ASTRONOMY AT SARMIZEGETUSAS
-text and photos by Dan Uza-
In the end of May 2013
I saw near Cluj-Napoca a beautiful conjunction,
which lowered to the horizon line
and inspired me to lower about 200 km to the south
on the map of Romania,
to the two Sarmizegetusas…
1. ASTRONOMY AT SARMIZEGETUSA REGIA
(Sarmizegetusa. View from the sacred precincts.)
The grandiose Capital of the Dacian Kingdom
was built in the middle of the 1st millennium BC
on one of the tops of the Orastie Mountains, at an altitude of over 1000 m.
Near the civil settlement there was the sacred zone -
nucleus of Dacian spirituality.
There, 100 m east of the fortress,
more rectancular and circular sanctuaries (temples and calendars)
were positioned, consisting of special alignments of
slabs, pillars and stone disks with ritualist and astronomic significance.
I propose you to discover them together.
(Terace XI, with the circular sanctuaries and the andesite sun.)
A special monument is the “andesite sun”,
composed of stone slabs combined to form beams
around a central disk.
Along with its ritualist role of platform for sacrifices,
the ensemble probably had the function of a sundial.
(On the hot disk of the andesite sun)
From the body of the disk,
a prolongation of more stone blocks precisely marks the north-south direction.
The scientists suppose that this appendix was used as
the reception surface for the shadow of the tip of a gnomon
disappeared in the meantime.
Its shadow touched the prolongation
right during the local noon,
when the Sun culminates in the south.
(Sarmizegetusa Regia’s sundial.
The shadow of the gnomon indicates the local noon.
Try of reconstitution.)
We can also suppose that the ingenious builders
included in the dimension/position of the gnomon
knowledge about the change of the Sun’s altitude during the seasons.
Thus, during the noon of the winter solstice,
the year’s longest shadow had to positioned to the eastern edge
of the stone prolongation,
while during the summer solstice
the shadow had to touch only the edge of the disk,
the blocks becoming
of an eternal celestial calendar.
II. ASTRONOMY AT ULPIA TRAIANA SARMIZEGETUSA
(Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa.
The Roman Forum)
After the conquest of Dacia by Emperor Trajan (106 AC)
the Romans established the Capital of the new imperial province
in a field zone, close to the pass that connects
the Banat region to the Transylvania region,
and named it Ulpia Traiana Augusta Dacica Sarmizegetusa,
administratively overtaking the name of the old Capital of Decebal,
which was placed in the Orastie Mountains.
Today in “new” Sarmizegetusa we can visit
the archaeological site with the ruins of the Roman city,
and the museum founded by the archaeologist Constantin Daicoviciu in 1924.
There, more valuable antique pieces are exhibited,
including the fragments of a beautiful sundial among them.
That piece regained its old aspect and functionality
thanks to the restorers’ work.
It looks as the quarter of a sphere inclined on a pedestal,
in fact a projection in negative of
the canopy of heaven from above,
with 12 equal slides
as hours marked on the interior concave surface
and the gnomon parallel to the rotation axis of the Earth.
First published in Romanian in Dan Uza’s “Cercul de Stele” in May 2013
English adaptation from the Romanian: Andrei Dorian Gheorghe
Design: Florin-Alexandru Stancu
© 2014 SARM and Borealis Astroclub