Erwin Gáll

Dabaca: necropola din jurul bisericii din Gradina lui A. Tamas Cateva idei privind evolutia habitatului de la Dabaca / Dabaca: the Churchyard Cemetery in the Garden of A. Tamas. Some Ideas on the Evolution of the Medieval Habitat in Dabaca

Jan. 1, 2013

churchyard cemeteries
early medieval age
necropole din jurul bisericii
epoca medievală timpurie



e village of Dăbâca/Doboka is situated 30 kms northwest of Cluj-Napoca, by the stream called Lona, which flows into the River Someş 10 km away from this place. One side of the mountain called Nagyhegy, which is situated southwest of the village (529 m above sea level), made the valley of the stream Lona so narrow that it is a vantage point of the pass. e road in the narrow valley, squeezed between two hills, in the middle of the village takes a sharp turn to the left. e old fortress district was in the area curbed this way. e two hills are gradually declining towards northwest. e shape of the fortress is similar to a pie with a sharp angle and an arc at the end, pointing towards north-northeast. Both sides are well defendable, sloping in 25°–45°. e early medieval fortress district was built in this place with a number of villages and churches around it. e necropolis of Fortress Area 4, which belonged to the village in the 11th–13th centuries was found in the south-eastern part of the fortress district. e excavations beginning in the early 60’s in the last century were conducted with preconceptions, as the centre of Chief Gelou was thought to have been discovered before the start of the excavations, which is an impassable way from a scientific point of view. In this brief research history, which in many cases is not so relevant in our research, one can draw two conclusions: 1. Dăbâca perfectly demonstrates the concepts, interpretations and vision of the expert who lived in the various eras in the 20th century; 2. So far the interpretation of Dăbâca has been based on the historical narative and linguistic data. e archaeological data is limited to providing arguments for different historical theories; 3. Scientific-political, political and supposedly personal interests and careerist considerations all played a part or worked as the driving forces behind the start of the excavations in Dăbâca in the 60’s. Unfortunately the past political manipulations have had a great ‘career’ in national-communist Romania, and Dăbâca is a sad symbol of this. Unfortunately, a major scientific problem of the excavated part of the cemetery is that the skeletons have not been preserved. Although we have managed to identify the finds, the lack of bones is an irreparable loss. e remains of the population in Tămaş garden in Dăbâca can only be analysed scientifically after new successful excavations. In spite of the fact that the archaeological analyses so far have informed us about two churches excavated in the garden of Tămaş, the original documentation, which is at our disposal, clearly attests that only one church was excavated. In the south, the walls of a much bigger church were detected but they have remained unexplored. e church may be dated by the nine coins of Ladislaus I (1077–1095), found in sector A in its northern part. e received burial rite in the 11th – 13th centuries was the skeleton burial. e cremation burial rite, known in previous centuries, disappears in the 9th century or at least becomes undetectable by archaeological means. Altogether 95 skeletons have been registered in the 71 graves in the churchyard cemetery excavated in the garden of A. Tămaş and a small ossuary, found west of the skull in Grave 24, which could have contained the remains of several skeletons. is cemetery is characterised by stones of different sizes placed in the graves with a ritual purpose; the same custom characterizes the graves of Fortress Area IV. e finds in a sector of this part of the cemetery are typical 12th century finds (simple hair rings and hair rings with S-shaped ends, coins) (Pl. 9, 11). e coins found in the graves are the so called anonymous denars dating from the first half of the 12th century. Other graves were dug in the area of the demolished church, so these clearly show a later origin; probably they come from the 13th– 14th centuries. erefore the churches and the cemetery belonging to them, which were excavated in the garden of A. Tămaş can be dated to the 12th and 13th–14th centuries and they are encompassed in the horizon of the 12th century Doboka and its surrounding area as a power centre. e fortress, which was rebuilt several times, the settlement and the cemeteries are all parts of this horizon as is analysed in our paper. We held it very important to analyse them separately. e finds clearly show that in Doboka we can see a settlement way back in the 7 – 9th centuries (Pl. 18), that cannot be connected to the fortress. According to the finds from the fortress, the most important ones of which were the 11th century coins Stephen I, Andrew I, Peter Orseolo, Coloman I the Book-lover) and the elements of material culture characteristic of this century. In our opinion, the fortress can’t have been built earlier than the middle of the 11th century and its second enlarged form can be dated to the time of Andrew I. is was destroyed at some time, in our opinion it happened during the reign of King Coloman I the Book-lover, unfortunately, we couldn’t identify this coin in the collection of the Transylvanian National Museum in Cluj. As is well known, the so called anonymous dinars were coined in the minters of the Hungarian Kingdom from the time of King Coloman to the era of Stephen II (Time Period I), it is not obvious that the fortress was burned at the end of the 11th or the beginning of the 12th century. It is also unclear how the stone wall was built at the beginning of the 13th century since no example of it is known in northern Transylvania and only few in the whole territory of the Hungarian Kingdom until the second half of the 13th century when the social-economic transition brought about major changes in the fortress system and the architecture of forts. According to the finds excavated in the fortress area, although we cannot see them as the evidence of the presence of the comes, the head of the county, the various arrow heads, sword cross iron and spurs can be connected to the group of the class of the miles, but some information on the 12th century from the Arad fortress supports that we can count with the mansios, i.e. the servant folks (servi). ese also give an outline of the social classes known from the laws of King Stephen I. e silver beads with granulated ornaments may hint at some long distance commercial contact, which can also be connected to the elite. The culmination point of the fortress, which was built in or after the first half of the 11th century, and the settlement on its territory falls on the 12th century according to the archaeological and numismatic finds. The coins found in the cemetery from Fortress Area 4, the garden of Tămaș and the cemetery of Boldogasszony give an exact map of it. The decline of the fortress centre as a political-military and administrative centre falls on the 13th century. The downfall of the centre in Dăbâca may not be connected concretely to the Mongolian raid; it may also be linked to other administrative and economic reasons. As a working hypothesis we may assume that the loss of its importance as a centre may be connected to the eastward growth of the settlement system of the county, the territory of the count took its final shape in the 12–13th centuries. This observation of ours is supported by the fact that only one 13th century coin is known from the three parts of the cemetery, the last anonym dinar may be connected to the name of Béla III (1172–1196). The settlement phenomena excavated so far can also be dated to the 11th–12th centuries. Certainly, we would not like to consider these data to have absolute value, but the lack of 13th century numismatic finds (except for a single coin of Béla IV) requires further explanation. However, this can only be proved or refuted by extended and manifold interdisciplinary researches.