Răcari archaeological site (Dolj county)

Touristic level information

The archaeological site is placed in the centre of Oltenia, ancient province situated in the south-west of Romania, bordered by the Carpathians at north and north-west, Olt River (from which it took its name) at east, and Danube at south. The site is placed at 29 km away from Craiova city, the capital of the province, on the European highroad E70/ 79, which links Craiova to Drobeta-Turnu Severin, the place where the Romans built Antiquity’s greatest fluvial bridge. At 6 km north, on the same road, is the small town Filiaşi.
The site comprises a Roman fortress, which functioned, in four distinct periods, from the time of the Dacian-Roman wars (101-106 AD) until almost the official abandonment of the Trajanic province (271). Garrison of a Moor cavalry auxiliary unit, the fortress measured, during its foremost development period, 170 x 145 m between the defense walls, and approximately 250 x 180 m between the defense ditches. A cvasi-urban settlement developed around the fortress, with initial dimensions estimated between 8 and 10 ha (actually three times bigger), partially superimposed by the railway station and the neighboring railway lines, by the international road and Răcarii de Jos village (under the jurisdiction of Brădeşti commune). So far, the placement of the necropolis is not known (but there is a hint that could be under the... railway station)..
The military objective had, as main purpose, the surveillance of an important ford at Jiu River, controlling the access ways towards south (Danube), north (Orăştie Mountains) and west (Drobeta being the main Roman bridgehead in Dacia). Several teams undertook archaeological researches in the fortress, even since the end of the XIXth century, although on short periods of time, without being initiated restoration works. The research had started once again in 2003, under the coordination of PhD Eugen S. Teodor, from the Romanian National History Museum (Bucharest), in collaboration with PhD Dorel Bondoc, from Oltenia Museum (Craiova). Although under-financed, the recent research managed for the first time to determine the four distinct phases of the fortification’s relatively short existence: a small campaign fort; a large fort, as well a timber-and-earth one; having the same designing, a stone fort was built, with three defense ditches on the most exposed side (eastern side), representing the climax of the military occupation at Răcari (the beginning of the IIIrd century); finally, after the damages made by the Carpians (the east-Carpathians relatives of the defeated Dacians) in 247, the stone fortress had been reconfigured, being reduced about one sixth of its surface, probably due to the reduction of the garrison (we are around 250 AD, in the time of “military anarchy”); the garrison probably had the purpose of assuring the security of the retreat road (a secondary one, of course) for the troops from south-eastern Transylvania, on their way to Drobeta. Our research focused, during these few campaigns, on the eastern side of the fortress, the one oriented towards the enemy. After fulfilling the first objectives, we intend to assure the requested information for the future restoration workings. The most difficult task will be the “rescue researches” in the perimeters affected by previous diggings, out of which the locals have taken the quarry stone, as to allow the topographical re-correlation of the main monuments (gates, interior roads, towers, the commandment, etc.) with the unaffected surfaces by the previous interventions (cca 70% of the fortress is very well preserved).
The precarious financing of the site – one of the most relevant archaeological sites from Oltenia – determined us to open our gates to any kind of cooperation which may provide the necessary means to continue the research in an acceptable rhythm. The fortress is preserved well enough to make the object of future cultural tourism success, on the condition that the researches will advance in a more alert rhythm. These cooperation modalities refer to the possible association with any other research or superior education institutions, which might contribute to the progress of the workings, or with traveling agencies, specialized in cultural tourism or in recruiting volunteer archaeologists.
For some photos from Răcari - try here!