Skip to main content

Astronomical Orientation in the Ancient Dacian Sanctuaries of Romania

  • Reference work entry
  • First Online:
Handbook of Archaeoastronomy and Ethnoastronomy
  • 407 Accesses


Sarmizegetusa Regia, the former capital city of the Dacians’ kingdom, is situated in the Şureanu (Orăştie) Mountains in the Southern Carpathians, Romania. This chapter reviews, from the astronomical point of view, two of the monuments located on its Sacred Terrace – the altar known as the “Andesite Sun” and the Central Apse of the Great Round Sanctuary – as well as sanctuaries at the nearby site of Costeşti. Astronomical analyses taking into consideration (a) the astronomical-geometrical methods of the time (the analemma of a sundial after Vitruvius and the stereographical projection in the sense of Hipparchus), (b) astronomical instruments of the time (the gnomon, the sundial and the astrolabe), and (c) other instruments known to the Dacians (the compass), have concluded that these monuments may have enabled the Dacians to carry out a number of astronomical observations. This would confirm several reports by contemporary historians regarding the Dacians’ knowledge of astronomy.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

USD 29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
USD 1,099.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Hardcover Book
USD 1,399.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

Similar content being viewed by others


  • Chiş GH, Mureşan P (1979) Elemente astronomice ale sanctuarului dacic de la Sarmizegetusa-Regia Romania. In: Archaeometry in Romania, vol 2. Cluj-Napoca

    Google Scholar 

  • Daicoviciu H (1972) Dacia de la Burebista la cucerirea romană. Editura Dacia, Cluj-Napoca

    Google Scholar 

  • Daicoviciu C, Daicoviciu H (1962) Sarmizegetusa: Cetăţile şi aşezările dacice din Munţii Orăştiei. Editura Meridiane, Bucharest

    Google Scholar 

  • Delambre J (1965) Histoire de l’Astronomie Ancienne (ed: Kovalevsky J). Gauthier-Villars, Paris

    Google Scholar 

  • Glodariu I, Iaroslavschi E, Rusu A (1996) Dacian citadels and settlements in the Orăştie Mountains, Romania. Acta Musei Devensis, Deva

    Google Scholar 

  • Iwaniszewski S (1998) The development of regional archaeoastronomy. The case of central – Eastern Europe. Archaeoastronomia, Credenze e Relogioni Nel Mondo Antico. Accademia Nazionale Dei Lincei, Roma

    Google Scholar 

  • Kerek F (1996) Pythagoraische Topographie der sakralen Daker – Hauptstadt. In: Schlosser W (ed) Proceedings of the second SEAC conference, Astronomisches Institut der Ruhr-Universitat, Bochum, pp 57–68

    Google Scholar 

  • Neugebauer O (1975) A history of ancient mathematical astronomy, Book VI. Springer, New York/Heidelberg/Berlin

    Google Scholar 

  • Ruggles CLN (2005) Ancient astronomy: an encylopedia of cosmologies and myth. ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara

    Google Scholar 

  • Schlosser W, Cierny J (1996) Sterne und Steine. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt

    Google Scholar 

  • Stănescu CF (1987) Die mittlere Apsis des Grosen Runden Heiligtums in Sarmizegetusa – Regia. Astronomisch – Matematische Betrachtungen. Acta Musei Napocensis XXIV–XXV, Cluj-Napoca

    Google Scholar 

  • Stănescu CF (1993) Archaeoastronomical researches at Sarmizegetusa Regia, Romania. PACT – 45, VIII.1, UNESCO, Bruxelles

    Google Scholar 

  • Stănescu F (1999) Dacian Sanctuaries. The archaeometrical and the archaeoastronomical analysis. Lucian Blaga University Press, Sibiu

    Google Scholar 

  • Stănescu F (2003) The tracing of sanctuaries in ancient Dacian world, Orăştie Mountains, Romania. In: Maravelia AA (ed) European archaeoastronomy and the orientation of monuments in the Mediterranean Basin. BAR International Series 1154, Oxford, pp 105–109

    Google Scholar 

  • Stănescu F (2008) Measurement systems for mathematics and astronomy in antiquity. Ptolemy’s chord calculation and new consideration concerning the “Discus in planitia”. Archeol Balt 10:215–219

    Google Scholar 

  • Stănescu F (2009) Astronomical orientations in ancient Dacian Sanctuaries of Piatra Craivii, Romania. In: Rubiño-Martin JA, Belmonte JA, Prada F, Alberdi A (eds) Cosmology Across Cultures. Astronomical Society of the Pacific, San Francisco, pp 408–412

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Florin Stănescu .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2015 Springer Science+Business Media New York

About this entry

Cite this entry

Stănescu, F. (2015). Astronomical Orientation in the Ancient Dacian Sanctuaries of Romania. In: Ruggles, C. (eds) Handbook of Archaeoastronomy and Ethnoastronomy. Springer, New York, NY.

Download citation

Publish with us

Policies and ethics