The stage of archaeological research at Jupa. The importance of the archaeological site

The archaeological site belonging to the Roman period, that is situated near the village Jupa (department of Caraş-Severin), has been up to now the most intensely investigated in Banat. It is also the best known in the specialized archaeological literature. Even if this information is encouraging, the archaeological diggings managed to uncover only aprox. 5% of the ruins of ancient TIBISCVM. The total surface of the field loaded with historical charge is of aprox. 27ha. We now know that the ancient settlement had in the IIIrd century AD the title of municipium, and that it was placed among the most important cities of the province of Dacia, as it was situated on the imperial road which came from Porolissum and split here towards Dierna and Lederata. Since Tibiscum was settled near the capital of the province, Colonia Ulpia Traiana Dacica Sarmizegetusa, it belonged to it territorially. The military units stationed in Tibiscum were in charge of protecting the capital and the roads that led to it, against the barbarians from the west: the Sarmatians-Jazyges.

The evolution of the Roman champ. Military units

The history of the settlement begins towards the end of the first war that Trajan wore against the Daciens. Then a detachment from a Roman unit (probably from the Legio III Flavia Felix) establishes the place of the garrison on the left bank of the Timiş (Tibiscus) river, in a castellum of aprox. 60 x 60 m, made of earth and wood (Castrum I). This “fort” has a short existence, it disappears together with the garrison in a violent fire, probably when Longinius was taken prisoner by the Dacians. Decebal tries, in this way to free his kingdom of the Romans by deliberately violating the peace conditions. At the end of the second war with the Daciens, a castellum (Castrum II) of wood and earth, of aprox. 101 x 100 m, is built on the spot of the Castrum I. The castellum is built by Cohors I Sagittariorum and remains its garrison unit during the reign of Trajan. The military unit was at that time made up of 500 Syrian archers, pedestrians, that increase their number to 1000 towards the end of the IInd century AD, when the garrison is the Roman champ at Drobeta. The death of Trajan and the tumultuous events in Dacia at the beginning of Hadrian’s reign are felt in the life of the Roman champ. The wooden palisade/stockade is quickly replaced with a stone wall. At about this time, an irregular unit also made up of Syrian archers from Palmyra, is be stationed here. The Roman champ becomes even more crowded as apart from the Numerus Palmenorum, the irregular unit of spearmen Numerus Maurorum is settled at Tibiscum during the reign of Antoninus Pius. Near the stone defence system, which now belongs to Cohors I Sagittariorum, a very wide Roman champ is built to host the newly arrived units (Castrum III). The appearence of Castrum IV, built directly of stone, which comprised the territories of Roman champ II and III, takes place at the beginning of the 60’s IInd century AD. Now Cohors I Vindelicorum milliaria eq. c.R, an auxiliary unit of 1000 soldiers of Celto-Germanic origin, is settled at TIBISCVM. The size of the big, stone Roman champ (IV) are aprox. 250 x 175 m and its form is slightly trapezoidal.

The military vicus

The military vicus is the place where the soldier lives his life together with his family in times of peace. He works his piece of land, or is occupied with commerce or manufacturing. The settlement is built in the north north-east proximity of the Roman champ, and appears at the same time with the first establishment of a Roman military unit at TIBISCVM. So far 12 buildings of the vicus have been dug up.

The economic life

The numerous archaeological findings from both the Roman champ and the vicus suggest the existence of a powerful manufacturing centre at TIBISCVM. The text of an inscription, probably coming from Tibiscum, talks about the existence of a collegium fabrum (collegium of ironsmiths), but this collegium also included other manufacturers: carpenters, masons, tanners, potters etc. The discovery of several pottery furnaces, moulds for earthen lamps and clay figures, civilian and military stamped bricks, talks about the powerful production of ceramics that the settlement had in antiquity.

The most spectacular finding at TIBISCVM is the glass workshop, dug up in Building I and Building VII from the civilian settlement. These were focused on manufacturing glass ornaments, especially beads. 12 types of shapes, each with several variants of colour are known so far. It is very clear that we no longer deal with a production focused only on the internal needs of the settlement, but with one destined for external exchange, the Sarmatians-Jazyges being very interested in such beads. Bronze workshops were discovered in  high number both in the Roman champ and in the civilian settlement, and their production is diverse, from pieces of military equipment and harness to jewellery and fibulas.

The intense commerce is certified by the presence of Aegean, Hispanic, Italian and African amphora’s and by the ceramics of luxury, terra sigillata from Southern and Central Gaulle, by Arretium or from Germany, by Westerndorf and Reizabern.

The spiritual life

The spiritual beliefs. So far only a temple dedicated to Apollo, god of masculine virility, music, the Sun but also healing god, has been discovered. At the beginning of the IIIrd century AD. the worship place is rebuilt by Cohors I Vindelicorum milliaria, In 214 AD. an inscription suggests that the emperor Caracalla and his imperial legate Lucius Marius Perpetuus, former governor of Moesia Superior passed through here. It is also assumed, based on inscriptions and sculptural monuments, that other temples belonging to Juppiter, Liber Pater, Hercules and the Syrian deity Malagbell existed at Tibiscum.

The funerary beliefs. The necropoles around ancient Tibiscum were not archaeologically investigated yet. Several inscriptions have however been discovered. These were used in the post-Roman period to fortify the precincts of the Roman champ. Extremely valuable, from a historical point of view, are four bilingual Roman-Palmyrian inscriptions. The Moors are distinguished by the funeral stones divided into two vertical registers. A funeral slab presents a philosophical with a stoical character, versed text. It also has an important value from a cultural point of view, for the penetration of Latin language and literature in the province of Dacia:



“to the Mani Gods (of darkness),
Earth hol-
ds (contains) the body, the na-
me (is on the stone) and
the soul (is in the air); it would
have been so much better…”.


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