November 05, 2009

VRC Iron Gate & Viminacium

The Iron Gate is a series of gorges between Serbia and Romania that used to render passage at this point almost impossible.  Two locks and a dam made passage safer if less dramatic. 

After the Roman Emperor Trajan defeated the Dacians almost 2000 years ago, he set down the Tabula Traiana on the Serbian side of the Danube as a marker to commemorate the building of a road into Dacia.  More recently in 2004, sculptors completed a statue of the defeated Dacian King Decebalus on the Romanian side of the Danube.  It took  12 sculptors 10 years to complete the 40-meter high monument, the tallest rock scupture in Europe.

Later that evening, we transferred off the ship in darkness on to a bus.  Passing concrete apartments that looked abandoned and a working Serbian coal plant, we lumbered closer to an eerie glow in the distance.  This was the first of the tented excavations of Viminacium, a northern Roman outpost. 

The extensive baths and history of the site provided a good introduction but the necropolis under the next tent was the highlight.  Archeologists discovered over 2000 tombs and have left some skeletons exposed. 

Clinging to one another, we crawled underground to view colored frescos of the entombed.

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