Dacians. Romanians. Albanians - continuity and migrations

1. The Romanians and their origin

- The Romanians, speaking a Romance languuage, inhabit a territory that includes the entire Roman province of Dacia, but also regions outside of it: Crisana, Maramures, Moldova, eastern Muntenia. One can easily notice that this territory corresponds perfectly with the state of Decebalus or with that of Burebista, and thus with the ancient country of Dacians.
- Therefore, very naturally, the Romanianns were considered the descendants of the Dacians and of the Roman colonists, which always have lived here. However, some historians, mainly driven by political interests, contested this fact, bringing arguments for the migration of the Romanians from the south of the Danube river.

- Besides the north-Danubian Romanians, wwhom we call Daco-Romanians, in the Balkan Peninsula, more precisely in Northern Greece, in Albania and in Macedonia, live several hundreds of thousands of Macedo-Romanians (Aromanians) and Megleno-Romanians. Because of the languages that are spoken by these two populations, which are nothing else but Romanian dialects, we consider them as part of the same people, the Romanians. There is another branch, nearly extinct, that of the Istro-Romanians, in the Istria Peninsula (in the north of the Dalmatian coast).

- It is important to mention also the facct that the Romanians represent the most numerous people of the Balkans - more than 20 millions living in present-day Romania and Moldova.
- Concerning the problem of the Romanianss belonging to the Balkans, the author of these lines finds it perfectly justified, for historical reasons and because of the genetic relationship with the other Balkan peoples.

2. The formation territory of the Romanian people

- The Romanians are the descendants of thhe Romanized inhabitants of the Balkans. In ancient times, although the entire Balkan Peninsula was part of the Roman Empire, only its northern part was Romanized, the southern one being Hellenized.
- The delimitation between the areas of iinfluence of the two languages, Latin and Greek, is the so called Jirecek line - it starts in middle Albania, passes near Skopje and then it is identified with the Balkan Mountains.
- The formation territory of the Romaniann people can only be situated north of the Jirecek line. We know that, since the last centuries of the first millenium, the Romanians could also be found south of the line, but these certainly came from the north.

- There are uncontestable arguments that the cradle of the Romanian people must be placed in the eastern part of the peninsula, and not the western:
- On the western coast of the Balkans waas formed another Romance language, the Dalmatian, which has no longer been spoken since the end of the 19th century.
- The separation between then two Romancee languages is quite evident if we have in mind the fact in the center of the Balkans existed an area that was weakly Romanized, and which preserved a non-Romance language, the Albanian. An important barrier between the two Romanized regions was represented by the Dinaric Mountains - barren mountains, scarcely populated in Ancient Times.
- A powerful argument for the Eastern plaacement of the Proto-Romanians is the Slavic influence on the Romanian language, which is of Bulgarian type, and not Serb. This fact limits the formation territory of the Romanian people approximately on the valley of the Morava River. We have identified, earlier, the Balkan Mountains as the Southern limit (the Jirecek line).
- Another fact that doesnt allow us to sseparate the cradle of the Romanians from the Danube is the purely Romanian form of the name of the river (Dunare); the Romanian form is completely different from those in the other languages - it is obvious that is was not borrowed from any neighboring language.

- The conclusion is the Daco-Thracian oriigin of the Romanians, with the observation that the Dacian element exceeds the Thracian one - the region between the Danube and the Balkan Mountains is also considered by historian as Dacian territory; the center of the Balkans (the valley of Morava) was inhabited by a mix of Illyrian, Thracian and Dacian populations.

3. The problem of continuity

- Most historians generally accept the arrgumentation from above. The problem gets more complicated and becomes controversial when we try to ascertain if the Romanians were formed only south of the Danube, or both north and south.
- The thesis of the southern origin of thhe Romanians developed in the 18th-19th centuries, in the moment when the Romanians, representing the most numerous nation of Transylvania, and also the most oppressed, began to demand their rights.
- One the arguments of the Romanians, thaat of being the oldest population in Transylvania, was denied by the Hungarian and the Austrian historians, who claimed that this honor should be given to the Magyars.
- Although this argument of who came firrst has no value in modern politics, the boundaries of today being established on ethnic basis, the Hungarian historians continue to strongly sustain this thesis, revealing in the works sentiments of hostility against the Romanian people. Due to the political nature of these works and the lack of an objective, scientific approach to the problem, they are not worth taking in consideration. The same attitude towards the history of a neighbor is revealed by the Serbian historians in problems concerning the Albanians. Sustaining autochthony can also have a political character (in case of the Romanians and the Albanians), but anyway this is something much more honorable then the obsessive preoccupation for the history of others.
- I would also like to draw the attentionn to the fact that although there are many foreign historians (not Romanian or Hungarian) that sustain the migration of the Romanians, the great majority of these believe that the Romanians came north of the Danube in the 7th-10th centuries, before the Magyars.

- In this article, although I do not inteend to make a complete analysis of the problem which can only occupy an entire book, I shall try to briefly demonstrate the invalidity of the migration theory. The main arguments of the theory, which I shall treat one by one, are the following: the impossibility of the Romanization of the province of Dacia in only 165 years, the entire withdrawal of the population when the province was abandoned, the impossibility of the survival of the autochthons under the rule of the migratory peoples, the resemblances between the Romanian and the Albanians language.

4. The Romanization of Dacia

- First of all we have to consider the maajor economical importance of the province of Dacia. Anyone who looks at a map of the Roman Empire, at its greatest extend, will notice that Dacia had an unusual shape, being much more difficult to defend then the former boundary on the Danube river. So the province didnt have a strategic role, but mainly an economic one.
- For the exploitation of the resources oof Dacia (mines of gold and silver, fertile plains, woods, salt) the colonization, even from the time of Trajan, had the character of a state policy and it was very intense. Certainly the province had to be defended too, thus the military presence was also strong.
- In this manner it is explainable how thhe autochthons were Romanized during this short period of 165 years. And the best proof of this fact is represented by the number of Latin inscriptions that have been discovered in Dacia, 3000, that is quite big compared to other provinces that have been possessed by the Romans for a much longer time: Dalmatia - 9500, Moesia Superior - 1300, Moesia Inferior - 1300, Pannonia Superior - 3500, Pannonia Inferior - 1500.
- Our attention is especially drawn to thhe two Moesias because, although they had together a larger territory than Dacia and were part of the Roman Empire for many centuries, they revealed less inscriptions than Dacia. It is known that in these two provinces, the Roman civilization penetrated mainly along the Danube, where we find most of the cities and the military camps. Surely they had a lesser economical importance.

5. The desertion of Dacia

- The Dacian province was abandoned by thhe Empire in 271-274 AD, during the reign of Aurelian.
- Some ancient authors (Eutropius, Vopisccus) wrote about a total desertion of Dacia - the army but also the entire population would have left the province. Still, there are strong arguments which dont let us accept such a fact: the population must have been quite large and thus impossible to be entirely moved; very important is that there have not been discovered any archeological discoveries, attesting a sudden growth of population south of the Danube - new settlements havent been established and the older ones didnt become larger; no inscription speaks about this great movement of population.
- But the unbeatable argument is the archheological reality north of the Danube: in most of the settlements, on the territory of the former province, the Daco-Roman population persists during the 4th century. These are rural settlements, many of them being founded before 271. Their Daco-Roman character is testified by the specific archeological inventory, by the funeral rites and the anthropological type of the skeletons. Thus, the relics belonging to the natives, which form the majority, can be definitely distinguished from those of the migratory peoples (Goths, Huns, Sarmatians).
- The conclusion is that in 271 only the army and the administration were moved from the province together, of course, with the wealthier part of the population, but the majority of the inhabitants stayed behind. Although most of the people living in the cities were forced to settle in the countryside, the findings show that the old cities were still inhabited until the arrival of the Huns (4th c. AD) or even until de 6th c. AD.
- The fact that the ancient names for thee main rivers were preserved, and are still used, also disproves the existence of a population vacuum on the territory of Dacia.

6. The migratory peoples

- The persistence of the Daco-Romans in DDacia, although it fell in the hands of the Goths, shouldnt be considered an extraordinary fact.
- In the 4th c. AD the Goths permanently plundered the regions south of the Danube, being attracted especially by the wealth of the cities. But north of the river, where these ceased to exist or lost their urban character, the dwellers of the villages lived in peace with their new rulers, paying a tribute, thus supplying them with the food that they were only partly producing themselves.
- It is to be noticed that the migratory peoples were quite reduced in number, they were not living in permanent settlements and most of them were warriors (although livestock raising was also an occupation).
- So, north of the Danube, the autochthonns could have had, in certain ways, a safer existence then those living south of the river. Another aspect is that the tribute was even less pressuring than the excessive taxes of the Empire (this fact is mentioned in ancient writings).
- By archeological means has been demonsttrated that the idea that the Daco-Romans inhabited only the hilly or mountainous regions, where they were more secure, is wrong - many autochthonous settlements, in which both crop growing and livestock raising were practiced, are emplaced on the plains.

- An exceptional situation was in the timme of the Huns invasion (376). Its certain that this invasion affected the Daco-Romans: most of the settlements present a layer of ash and the archeological cultures suffer important mutations.
- The Huns invasion also caused movementts of populations - the Goths left Dacia and the Daco-Romans probably hided in the mountains, where they were better protected from the Huns, a people of horsemen, belonging to the steppes. In fact, the Huns settled for a longer period only north of the Black Sea and in Pannonia.
- But even this bloody character of the HHuns suffers profound and rapid changes, considering the empire of Attila in the middle of the 5th century. This empire, much more civilized, has the same relations that we presented above, in the case of the Goths, with the natives. We even know that Attila demanded during some negotiations to be given back some local people than had run in the Byzantine Empire (people that were working the fields supplying the Huns empire with food).

7. The Slavs

- A special migration was that of the Slaavs. The Slavs were basically a sedentary people, because they practiced both crop growing and livestock raising. Their migration was massive - only this explaining how large areas in the Balkan Peninsula and Central Europe became Slavic.
- The presence of the Slavs on the territtory of Romania is archeologically attested for the 6th century, but only in Moldova, eastern Muntenia and eastern Transylvania.
- In the year 602, due to the numerous Avvaro-Slavic attacks, the boundary of the Byzantine Empire on the Danube river fells, following a flood of Slavic populations in the Peninsula.
- The Slavs that remained north of the Daanube, but also those that came later (7th-8th c.) were completely assimilated by the Romanians until the 10th century. Still, we have to underline that these Slavs were present here in quite a large number and that they lived in peace with the Romanians - facts that are testified by the very numerous Slavic words loaned by the Romanian language, but that didnt change the its Romantic character.
- The presence of the Slavs is also rememmbered by many names of rivers (Bistrita, Ialomita, etc) and localities (Balgrad - Alba Iulia, Craiova, etc) with Slavic origin. The names of the major rivers, although they have been preserved since ancient times, are considered to have suffered some Slavic phonetic changes. This fact suggests that the Slavs settled in the plains, while the Romanians preferred the regions of hill and mountains, although the Slavs and the Romanians intermingled, disproves such an assertion (that the two populations lived completely separated).
- The archeological culture of the Slavs in the 6th-7th c. can be distinguished from that of the autochthons, but later the cultures loose their specificity, and the archeology stops providing information about the ethnicity of the populations.
- But what we have to notice for the lateer period, the 8th-10th c., is the significant growth of the number of settlements, in all the Romanian regions: Moldova, Muntenia, Transylvania.
- The Slavs that populated the territory of Romanian were the same with those that settled in Bulgaria; this fact is testified by certain Bulgarian, and not Serbo-Croatian, characteristics of the Slav component of the Romanian language.

8. Conclusions. The Romanians from the south of the Danube

- After this analysis we can draw a concllusion concerning the cradle of the Romanians during the millennium: it must be located in south-western Transylvania, eastern Banat, Oltenia, and south of the Danube, in the region between the rivers Timoc and Morava. This is only the nucleus, identified after the study of the degree of Romanization, of the number of Daco-Roman archeological findings and the total absence of the migratory peoples (the Goths, the Iazyges, the Huns, the Gepidae, the Avars, etc).
- The Romanians will inhabit a much largeer territory by the end of the first millennium: Moldova was probably populated after the penetration of the Slavs in the Balkans (602), the whole Transylvania, Maramures, Crisana and Banat will be densely inhabited.

- In the same time, the Romanians from soouth of the Danube will loose terrain in favor of the Slavs. Linguistically it can be proved that the separation of the Aromanians from the Romanian block took place around the 9th or 10th centuries, when they began to move southwards (this is also the time when they began to be present in historical texts). The Romanians from the south of the Danube were primarily shepherds, due the geographical conditions, but also the historical ones.
- The Megleno-Romanians are descendants oof the Romanians in Bulgaria, who lived mainly in the Balkan Mountains. We know the uprising of these Romanian shepherds led to the formation of the second Bulgarian state, whose first rulers were a Romanian family, the Asanesti. Still, the ethnic component represented by the Romanians wasnt quite large, and so, in short time, they were assimilated by the Bulgarians, and the state became purely Bulgarian.
- What we have to underline is the fact tthese Romanians emancipated before those north of the Danube, constituting an active political factor and not a subdued population.
- Extremely significant in this matter iss the name of Vlachs, given by the Slavs to all the Romanians. South of the Danube, is has also designated the free Romanian shepperds. North of the Danube, instead, the word Romni (Romanians), translated in the Slavic texts also by Vlachs, which finally meant dependent peasants. This fact demonstrates the non-Romanian origin of the rulers of the first Romanian political formations (they were Slavs, the political terminology proving this).

9. The Magyars

- The Magyars settled in the Pannonian Pllain at the end of the 9th century. Since that moment they also began a campaign for occupying Transylvania, process that lasted 2-3 centuries.
- What the Magyar historians of today aree claiming is that they found the territory of Transylvania inhabited and that the Romanians came here massively in the 13th century.
- This theory, easily to be disproved, annd with many arguments, has adepts only among the Magyar historians (see the paragraph number 3 for a more comprehensive analysis of the problem).

- The main difficulty of the Magyar histoorians is that the presence of the Romanians in Transylvania, at the arrival of the Magyars, is recorded in a chronicle by an anonym writer from the court of the Magyar king, in the 13th century. But the Hungarian historians simply solve the problem by saying that the happenings reported by Anonymous are just fairy tales.
- Only that the chronicle of Anonymous iss confirmed by a Russian one, the chronicle of Nestor, and even by another Hungarian one, that of Simon de Keza. These two also attest the battles of the Magyars against the Romanians for the conquering of Transylvania. Also, there is no possibility that Anonymous imagined the autochthony of the Romanians if their migration would have taken place during his lifetime.
- Even more, the political formations menntioned by Anonymous (that were led by Gelu, Glad and Menumorut) were archeologically identified, through the discovery of fortresses and groups of settlements.

- I showed in the paragraph number 7 thatt one of the main features of the 8th-10th centuries is the large number of settlements. Thus, the idea of a demographical vacuum north of the Danube, or only in Transylvania, during the arrival of the Magyars, cannot be considered. Furthermore, if this numerous and sedentary population (because agriculture was its main occupation) was Slavic, it could not be explained how it was completely assimilated by the Romanians who came from the south of the Danube, in only 2 or 3 centuries.
- Another strong argument is the formatioon of the Romanian extra-Carpathian states with a transfer of institutions, leaders and population from Transylvania, recently conquered by the Magyars. If the Romanians had come from the south of the Danube, their first political risings would have probably taken place in Muntenia. Besides, the successive placements of the capitals of the two states also suggest the descending of the political element from the mountains, from Transylvania.

10. Other arguments

- The Romanians are today a numerous peopple. Therefore, it can be hardly imagined that the cradle of the Romanians is a small region, for example the center of the Balkans (the valleys of the Morava and Timoc rivers). There are known enough cases in which a language spoken by a small population witnessed a considerable expansion, but this was possible only through conquests, due to a certain military or cultural prestige of the language, and definitely this isnt the case of the Romanians.
- The Romanian word pamnt (earth) haas a very interesting etymology: It comes from the Latin word pavimentum which meant paving. What we remark is that only north of the Danube this word is widely used, so only north the river the urban population was forced to move, suddenly and massively, in the countryside.
- Another word that testifies the formatiion of the Romanians north of the Danube is the word luna (both month and moon). Romanian is the only Romance language that uses the same word for the celestial body and for the period of time. This fact wouldnt have told us much if there hadnt been discovered an inscription in Roman Dacia, where the word was used for is temporal meaning. If we add that for the Romanians from south of the Danube the word doesnt have this double significance, the permanence of it on the territory of Dacia and the continuity of the autochthons are evident conclusion.

10. The resemblances between the Romanian and the Albanian languages

- In these last paragraphs I shall surpasss the strict problem of proving the continuity, because what I shall expose has a special importance for the destiny of the Dacian people.

- The links between the Romanian and the Albanian languages are numerous and have always represented one of the main arguments of the immigration theory.
- First of all, of the 160 words that aree considered to have a Dacian origin, 90 can also be found in Albanian. Many of these are basic words in the two languages (brad - fir, mnz - colt, gt - neck, buza - lip) and evidently belong to an ancient background.
- There are many other resamblences: the sound a which is the same in both languages (written in Albanian), the transformation of n in r (the rotacism of n), the rithm of the words (/ \ _), the postposed article - at these can be added many evolutions of words, but I wont list them in this article.
- Any linguist will see in these resambleences a common background and not simple borrowings resulted from geographical closeness. The genetic relationship between the two peoples is evident.
- The Albanian, although it isnt a Romannce language, it presents an important Latin component. We have to remark that the ancient Latin element is very close to that of the Romanian: the vocalism is identical and different from that of the other Romance languages, the double use of the article, the same form for the genitive and the dative cases (although the two distinct cases exist), many words that are missing in other Romance languages, or words that only in the two languages have a new meaning, etc. It is important to underline the fact that these resemblances dont exist between the Albanian and the Dalmatian, the language spoken by the Romanized Illyrians from the coast of the Adriatic Sea, so the Albanian must have been formed in the sphere of the Eastern part of the Romanized Balkans.

- In the following paragraphs, I shall prresent arguments that prove that the Albanians descend from the Dacians that were not Romanized.
- This theory if sustained by well-known linguists, like the Italian linguist Giuliano Bonfante, or the Bulgarian Vladimir Georgiev. The Albanian scholars, are mostly adepts of the Illyrian origin, but we can doubt their objectivity, as the desire to prove their autochthony is quite evident.
- Unfortunately, the Romanian historians and linguist havent much studied this problem, and they analyzed it only in the context of the Romanian continuity.

11. The origin of the Albanians

- First of all, we should notice that thee origin of the Albanians is just as problematic as that of the Romanians, because both appear in the written history only in the 10th century.
- In the second half of the first millennnium the Albanians inhabited the region of the cities Nis, Skopje and Stip - this fact is mainly testified by the names of these cities, which feature an Albanian phonetic evolution.
- There are many arguments against the Allbanian autochthony in modern Albania and against their Illyrian origin: the names of the cities (Dures, Skoder) and the rest of the toponymy, which is generally of Slavic; the maritime terminology which is entirely borrowed: the main occupation represented by sheep raising.
- The lack of the ancient Greek words in the Albanian language, together with the presence of numerous Latin words, excludes the ancestors of the Albanians from the territory of Greek influence, which also included the southern part of modern Albania.

- But, the starting point of any study off the Albanians origin must always be the connection between Albanian and Romanian. The interpretation of the resemblances can only lead to the conclusion that the Romanians and the Albanians were once the same people, a part of which was Romanized and other that was not. The fact that more than half of the words of the ancient , not Latin, layer of the Romanian, can only be found in Albanian, forbids us to accept the idea that the bases of the two modern languages, are constituted of two different ancient languages, only a little related.
- Thus, the Illyrian origin of the Albaniians becomes very improbable. We know that the Balkan Peninsula (the central and northern part) was inhabited in antiquity by three large peoples:

12. The Albanians - Dacians that were not Romanized

- Proving a Dacian presence south of the Danube are not only the names of settlements with the Dacian ending (dava), but also the historical information about the displacement of once 100.000 and other time 50.000 Dacians from north of the Danube (these two stages of colonization took place before the Roman conquest of Dacia, during the rule of Claudius and Augustus).
- But the origin of the Albanians doesntt have to be based just on the Dacians and Thracians that lived at the beginning of the Christian era on this territory. Other facts testify a migration of Dacians that were not Romanized, from the north of the Danube, and that occurred later, in the 4th century AD.
- This migration is also necessary due too the certain Romanization of the center of the Balkans for many centuries, being improbable that a large population escaped the Romanization.
- An astonishing fact is that among the 990 words that are common for the Romanian and the Albanian languages, less than a half can be found in the southern dialects of the Romanians (the Macedo-Romanian and Megleno-Romanian languages). More than that, an important characteristic that links the two languages is also absent in these dialects - the rotacism of n (that is present in the southern dialect of the Albanian). I must mention that the rotacism is found at the Istro-Romanians and the Romanian in Crisana and Maramures - the Istro-Romanians are evidently originating from the Western regions of the formation territory of the Romanians.

- This facts suggest a migration of not-RRomanized Dacians, from outside the border of the Roman Dacia, but there are even more proofs. A fact of major importance is the transfer of the entire tribe of the Carps inside the Roman Empire, in the last years of the 3rd century. This information is recorded by three ancient writers and if confirmed by archeology.
- The Carps, a Dacian tribe living in Molldova, witnessed a significant development during the 3rd century, attacking many times Dacia and other Roman provinces. At the end of the 3rd century the settlements of the Carps disappear and Moldova is occupied by the Goths. Thus the migration of the Carps is a certainty. We even know the place in the empire where they were colonized - it is the region of the modern city of Pecs, in Hungary. However, we cannot be so radical to suppose that the Carps were entirely removed from the north of the Danube; there exists information about Carps that continue to attack the empire, and archeological findings attest their presence in the abandoned province of Dacia.

- From all these elements we can draw a cconclusion concerning the ancestors of the Albanians.
- The Albanians were formed of Dacians thhat migrated from the north of the Danube and that intermingled with the Dacian-Thracian-Illyrian population from the center of the Balkans, the Dacian language being the one that prevailed.
- In their migration from the region of PPecs to the center of the Balkans, the Carps were probably joined by Dacians from the north-west of Dacia (which are attested in large number for the 3rd-4th c.). This migration was caused by the devastating invasion of the Huns (the end of the 4th century). It is well known that this invasion caused dislocations of populations - the best example is that of the Goths that abandoned Moldova and Eastern Muntenia to move in the Empire. Even Attila, in the middle of the 5th century, when the center of the Hun empire if placed between the Danube and Tisza rivers, demands that the people he subdued and who abandoned their settlements to establish themselves in the Byzantine Empire, be returned to him.
- Thus, before the arrival of the Slavs, the Proto-Albanians live in the region of Nis, Skopje, Stip, and later (the 9th-10th c.) they will move south-west, occupying the territory of modern Albania. Still, we can accept and extend to the west of the cradle of the Albanians, including a part of the Dinaric Mountains, but this limit is hard to be identified.

- I shall end with one last linguistic faact concerning the name of the Carpathian Mountains. This toponym, with an evident connection with the name of the Carps, has no explanation in the Romanian language (this is true for the whole toponymy that was preserved from the time of the Dacians). But there exists a language that can explain the meaning of this name: in Albanian, the word carp means stone, so the Carpathians are nothing but the Stony Mountains.

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