Advertisement

Dobrudja, in the Mesopotamia of the West

  • Marin Petrişor
Chapter
Part of the Coastal Research Library book series (COASTALRL, volume 23)

Abstract

Seen as a prolongation of the Scythian lands north of Black Sea, and consequently called Mikrá Skythia by Strabo, this region that belonged to the Getae, the south-Danubian branch of the Dacians, was early colonized by the Greeks, who founded a number of cities of great importance there, among them, Tomis, Constanta today, the place of exile of the poet Ovidius, who wrote his Tristia here, conquered and colonized by the Romans later on, Dobrudja, through which the Slavs poured into the Byzantine Empire and constituted themselves as peoples, has a rich, fascinating and tumultuous history, like the waves of the Akšeina Sea, “the black and dark sea” in the ancient scholar’s Geography, which the Greeks somehow attempted to “tame” by means of an antonym: eúxeinos (Pontos Eúxeinos, “welcoming, hospitable sea”). Like the history of these lands, the name of Dobrudja has aroused strong passions and sparked off heated debate among historians and linguists, who have not yet reached a satisfactory conclusion as regards the origin of the toponym in discussion. Romanian scholars, among them, researchers of great authority, such as Nicolae Iorga, Vasile Pârvan, Radu Vulpe, C. Brătescu, proposed Dobrotič as etymon, the name of the strategos of Slav origin, to whom, at the end of the fourteenth century and the beginning of the fifteenth century, the Byzantine emperor entrusted the governorship of the thema lying between the Danube and the Black Sea (it was from him that Mircea the Elderly, Voyvod of Wallachia, took possession of the land by force). In a study published in Limba română, 1965, no. 1, issued by the Romanian Academy, we rejected this etymon, on the grounds that the same name is mentioned, much earlier, in the travel account of Idrissi, the Arabic traveler, who, somewhere between 1110 and 1146, crossed the south-Danubian Berğan on his way to Kiev. The discovery of a tenth century taktikon, a list of Byzantine offices, dignities, and titles, in the royal medieval library of El Escorial, including the strategoi and the catepani of the Mesopotamia of the West, has re-opened the discussion on the origin and, especially on the evolution of the name of Dobrudja province, which is, in fact, the result of a long chain of linguistic calques, closely connected to the location of the territory near the great river that almost surrounds it.

Keywords

Etymon Dobrudja The Mesopotamia of the West The Land to the River Paristrion/Paradunavion 

References

  1. Arbore Al 1928 (2003) “Înfăţişarea etnografică a Dobrogei în Antichitate după lucrările lui Vasile Pârvan” [The ethnographic look of ancient Dobrudja in the works of Vasile Pârvan]. In: Dobrogea – 50 de ani de vieaţă românească. Cultura Naţională, reeditare/Editura Ex Ponto, Bucureşti/ConstanţaGoogle Scholar
  2. Bănescu N 1928 (2003) “Dobrogea bizantină. Ducatul de Paristrion” [Byzantine Dobrudja. The Dukedom of Paristrion – 50 Years of Romanian Life]. In: Dobrogea – 50 de ani de vieaţă românească. Cultura Naţională, reeditare/Editura Ex Ponto, Bucureşti/Constanţa, pp 297–300Google Scholar
  3. Berciu D, Pippidi DM (1965) Din istoria Dobrogei [From the history of Dobrudja], vol I. EAR, BucureştiGoogle Scholar
  4. Bogrea I (1921) “Note de toponimie dobrogeană” [Notes on Dobruja’s Toponymy]. In: Analele Dobrogei. Revista Societăţii Culturale Dobrogene, 2nd year, CernăuţiGoogle Scholar
  5. Daicoviciu C (1955) “Noi contribuţii la istoria statului dac” [New contributions to the history of the Dacian State]. In: Studii şi cercetări de istorie veche (SCIV), VI, no 1–2, pp 47–60Google Scholar
  6. Daicoviciu C (1960) Istoria Românilor [History of the Romanians], vol I. EAR, BucureştiGoogle Scholar
  7. Frăţilă V (2002) Studii de toponimie şi dialectologie [Studies in toponymy and dialectology]. Editura Excelsior Art, TimişoaraGoogle Scholar
  8. Homorodeanu M (1969) “Toponimia satelor Cinciş şi Valea Ploştii (judeţul Hunedoara)” [The toponymy of the villages of Cicnis and Valea Plostii (County of Hunedoara)]. In: Studii şi materiale de onomastică. EAR, BucureştiGoogle Scholar
  9. Iordan I (1963) Toponimia românească [Romanian toponymy]. EAR, BucureştiGoogle Scholar
  10. Lambrino A (1924) Les fleuves du Paradis [The Rivers of Paradise]. In: Mélanges de l’École Roumaine en France, 2e partie, pp 191–213Google Scholar
  11. Oikonomides NA (1965) “Recherches sur l’histoire du Bas-Danube aux Xe-XIe siècles: La Mesopotamie de l’Occident” [Research on the history of the lower Danube until the 19th century: the Mesopotamia of the West]. In: „Revue des Études Sud-Est Éuropéennes”, III, no 1–2Google Scholar
  12. Pârvan V (1912) Cetatea Tropheum [The stronghold of tropheaum]. Carol Göbl, BucureştiGoogle Scholar
  13. Pârvan V (1923/2000) ?>Începuturile vieţii romane la gurile Dunării [The beginnings of Roman life at the mouths of the Danube]. Cultura Naţională/Editura Cartea Românească, BucureştiGoogle Scholar
  14. Pârvan V (1926) Getica. O protoistorie a Daciei [Getica. A Protohistory of Dacia]. Cultura Naţională, BucureştiGoogle Scholar
  15. Pârvan V (1972) Dacia. Civilizaţiile antice din ţările carpato-dunărene [Dacia. Ancient Civilizations in the Carpathian-Danubian Countries]. Editura Ştiinţifică, BucureştiGoogle Scholar
  16. Petrişor M (1965) “Originea numelui Dobrogea” [The origin of the name Dobrudja]. In: Limba română, an XIV (1965), no 4, pp 433–437Google Scholar
  17. Petrişor M (1994) Structura dialectală a Olteniei [The Dialects of Oltenia]. Ovidius University Press, ConstanţaGoogle Scholar
  18. Popović P (1936) “Cetirirajske reke” [The four Rivers of Paradise]. Glas de l’Academie de Belgrade 171(1936):161–176Google Scholar
  19. Rădulescu A, Bitoleanu I (1998) Istoria Dobrogei [History of Dobrudja]. Editura Ex Ponto, ConstanţaGoogle Scholar
  20. Scorpan C (1997) Istoria României. Enciclopedie [History of Romania. Encyclopedia]. Editura Nemira, BucureştiGoogle Scholar
  21. Vulpe R, Barnea I (1968) Din istoria Dobrogei [From the History of Dobrudja], vol I-II. EAR, BucureştiGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Academy of Romanian ScientistsUniversity Ovidius of ConstanţaConstanţaRomania

Personalised recommendations