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The most recent version of the theory
of Daco-Rumanian continuity

by Jean Csonka

[The full text is in French]


The author's discussion is centered on a chapter in the re- cently published book, Relations between the Autotochthon- ous Population and the Migratory Populations on the territory of Rumania (Bucharest, Academy of Social and Political Sciences of the Socialist Republic of Rumania, 1975) edited by Miron Constantinescu, Stefan Pascu and Petre Diaconu. Of the twenty-one studies written by Rumanian specialists, Jean Csonka has chosen for his discussion Hadrian Daicoviciu's contribution entitled "Dacians and Romans in the Province of Trajan. "

Daicoviciu's goal is to show that Transylvania is the birth- place of the Rumanian nation. His hypothesis is that Dacians were very numerous in the area when it was under the domi- nation of the Roman Empire from 106 to 271 A.D. The presence of ''Rumanians'' is noted by Anonymus, the notary of King Bela III of Hungary (1172-90). Actually, however, Anonymus writes about Blakhs, not Rumanians around 1200. Daicoviciu, however, claims that the Blakhs Anonymus men- tions are identical with the Dacian ancestors of the Ru- manians. During the period of Roman occupation, Daico- vicius claims that a rapid Latinization of the Dacian language and culture took place and that the Dacians became Ru- manians. There are several problems with this theory. There is no proof that the Dacians were the only group living in the area at the time. Herodotos says that the Thracians are a very large group, but Daicoviciu claims that the Geto-Dacians formed the largest group of Thracians, and that before 106, Scythians, Sarmatians, etc. already inhabited Transylvania. Archeological evidence to that effect is negligible; few objects have been found in the area which can be clearly called Dacian. The ethnic origin of archeological objects from the 4th to 9th centuries cannot be established. Daicoviciu claims that the scarcity of autochthonous objects is evidence of a rapid and complete Latinization. This does not explain, how- ever, why Roman conquests in other similar areas such as the Balkans, Asia, Africa, etc. have not shown the same degree of Latinization. Daicoviciu also maintains that the Dacian popu- lation sought refuge from the "barbaric" invasions in the mountainous regions. On the other hand, K. Horedt and M. Rusu, in their respective studies included in the book, declair that the Dacians stayed in their ancestral villages, while Ion Donat, another author of the volume, believes he found proof that the Dacians survived that period outside Transylvania, in the valleys of the Carpathians.

Latinization, according to Daicoviciu, is primarily a linguistic phenomenon. But we read elsewhere in the book that linguistic proof is applicable only to 6 Latin words for 929 years of continuity. Al. Graur, a linguist, and another author of the book, admits that there is not one written proof of the Dacian or other Thracian languages. He speaks of about 80 words of Albanian origin in the Rumanians language. While Albanian is considered as the continuation of the Illyrian languages, we don't know the exact relations between the Thracian and Illyrian languages. Albanian words in the Ru- manian certainly indicate that the Albanians and Rumanians were long-time neighbours and that the original habitat of the Rumanians is the central region of the Balkans, and not the territory north of the Danube.

Great upheavals had taken place during the first 1000 years of our era: Goths were in Transylvania since 300 A.D. followed by the Huns; after the death of Attila, in 453, the Gepids became the masters of the Carpathian Basin; in the middle of the 6th century the Avars took the place of the Gepids and with Slavic tribes in their service they devastated repeatedly Tran- sylvania and the Balkans. In his book, ''Constantine Porphyro- genitus and his world" Arnold Toynbee says that the Slavic devastated and burned down the towns and fortresses and reduced the population to slavery. He further says that although the present-day Rumanian is a "Romance" language, the Slav was still the administrative and liturgical language of Wallachia and Moldavia in the 14th century, and remained the liturgical language until as late as 1679. The Bible, Toynbee says, was translated into Rumanian in 1688 in Hungarian Transylvania. As Toynbee points out on page 457 of his book, archeological evidence shows that Wallachia was inhabited until the end of the l0th century by a stationary population which -- according to Petre Diaconu (coeditor and author of the book here discussed) -- spoke Rumanian. But in the time of Constantine Porphyrogenitus (905-959) the Pecheneggs and the Bulgars had common frontier which signifies that Wallachia was at that time a Pechenegg territory. Diaconu, Toynbee points out, attempted to modify Emperor Constantine's assertion; his rejection of a well informed authority of the l0th century is arbitrary and suspect of being influenced by present political considerations. Finally, it should be noted that the 11th century chronicler of Kiev, while referring to the Hungarians near Kiev at the end of the 9th century, calls the Carpathians "Mountains of Ougors", Hun- garian Mountains, instead of calling them Dacian or Vlach, let alone "Rumanian" Mountains. In general, the geographic names of Rumania, Hungarian, Turkish, Iranian, Slavic, attest to great population changes in this area. Thus this ter- ritory's history cannot be claimed exclusively as the history of the peoples called Rumanian today. The facts prove the changing of the populations rather, than the continuity of a single people. The ancient Dacians and the modern Ru- manians are certainly two different ethnic groups.

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