In the year 2004 Romanian archaeology marked the jubilee of two of the most representative Dobrudjan archaeological sites: Histria and Capidava. In September 1914, after the third (and last) campaign ended at Ulmetum (Pantelimonu de Jos, Constanţa county), Vasile Pârvan headed for Histria, the old Milesian colony on the bank of Sinoe Lake, to start vast archaeological excavations, that have been going on ever since.

Ten years later, in the year 1924, Vasile Pârvan appointed one of his assistants, Grigore Florescu, later a reader in epigraphy and antiquities at the Faculty of Letters, the University of Bucharest, to start archaeological excavations in a Roman camp on the Dobrudjan Danube bank, "leaving the choice to us".


The previous year Grigore Florescu had found at Seimenii Mari - 6 km downstream Cernavodă - two milliaries and had identified traces of ancient dwelling on a surface of a few hectares (more precisely a defence tower from a later period and small dimensions, next to a civil settlement), however not enough for the issue to tackle, according to his own words. The decisive factor in choosing the young epigraphist is mentioned in the Preface of the first monographic volume of Capidava, that he signed in 1958: "On the one hand the rescue of the fortress [1] , and on the other also its position in an important ford of the Danube, crossed by a road running from the Carpathians and crossing the inland of Dobrudja up to the sea, at the Greek cities of Tomis and Histria, used to be solid reasons for starting the excavations in this location".

That is how the systematic archaeological excavations started at Capidava eight decades ago. This very jubilee was celebrated in 2004. This celebration is owed foremost to the exceptional endeavours of two remarkable researchers from two successive generations, father and son, Grigore and Radu Florescu. On this anniversary both equally deserve the homage paid to the archaeological site on the Danubian limes of Moesia Inferior - be it even posthumously.

Archaeology enthusiasts who use the Internet can take good advantage of the generosity of our host, CIMEC, that made available a selection comprising a part of the oldest images of Capidava preserved in the archive of the site: topographic surveys and planimetric surveys of the fortress, photographs from pre-war excavations (in part unpublished) and of their initiators etc. There is also one of the beautiful vignettes on parchment at Notitia Dignitatum where the Roman fortification of Capidava can be seen, mentioned at half distance between Carsium and Axiopolis also on the segmentum VII of Tabula Peutingeriana. Many of the excavation photographs selected had already been published by Grigore Florescu, as illustrations for his excavation reports in the review Dacia (III-IV, 1927-1932; V-VI, 1935-1936; XI-XII, 1945-1947). The quality of the photographs preserved in the archive of the archaeological site of Capidava (in comparison with their modest variant published in the prestigious review mentioned), as well as the difficulties of the direct access of many Internet users to the respective scientific literature are the reasons why we resumed them in this way. Last but not least, by the very institutional appurtenance of Professor Grigore Florescu, the initiator of the archaeological excavations at Capidava, these images naturally pertain to the exceptional photographic testimonies of the early days of Romanian archaeology preserved in the archive of the National Museum of Antiquities and gathered in a unique online documentary base by CIMEC.



Capidava - A remote fort on the Danube border of the Roman Empire



[1] The quarrying of the limestone massif on which the fortress of Capidava used to stand by the company of the brothers Ghenciu from Brăila, at the time of Vasile Pârvan's visit in 1912, would seriously damage half of the north curtain of the fortress, and, usually, its whole Danube side. When the quarrying ceased  due to the support from the Historic Monuments Board following the active involvement of Vasile Pârvan (see infra) also Grigore Florescu was able to begin the archaeological research of the fortress during the campaigns from 1924, 1926-1927 and the following years.