A scene from the Dacian Wars on Trajan's Column. Photographed by
Mary Harrsch in Rome, Italy.
When I got my five minutes worth of Gibbon today, I noticed his description of the Dacians in Trajan's time. Although it's true that the Dacians of the early 2nd century believed in an immortal soul, they were one of the last Roman provinces to accept Christianity, not doing so until the 5th century CE. Instead, the Dacians believed in a complex religious hierarchy with its priests divided into orders of “god-worshipers”, “smoke-walkers” and “founders”. Their supreme deity was known at different times as Zalmoxis,Gebeleïzis and Darzalas.
|A Dacian draco standard|
The relief also depicts the long-sleeved scale armor worn by wealthier Dacian warriors and their mounts as we see in the image from Trajan's column above left.
I noticed when I researched their religion that the Dacians were sometimes considered interchangeable with the Getae, although Strabo seemed to distinguish between the two. Whenever I think of the Getae, I envision the savage, almost inhuman warriors depicted in the pilot episode of "Spartacus: Blood and Sand". If the Getae (Dacians) were that wild in the 70s BCE, they obviously underwent a considerable social transformation before opposing Trajan in 101 CE.