The capital of the Dacian kingdom
Location: Grădiştea de Munte village, Orăştioara de Sus commune, Hunedoara County, Romania
Sarmizegetusa (also Sarmisegetusa, Sarmisegethusa, Sarmisegethuza) was the most important Dacian military, religious and political center. Erected on top of a crag 1,200 meters high, the fortress was the core of the strategic defensive system in the Orăştie Mountains, comprising six citadels. The fortress, a quadrilateral formed by massive stone blocks (murus dacicus), was constructed on five terraces, on an area of almost 30,000 m². Sarmizegetusa also had a sacred precinct - among the most important and largest circular and rectangular Dacian sanctuaries the famous Circular Calendar Sanctuary is included among the most important and largest circular and rectangular Dacian sanctuaries.
The civilians lived around the fortress, down the mountain on man-made terraces. Dacian nobility had flowing water, brought through ceramic pipes, in their residences. The archaeological inventory found at the site shows that Dacian society had a high standard of living.
All the six fortresses - Sarmizegetusa, Blidaru, Piatra Roşie, Costeşti, Căpâlna and Baniţa - that formed the defensive system of Decebalus are part of a UNESCO World heritage site.
At least since the Roman age, there exists in Romania evidence of cultural richness and a high level of scientific knowledge. For example, the Dacian sanctuary of Sarmisegetuza has been a perennial witness of battled history as well as of applied sciences. Then astronomy was the guide for chronology, but also for the rhythms of agriculture and hunting. The priests were involved in establishing accurate calendars, and Christian faith became an antidote for a menaced history.
The Dacian sanctuary of Sarmisegetuza, situated in the Southern Carpathians, preserves the traces of a shattered history, due to the struggle for supremacy carried by the Romans at the north of the Danube, as well as a high level of knowledge in geometry, building, and astronomy. Obviously, at that time, astronomy supplied to the needs of orientation and chronology, very useful to populations that were always fighting but also for the respect of the rhythms of agriculture and hunting. The sacred feasts were also cyclical and the sky was seen as the refuge of divinities. One of the priests’ main concerns was how to establish correct calendars.
At Sarmisegetuza, the most important preserved building is the sanctuary. This fact must not surprise us: there are appreciations about the level of the Dacian culture, which go back up to Haerodotus (5 century BC).
The Gothian historian Jordanes believed that in this region of the world there were persons “almost as scholary as the Greeks”. In his work De origine aetibus que Getarum, he wrote that Dacians knew the 12 zodiacal signs, how the Moon heaves on and vanishes, the name of 346 stars, etc. Therefore it is easy to see why the great circular sanctuary, still preserved at Sarmisegetuza, illustrates perfectly the level of the astronomical knowledge of our ancestors concerning the Universe, the time, the seasons, the geographic and astronomic orientation. The sanctuary has a calendar system still insufficiently studied, but the Andesite Sun is a jewel of universal culture, unfortunately badly preserved and hardly known.