“Dobrogea, witness to the millennial civilizations of the Levant”
A strong debut…
It has been a summer full of interesting activities for this project that attempts a modern take on the values of Dobrogean heritage, and which analyses the way in which heritage sites can beneficially be used to support the inhabitants of the regions they are located in. One of the major objectives of this project is the identification of those regions of Dobrogea in which the UNESCO model for regional development, the geopark, would have the greatest chances for a successful implementation. For nearly three weeks, during July and August, the small yet enthusiastic team of professors, researchers and students from the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization, the “Ovidius” University in Constanța and the National Institute of Geology travelled down routes designed in such a way as to combine natural, geological and biological reservations, “Natura 2000” sites and historical monuments, that taken together best define the cultural values of a region.
Our travels started from the south, from Limanu and Hagieni, and continued in successive stages, towards the Casimcea plateau and the canals of the Danube situated in the central part of Dobrogea, then on to the hinterlands of the Măcin mountain range, to Babadag and Tulcea, in the north of the region. Among other sites, the team visited natural reservations of multifarious interest – geological, natural and biodiverse, with flora and fauna specific to the Dobrogean region – at Canaraua Fetei, Alah Bair, Dealul Consul and Cape Doloṣman-Jurilovca; the botanical and zoological reservations around Lakes Oltina, Vederoasa and Murighiol, abounding in species of fowl; the ancient woodland forests of Hagieni, Esechioi, Dumbrăveni, Codru-Babadag and Niculițel; the geological and botanical reservations at Topalu, Cheia and Gura Dobrogei; the caves at Limanu and La Adam; the palaeontological reservations at Alimanu, Credința, Dealul Bujoare, Cerna and Agighiol, as well as the stone quarries at Greci, Iacobdeal, Caugagia and Slava Rusă.
We lingered a while at the information centre of the Măcin Mountains National Park, where we admired the dioramas of the habitats endemic to the mountain range, the exhibition of traditional tools and craftsmanship traditions and the display containing the traditional dress of the various ethnicities of the region. We also covered several footpaths that cross the Park, between Iacobdeal Lake and Priopcea Hill. Our travels allowed us to document some of the plethora of historical sites that dot the landscape of Dobrogea, that region of Romania which over the past five thousand years has best preserved its monuments which date from the Neolithic to the Hellenistic, Roman, Roman-Byzantine, Byzantine-Mediaeval periods and beyond. We stopped near the ruins of the Dacian fortress at Albeṣti, at Ostrov near the ruins of the Roman city of Durostorum, at Dervent monastery, near the Byzantine citadel at Păcuiul lui Soare, at the Tropaeum Traiani monument at Adamclisi; on later occasions, we visited a number of sites that are better known to the public, such as Carsium – Hârşova, Capidava and Histria. In the north of Dobrogea, not a day passed that we would not visit the ruins of a citadel: Dinogeția at Garvăn, Enisala (Yeni–Sale), Argamum, Doloşman etc. Sometimes, as was the case at Halmyris, Murighiol, Ibida, Slava Rusă and Noviodunum (Isaccea), we had the opportunity to meet the archaeologists working on the site, who provided us with helpful guidance and context. The Paleo-Christian monument at Niculițel, containing the crypt of the four martyrs, the monastery at Cocoşu, the mausoleum of Sari Saltuk at Babadag and the independence monument in Tulcea were other historical sites located along our travel routes.
Of particular interest during our visits was the continuous exchange of information between the members of the team: the biologists, versed in the different species of vegetation, insects, reptiles and birds we came across; the geologists, who were able to explain to the others the tectonic structures and formation of the rocks and the fossils contained therein, and all of them were deeply committed to highlighting the connections between the complementary living and unliving (geological) sides of the natural environment. This is, in fact, the one approach through which nature can truly be understood in its integrity, and thus be better protected.
Not all the observations made in our travels were pleasant, however, and some were downright disheartening: the mounds of garbage strewn haphazardly across the land, the lack, or in the best case the scarcity of available scientific information within already protected areas and, especially, the abundance of allergy-inducing ambrosia.
Wherever we passed through, we paid special attention to the particularities of the different ethnicities that co-inhabit the Dobrogean space, as made manifest through the architecture of their homes and the specificities of their customs, from what little we could observe in our brief passing. Ethnicity is an important aspect of the project we are undertaking, and, at Cobadin – well-known for its Turkish-Tatar importance – we lingered a little longer, in order to speak with the mayor of the township and inquire about a potential future meeting with the representatives of this community.
Now that autumn has come, it is time to iron out our observations, crystallize our ideas and prepare the following steps for the project. The first will take place on the 29th of November, with the public presentation of the project at the Museum of Geology in Bucharest, comprising a joint exhibition of our findings and a communications session… Details will be forthcoming shortly!