We know so little about our world. That’s no news flash. If we could only find the key to unlock our powers, we’d be capable of so much more than we have ever imagined. In the mists of time, man searched and built places that seem designed specifically for this purpose – unlocking our higher selves. Close to nature, ancient priests learned to read the signs and use the earth and sky as gates to a higher understanding. Unfortunately, as so often happens throughout history, those who get a hold of the keys are crushed. So was the fate of the Dacians, inhabitants of the ancient state of Dacia, who once occupied the realms within and around the Carpathian Mountains (present day Romania and surrounding areas). The wisdom of this people, attained over centuries of observation, destroyed in just a few years of war…
Dacia’s military, religious, and political center was known as Sarmizegetusa Regia. Set at an altitude of 1,200 meters, carefully hidden from curious eyes, the biggest of all known Dacian fortifications was built on a few dozen artificial terraces summing up 30,000 square meters. In its heyday, it was the residence of Dacian kings, prelates, and the aristocracy, as well as home to skilled craftsmen, traders and builders. It was a metropolis in every sense of the word, a strategic center and the biggest crafts center of Dacia, with incredibly high living standards proving the Dacians were far superior to ancient barbaric tribes and almost equal to the Greeks. The civilians lived outside the fortifications, and noble families had running water in their homes, transported though ceramic pipes. But the most impressive of all is the sacred area with its system of sanctuaries whose purpose and divinities remain a mystery to this day.
Sarmizegetusa Regia was conquered by the Roman Empire in 106 AD, when Emperor Traian defeated Dacian King Decebal (86-106 AD). Immediately after, the Romans established a military garrison and began demolishing the citadel, moving the capital to Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa.
Approximately in the middle of the metropolis, the winding path leads visitors out of the forest and into the sacred area, a complex of circular and rectangular religious sanctuaries of monumental proportions set on two huge artificial terraces, estimated to have been built between the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC. Made from limestone and andesite blocks carried from dozens of kilometers away, the temples were connected to the eastern gate through a paved road called via sacra, most likely used during religious processions.
The precise number of temples is hard to tell, as they have been severely damaged by the Romans. Only the stone foundations that once held tall wooden or limestone pillars have remained, and the exact shape of the original buildings is difficult, if not impossible to reproduce. Nevertheless, what is left is enough to bear testimony to a complex religious architecture.
The temples at Sarmizegetusa Regia looked towards the starry sky trying to decipher its mysteries. With its 60 columns, the Limestone Temple might symbolize the tree of life for the Dacians, the spiritual DNA of the people who once inhabited these parts. It was meant to ensure that all connections between earth and sky, our world and the next are kept alive and strong. The temple is believed to be the oldest in the sacred area.
Through its sheer size, The Large Circular Temple dominated the sacred area, and was most likely dedicated to the greatest of Dacian gods, which remains unknown just like the rest of the divinities these temples were dedicated to. Looking at it, one can’t help but notice the striking resemblance to Stonehenge, as if they had been designed by the hands, although the one at Sarmizegetusa is smaller. The destruction of the Circular Temple by the Romans marked the end of Dacian religion.
Map to the stars
On the lower terrace of the sacred area lies a strange stone disk. Unique in the Dacian world, with ten sectors and an arrow made from 16 blocks of stone representing the south-north axis, the Andesite Sun is a mysterious construction that continues to bewilder historians and archaeologists.
Some say it might have been some sort of solar calendar, or a device with astronomical functions. But most agree the Solar Disc served the most important of religious practices – the sacrifice. It could have been a sacrificial altar, where our ancestors brought offerings to the gods, be they animal or human is not known. And there are a few who claim the Andesite Sun was a gate to other spiritual worlds, and that deep under the Solar Disc lies the greatest of Dacian treasures, coveted by all usurpers.
The spiritual center of the Dacians
Deceneu, the great Dacian priest, astronomer, and King Burebista’s right hand (82-44 BC), is a historical character closely tied to Sarmizegetusa. He became King of Dacia (44-27 BC) after Burebista’s death. Deceneu initiated our ancestors into the mysteries of science, celestial signs, and religion. According to Jordanes, a 6th century Roman historian of Goth origins, Burebista urged his people to live close to nature, tried to explain celestial phenomena and the laws of physics, even taught the Dacians how to predict their future by reading heavenly signs.
Nowadays, spiritualists claim the energetic vortex at Sarmizegetusa is comparable to that at Stonehenge. Until recent years, seances, yoga meetings, and rituals were organized in the sacred area during solstices, equinoxes, and eclipses, when it is said the skies above Sarmizegetusa open up, allowing us to communicate with our ancestors. Such practices are now strictly forbidden within the citadel.
How the Dacians managed to build their metropolis and massive temples using materials transported from dozens of kilometers away all the way up to a high elevation remains a mystery. What is certain is that this was no random location. Why else would they go through so much trouble of digging up the mountain, making artificial terraces and carrying all those blocks of andesite, an incredibly hard and durable stone?
The earth has a heart and it is pounding. Maybe our ancestors knew how to listen. Two millenniums later, if we’d only stop for a second and look beyond our apparent boundaries, we might hear it too. And if we open our hearts, we might even feel it.