Porolissum

Mirsid, Romania; Creaca, Romania
Est. 1.7km / 1 hr 6 mins / Map

Porolissum - Cya On The Road

LocationThe Meseş Mountains represent a barrier between the high plateau of Transylvania to the east and the low Tisza plains to the west. This mountain range, about 80-100 km long, has several crossing points from one side to another, through the valleys or over the ridges. The largest and the most accessible pass, known as the Meseş Gate or Porta Mesesina, in Moigrad, has been used ever since ancient times for trade and the movement of troops.The Romans blocked the pass by means of a network of fortifications that controlled the movement of people, goods, and ideas. The front-line features of the Limes, such as watchtowers for surveillance and signaling, small enclosures, earthen walls, or stone walls, were built along the main pass and secondary passes.The strategic importance of the area was so great that in less than two decades after the Roman conquest of Dacia in AD 106 the north and northwestern areas were transformed into a separate province, Dacia Porolissensis, which had a special type of military organization. Porolissum may have served as the capital of this administrative unit.The archaeological site of Porolissum extends over an area of 500 ha. within the limits of several villages: Jac (com. Creaca) Brebi (com. Creaca), Moigrad (com. Mirşid), and Stâna and Ortelec (suburban districts of Zalău). The main part of the site is located in the territory of Jac, but because the modern access to the archaeological site has always been through Moigrad, Porolissum has been identified with Moigrad. The distance between the Zalău-Creaca-Jibou road to archeological site is about 3.5 km.History of the siteAt the end of the Dacian wars in the summer of AD 106, the Roman Empire conquered and organized the territory belonging to the Dacian king, Decebal, into a Roman province. The Romans organized the frontier (limes) to delimitate the area conquered by the Empire from the unconquered territories inhabited by free Dacians and other barbarian tribes, such as the Vandals. Given the strategic importance of defending Meseş Gate, the single valley crossing point through the natural barrier of the Meseş Mountains, the Roman Empire founded an important military base for the soldiers of the auxiliary troops and detachments of the Roman legions which stationed here, permanently or temporarily. The designation of the center was borrowed from the name of an ancient Dacian fortress, Porolisso, on the nearby Măgura Moigradului. The large stone fort, constructed decades after the foundation of Porolissum on the Pomăt Hill, measures 300 x 230 m, and was the largest fortress built for auxiliary troops in Roman Dacia. Due to the strategic importance of the northwestern defensive system, the Porolissensis limes, the Roman emperor Hadrian established Dacia Porolissensis around the year AD 120, when he reorganized provincial administration throughout the Empire. Porolissum probably served as the administrative capital of this new province.In addition to the military center, a civilian settlement soon developed around the fortress. The economy of Porolissum and its hinterland grew rapidly thanks, in part, to commercial exchange between the Romans and the barbarians who lived on the other side of limes. Roman luxury goods, such as ceramic products, were exported deep into Barbaricum, and have been recognized by archaeologists in southern Poland, Slovakia, and eastern Hungary. Typical manners of Roman life, forma mentis romana, were adopted by the soldiers and civilians of Porolissum. The population of the military center and city was around 15,000 at the time when the emperor Caracalla and his mother Julia Domna reached Porolissum in 214 AD. Under the Emperor Septimius Severus the city became a municipium and was renamed municipium Septimum Porolissensis. The province of Dacia and implicitly Porolissum was abandoned by the Roman Empire, under Emperor Aurelian (AD 271-275).

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