The Holy Apostle Andrew, the first called

Today, the Christians all over the world celebrates Saint Andrew, the first Apostle of Jesus Christ.
Andrew was at first a disciple of John the Baptizer along with John the Theologian. When the Forerunner pointed out Jesus as the Christ, they both became His disciples. Andrew took his brother, Saint Peter, to meet Jesus. He is called the Protokletos (the First Called) because he was the first Apostle to be summoned by Jesus into His service. Andrew and his brother Peter made their living as fishermen on the Sea of Galilee. Both men became Apostles, and while Peter symbolically came to represent the Church of the West, Andrew likewise represents the Church of the East.

According to ecclesiastical tradition, Andrew began his missionary activity in the Provinces of Vithynia and Pontus on the southern shores of the Black Sea. Later he journeyed to the City of Byzantium and founded the Christian Church there, ordaining the first Bishop of Byzantium, Stachys, who was one of the 70 disciples of the Lord.
After Pentecost, Andrew taught in Byzantium, Thrace, Russia, Epiros, and Peloponnese. In Amisos, he converted the Jews in the temple, baptized them, healed their sick, built a church, and left a priest for them. In Bithynia, he taught, healed their sick, and drove away the wild beasts that bothered them. His prayers destroyed the pagan temples, and those who resisted his words became possessed and gnawed at their bodies until Andrew healed them.

The official stance of the Romanian Orthodox Church is that Saint Andrew preached the Gospel to the Daco-Romans in the province of Dobrogea (Scythia Minor), whom he converted to Christianity. The Orthodox Church has been a companion and defender of the Romanian people for all of their 2000-year history.

He is the Patron Saint of Romania, Russia, and Scotland.

Traian Vuia

Traian Vuia (pronounced [traˈjan ˈvuja]; August 17, 1872 - September 3, 1950) was a Romanian inventor, who designed, built and flew the first self-propelling heavier-than-air aircraft in Europe, in 1906.

After the graduation of high-school in Lugoj in 1892, he enrolled in the Polytechnic University of Budapest, School of Mechanics where he got his engineering diploma. He then joined the Faculty of Law in Budapest. In May, 1901 he was awarded a Ph.D. degree in Law by the Faculty of Law in Budapest with the thesis "Military and Industry, State and Contract regime".

After graduation, he returned to Lugoj, where he continued studying the problem of human flight and he designed his first flying machine which he called the airplane-car and tried to build this machine, but due to financial constraints, decided to go to Paris, in July, 1902, where he thought he'll find someone interested in financing his project, starting with balloon enthusiasts, but many believed that a flying machine with a density greater than air's could not fly. He then went to Victor Tatin, a known theoretician and experimentator who built an aeromodel in 1879.

Tatin was immediately interested in Vuia's project, but also tried to persuade him that there was nothing he could do, since Vuia's project did not have a suitable engine and it would not be stable enough. But Vuia continued to trust in his project, so he sent it to the Académie des Sciences of Paris on February 16, 1903, presenting the possibility of flying with a heavier-than-air mechanical machine and his procedure for taking off, but it was rejected for being utopian, adding the comments:
The problem of flight with a machine which weighs more than air can not be solved and it is only a dream.
In spite of all these refusals, Vuia did not give up and applied for a patent granted on August 17, 1903 and published on October 16, 1903. Vuia begun to build the flying machine in the winter of 1902–1903. He encountered many difficulties, the most important being of financial nature, but he succeeded in overcoming them. In the autumn of 1904, he began building the engine, also his own invention. In 1904, he got a patent for his invention in the United Kingdom. This aircraft was called "Traian Vuia 1" and it was a single-plane airplane with a high-wing, which was completely built in December 1905. He found a place in Montesson, near Paris, where he could test his airplane, the first experiments started in 1905, at first he used the machine only as a car, without the wings mounted on it, so he could gather experience in driving it, then on March 18, 1906 "Vuia I" was set to take off. He accelerated and after about 50 meters, the plane left the soil and flew at about one meter in height for about 12 meters then the propeller stopped and the aircraft landed.

Many newspapers in France, the US, and the United Kingdom wrote about the first man to fly with a heavier-than-air machine with their own takeoff systems, propulsion units and landing gear. The thing that has been emphasized ever since about Vuia's achievement, is that his machine was able to take off on a flat surface "only by on-board means", without any "outside assistance", be it an incline, rails, a catapult, etc.

The father of the space travel

Hermann Oberth (June 25, 1894 - December 28, 1989)
Hermann Julius Oberth, born in the Transylvanian town of Mediaş (Mediasch), is, along with the Russian Konstantin Tsiolkovsky and the American Robert Goddard, one of the three founding fathers of rocketry and modern astronautics. Interestingly, although these three pioneers arrived at many of the same conclusions about the possibility of a rocket escaping the earth’s gravitational pull, they seem to have done so without any knowledge of each other’s work.

Oberth’s interest in rocketry was sparked at the age of 11. His mother gave him a copy of Jules Verne's From The Earth To The Moon, a book which he later recalled he read "at least five or six times and, finally, knew by heart.” It was a young Oberth, then, that discovered that many of Verne’s calculations were not simply fiction, and that the very notion of interplanetary travel was not as fantastic as had been assumed by the scientific community.
By the age of 14 Oberth had already envisioned a “recoil rocket” that could propel itself through space by expelling exhaust gases (from a liquid fuel) from its base. He had no resources with which to test his model, but continued to develop his theories, all the while teaching himself, from various books, the mathematics that he knew he’d need if he was to ever challenge gravity’s dominion.

Oberth realized that the higher the ratio between propellant and rocket mass the faster his rocket would be able to travel. Problem: as the rocket expends fuel, its mass (not including fuel) remains the same, in essence becoming heavier and heavier in relation to the engine’s ability to provide thrust. Solution: stages. Hermann Oberth reasoned that as one section of the rocket cylinder becomes expended, and therefore also becomes dead weight, why not just get rid of it? This idea is especially important, in light of the fact that in space, velocity is additive. Oberth wrote, “the requirements for stages developed out of these formulas. If there is a small rocket on top of a big one, and if the big one is jettisoned and the small one is ignited, then their speeds are added.

In 1912 Hermann Oberth enrolled in the University of Munich to study medicine. His scholarly pursuits, however, were interrupted by the First World War. In an indirect way, Hermann Oberth’s participation in the war, mostly with the medical unit , was, in some ways, fortunate for the future of rocketry. Hermann Oberth stated it best when he wrote that one of the most important things he learned in his years as an enlisted medic, was that he "did not want to be a doctor”. When the war was over, Professor Oberth returned to the University of Munich, but this time to study Physics with several of the most notable scientists of thetime. In 1922 Oberth’s doctoral thesis on rocketry was rejected. He later described his reaction: “I refrained from writing another one, thinking to myself: Never mind, I will prove that I am able to become a greater scientist than some of you, even without the title of doctor.” He continued: “In the United States, I am often addressed as a doctor. I should like to point out, however, that I am not such and shall never think of becoming one.” And on education he had this to say: “Our educational system is like an automobile which has strong rear lights, brightly illuminating the past. But looking forward things are barely discernible.

In 1923, the year after the rejection of his dissertation, he published the 92 page Die Rakete zu den Planetenraumen (The Rocket into Planetary Space). This was followed by a longer version (429 pages) in 1929, which was internationally celebrated as a work of tremendous scientific importance. That same year, he lost the sight in his left eye in an experiment while working as a technical advisor to German director Fritz Lang on his film, “Girl in the Moon.” In the thirties Oberth took on a young assistant who would later become one of the leading scientists in rocketry research for the German and then the United States governments; his name was Werhner von Braun. They worked together again during the Second World War, developing the V2 rocket, the “vengeance weapon” for the German Army, and again after the war, in the United States at the U.S. Army’s Ballistic Missile Agency in Huntsville, Alabama. However, three years later Professor Oberth retired and returned to Germany.

That Hermann Oberth is one of the three founding fathers of rocketry and modern astronautics is indisputable. That all three have advanced the science of rocketry is also indisputable - Professor Oberth, though, possessed a vision that set him apart, even from these great men. In 1923 he wrote in the final chapter of Die Rakete zu den Planetenraumen (The Rocket into Planetary Space), “The rockets... can be built so powerfully that they could be capable of carrying a man aloft.” In 1923, then, he became the first to prove that rockets could put a man into space. By all accounts Hermann Oberth was a humble man (especially considering his achievements) who had, in his own words, simple goals. He outlined them in the last paragraph of his 1957 book Man into Space: “To make available for life every place where life is possible. To make inhabitable all worlds as yet uninhabitable, and all life purposeful.

Sarmizegetusa Regia

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.

The first multistage rocket

It is a common fact that the rocket was invented by the ancient chinese; but the first multistage rocket was invented in Transylvania, by...

Conrad Haas (1509–1576)
Was Zeugwart (equipment manager) and Arsenal Master at Sibiu (Hermannstadt), Transylvania, since 1551. Between 1529 and 1556, he wrote a book in which he described rocket technology, involving the combination of fireworks and weapons technologies. This manuscript was discovered in 1961, in the Sibiu public records (Pars Archivi Cititas Cibernensis Varia II -37). In this work Haas dealt with the technical details of rocket construction, explaining the working principles of a rocket. He described many rocket types, including the multistage rocket, bundled rockets, and the idea of modern spacecraft. His work also dealt with the theory of motion of multi-stage rockets, different fuel mixtures using liquid fuel, and introduced delta-shape fins and bell-shaped nozzles. In the last paragraph of his work, he wrote:

But my advice is for more peace and no war, leaving the rifles calmly in storage, so the bullet is not fired, the gunpowder is not burned or wet, so the prince keeps his money, the arsenal master his life; that is the advice Conrad Haas gives.

Before discovery of Haas' manuscript, the first description of the three-stage rocket was credited to the Polish artillery specialist Kazimierz Siemienowicz in his 1650 work, Artis Magnae Artilleriae Pars Prima ("Great Art of Artillery, Part One").

Romanians at Hollywood (part 2)

Marcel Iureş (born 1951 in Băileşti, Romania)
Marcel Iureş is one of Romania's most acclaimed stage and screen actors, having starred in more than two dozen features in his native country and twice being named its best actor. After the 1989 Revolution, he left for Hollywood but preferred to return to Bucharest where in 1998 he created ACT Theatre - the only independent stage in Romania at its time. He has enjoyed a prolific stage career, being famous for his acting in Shakespeare plays.

Name is pronounced Mar-tshel Yoo-rresh.

His American film credits include The Peacemaker starring George Clooney, Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994) starring Cruise and Brad Pitt, Mission: Impossible (1996) starring Tom Cruise, Hart's War (2002), Amen (2002) directed by Costa-Gavras, Cambridge Spies (2003), The Tulsa Luper Suitcase 2 (2004), Goal! (2005), Youth without Youth (2007).
Among his most noted Romanian films are Vacanţa cea mare (1988) (The Big Holiday), Balanţa (1992) (The Oak), Society's Pillars, The Duel, The Last Messenger, and Romanian.

The fountain pen

Petrache Poenaru (1799 - 1875) was a famous Romanian inventor of the Enlightenment era.
Poenaru, who had studied in Paris and Vienna and, later, completed his specialized studies in England. He was secretary and bosom man of Tudor Vladimirescu, was a mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, teacher and organizer of the educational system, as well as a politician, agronomist, and zootechnologist, founder of the Philharmonic Society, the Botanical Gardens and the National Museum of Antiquities in Bucharest, member of Romanian Academy (1870), chair of the Society for the Romanian People Education (1872). Poenaru also designed the current tricolour flag of Romania.

While a student in Paris, Petrache Poenaru invented the world's first fountain pen (named "stilograph" - "un plume sans fin, portative, s’alimentant d’encre d’elle meme"), an invention for which the French Government issued the 3208 patent on May 25, 1827.

Romanians at Hollywood (part 1)

Johnny Weissmuller (June 2, 1904 – January 20, 1984)
Born Peter Johann Weissmüller in Freidorf, now a district of Timişoara, Romania; when he arrived in the US he used his brother's name, Johnny, because it was more American.
At age nine, Weissmuller contracted polio. At the suggestion of his doctor, he took up swimming to help battle the disease. As a teen, Weissmuller dropped out of school and worked various jobs including a stint as a lifeguard at a Lake Michigan beach. While working as an elevator operator and bellboy at the Illinois Athletic Club, Weissmuller caught the eye of swim coach William Bachrach. Bachrach trained Weissmuller and in August 1921, Weissmuller won the national championships in the 50-yard and 220-yard distances. Though he was foreign-born, Weissmuller gave his birthplace as Tanneryville, Pennsylvania, and his birth date as that of his younger brother, Peter Weissmuller. This was to ensure his eligibility to compete as part of the United States Olympic team, and was a critical issue in being issued an American passport. On July 9, 1922, Weissmuller broke Duke Kahanamoku's world record on the 100-meters freestyle, swimming it in 58.6 seconds. He won the title in that distance at the 1924 Summer Olympics, beating Kahanamoku on February 24, 1924. He also won the 400-meters freestyle and the 4 x 200 meters relay. As a member of the American water polo team, he also won a bronze medal. Four years later, at the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam, he won another two Olympic titles.

In all, he won five Olympic gold medals, one bronze medal, won fifty-two U.S. National Championships and set sixty-seven world records. Johnny Weissmuller never lost a race and retired from his amateur swimming career undefeated.

His acting career began when he signed a seven year contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and played the role of Tarzan in Tarzan the Ape Man (1932). The movie was a huge success and Weissmuller became an overnight international sensation. Tarzan author, Edgar Rice Burroughs, was pleased with Weissmuller, although he so hated the studio's depiction of a Tarzan who barely spoke English that he created his own concurrent Tarzan series filmed on location in Central American jungles and starring Herman Brix as a suitably articulate version of the character.
Weissmuller starred in six Tarzan movies for MGM with actress Maureen O'Sullivan as Jane and Cheeta the Chimpanzee. Then, in 1942, Weissmuller went to RKO and starred in six more Tarzan movies with markedly reduced production values. Although not the first Tarzan in movies, (that honor went to Elmo Lincoln), he was the first to be associated with the now traditional ululating, yodeling Tarzan yell. (During an appearance on television's The Mike Douglas Show in the 1970s, Weissmuller explained how the famous yell was created. Recordings of three vocalists were spliced together to get the effect - a soprano, an alto, and a hog caller).
Aside from a first screen appearance as Adonis and the role of Johnny Duval in the 1946 film Swamp Fire, Weissmuller played only three roles in 35 films and 26 series during the heyday of his Hollywood career: Tarzan, Jungle Jim, and himself.

For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Johnny Weissmuller has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6541 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood.

Masterpieces of Neolithic Art

In 1956 in Cernavodă, Romania, near to the banks of the Danube, a strange neolithic statuette was discovered, dated to 4.000 – 3.500 BC. She represents a man in cogitant position, a motive for which she was baptized the Thinker. Since she belonged to the neolithic culture of Hamangia, she was named "Thinker of Hamangia". In respect to this value, the UNESCO soon approved his being part of the Cultural Patrimony of Mankind.

The Hamangia culture is connected to the Neolithisation of the Danube Delta and the Dobruja. It includes Vinca, Dudeşti and Karanovo III elements, but may be based on autochthonous hunter-gatherers. The Hamangia culture developed into the succeeding Gumelniţa, Boian and Varna cultures of the late Eneolithic without noticeable break. Painted vessels with complex geometrical patterns based on spiral-motifs are typical. The shapes include pots and wide bowls. Pottery figurines are normally extremely stylized and show standing naked faceless women with emphasized breasts and buttocks. Settlements consist of rectangular houses with one or two rooms, built of wattle and daub, sometimes with stone foundations (Durankulak). They are normally arranged on a rectangular grid and may form small tells. Settlements are located along the coast, at the coast of lakes, on the lower and middle river-terraces, sometimes in caves.

Thirty years later, in 1986 the Romanian researcher Vasile Droj presents at a symposion of the Romanian Academy an interesting discovery concerning the famous statuette. The Thinker of Hamangia unveils an extraordinary ‘synthetic’ geometry, codificated in his body through which comes out one after the other an ininterrupted cascade of impressing relations, as:

  • his height in centimetres hides the only two whole numbers whose ratio gives the Greek pi with a precision of a millionth
  • his height is exactly ten times less than the human one
  • evident and indiscutable proofs for the presence of the decimal metric measure system
  • the superior part of the Thinker geometrizated holds in itself the pyramidal archetype in a way that, superposed to the Pyramid of Cheops, it fits perfectly
  • not only; but in a certain way two Thinkers (copy) combined reproduce always the pyramidal archetype by different parts of their bodies
  • the Cheops Pyramid herself, in a scale of 1 : 10.000, has absolutely the measure of the Thinker
  • the superior part of the statuette copies the equilateral triangle hidden in the head shape of the Sphinx in Giza
  • the Thinker is conceived to be made as serial or in copies and therefor was found together with his wife (an other statuette, feminine, of the same dimensions)
  • the copies of the Thinker join to each other like the reef stabilopoda of the sea, forming impressive couplings
  • the simple combinations of the Thinkers reproduce the universal archetypes of the Phoenician and Greek – Latin letters
  • between the Thinker and the Geto–Dacian Sanctuary of Sarmizegetusa Regia there is a close relation, in a discendent scale. The same statuette constitutes the module of collusion between the Sanctuary and the Pyramid of Cheops.

The Thinker of Hamangia, besides of the combinatorical module of pyramidal rapports, is also a key of access to the most profound mysteries of the Cheops Pyramid, as to be seen in the following article. And this is again a mystery, the Pyramid of Cheops was constructed about 2.500 BC., but the Thinker of Hamangia about 4.000 BC. The Thinker is much older than the Pyramid, for 1.000 – 1.500 years. Further, between Egypt and Romania there are thousands of kilometres as distance.

The first known writing?

The Tărtăria tablets are three tablets, discovered in Tărtăria, Alba County, Romania. They bear incised symbols that have been the subject of considerable controversy among archaeologists, some of whom claim that the symbols represent the earliest known form of writing in the world.

The tablets were found in 1961 at about 30 kilometres from the well-known site of Alba Iulia. Nicolae Vlassa, an archaeologist at the Cluj Museum, unearthed three inscribed but unbaked clay tablets, together with 26 clay and stone figurines and a shell bracelet, accompanied by the burnt, broken and disarticulated bones of an adult male. Two of the tablets are rectangular and the third is round. They are all small, the round one being only 6 cm across, and two – the round one and one of the rectangular ones – have holes drilled through them.
All three have symbols inscribed only on one face. Similar motifs have been found on pots excavated at Vinča in Serbia and a number of other locations in the southern Balkans. The unpierced rectangular tablet depicts a horned animal, another figure and a branch or tree. The others have a variety of mainly abstract symbols. The purpose of the burial is unclear, but it has been suggested that the body was that of a shaman or spirit-medium.

The tablets are generally believed to have belonged to the Vinča culture, which at the time was believed by Serbian and Romanian archaeologists to have originated around 2700 BC. Vlassa interpreted the Tărtăria tablets as a hunting scene and the other two with signs as a kind of primitive writing similar to the early pictograms of the Sumerians. The discovery caused great interest in the archeological world as it predated the first Minoan writing, the oldest known writing in Europe.
However, subsequent radiocarbon dating on the Tărtăria finds pushed the date of the tablets (and therefore of the whole Vinča culture) much further back, to as long ago as 5500 BC, the time of the early Eridu phase of the Sumerian civilization in Mesopotamia (although this is disputed in the light of apparently contradictory stratigraphic evidence).

If the symbols are indeed a form of writing, then writing in the Danubian culture would far predate the earliest Sumerian cuneiform script or Egyptian hieroglyphs. They would thus be the world's earliest known form of writing. This claim remains controversial.

The meaning (if any) of the symbols is unknown, and their nature has been the subject of much debate. Scholars who conclude that the inscribed symbols are writing base their assessment on a few conclusions, which are not universally endorsed. First, the existence of similar signs on other artifacts of the Danube civilization suggest that there was an inventory of standard shapes of which scribes made use. Second, the symbols make a high degree of standardization and a rectilinear shape comparable to archaic writing systems manifest. Third, that the information communicated by each character was a specific one with an unequivocal meaning. Finally, that the inscriptions are sequenced in rows, whether horizontal, vertical or circular. If they do comprise a script, it is not known what kind of writing system they represent. Some archaeologists who support the idea that they do represent writing, notably Marija Gimbutas, have proposed that they are fragments of a system dubbed the Old European Script.

The first Europeans

In February 2002, a speleological team exploring the karstic system of Miniş Valley, in the south-western Carpathian Mountains near Anina, revealed a previously unknown chamber with a profusion of mammalian skeletal remains. The cave, which seemed to have served primarily as hibernation room for the Late Pleistocene cave bear (Ursus spelaeus), presented unusual arrangements such as the placement of some remains on raised rocks, suggesting a certain human involvement in the accumulated deposits. In fact, speleologists Ştefan Milota, Adrian Bîlgăr and Laurenţiu Sarcina discovered a complete human mandible on the paleosurface. The karstic chamber was designated as "Peştera cu Oase" (The Cave with Bones) and the human mandible as "Oase 1".

Two laboratories independently yielded radiocarbon dates of about 35,000 BC years, or about 40,500 years in calibrated, calendar years for the inferior jaw. Congruent discrete traits and overall proportions of the fossil “Oase 1” revealed specific modern human attributes, placing it close to European early modern humans among Late Pleistocene samples. The fossil belongs to the few findings in Europe which could be directly dated and is considered the oldest known early modern human fossil from Europe. From a location close to the Iron Gates in the Danubian corridor, it may represent one of the earliest modern human populations to have entered Europe.
Against this background, particularly noteworthy is the fact that "Oase 1" exhibits morphological traits combining a variety of archaic Homo, derived early modern human, and possibly Neanderthal features.
In June 2003 a further research team discovered additional human remains on the cave's surface. Thus, an entire anterior cranial skeleton was found along with a largely complete left temporal bone and a number of frontal, parietal and occipital bone segments.
While "Oase 1" inferior jaw is fully mature, the facial skeleton is that of a mid-second decade adolescent, therefore corresponding to a second individual, designated as "Oase 2". Further analyses have revealed that the left temporal bone represents a third individual, assessed as adolescent versus mature female, designated as "Oase 3". However additional finds and work have shown that the temporal bone derives from the same cranium as the "Oase 2" facial en parietal bones. The lack of archaeological signs such as torches, charcoal or tools could suggest that the human remains may have washed in the cave through fissures.
The "Oase 2" and "Oase 3" confirm a pattern already known from the probably contemporaneous "Oase 1" mandible, indicating a mixture of archaic, early modern human and Neanderthal morphological features. Thus, the specimens exhibit a suite of derived "modern human" features like projecting chin, no brow ridge, a high and rounded brain case. Yet, these features are associated with several archaic aspects of the cranium and dentition that place them outside the range of variation for modern humans, like a large face, a large crest of bone behind the ear and big teeth that get even larger toward the back. This mosaic of Neanderthal and modern human reminds similar traits found in a 25,000 years old fossil of a child in Abrigo do Lagar Velho or in the 31,000 years old site of Mladeč.

Peştera cu Oase is subject to ongoing investigation. The on-site findings from the 2005 campaign are currently cross-examined at the Romanian "Emil Racoviţă" Institute of Speleology, Australian National University, (electron spin resonance and uranium-series dating on 21 bone/tooth samples and 29 associated sediment samples), University of Bristol, (uranium-series analysis on 22 bone samples), University of Bergen, (uranium-series dating on 7 samples), University of Oxford (AMS radiocarbon dating on 8 bone/tooth samples), Max Planck Institute (stable isotope analysis and ancient DNA on 37 bone/tooth samples), University of Vienna (AMS radiocarbon dating on 25 bone/tooth samples).

A skull found in Peştera cu Oase in 2004/5 bears features of both modern humans and Neanderthals. According to a paper by Erik Trinkaus and others, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in January, 2007, this finding suggests that the two groups interbred thousands of years ago. Radiocarbon dating indicates that the skull is between 35,000 and 40,000 years old, making it the oldest modern human fossil ever found in Europe.

Romania today

Today's Romania is a republic since December 30, 1947.

Coat of arms:

Anthem: Awaken, Romanian! (Deşteaptă-te, române!)
Capital: Bucharest (Romanian: Bucureşti, 44°25′N 26°06′E)
Official languages: Romanian (Română)
Population (July 2008 estimate): 22.246.862
Ethnic groups: 89.5% Romanians, 6.6% Hungarians, 2.5% Gypsies, 1.4% other minority groups
Religions: about 87% Orthodox Christians; the others are Catholics, Greco-Catholics, Protestants, Neo-Protestants, Muslims, Mosaics etc.
Administrative structure: 41 counties (judeţe) + the capital

UN accession: 1955
NATO accession: 2004
EU accession: 2007
Currency: Leu (RON)
Time zone: EET (UTC+2)
Internet TLD: .ro
Calling code: +40

A brief history of the Romanians

The oldest modern human remains in Europe were discovered in the "Cave With Bones" in present day Romania. The remains are approximately 42,000 years old and as Europe’s oldest remains of Homo Sapiens, they may represent the first such people to have entered the continent. But the earliest written evidence of people living in the territory of the present-day Romania comes from Herodotus in book IV of his Histories written 440 BC, where he writes about the Getae tribes. Dacians, considered a part of these Getae, were a branch of Thracians that inhabited Dacia (corresponding to modern Romania, Moldova and northern Bulgaria). The Dacian kingdom reached its maximum expansion during King Burebista, around 82 BC, and soon came under the scrutiny of the neighboring Roman Empire. After an attack by the Dacians on the Roman province of Moesia in 87 AD, the Romans led a series of wars (Dacian Wars) which eventually led to the victory of Emperor Trajan in 106 AD, and transformed the core of the kingdom into the province of Roman Dacia. Rich ore deposits were found in the province, and especially gold and silver were plentiful. which led to Rome heavily colonizing the province. This brought the Vulgar Latin and started a period of intense romanization, that would give birth to the proto-Romanian. Nevertheless, in the 3rd century AD, with the invasions of migratory populations such as Goths, the Roman Empire was forced to pull out of Dacia around 271 AD, thus making it the first province to be abandoned. Several competing theories have been generated to explain the origin of modern Romanians. Linguistic and geo-historical analysis tend to indicate that Romanians have coalesced as a major ethnic group both South and North of the Danube. After the Roman army and administration left Dacia, the territory was invaded by the Goths, then, in the 4th century by Huns. They were followed by more nomads including Gepids, Avars, Bulgars, Pechenegs, and Cumans.

In the Middle Ages, Romanians lived in three distinct principalities: Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania. By the 11th century, Transylvania became a largely autonomous part of the Kingdom of Hungary, and became the independent as Principality of Transylvania from the 16th century, until 1711. In the other Romanian principalities, many small local states with varying degrees of independence developed, but only in the 14th century the larger principalities Wallachia (1310) and Moldavia (around 1352) emerged to fight a threat of the Ottoman Empire. By 1541, the entire Balkan peninsula and most of Hungary became Ottoman provinces. In contrast, Moldavia, Wallachia, and Transylvania, came under Ottoman suzerainty, but conserved fully internal autonomy and, until the 18th century, some external independence. During this period the Romanian lands were characterised by the slow disappearance of the feudal system; the distinguishment of some rulers like Stephen the Great, Vasile Lupu, and Dimitrie Cantemir in Moldavia, Matei Basarab, Vlad III the Impaler, and Constantin Brâncoveanu in Wallachia, Gabriel Bethlen in Transylvania; the Phanariot Epoch; and the appearance of the Russian Empire as a political and military influence.

In 1600, the principalities of Wallachia, Moldova and Transylvania were simultaneously headed by the Wallachian prince Michael the Brave (Mihai Viteazul), Ban of Oltenia, but the chance for a unity dissolved after Mihai was killed, only one year later, by the soldiers of an Austrian army general Giorgio Basta. Mihai Viteazul, who was prince of Transylvania for less than one year, intended for the first time to unite the three principalities and to lay down foundations of a single state in a territory comparable to today's Romania. After his death, as vassal tributary states, Moldova and Wallachia had complete internal autonomy and an external independence, which was finally lost in the 18th century. In 1699, Transylvania became a territory of the Habsburgs' Austrian empire, following the Austrian victory over the Turks. The Austrians, in their turn, rapidly expanded their empire: in 1718 an important part of Wallachia, called Oltenia, was incorporated to the Austrian monarchy and was only returned in 1739. In 1775, the Austrian empire occupied the north-western part of Moldavia, later called Bukovina, while the eastern half of the principality (called Bessarabia) was occupied in 1812 by Russia.

After the failed 1848 Revolution, the Great Powers did not support the Romanians' expressed desire to officially unite in a single state, forcing Romania to proceed alone against the Ottomans. The electors in both Moldavia and Wallachia chose in 1859 the same person - Alexandru Ioan Cuza – as prince. Thus, Romania was created as a personal union, albeit a Romania that did not include Transylvania. Here, the upper class and the aristocracy remained mainly Hungarian, and the Romanian nationalism inevitably ran up against Hungarian one in the late 19th century. As in the previous 900 years, Austria-Hungary, especially under the Dual Monarchy of 1867, kept the Hungarians firmly in control even in parts of Transylvania where Romanians constituted a local majority.
In a 1866 coup d'état, Cuza was exiled and replaced by Prince Karl of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, who became known as Prince Carol of Romania. During the Russo-Turkish War Romania fought on the Russian side, in and in the 1878 Treaty of Berlin, Romania was recognized as an independent state by the Great Powers. In return, Romania ceded three southern districts of Bessarabia to Russia and acquired Dobruja. In 1881, the principality was raised to a kingdom and Prince Carol became King Carol I.
The 1878-1914 period was one of stability and progress for Romania. During the Second Balkan War, Romania joined Greece, Serbia, Montenegro against Turkey and Bulgaria, and in the peace Treaty of Bucharest (1913) Romania gained Southern Dobrudja.
In August 1914, when World War I broke out, Romania declared neutrality. Two years later, under the pressure of Allies (especially France desperate to open a new front), on August 14/27 1916 it joined the Allies, for which they were promised support for the accomplishment of national unity, Romania declared war on Austria-Hungary. The Romanian military campaign ended in disaster for Romania as the Central Powers conquered two-thirds of the country and captured or killed the majority of its army within four months. Nevertheless, Moldova remained in Romanian hands after the invading forces were stopped in 1917 and since by the war's end, Austria-Hungary and the Russian Empire had collapsed, Bessarabia, Bukovina and Transylvania were allowed to unite with the Kingdom of Romania in 1918. By the 1920 Treaty of Trianon, Hungary renounced in favour of Romania all the claims of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy over Transylvania. The union of Romania with Bukovina was ratified in 1919 in the Treaty of Saint-Germain, and with Bessarabia in 1920 by the Treaty of Paris.

The Romanian expression România Mare (literal translation "Great Romania", but more commonly rendered "Greater Romania") generally refers to the Romanian state in the interwar period, and by extension, to the territory Romania covered at the time (see map). Romania achieved at that time its greatest territorial extent (almost 300,000 km2), managing to unite all the historic Romanian lands.

During the Second World War, Romania tried again to remain neutral, but on June 28, 1940, it received a Soviet ultimatum with an implied threat of invasion in the event of non-compliance. Under pressure from Moscow and Berlin, the Romanian administration and the army were forced to retreat from Bessarabia as well from Northern Bukovina to avoid war. This, in combination with other factors, prompted the government to join the Axis. Thereafter, southern Dobruja was awarded to Bulgaria, while Hungary received Northern Transylvania as result of an Axis arbitration. The authoritarian King Carol II abdicated in 1940, succeeded by the National Legionary State, in which power was shared by Ion Antonescu and the Iron Guard. Within months, Antonescu had crushed the Iron Guard, and the subsequent year Romania entered the war on the side of the Axis powers. During the war, Romania was the most important source of oil for Nazi Germany, which attracted multiple bombing raids by the Allies. By means of the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union, Romania recovered Bessarabia and northern Bukovina from the Soviet Russia, under the leadership of general Ion Antonescu. The Antonescu regime played a major role in the Holocaust, following to a lesser extent the Nazi policy of oppression and massacre of the Jews, and Romas, primarily in the Eastern territories Romania recovered or occupied from the Soviet Union (Transnistria) and in Moldavia.
In August 1944, Antonescu was toppled and arrested by King Michael I of Romania. Romania changed sides and joined the Allies, but its role in the defeat of Nazi Germany was not recognized by the Paris Peace Conference of 1947. With the Red Army forces still stationed in the country and exerting de facto control, Communists and their allied parties claimed 80% of the vote, through a combination of vote manipulation, elimination, and forced mergers of competing parties, thus establishing themselves as the dominant force. By the end of the war, the Romanian army had suffered about 300,000 casualties.

In 1947, King Michael I was forced by the Communists to abdicate and leave the country, Romania was proclaimed a republic, and remained under direct military and economic control of the USSR until the late 1950s. During this period, Romania's resources were drained by the "SovRom" agreements: mixed Soviet-Romanian companies established to mask the looting of Romania by the Soviet Union. After the negotiated retreat of Soviet troops in 1958, Romania, under the new leadership of Nicolae Ceauşescu, started to pursue independent policies. But as Romania's foreign debt sharply increased between 1977 and 1981 (from 3 to 10 billion US dollars), the influence of international financial organisations such as the IMF or the World Bank grew, conflicting with Nicolae Ceauşescu's autarchic policies. He eventually initiated a project of total reimbursement of the foreign debt by imposing policies that impoverished Romanians and exhausted the Romanian economy, while also greatly extending the authority police state, and imposing a cult of personality. These led to a dramatic decrease in Ceauşescu-popularity and culminated in his overthrow and execution in the bloody Romanian Revolution of 1989. During the 1947–1962 period, many people were arbitrarily killed or imprisoned for political, economic or unknown reasons: detainees in prisons or camps, deported, persons under house arrest, and administrative detainees. There were hundreds of thousands of abuses, deaths and incidents of torture against a large range of people, from political opponents to ordinary citizens.

After the revolution, post-Cold War Romania developed closer ties with Western Europe, joining NATO in 2004. The country applied in June 1993 for membership in the European Union and became an Associated State of the EU in 1995, an Acceding Country in 2004, and a member on January 1, 2007. Following the free travel agreement and politic of the post-Cold War period, as well as hardship of the life in the post 1990s economic depression, Romania has an increasingly large diaspora, estimated at over 2 million people. The main emigration targets are Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, UK, Canada and the USA.

What, where... part 2

Traditionally Romania is divided into several historic regions that no longer perform any administrative function:

Dobruja (Romanian: Dobrogea) is the easternmost region, extending from the northward course of the Danube to the shores of the Black Sea.

Moldavia (Romanian: Moldova) stretches from the Eastern Carpathians to the Prut River on the Moldovan and Ukrainian border. The northern part of Moldavia is named Bucovina region.

Wallachia (Romanian: Valahia, Ţara Românească) reaches south from the Transylvanian Alps to the Bulgarian border and is divided by the Olt River into Oltenia on the west and Muntenia on the east. The Danube forms a natural border between Muntenia and Dobruja.

The west-central region, known as Transylvania, is delimited by the arc of the Carpathians, which separates it from the Maramureş region in the northwest; by the Crişana area, which borders Hungary in the west; and by the Banat region of the southwest, which adjoins both Hungary and Serbia. It is these areas west of the Carpathians that contain the highest concentrations of the nation's largest ethnic minorities--Hungarians, Germans, and Serbs.

Romania's natural landscape is almost evenly divided among mountains (31 percent), hills (33 percent), and plains (36 percent). These varied relief forms spread rather symmetrically from the Carpathian Mountains, which reach elevations of more than 2,500 meters, to the Danube Delta, which is just a few meters above sea level.

The arc of the Carpathians extends over 1,000 kilometers through the center of the country, covering an area of 70,000 square kilometers. These mountains are of low to medium altitude and are no wider than 100 kilometers. They are deeply fragmented by longitudinal and transverse valleys and crossed by several major rivers. These features and the fact that there are many summit passes--some at altitudes up to 2,256 metres--have made the Carpathians less of a barrier to movement than have other European ranges. Another distinguishing feature is the many eroded platforms that provide tableland at relatively high altitudes. There are permanent settlements here at above 1,200 meters.

Romania's Carpathians are differentiated into three ranges: the Eastern Carpathians, the Southern Carpathians or Transylvanian Alps, and the Western Carpathians. Each of these ranges has important distinguishing features. The Eastern Carpathians are composed of three parallel ridges that run from northwest to southeast. The westernmost ridge is an extinct volcanic range with many preserved cones and craters. The range has many large depressions, in the largest of which the city of Braşov is situated. Important mining and industrial centers as well as agricultural areas are found within these depressions. The Eastern Carpathians are covered with forests--some 32 percent of the country's woodlands are there. They also contain important ore deposits, including gold and silver, and their mineral water springs feed numerous health resorts.

The Southern Carpathians offer the highest peaks at Moldoveanu Peak (2,544 m) and Negoiu (2,535 m) and more than 150 glacial lakes. They have large grassland areas and some woodlands but few large depressions and subsoil resources. The region was crisscrossed by an ancient network of trans-Carpathian roads, and vestiges of the old Roman Way are still visible. Numerous passes and the valleys of the Olt, Jiu, and Danube rivers provide routes for roads and railways through the mountains.

The Western Carpathians are the lowest of the three ranges and are fragmented by many deep structural depressions. They have historically functioned as "gates," which allow easy passage but can be readily defended. The most famous of these is the Iron Gate on the Danube. The Western Carpathians are the most densely settled, and it is in the northernmost area of this range, the Apuseni Mountains, that permanent settlements can be found at the highest altitudes.

Enclosed within the great arc of the Carpathians lie the undulating plains and low hills of the Transylvanian Plateau--the largest tableland in the country and the center of Romania. This important agricultural region also contains large deposits of methane gas and salt. To the south and east of the Carpathians, the Sub-Carpathians form a fringe of rolling terrain ranging from 396 to 1,006 metres in elevation. This terrain is matched in the west by the slightly lower Western Hills. The symmetry of Romania's relief continues with the Getic Tableland to the south of the SubCarpathians , the Moldavian Tableland in the east between the SubCarpathians and the Prut River, and the Dobrujan Tableland in the southeast between the Danube and the Black Sea. The Sub-Carpathians and the tableland areas provide good conditions for human settlement and are important areas for fruit growing, viticulture, and other agricultural activity. They also contain large deposits of brown coal and natural gas.

Beyond the Carpathian foothills and tablelands, the plains spread south and west. In the southern parts of the country, the lower Danube Plain is divided by the Olt River; east of the river lies the Romanian Plain, and to the west is the Oltenian or Western Plain. The land here is rich with chernozemic soils and forms Romania's most important farming region. Irrigation is widely used, and marshlands in the Danube's floodplain have been diked and drained to provide additional tillable land.

Romania's lowest land is found on the northern edge of the Dobruja region in the Danube Delta. The delta is a triangular swampy area of marshes, floating reed islands, and sandbanks, where the Danube ends its trek of almost 3,000 kilometers and divides into three frayed branches before emptying into the Black Sea. The Danube Delta provides a large part of the country's fish production, and its reeds are used to manufacture cellulose. The region also serves as a nature preserve for rare species of plant and animal life including migratory birds.

What, where...

Romania (Romanian: România) is a country located in South-East Central Europe, North of the Balkan Penninsula, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea. Almost all of the Danube Delta is located within its territory. It shares a border with Hungary and Serbia to the west, Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova to the northeast, and Bulgaria to the south.

Northernmost point: Horodiştea, a village in Botoşani County, on the border with Ukraine, 48°15′N, 26°42′E
Southernmost point: Zimnicea, a town in Teleorman County, on the border with Bulgaria, 43°37′N, 25°23′E
Westernmost point: Beba Veche, a village in Timiş County, on the border with Hungary and Serbia, 46°07′N, 20°15′E
Easternmost point: Sulina, a town in Tulcea County, on the Danube Delta, 45°09′N, 29°41′E

Area: total: 238,391 km²
231,231 km²
7,160 km²

Land boundaries: total: 3,149.9 km
border countries: Bulgaria 631 km, Hungary 448 km, Moldova 681 km, Serbia 546 km, Ukraine (north and east) 649 km.
coastline: 193.5 km

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Black Sea 0 m
highest point: Moldoveanu Peak 2,544 m

Our goal

We made this blog intending to present our country as it really is - an European Romania, a country with a rich history and culture.
We want to post articles about Romanian culture and civilization, about great personalities who let a mark (in a way or another) in world's history. We will write about science and art, history and folklore, sport and music - any topic we consider representative and interesting - and we wait your suggestions about subjects you want to know more about.