, among other things, that the waist-belt replaces the fibula of earlier periods. This is explained by the fact that the Avars were equestrians and a waist-belt is more effective in holding the clothes together when riding. The men were laid down in the tombs with their horses, arms and horse-trappings. Up to the end of the 7th century, the art reflected by these objects was being characterized by geometrical ornaments pressed upon a print. It shows a certain degree of Byzantine influence. After a transition period of about 40 years, i.e., after 720 AD, the motives changed. Figures of plants and of animals were used more frequently and they were cast and decorated. This new art shows Asian features. The cause of this change is probably that a new population coming from the east took the place of the earlier one.

Their centre of power being in the Great Hungarian Plain, the Avars penetrated into Transylvania along the valleys of the great rivers. Archaeological remains were described from Dumbr|veni (Erzsébetváros), Corund (Korond), Tg. Secuiesc (Kézdivásárhely), etc., as well as from the Banat and from CriŐana. Specific Avar objects from around 700 AD were also found along the MureŐ and some of its tributaries at Aiud (Nagyenyed), GâmbaŐ (Marosgombás), TeiuŐ (Tövis), and Câmpia Turzii (Aranyosgyéres), mostly in tombs. These tombs also contain objects of the Byzantine style, particularly fibulae and ear-rings.

Thus, according to archaeological evidence, the Avars populated the Banat, CriŐana, and parts of Transylvania. Their number in Transylvania does not seem to have been very high, but this is difficult to estimate. As in other territories, they probably lived together with Slavic tribes.

The power of the Avars was broken in 795B796, when the Franks destroyed the residence of the kaganat (the hring). The chronicle of Nestor affirms that all Avars died, but it is known that part of them retired to the territories east of the Tisza whence the Franks did not follow them. The last reliable mention of Avars in Central Europe is from the year 822, and from 873 there is a record of uncertain character. However,


...elements of Avar material culture continue to exist in the course of the 9th century AD but it is not known whether these indicate the real existence of Avars or only the preservation of some cultural influence.





A number of Avars were still living in the eastern parts of the Carpathian basin when the Hungarians occupied the territory. The most important population, however, who lived there immediately before and also at the beginning of the Hungarian presence were the Slavs. The same applies to the Rumanians in the extra-Carpathian areas and in south-western Transylvania and parts of the Banat. The material culture of the Slavs in their original areas is quite well known (the PragaBPenkovka, respectively the PragaBKor…ak culture). Differences between them B western, eastern and southern Slavic features, different material remains and variations in language B appeared successively during the centuries following their southward migration. Written records about them are scanty and also the archaeological finds are often difficult to interpret.

a) The Slavs in the extra-Carpathian regions of Rumania


From their territories north and northeast of the Carpathian mountains, Slavic tribes started to migrate southward during the 5th century. The defence system of the Gepidic kingdom is considered to have impeded their penetration in masses into Transylvania during most of the 6th century.

According to Procopios, the regions along the lower Danube were in the 6th and 7th centuries inhabited by Sclavinae, Antes, and Huns (probably Bulgarians). Moldavia and northeastern Muntenia were populated by the Slavic tribe of the Antes. The frontiers between the different tribes were, however, not stable and many battles were fought.

The Slavs undertook a series of incursions across the Danube into the East Roman Empire, reaching as far as to the suburbs of Byzantium. After 562, when the Avars occupied the area of what is today the Great Hungarian Plain, they extended their sphere of influence also over Oltenia and Muntenia. In 579, Emperor Tiberius Constantine succeeded to incite the Avars against the Sclavines in Muntenia and Baian´s great army of 60.000 equestrian warriors was transported with the help of Byzantium along the shores of the Danube to Dobrogea and from there on Byzantine ships to the northern shore, where it attacked the Slavs. These hid in the mountains and in the forests and the Avars had to retire. Apart from episodes of this kind, the Avars and the Slavs were most of the time allies in attacking the Byzantine Empire.

In the course of time, many Slavs migrated to the Empire; for example there are records about nine tribes who settled there in the early 7th century. As a consequence of this, their number north of the lower Danube decreased.

The oldest archaeological remains left behind by Slavs in the extra-Carpathian regions of present day Rumania were discovered at SuceavaBÔipot in Modavia. These are rectangular huts with hearths marked out by stones. The earthenware was handmade and shows features of the earthenware from the Zhitomir area. As judged by a Afingered@ fibula, the oldest stratum is from the second half of the 6th century.

The most important of this type of finds is the large cemetery of cremation discovered at S|rataBMonteoru, with more than 1500 tombs. Characteristic of this culture is the Afingered@ fibula with 5 buttons. The earthenware is primitive, hand-made, but from a later date, also pieces made with the help of a primitive wheel are found. No weapons were laid down in these tombs. These material remains belong to the eastern Slavic culture named ZhitomirBKor…ak, known from the regions along the middle course of the Dnieper. The inhabitants were probably the Antes. Finds of the same type were made in Muntenia and Oltenia.

Many complexes of settlemens without fortifications (called siliŐti) from the 7th century were found in Moldavia, at DorobanŰi (near IaŐi), Hlincea, and Suceava. Two or three huts are grouped together. They contain kilns of stone or of clay and earthenware made by hand or with some instrument. Vases of a similar type were found near Bucharest and at LiŐcoŰeanca (near GalaŰi). This culture is probably a continuation of the Zhitomir-Kor…ak culture of the 6th century. It is called the Hlincea-Luka RaikoveŰ kaia culture. It extended from the Dnieper to the Forestrian Carpathians. In the course of time it developed into a new phase, with a new type of hearths and pottery made by a primitive wheel and decorated by horizontal lines and wave-lines, alongside with the pottery made by hand. This culture was considerably uniform:


The identity of the complexes in Moldavia [...] with those in the regions west of the Dnieper proves that in the 8th and 9th centuries, the Slavic tribes in central and northern Moldavia developed in close contact with the eastern Slavic tribes who lived between the Dnieper and the Forestrian Carpathians.


On the plains of Muntenia, another Slavic culture was identified, which dates from the 6thB7th centuries. In this IpoteŐtiBCândeŐtiBCiurel culture, the participation of a Dacian element is assumed.

The period of the 9th and 10th centuries is dominated by the BalkanBDanube culture, which extended over a large territory from the Balkan mountains across the Danube over a broad strip of territory through the southern halves of Muntenia and Moldavia and towards the northeast north of the Black Sea. In Oltenia it is weakly represented. This culture is divided into four phases, with local variations. It is correlated to the expansion of the Bulgarian state north of the lower Danube during the 9th century.


b) The Slavs in Transylvania


What is known about the Slavs in Transylvania derives mostly from archaeology. Slavic tribes came to this territory probably as early as during the period of the Gepidae, in the 5th century; a number of them were apparently settled there by the Avars in the 6th century. The first specific Slavic object, a klebec (a kind of baking-plate) was found in the Avar cemetery found at Band (Hung. MezĹbánd). It dates from the period between 600B630 AD. These Slavs came probably from their original homeland at the beginning of the 7th century to the upper course of the MureŐ. Approximately in the same period migrated other Slavic tribes to the territory of present day Covasna county, where an unusually high number of placenames and river names of Slavic origin are still found in the Hungarian (Szekler) toponymy (such as Csernáton, cf. Slavic …erna ´black´, or the river name Feketeügy, translated from Slavic …erna voda, etc.). In the 7th century, the Slavs populated also the valleys of the rivers Târnava (Hungarian KüküllĹ), and the name of these rivers was transferred to Rumanian and Transylvanian Saxon (Kokel); the Hungarians translated it. Slavic cemeteries with the rite of cremation appeared in Transylvania during the 7th century. The largest of these is that found at Bratei, cemetery No 2, which started to be used in the early 8th century. There, 210 tombs of cremation were found. Avar remains include 34 tombs of inhumation, 2 tombs with horses, as well as objects typical of the Avars (stirrups, bridles, decorations of girdles of cast bronze, vases, etc.) are found together with material remains of the Slavs. Most of the Slavic cemeteries in Transylvania show the rite of cremation, but a small number of the tombs contain bones. The rite of cremation was used also in the large cemeteries found at NuŐfal|u (Szilágynagyfalu) and SomeŐeni (Szamos- falva). As shown by the style of some metal objects, these cemeteries date from the period between the early 8th century and the end of the 9th century. A number of objects show analogies in tombs found in present day northern Hungary and southern Slovakia (Érsekújvár, Slovakian Nové Zámky), GyĹr, Komárom, etc. According to István Bóna (in Erdély története I p. 187B188), the Slavs living here came from the northeast. IR 1960 considered, on the basis of metal objects of the type Keszthely (western Hungary), wooden buckets of the same type as those found in Hungary and in Moravia, pottery decorations (bands of horizontal and wave-lines) typical of the Slavs who lived along the middle course of the Danube, that the population here belonged to western Slavic groups.


c) The Bulgarian domination in southern Transylvania


The Bulgarian state, founded in 679 AD, increased its power in the 8th century. Khan Krum (802B814) defetated the Avars and extended the frontiers of Bulgaria in the north of the Balkan peninsula, to the frontiers of the Frankish Empire, which then ruled over Pannonia. Khan Omurtag (827B831) occupied Sirmium and eastern Slavonia, some areas along the Tisza and in southern Tran- sylvania. The Bulgarians controlled then the exploitation of salt in Transylvania, as indicated by the record in Annales Fuldenses a. 892: King Arnulf sent envoys to Vladimir, the Bulgarian chief, asking him not to permit the sending of salt to the Moravians.

Archaeological remains of Bulgarians from the 9thB10th centuries were found in the region of the middle course of the MureŐ in southern Transylvania. In the cemetery found at Blândiana (Hung. Maroskarna), pottery pieces of the type the Bulgarians produced along the lower Danube were found. Material remains left by a Bulgarian population were found in a territory 30B40 km long on both shores along the middle course of the MureŐ. Another Bulgarian cemetery found at Ciumbrud (Hung. Csombord) dates from the 9thB10th centuries. These settlements were most probably created after 830 AD, when the Bulgarians, under Omurtag, conquered several territories north of the Danube. In this area, there were a number of salt-mines, exploited by the Bulgarians. The name of former Apulum: Belgrad, was most probably given by this population. The Rumanians borrowed it (B|lgrad), while the Hungarians translated its sense (Fehérvár ´white castle´). In the 9th century, the differentiation of the Slavs was at a level which permits to state that most of Transylvania was, in that period, inhabited by eastern and western Slavs. Bulgarians lived in the south. It must be stated, however, that Slavs migrated to Transylvania also later (from Russia, Slovakia, the Ukraine, Bulgaria, etc). These later settlements received also Slavic names or were named after the respective population (Orosz, Tót, Cseh, etc.)

The Bulgarian state reached its largest territorial expansion during the reign of Czar Simeon the Great (893B927). During the reign of his son, Peter (927B 969), the power of Bulgaria declined. The Bulgarian rule over the territories north of the lower Danube ended during the first decades of the 10th century.


d) The question of non-Slavic remains from the Slavic period


ADaco-Romans@ were assumed to participate in several Slavic cultures. However, it can easily be shown that these hypotheses do not stand up to critical examination. C. Daicoviciu refuted, in an article published in 1967, several such claims. Thus, Panaitescu assumed (1964) Daco-Romans during the 6thB9th centuries among the Slavic cultures of Muntenia and Moldavia. Daicoviciu pointed out that this assumption was based on a wrong translation of the text Panaitescu referred to. The IpoteŐtiBCândeŐtiBCiurel culture is, according to Daicoviciu, Slavo-Dacian, NOT Slavo-Daco-Rumanian, and Daicoviciu questioned also the participation of Daco-Romans in the MoreŐti-Bandu-NoŐlac culture. About the Dridu culture, Daicoviciu showed that it is of Bulgarian origin, whith considerable influence from Byzantium, from Moesia (provincial Roman traits) as well as from the territories north of the Black Sea.

The idea that the IpoteŐtiBCândeŐtiBCiurel culture shows Aa powerful Daco-Roman component@ has been put forward again. The pottery shows Slavic forms, but a certain form made by hand Areminds of the Dacian forms and reflects the indigenous tradition@ and the earthenware made by a wheel shows the features of the RomanBByzantine earthenware. This is an example of the ambiguous use of the terms ADaco-Roman@ and Aautochthonous@ (Aindigenous@), cf. above, p. 199B200. Dacian style and influence from Byzantium do not, of course, indicate a Latin-speaking population.

IR Compendiu 1974 (p. 84), asserts that the BalkanBDanube culture (called ACarpathoBBalkan@) may have belonged to several peoples, Bulgarians as well as Proto-Rumanians:


The CarpathoBBalkan culture, extending over both shores of the Danube, may be attributed, consequently, south of the river, to the SlavoBBulgarians, because there, the SlavoBBulgarian ethnic component dominated, while in the north, between the Danube and the Carpathians, it may be considered Proto-Rumanian, because here, the predominant element was Romance. In any case, it constitutes the stage directly before the really Rumanian culture (verig| imediat anterioar| culturii româneŐti propriu-zise).


This change of opinion as compared to the 1969 edition, where this culture was stated to have been Slavo-Bulgarian (p. 106), is not, as seen from the above passage, warranted by new discoveries but is motivated by the assumption that the Adominating element@ north of the Danube was Romance. (In the preceeding passage, the record of Anonymus about Vlachs in Transylvania is mentioned.) A more adequate method would be to draw conclusions concerning the Adominating element@ from the archaeological remains, not inversely.


e) The Slavs and the placenames of Rumania

Placenames of Slavic origin


Slavs were living in the territory of present day Rumania from the 6th century until the 12thB13th centuries. In Byzantine chronicles, the territories north of the lower Danube were, after the 5th century, designated Sclavinia (_klabhnia). The early Slavic migrants found most probably Gepidae, Avars (many Slavic tribes were brought to the territory by the Avars), and possibly Dacians in several places. All these peoples disappeared in the course of time in the masses of the Slavs.

A placename or geographical name based on a Slavic word does not automatically imply a Slavic namegiving. In case the word in question exists (or existed once) in the Rumanian language, the placename or geographical name may have been given by Rumanians. The number of names of Slavic origin, given by Slavs and borrowed by the Rumanians is very high in the entire country. According to the Slavic language they derive from, these names are divided into four groups: (1) an eastern Slavic (Ukrainian) in the northeast, (2) a small area of western South Slavic in the southwest, (3) an eastern South Slavic (Bulgarian) area in the south (the largest of the Slavic areas), and (4) a northwestern area with special features.

The sound pattern of these names is of a more recent date as compared to the placenames of Slavic origin in Greece. They show:

(1) Metathesis of the groups tart, talt B B|lgrad, Predeal, etc.

(2) The y > i change B Bistra (older form in Slavic: bystr\).

(3) The disappearance of the semi-vowels: Crasna (older form in Slavic: kras\na), Ocna (ok\no).

(4) Slavic   corresponds always to Rumanian în, îm.

Since these sound patterns appeared in Slavic in or after the 9th century, the Slavic placenames and names of rivers and streams in Rumania cannot have been borrowed by the Rumanian language earlier than that century. In reality, the borrowings occurred much later B that Slavic   always corresponds to Rumanian în, îm indicates that names containing this sound were borrowed EARLIEST during the 12th century (cf. above, p. 100).


Examples of placenames and geographical names of Slavic origin in Rumania

B|lgrad (at present Alba Iulia) B Old Slavic blß + gradß ´white´ + ´castle´, translated by the Hungarians: Fehérvár. The town (on the place of former Roman Apulum) was the residence of the Hungarian chief Gyula and is in Hungarian called Gyulafehérvár. The modern Rumanian name is modelled after this.

BistreŰ, BistriŰa, in many areas B Old Slavic bystr/cu ´fast´.

Cerna, CerniŐoara, in many areas B Old Slavic …\rna ´black´.

Craiova, in several areas, also the central town of Oltenia B Old Slavic kral/ ´king´+ the Slavic suffix -ova.

Crasna, in many areas B Old Slavic kras/na (rka) ´beautifull´.

DâmboviŰa, Dâmbova B Slavic d bX ´oak´.

IalomiŰa B Old Slavic jalovica, jalov ´unfertile, barren´.

Ilfov B Bulgarian elhov.

Moldova (ancient forms: Moldua, Mulduva, the name of the province Moldavia in the east of Rumania) B Slavic mold- (molid + the Slavic suffix -ov, -ova).

Novac, in many areas B Old Slavic novaku.

Ocna, in many areas B Old Slavic okno ´pit´.

Prahova B Old Slavic praxu, Serbo-Croatian Praxovo (praxX ´dust´).

Predeal B Old Slavic prdlß, Bulgarian predel ´mountain pass´.

Snagov B Old Slavic sngß, Bulgarian Snegovo.

Târnava B Old Slavic trßnß ´spine, thorn´.

Zlatna B Old Slavic zlata, Bulgarian zlatna ´gold´.

As pointed out by Popoviƒ, it is characteristic of the density of the Slavic placenames in Rumania that the same name often appears in many different areas throughout the country: e.g., Crasna in the counties of Craiova, PloieŐti, Bac|u, Suceava, and IaŐi, Ocna in PiteŐti, BucureŐti, PloieŐti, and Bac|u, etc. Moreover, in many cases, there are several derivations from the same Slavic root: from …ern ´black´, there are Rumanian Cerna, Cernaia, Cernat, Cern|dia, Cernica, Cernofca, and CerniŐoara; from d bX ´oak´, Dâmbul, Dâmboiul, DâmboviŰa, Dâmbovicioara, and Dâmboviceanul, etc.

Another very important aspect is that the Slavic placenames and names of rivers and streams occur all over the country:


... the placenames of Slavic origin which we meet everywhere, regardless of the geographical situation of the Rumanian provinces and of the physical nature of the place in question.


f) Ancient names of rivers


In contrast to the Balkan peninsula, where ancient placenames, borrowed by Latin and later from Latin by Slavic are still in use, north of the lower Danube, only the names of the more important rivers were preserved. While their etymology is still debated, the sound pattern of most of these names indicates that they were transferred to Rumanian via Slavic and, in Transylvania, via Hungarian or Slavic.

Among the old names of streams in the territory north of the Danube, some are considered Thracian; the sound pattern of the Rumanian form of some of these names indicates, however, that they were handed down to the Rumanian-speaking populations by the Slavs who, in their turn, borrowed them from the ancient populations of the territories north of the Danube.


A difficulty in explaning these names is that they were recorded by Greek and Roman authors often in different forms and the original forms used by the local populations may have been distorted in this process.

MureŐ (Hungarian Maros, Serbian Moriš\). In Greek texts, it is written MariV, MarisoV, MorhshV; Iordanes used the form Marisia. It may be of Thracian origin, with the sense of ´swampy, boggy´. The transition of a to o may have taken place in Slavic or in Hungarian and the Rumanians may have borrowed the form Moreš.

Olt (Greek AloutaV; Latin Alutas, Alutus, Aittus, Alutum; Hungarian Olt, Transylvanian Saxon Alt). A river named Alutus (probably of Iranian origin) which flows into the Caspian Sea was described by Ptolemaios. Initial a appears in all ancient forms and must be considered as certain; its change to o occurred most probably in Slavic (cf. ancient Altina in Dobrogea, now Oltina). Rumanian Olt was thus most probably borrowed from Slavic.

SomeŐ (not recorded in ancient documents; Samus is mentioned as the name of a settlement, and also regio Ansamensium; Hungarian Szamos). If the original form contained a , the a > o change is tyipcal of Slavic and the Rumanian form was borrowed from Slavic.

Ompoi, Ampoi, Hungarian Ompoly. Ancient attestation uncertain (Ampellum? ILR 1969 p. 356 refers to Dacian Ampee, CIL III, 14507, 1308, 1293.) The Rumanian sound pattern suggests that this name was borrowed by the Rumanian language from Hungarian, which borrowed it from the Slavs.

TimiŐ (In the texts of Ptolemaios and Herodotos TibisiV, TibiskoV; Hungarian Temes, Serbian Tamiš) derives from Slavic or from Hungarian.

Dun|re, with the stress on the first syllable, (German Donau, Hungarian Duna, Serbocroatian Dunav, Bulgarian Dunava, ´Danube´.) The name may be con- nected with Avestic danu ´fluid, mist, dew´, but also Iranian, Celtic, Thracian, Dacian and Cuman origin has been assumed. In Greek texts, it is written LanoubioV, LanouioV, LanoubiV, LanousiV; in Latin, Danubius, Danuuius. A different ancient name of the Danube (east of the Iron Gate) is Istros (IstroV). The first part of the Rumanian name (Dun|-) was handed down to the Rumanians by Slavs, as shown by certain sound changes characteristic of Slavic. In its entirety, however, Dun|re cannot be explained from any of the known names of the river. Assumed Dacian etymologies are as uncertain as other attempts at explaining Rumanian words from Dacian lexical elements. Dun|re does not continue ancient Danubius or Istros. The ancestors of the Rumanians had apparently no name for this river before they borrowed its Slavic form, which confirms the conclusion drawn also from other circumstances, namely, that they did not live in the valley of the Danube.

Pruth (in the Middle Ages, Alanus Fluvius). The Avestic word peretav means ´shallow place, ford; bridge´. The Rumanian form derives from Slavic.

IaŐi (placename). Besides being the name of the central town of Moldavia, this name appears also in several other parts of the country: Gura IaŐului, Valea IaŐului, IaŐi (a village in the county of Gorj). It reproduces the name given after the 9th century to the Alanians, As. Avestic asav ´fast, rapid´. Also this name was borrowed by Rumanian from Slavic.




a) History

The Hungarian occupation of Transylvania started in the early 10th century. Constantinus Porphyrogenitus (905B959), the erudite scholar and historian, whose works possess a special documentary value, recorded in his De administrando Imperio, from AD 945, that in the eastern part of the present day Hungarian Plain and in the Banat, Hungarians were living in the 10th century:


The Turks (=Hungarians) were driven away by the Petchenegs, they moved and settled in the country which they inhabit even now. In those places, there are some old vestiges: the first is the bridge of Trajan, at the gate of Turcia (=Hungary), then there is Belgrade, at a distance of three days´ journey from this bridge; in Belgrade there is also a tower of the sacred Emperor Constantine the Great; farther on the river, there is Sirmium, at two days´ journey from Belgrade, and farther away, there is great Moravia, not Christianized, which was devastated by the Turks (=Hungarians) and was earlier ruled by Svatopluk.

(40, 35B44): These are the places worthy of mentioning [...] along the river Istros. Those inside of these, where there are Turk (=Hungarian) settlements all over, were named after the rivers which flow there. These rivers are: Timisis (TimhshV), Tutis (TouthV), Morisis (MorhshV), Krisos (KrisoV), and the Tisza (Titza). The eastern neighbours of the Turks (=Hungarians) are the Bulgarians, separated from them by the river Istros (´IstroV) also called Danubios (LanoubioV). To the west, there are the Franks, and to the south, the Croatians.

The only name in this text which was not identified is the Tutis.


b) Archaeology

The Hungarians´ tombs are typical: the warriors were laid down with their weapons and their horse, often only its head and leg bones. From the entire Carpathian basin, such cemeteries were excavated at 550 sites. Also the tombs of the ´common people´ (Hungarian köznép) show characteristic Oriental features. Such cemeteries, which date from the 10th century, are very numerous in the eastern Hungarian plain and in the Banat; in Transylvania, they were found in the valley of the Kisszamos (Rum. SomeŐul Mic), the rivers KüküllĹ (Rum. Târnava) and Maros (MureŐ), as well as in the south-eastern corner of the Szekler territory (mainly present day Covasna county). IR vol. II p. 47 listed Biharea-Oradea, Ôicl|u, Cluj, GâmbaŐ, and Lopadea. The Hungarian tombs in Kolozsvár (Cluj), Zápolya-utca (Rum. Str. Dostoievski), were excavated long ago, but not far from that site, another Hungarian cemetery from the 10th century was discovered in the 1980s during excavations conducted with the aim of exploring a Roman cemetery from the 2ndB3rd centuries. According to Erdély rövid története, p. 123, about 30 tombs were unearthed at this site, of which about 5 contained the remains of a horse. A third ancient Hungarian cemetery was probably situated about 600 m from this site.


c) Placenames

The archaeological remains give only a vague picture of the situation in those times. The finds are often made by chance and planned excavations are and have been for many decades aimed mainly at finding material remains of a Roman population. A large number of ancient Hungarian placenames give a better picture of the areas where Hungarians were living in the 10th, 11th, and 12th centuries. Of these, we present here only one special group, those formed with the suffix Bd. Originally a suffix forming diminutives, Bd in Ancient Hungarian was often used to form placenames:


The study of the distribution in space of the Hungarian placenames with the archaic suffix Bd [...] indicates what parts of Transylvania were conquered and organized in the Hungarian feudal system until the 12th century, the last century in which this suffix was used.


These areas are shown on map No. 10, p. 277. As indicated by these ancient placenames, a large part of the area within the northwestern and southern Carpathian mountains B the valleys of all major rivers, and the Transylvanian basin B was inhabited by Hungarians in the 11th and 12th centuries. These data complete the picture given by archaeology.

(It should be pointed out that the total number of Hungarian placenames formed with the suffix Bd is higher than the figures given on this map, which only reflect those listed by Popescu, and that the total number of ancient Hungarian placenames in Transylvania is much higher than the number of those containing the suffix Bd.)

Most of these placenames formed with the suffix Bd were borrowed by Rumanian. Some examples (modern forms):

Buzád (from Hungarian búza ´wheat´) > Rumanian Buzad.

Élesd (éles ´sharp´) > Rum. AleŐd.

ErĹsd (erĹs ´strong´) > AriuŐd.

Fejérd (fejér, fehér ´white´) > Rum. Feiurd; (later changed to Feiurdeni).

FenyĹd (fenyĹ ´fir, pine´) > Rum. Fenied; recently translated: Br|deŐti (brad ´fir, pine´).

Galambod (galamb ´pigeon´) > Rum. Galambod; recently translated: Porumbeni (porumbel ´pigeon´).

Komlód (komló ´hop´) > Rum. Comlod.

Kövesd (old forms: Kuesd, Kewesd) (kĹ ´stone´) > Cuied, CuieŐd, ChieŐd.

Siklód (sikló ´slide´) > Rum. Ôiclod.

Telegd (telek ´piece of ground, plot, parcel´) > Rum. Tileagd.


Out of those 59 Hungarian placenames ending in Bd, 54 are based upon Hungarian appellatives and adjectives:





















gate, door




birch grove
















fir, pine




















piece of ground












twig, rod




part of a cart








great, big

























* Words marked with an asterisk occur in more than one placename.

Four of these placenames ending in Bd derive from Slavic appellatives:

(1) Vezend (1268: AWezend@) < Slavic vezen, from vezX ´ash (Fraxinus)´ + suffix Bd.

(2) Calmand (1335: AKeethkamar@) < Hungarian kámán + Bd < Slavic kamen ´stone´. Kaman > Calman by popular etymology.

(3) Vecerd (1337: Wecherd@) < Old Slavic ve…erß ´evening´ + Bd.

(4) Suhard, probably from Bulgarian suhar + Bd.


There is no unequivocally Rumanian word on the basis of these placenames, although one of them has been assumed to be of Rumanian origin. This is OŐand (1213: Avilla Vosian@, or V|rŐand (1214: Avilla Vosian@), Hungarian Varsánd. I. Kniezsa considered that this is based on the Hungarian personal name Varsány, while Popescu connected it, on the basis of its first documentary mentionings (Vosian), with Rumanian oŐan or oŐean ´person originating from Úara OaŐului´. (The name of this territory in the northwestern corner of present day Rumania was borrowed, much later than the 10th century, from Hungarian: Avas > Rum. OaŐ.)


Map 10. The distribution of 59 ancient Hungarian placenames formed with the suffix Bd in the area of the eastern and southern Carpathian mountains (Transylvania, the Banat, CriŐana, and MaramureŐ). The numbers of these names are given for each county; an additional 12 are found in the valley of the MureŐ (Maros) and another 12 in the valley of the rivers Târnava Mare and Târnava Mic| (NagyküküllĹ and KisküküllĹ, respectively). C Since the suffix Bd was no longer used in constructing placenames after the 12th century, the existence of such names in an area indicates the presence of Hungarians in the 10th, 11th, or, latest, in the 12th century. (The data were compiled from R.S. Popescu: ANote de toponimie transilv|nean|,@ Limba român|, XXIV, 3, 1975, pp. 263B266 and AM|rturii toponimice privind istoria Transilvaniei medievale,@ by the same author, in Limba român|, XXII, 4, 1973, pp. 309B314.)

(The total number of Hungarian placenames formed with the suffix Bd is higher than the figures given here, which only reflect those given by Popescu. The number of ancient Hungarian placenames in Transylvania is, of course, much higher than those containing the suffix Bd. This type was only taken as an example of ancient Hungarian placenames in Transylvania.)

In the above-mentioned article, Popescu asserted that Amany of these Hungarian names are translations of older Rumanian names.@ He presented four examples, none of which is based upon a Rumanian appellative or adjective but only on personal names: Bogdand, Ivand, Peterd, and Petrind. None of them contains, however, any specific element to be decisive in this question. Bogdan, Ivan, and Peter are found equally in Slavic, Hungarian, and Rumanian: Bogdan is an old name of Slavic origin and its sense is ´given by God´ (Bog ´God´). It is

probably a semantic loan from Greek (Theodoros). It is mentioned in Serbo-Croatian documents from the 11thB12th centuries. Hungarian as well as Rumanian borrowed it from Slavic. Ivan is the Russian form of a very frequent European name, originating from Hebrew: Johanan. The main Rumanian form is Ion, although there are very many variants. Ivan is specific to the Slavs and frequently used by the Russians, Ukrainians, and Bulgarians. The form specific to Serbian is Iovan. Peter was created from the Greek word signifying ´stone´, from which Latin petra, in the early Christian era. The form used in Western Europe is based on the Latin variant, while the Slavs and the Rumanians continue the Greek form. In documents, the Rumanian form appeared in the 14th century. The modern Rumanian forms are Petru, Petruc, PetraŐ, Petre, etc. In Bulgarian, there are Petar, Petre, Petra, in Serbian, Petar, and in Hungarian, Péter, PetĹ, Petur.

In summary, the placenames Bogdand, Ivand, Peterd and Petrind may have been based on Slavic, Hungarian, or Rumanian personal names. Since all other placenames with the ending Bd were based on Hungarian words (appellatives or adjectives), it is most likely that also these four placenames derive from Hungarian. (The data used in this section were taken from C. Ionescu, Mic| enciclopedie onomastic|, 1975.)





a) The Petchenegs (Patzinaks)


Towards the end of the 9th century, a Turk people, the Petchenegs appeared in the region of the lower Danube. They devastated, in alliance with the Bulgarians, the Hungarian settlements in Atelkozu (Hung. Etelköz, between the Dniester and the Pruth) which forced the Hungarians to migrate westwards.

The earliest Petcheneg archaeological remains in present day Rumania date from around 930 AD. In the same period, in the southern part of the region between the Dniester and the Pruth, the Hlincea I culture shows signs of ravages and ends some decades later. These changes may have been caused by the occupation of the area by the Petchenegs.

The first incursion of this population into the Balkan peninsula (933B934) was described by the Arab historians Al Masudi and Ibn-al-Ahtir. Together with the Petchenegs were several other peoples, also Hungarians.

The Valachian plain was, according to Diaconu, occupied by the Petchenegs in the same period when northeastern Bulgaria and southern Dobrogea were occupied by the Byzantine Empire, i.e., about the year 1000. The Dridu culture there ended latest in the mid-eleventh century.

During the 11th century, the Petchenegs made a series of incursions into the Balkan peninsula until they, in 1091, were finally defeated by Byzantium. In this battle, the large Byzantine army was reinforced by ABulgars from the valleys of the Struma and the Vardar as well as by Vlachs from Thessaly.@ The Cumans were also the allies of Byzantium in this battle.

The Petchenegs made incursions also into Transylvania fighting with the Hungarians (e.g., king Ladislas the Saint, 1077B1095). Groups of this Turk people were, however, also settled by the Hungarian kings in several parts of Transylvania, for example in the region of present day Barót (Rum. Baraolt), in the southeast. Petchenegs were still mentioned living there in the 13th century. From 1213, Petcheneg soldiers are mentioned in the army of the Hungarian king and a document from 1224 tells us about the silva Blachorum et Bissenorum in southeastern Transylvania.

Archaeological remains of Petchenegs were found, for example, in the above-mentioned area (a vessel in the river Vargyas [Rum. VârghiŐ]) and in a settlement near Bratei from the 12thB13th centuries (cf. above, p. 166, the fourth level of settlement No. 2). Material remains characteristic of this population were also found in the tower of Doboka (D|bâca), north of Cluj.

According to historical records, the language of the Petchenegs belonged to the Turk languages and was similar to that of the Cumans. No remains of this language are known, however, and one cannot determine its influence on the placenames of Rumania, except those which are based upon the ethnic name of this population. These are Slavic pe…enń / skß (adjective), Serbian Pe…enoge (placename), Hungarian besenyĹ, and Rumanian peceneg. Of these names, Iordan mentions the following:

Placenames based on the ethnic name of the Petchenegs in the extra-Carpathian territories

Peceneaga (reg. Buz|u, raion Beceni; reg. GalaŰi, raion C|lmui, county Teleorman), Pecineaga (reg. ConstanŰa), Picineaga (reg. GalaŰi, raion M|cin), Picineagul (county Muscel), Picinoaga (reg. GalaŰi, raion C|lmui), Pecenevca and PeceniŐca or Pecenicica (county of Severin).

Placenames based on the ethnic name of the Petchenegs in Transylvania

BeŐeneu or BeŐineu (in the counties Alba [Hung. Fehér], N|s|ud [Naszód], Târnava Mic| [KisküküllĹ], Trei Scaune (today Covasna) [Háromszék, today Kovászna], BeŐimbac (from Hungarian Besinbák, transferred to Hungarian from Transylvanian Saxon Beschenbach, in the county of F|g|raŐ [Fogaras]), BeŐenova and BeŐenova Nou| (county of TimiŐ-Torontal [Temes-Torontál]), Dealul BeŐinoului (county of Sibiu [Szeben]). Peceneagul (county of F|g|raŐ); PiŐineaga (county of Hunedoara [Hunyad]). (BeŐeneu in the county of N|s|ud is also called BeŐimbav; cf. BeŐimbac, above).

The geographical distribution of these placenames in Rumania is significant: IN THE EXTRA-CARPATHIAN TERRITORIES, all of them (a total of 9) are based on the Slavic or Rumanian forms. IN TRANSYLVANIA, two names of this type appear, both along the southern frontier, in the counties F|g|raŐ and Hunedoara. Except these frontier areas, all placenames (a total of 8) based on the ethnic name of the Petchenegs were derived from the Hungarian form BesenyĹ. The present day Rumanian forms (BeŐeneu, etc.) were borrowed from Hungarian.


b) The Cumans


The place of the Petchenegs was, towards the end of the 11th century, taken by the Cumans, another Turk population.They dominated Moldavia and the Valachian plain until the beginning of the 13th century; contemporary writers called these territories Black Cumania. Like the Petchenegs, the Cumans conducted several incursions into the Balkan peninsula, waging wars against Byzantium and Bulgaria. They were, however, often allies of the Bulgarians in attacking Byzantium. The founders of the Vlacho-Bulgarian Empire, the brothers Ivan and Peter were, in 1187, helped by the Cumans (cf.above, p. 25).

The Cumans conducted also incursions towards the north, into Transylvania, fighting against the Hungarians. Groups of them settled in the Hungarian kingdom, mostly between the Danube and the Tisza.

The Cumans were Christianized and adopted the Roman Catholic faith at the beginning of the 13th century and in 1227, a diocese was organized for them in the valley of the Milcov.


Vestiges of the Cuman language in Rumania

The Cuman language is partly known from some texts and from a LatinB PersianBCuman dictionary, written in 1303 by Italian and German missionaries and given by Petrarch to St. Mark´s Library in Venice. Because the language spoken by the Cumans was closely related to Turkish, it is difficult to distinguish this influence from later borrowings of Turkish words. On the basis of certain criteria, Denusianu considered that the following Rumanian words were of

Cuman origin: beci ´cellar´, toi ´climax´, scrum ´ash´.

Placenames of Cuman origin in Rumania are for example: B|r|gan, Burnaz (steppes in Muntenia), Caracal (from Cuman kara ´black´, and kala ´fortification, castle´), Caraiman, Teleorman (from Cuman teli ´wild´, and orman ´forest´); probably also Caraba, C|lmui, Covorlui, D|snui, Tâncab|, Toxab|, and Vaslui. Originally, Teleorman probably was the name of a much larger territory than later (the county of Teleorman). It is mentioned by Cinnamos in the context of a Byzantine attack conducted against the Cumans in 1148.

The ethnic name of the Cumans is preserved in many Rumanian placenames: Comana, Comanca, Com|niŰa, Comanul, Com|neanca, Com|neŐti, etc. More than 40 such places are listed by Iordan (Nume de locuri 1952, pp. 227B228), most of them in the extra-Carpathian territories.

The Cuman lexical elements, as well as the placenames were transferred to the Rumanian language directly, without the mediation of the Slavs. This indicates that Vlachs lived together with Cumans, which proves the presence of Vlachs north of the lower Danube in the 12thB3th centuries. This presence is also recorded in historical texts. (The Cumans disappeared from the territories north of the lower Danube during the 13th century.)





The first known mention of Vlachs north of the lower Danube was writtern by the Polish chronicler Jan Dlugosz (1415B1480). It relates that Ruthenians, Petchenegs, and Vlachs were in 1070 AD fighting in Moldavia in the army of prince (cnez) Wiaczeslav against Boleslaw, who later became the king of Poland (Boleslaw II. Smialy). Vardan, an Armenian historian, who wrote his Geographia in the mid-thirteenth century, mentioned that Vlachs were found north of the lower Danube in the second half of the 11th century. Niketas Akominatos reported that Andronikos, who fled to Hali…, was in 1164 captured by some Vlachs serving the Byzantine Empire. Kinnamos reported Vlachs north of the lower Danube from 1166. Thus, from the second half of the 12th century onwards, Vlachs were mentioned north of the lower Danube by several chroniclers, but for more than 100 years there was no indication of Vlach settlements. From 1213 it is reported that Germans (Transylvanian Saxons), Szeklers, Vlachs, and Petchenegs were fighting in the army of the Hungarian king Andreas II (1205B1235), but it is not stated where these Vlachs came from. A document from 1222 describes the Aterra Blachorum@ along the southeastern frontiers of Transylvania (in present day F|g|raŐ). The Diploma of Pope Gregeory IX from 1234 mentions Vlachs living in the Diocese of the Cumans in the region of present day FocŐani in southern Moldavia.

This population, migrating from the region of the high mountains in the central and northern parts of the Balkan peninsula, found their niche B areas suitable for shepherding B in the Southern Carpathians, the mountainous parts of Moldavia, and later also in the Transylvanian Alps (MunŰii Apuseni). The bulk of the Vlachs came to these areas, which in that time were sparsely populated and partly uninhabited, because the Slavs and the Hungarians (as also the Cumans and other Turk populations) pursued agriculture and the raising of animals and were mainly living on the plains, in the valleys and in the region of lower mountains. In their new habitat, the Vlachs were exposed to the invading armies (for example the Tartars in the 13th century ) in a much lesser degree than the surrounding populations in the valleys. These and a number of other circumstances explain the relatively rapid increase of this population in the centuries after the Tartar invasion, which almost extinguished Hungary. As shown by the Rumanian influence on several Slavic languages spoken in the northern Carpathains and also beyond them (cf. above, pp. 133B137), groups of Vlachs reached also these territories, but these groups were not sufficiently strong to resist assimilation into the surrounding Slavs.

These are of course only the main outlines of a protracted process, which, however, is not the topic of the present monograph.


The first Vlach principalities

The first Vlach political organizations are mentioned in a document written in 1247. In the first state-buildings of the Vlachs north of the lower Danube, the Cumans were of great importance: by their alliance with the Rumanians particularly in the mountainous regions of ArgeŐ and Muscel, the Cumans gave the Vlachs an impulse to organize a state, which passed from Borciu the Cuman to B|s|rab|. Stadtmüller stated that they even helped the Vlachs in their migrations to the areas north of the lower Danube:


Die grosse Ausbreitung des rumänischen Volkes in das damals noch unerschlossene Urwaldgebiet der Karpaten ging aber nicht von den sesshaften Romanen des Paristrion, sondern von den Awlachischen@ Wanderhirten der innerbalkanischen Berglandschaften aus. Auch ihre Führer nördlich der Donau tragen zu einem guten Teile kumanische Namen. Die Kumanen scheinen also an dieser grossen Walachischen Nordwanderung einen beträchtlichen Anteil gehabt zu haben.


The Diploma of the Ioanites from 1247, written by king Béla IV of Hungary and the chief of the Order of the Ioanites, mentions the following political organizations of the Vlachs: Úara Severinului in the western part of Oltenia and the southern part of the Banat; two small principalities (cnezat-s) in Oltenia with Ioan and FarcaŐ, respectively, as chiefs; the voivodate of Litovoi between the rivers Jiu and Olt, which included also HaŰeg (< Hungarian Hátszeg), a small area north of the peaks of the southern Carpathians. There was a Ű ar| also in the region of ArgeŐ whose chief was Seneslav. The names VlaŐca and Codrul Vl|siei (´the forest of Vlach country´) given by a Slavic population are vestiges from such voivodates. .

These small principalities had their own army. In the first half of the 14th century, those to the west and to the east of the Olt were united by Basarab I (around 1310B1352). Somewhat later, also Moldavia emerged as a united principality.

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