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Untitled Document

Short history

Historical sources / Berzobis in the light of archeology / The Ancient Period / Berzobis during the medieval period / Berzovia after 1848

As documented in numerous historical sources, the lands around Berzovia have been inhabited since the earliest times. Undisputable evidence of settlements in the area exist. These date back from the First Iron Age, but the most numerous are from the period of the Roman occupation of Dacia.

Monography of the village Berzovia  – authors: Berbentia Elizaveta (1992) and priest Berbentia Petru (1992-2003)
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TopHistorical sources

There are three types of historical sources referring to the existence of Berzovia dating from the Roman period: written sources, cartographical sources and figurative sources.

Written sources include the text by Priscianus in the memoirs of Emperor Trojan “Inde Berzobim, deinde(zi)s processimus” (From here I went further to Berzovia and then to Aizi(zi)s) (Daicoviciu, C, 1968, p. 27).”

Cartographical sources are represented mostly by Tabula Peutingeriana, a very important cartographical work from either the 4th or early 5th century AD that was discovered in the 13th century by a monk in Colmar. A copy of this map was published by Konrad Peutinger. This is the only known map that depicts the Roman “cursus publicus” which was the road network of the Roman Empire. The castrum Berzobis is depicted as being on this Western Roman road that goes through Banat. The Castrum Berzobis is located 12 Roman miles to the North of Centrum Puteii (Surduc) and 12 Roman miles South-West of Aizis (Buziag).

Figurative sourcesreferring to Berzovia have not been confirmed. Specialty literature considers that the scenes 16-17 or 18 on Trojan’s Column could represent Berzobis.

TopBerzobis in the light of archeology
  • The first non-scientific archeological digs in the ruins of the great Roman castrum at Berzovia took place at the end of the 18th Century AD and the results were published by Hoffinger in a magazine that was printed in Bratislava (Nenes Ungarisches Magazin). The pretorium, the caldarium as well as piping for the aqueducts and sewers was uncovered as a result of these digs.
  • During the same period, Von Braun undertook a land survey of the antiquities found at Berzovia that was also published in the same magazine.
  • At the beginning og the 19th century the scholar from Timisoara, Sigismund Ormos, was the first who introduced the Roman castrum at Berzovia in the archeological scientific literature and also published a sketch of the site after a map dating from 1803.
  • In 1856 the clerk Stefan Ionescu undertakes another set of digs during the period when the Jidovin village is relocated over the Roman castrum.
  • In 1866 Different household items and coins from the period of the Emperors Vespasian, Trojan and Comodus were unearthed besides bricks bearing the inscription of the Legion IV Flavia Felix and the Legion XIII Gemina.
  • In 1882 the Transylvanian archeologist Kart Torma goes along the Roman road from Banatca Palanca to Tibiscum and identifies the site of the Berzobis castrum.
  • Between 1882 and 1886 the renowned humanist and researcher, Vincentiu Babes and the architect Adrian Diaconovici carry out amateur digs with funds from the Romanian Academy at Berzovia, and in 1899 Vincentiu Babes presents a final report of the research to the Romanian Academy.

The number of studies that take place at Berzovia increases towards the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. Gabor Teglas, the director of the museum in Deva publishes a study regarding a Roman bronze statuette found at Berzovia.

In 1923, Professor Lugojan Traian Simu published a work entitled “Drumuri si cetati romane in Banat” (Roman roads and fortresses in Banat) in the Gemina magazine belonging to the Timisoara museum. He also mentions the antiquities found at Berzovia.

In 1929 the engineer Adam Cucu brought back from Berzovia to the Timisoara museum several bricks bearing the inscriptions of the Legion III Flavia Felix and he also mentioned that some households (one belonging to Iosif Stiopu who lived in Berzovia at number 337) had been built on Roman foundations.

Information regarding Berzovia is also received from the historian I. Lotreanu in the book “Monografia Banatului” (The Monography of Banat) written by Ioachim Miloia between 1936 and 1937.

Between 1960 and 1964 Professor Marius Moga together Octavian Raut, a professor in Resita undertook the first archeological digs at Berzovia and started a collection of items for the museum that was opened in 1962.

Between 1965 -1968 archeological research was carried out by Professor Dumitru Potase. This research was continued by M. Moga and F. Medelet and later on by F. Medelet, O. Bozu and A. Fluture. This research has continued to present day.

According to Virgil Birou, who, in his book “Oameni si locuri din Banat” (People and Places in Banat) the edifices in Berzovia have the same layout as those in Pompei, with the calidarium and frigidarium, bearing the marks of an advanced civilization. The city center, hallways, arches, foundations, stairs, aqueducts and sewers, temples and villas were unearthed, as well as iron tools and vases. Even the old prison was found.

TopThe Ancient Period

The period prior to the Roman Castrum

Virgil Birou has stated that “much ink was shed in order to determine if ancients Bersobis dates only from the time of the Roman invasion of Dacia, or if its origins date back to Dacian or Agatisean time”. Archeologist and historians have stated that the 2nd phase of the Tisa Culture has been documented in the Banat region and in soils belonging to the late Neolithic period a series of ceramic shapes different from that present in other settlements was discovered. Thus, the numerous archeological sites, rich in urnes, among which Berzovia is also present, bare witness to the fact that “the end of the Neolithic age did not come as a result of the disappearance of the population belonging to the Vinca-Turdas Culture.”

As in the case of numerous settlements in the Caras-Severin County, archeological research has uncovered at Berzovia signs of settlements dating from the First Iron Age.

The oldest finds uncovered in the village center are some fragments of Neolithic pottery belonging both to early and late Neolithic. Traces of early Iron Age settlements were discovered at Berzovia and at Fizec, a village that belongs to the commune. This is proof of the large spread of the culture belonging to this period when the bases of the future Dacian-Getic civilization are set.

Tangible evidence regarding the existence of Dacian-Getic settlements dating prior to the Roman conquest emerged both at Berzovia and at Fizec. Among the archeological finds was a number of ceramic fragments belonging to vases that were made either by hand, or using the pottery wheel (the common Dacian cup “catuia” commonly found in all the known settlement on the territory of Romania).

A Greco-Iliric type helmet that was believed to have belonged to a local chieftain and was part of a private collection until World War 2 was discovered in the last century. The helmet is now on display at the museum in Resita.

A large quantity of iron slag that came from the Dacian furnaces was discovered at the edge of the commune. The raw materials used by the Dacians, and whose traces were found at Ramna and Bocsa were obtained by exploiting the iron ore deposits from the surrounding areas ( Ocna de Fier, Dognecea), either by exploiting the iron ore deposited by floods, which during that period could be found at the border of the settlements.

Some sources state that in 102 AD a Dacian fortress existed (out of which only the foundation of the walls remained). The fortress was made of timber and earth, was situated on the site of the present day commune, and was named Fortress Doca and was conquered by Emperor Trojan during the First Roman-Dacian War.

After the Roman conquest of Dacia following the Second Roman-Dacian War between 105 -106 AD the fortress was destroyed and a large scale Roman castrum with an area of 20 ha was built on its ruins.

It is around this castrum that the civil town of Berzobis was built. The discovery of some pieces of Dacian objects inside as well as in the vicinity of the castrum confirms that Dacians lived in this castrum, like they did in other Roman towns.

The Roman Berzobis Castrum

After the year 106 AD, the Roman ruling in Banat is ensured by 2 lines of castrums, which, starting at the Danube and winding their way on the edge of the Western hills and through the Timis-Cerna chute, dominate both the flat lands, as well as the mountains. These castrums made up the exterior defense line in Banat.

The end of the Roman wars to conquer Dacia (101 AD -102 AD and 105 AD -106 AD) marked a new chapter in the history of the evolution of the society in what currently is Romania. It lead to an increase in economic activities and a development of the material and spiritual culture.

New towns appeared on the sites of the old village centers. Ancient historical sources, epigraphic and numismatic testimonies, evidence left by the Romans which can still be seen today in numerous sites, together with intensive research carried out between 1960 and 1961 in many locations in the Caras-Severin County, among which was also Berzovia, all point out that the territory of the present day County belonged to the Roman Dacia province. These show the signs of a flourishing civilization.

There is enough evidence that point out that new Roman settlements appeared in the vicinity of the old Dacian villages, such as Berzovia. Sturdy buildings made up of stone or brick were erected and monumes carved in stone or marble, as well as numerous inscriptions in Latin show that writing was widespread.
The Roman settlement at Berzovia was a legion castrum with the dimensions of 490m by 410m fortified with an earth wall and ditches.  According to the archeologist Alexandru Fiuture, this was the first big castrum constructed by the Roman army during the first war to conquer Dacia.
Thus, Castrum Berzobis was recorded on the old Roman maps and was the initial village center.  The military barracks were the headquarters of the Legion IV Flavia Felix until 119 AD.
The castrum of the Legion IV Flavia Felix, the Roman settlement and a good part of the Roman remains date back from the 2nd to 4th centuries and can be found either in the built-up area or outside of the built-up area of the commune and are located on the Southern bank of the Barzava river, at the foot of the Dognecei Mountains, the piedmont subdivision Arenis, in the area where it meets the Banat Western Plain.
The castrum had an earth wall and palisades, and some of the interior buildings, among which was the principia had stone walls. Research has revealed that this castrum had been built in 101 AD during the First Daco-Roman War and the headquarters of the 4th Legion Flavia Felix which was stationed there until 118-119 AD.

Each legion was a miniature army made up of 5600 men, Roman citizens who did up to 25 years of military service. Legion 4 Flavia Felix was stationed at Berzobis for almost 20 years until the end of Emperor Trojan’s reign.

The history of the settlement after Legion 4 Flavia Felix left in 119 AD is not very clear. Archeological digs have revealed three rustic villas in Berzovia and one in Ramna. They are testimony on how Roman culture and civilization appeared in Banat.

Evidence of Dacian-Russian presence in Berzovia was uncovered not only in the village center, but also on the road towards Ghertenis, on the banks of the Fizes brook, in the Vaiegoasa forest, in the area of the reserve, on the village road towards Sosdea in the area known as “la colibi” (at the cabins).

Numerous coins have been found on the village premises and one of the most important findings was that of the monetary thesaurus made up of Roman republican dinars from the time of the Emperors Tiberius, Nero, Vespasian, Titus, Domitian and Trojan and from the 3rd century. Details about the thesaurus were published in 1871 by Ormos Zsigmond.

Other important pieces that were uncovered were: a Roman sword of Pompei type that was also called a gladius, which was used during the 1st and 2nd centuries and which is currently in storage at the Banat Museum in Timisoara, a Roman helmet, a Roman rush light, fibulas, pandantives, pieces of armor, chain links and a Roman bronze eagle, a high complexity surgeon’s forceps, a bronze deer’s head, paleo Christian remains (a chain and a candela).

After Dacia became a Roman province, the castrum became a municipality, and the Berzobis fortress gained in importance. This was a result of its positioning on the road between Arcidava (Varadia) to Tibiscum. This Roman road was called “lerina” by the locals and was 2 cords wide. It came up to the castrum’s outward filling, crossing over the settlement border that is today called by locals Valea Popii (the priest’s valley)

Another favorable element is the geographical location of Berzobis. It is situated in an area where the hills meet the plains. Berzobis was a strategic point and renowned commercial and agricultural center, a fact proven by the Roman agricultural items, plows and hoes that have been discovered in the area of the settlement border. The road was also known from the commerce practices by the Etruscans, a population that was also conquered by the Romans and who traded with the natives from this region. Slaves, different agricultural products, gold, bronze objects, etc. were traded for honey, wax, grain, cheese, animal skins, salt, brass and gold.

The desire of the merchants who accompanied the Roman army to get rich also contributed to the commercial flourishing of the town of Berzovis. Luxurious villas with centralized heating systems, temples to worship the different dieties and pubic baths were constructed. Iron ore was extracted from the mines in the Bocsei hills and it was processed in the numerous furnaces whose traces were discovered all over the territory of Berzovia. Gold was also mined in this area and this lead to the enrichment of the Roman conquerors. Numerous furnaces located at the edge of Berzovia towards Ghertenis bear witness to the metallurgical activities that took place in the region after the year 277 AD.
Life for the Dacian population was harsh in that period. The Dacian people who was native to the region since the Neolithic period did not welcome the Roman rule with open arms. Signaling fires were lit up at Cula Varsetului and Chilli Hill at the approach of the Roman army to warn of the battle. The Dacians from Berzobis fought bravely against the Romans, but the overwhelming number, the discipline and force of the Roman army lead to the Dacians’ defeat. In spite of the humiliation and oppression the Dacians were exposed to, they continued to live in the region, proof of this being the Dacian pottery that was found in an oven at Ramna. As they remained on their native lands, the Dacian would rebel against the Roman ruling with each opportunity, a fact that was proven by the three layers of ash, sometimes as thick as half a meter. Because of the Dacian people’s fight within the province and the attacks of the wandering tribes , after 165 years of Roman rule, Emperor Aurelian decided to withdraw the Roman army and administration from Dacia in 277 AD to the South of the Danube.
Despite this withdrawal, the Dacian-Roman population group that developed during the Roman administration of Dacia remained on the territory of Banat, forming a strong bridge-head of the Roman Empire to the North of the Danube. Numerous epigraphical findings confirm the use of Latin by the inhabitants of the province, as well as the development of the Dacian-Roman settlements, among which was Berzovia.

TopBerzobis during the medieval period

A dark age that lasted for over 1000 years followed after the Roman administration left Dacia. Berzovia, as well as other settlement on the territory of present day Romania felt into obscurity. A new feudal system appeared after the living conditions changed.

During the medieval times, the settlement was not named Berzobis, after the old Roman castrum anymore, instead in the first documented existence of the settlement from the period it was named Jidovini. This name is mentioned in 1366 when a document by the Hungarian King Louis the Great was drawn up at Semlac. Through this diploma, the King donated the Jidovini fortress to Benedek Neem. The two villages that belong to the commune, Fizes and Ghertenis were first mentioned in 1329 and 1380. Ghertenis was first named Ghertianos in a trial between Csep Istvan and the wife of the nobleman Himfy Petru.
Later on, the village appeared with the name Zsidovin in Marsigli’s notes from 1690-1700. The district of Berzava (Borzafo) is mentioned in a decree by King Ladislau the 5th from the 23rd of November 1457. The King promised an extension of the privileges to this and other 7 districts (Lugoj, Sebe?, Mehadia, Alma?, Cara?, Comiat ?i Ilidia)

Also at the end of the 17th century, in 1699, the settlement appears with another name, Sidovina, and is part of the royal fiscal domain and the local warlord (cneaz) bears witness about the deeds of Petru Macicas. Then, in a conscription from 1717 the Sidovina village with 57 houses that belongs to the Varset district appears.
The Jidovini settlement appears in Papp Francisc’s doctoral thesis in medicine and surgery from 1932 named “Descrierea ciumei 1738-1740 în Banat” (The Description of the Plague between 1738 -1740 in Banat). In this work, the settlement was part of the three villages affected by the plague (Comoraste, Cacova and Jidovin).
In 1796, the administration in Vienna ordered the village rectification. This meant a systematization, but during the period the process was used in the Austrian Government politics as an instrument of punishment of type 2 and was aimed towards the Romanian population in Banat. This procedure meant the moving of the village from the original location to a new location designated by the regime, “solely based on urbanistic and safety of the population reasons”. As the villagers loved the area, they stayed behind. Afterwards, more pressure was applied by the Austrian government and the rectification started only in 1803.
The move of the village center was desired by the Austian-Hungarian authorities in order to destroy the ruins of the Roman castrum which could have been considered evidence of the Dacian-Roman continuity in the area. In 1873 the walls of the castrum were blown up with gunpowder by an entrepreneur from Bocsa, named Blachenti and the resulting stone was sold with 6 florins/cord foot.

The Berzovia commune did not always have the same location. The older people can remember from their forefathers that prior to 1800 the settlement was located left and right of the Timisoara-Resita road, near the border with the Ghertenis village and across the railroad, near the ravine that is called Almajenilor Valley. Proof for this is the stone cross that was raised next to the Timisoara-Resita railroad, near the keeper’s post. This cross bares the text “This sacred cross was raised on the place of the old ruined church in 1882 by the work of the craftsman and his family from Bocsa, Rosea A.D, George Popovici from Bocsa Munteana, and with the help of Gruia Sestu.” The current village center was formed after 1800, and in 1882 a new church was built. Another piece of evidence is a tombstone located near the cross placed on the spot of the old church. It was believed that a priest was buried there.

Starting in the 18th century and right up to the first decade of the 19th century the commune belonged to the Varset District and afterwards it came to the jurisdiction of Ceacova. Before the Revolution of 1848, it was recorded that the settlement had sparer inhabitants because troubles appeared when electing the mayor in September 1848 due to the fact that the native Romanian population did not have the same rights as the other nationalities had.

TopBerzovia after 1848

After that turmoil, the village experienced a continuous social-economic and cultural development. After the Orthodox Church was built in 1812, in 1880 the building of the Local Council (Village Hall) and in 1886 the train station were erected. In 1908 the railroad between Berzovia and Oravita was inaugurated and in 1910 the Hugarian State School was opened.

Under the influence of the revolutionary movement from November 1918, the poor people from Berzovia distributed among themselves the goods that belonged to the local landlords. The uprise was crushed through the intervention of the army and to frighten the locals the peasant Stangu Achim was shot in front of the Village Hall in the presence of the locals who were gathered there against their own will.

The activity of the priest Alexandru (Sandru) Ogarlaci, who was deported and imprisoned in a camp by the Austrian-Hungarian authorities was known in the 20th century, which was full of social turmoil. “This worthy member of the clergy was one of the promoters of the union of the Banat Province with the Motherland and he is mentioned on the list of attendees at the Grand Assembly in Alba Iulia from 1918.”
After these events there was a period of calm and quiet until the scandal that followed the forged elections from 1946 which degenerated into an all-out war with guns being fired. This event was crushed by the communist authorities.
After it was economically developed during the communist period through the creation of several agro-industrial enterprises and the increase of employment opportunities, in the period after the Revolution in December 1989, the commune started to decline from a social-economic point of view. These agro-industrial enterprises were dissolved and the number of unemployed people increased. The commerce was taken over by several enterprises and family associations, and from the agar point of view following the annulment of the collective farm the Agricultural Association “Fratia” was formed. This had 107 associates and administers 500 ha of land. After several years this too was dissolved. As a result of the social-economic decline numerous families have decided to go and work abroad and the citizens belonging to other nationalities decided to permanently leave the commune.

During the last decade, efforts to revive the commune took place. Two butcheries were set up, the communal road was paved with asphalt and several buildings were renovated. In 2004 running water was introduced through the SAPARD program and the history of the glorious commune was morally rehabilitated.

In 2007, the Orthodox Church in Berzovia was sanctified for the first time. This event attracted numerous authorities.