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19 July 2019

Positive And Negative Aspects in the Management of the Dacian Fortresses in the Orăștie Mountains Listed Among Unesco World Heritage Sites

Journal of Ancient History and Archeology
Positive And Negative Aspects in the Management of the Dacian Fortresses in the Orăștie Mountains Listed Among Unesco World Heritage Sites

The research and documenting of the historical monuments are fundamental and key tools for their adequate understanding and protection. Despite the numerous national and international laws, agreements and recommendations, regulating almost all aspects related to the protection of the monuments, they are not fully complied with and applied in Romania. The Dacian fortresses from the Orăștiei Mountains, on the list of UNESCO world heritage sites make no exception to the rule.
Recognition of the universal value of this fortified complex, formed of several fortresses, carried both prestige and responsibilities for Romania. The latter involved, among other, adequate legal frameworks, ensuring optimal conditions for the management, protection, restoration, research and highlight of these unique monuments that belong to the world heritage.
Romania counts among the 193 signatory states of the 1990 Convention for the protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in 1972. Nevertheless, the effective enforcement of the Convention occurred only in 2000, when the government approved measures for the protection of the historical monuments on the World Heritage List.
After 2000, various laws on the management, preservation and protection of the monuments on the World heritage list were issued, nonetheless, there is sufficient space for improvement of the national regulatory framework, especially as regards the management of the cultural and natural heritage, the fight against archaeological poaching, the illegal traffic of antiquities etc., all of the above with impact also on the Dacian fortresses on the World Heritage list. Some of the provisions of these laws have not been applied or complied with, which made that some of the Dacian fortresses not to have a legal administrator, further resulting in the monuments decay.
To date, there are no management plans for the six Dacian fortresses. To this lack of management plans adds the lack of managers for these monuments, but also the lack of management plans and minimal short-term strategies that would solve stringent issues.
Another issue that the Romanian authorities failed to resolve is related to the permanent security of the monuments. The only Dacian fortress from the Orăștiei Mountains to benefit from 24/24-security services is Sarmizegetusa Regia, which is under the administration of the County Council of Hunedoara. Therefore, the phenomenon of the archaeological poaching and deliberate destruction disappeared completely in the area of Sarmizegetusa Regia. Not the same applies for the remaining fortresses, where the destruction, vandalism and archaeological poaching may be still found, and not rarely. In almost all these fortresses, there are buildings in ruin and walls dislodges on several parts. Access routes to some of these Dacian fortresses are inadequate, in some cases even difficult. Vegetation in these unmanaged sites has invaded the monuments, while significant parts of walls and buildings are covered with layers of moss, lichens and bryophytes. The poor state of these fortresses is due to the fact they are managed by no one, although the County Council of Hunedoara has requested repeatedly the central authorities to transfer the management right of the other Dacian fortress in the county of Hunedoara, which was constantly refused.
For the lack of a manager and financial support, these monuments’ risk for significant damage, with portions that might physically disappear over the course of time is very high, unless financial resources are allotted on a constant basis for preservation, restoration and protection.
Also, the legal status of the land on which the mentioned monuments lay and its registration was not clarified until now; the land mapping; the establishment of the holders of the ring to manage UNESCO remains; the inclusion of the monuments and protection areas in the PUZ (regional Urban Plan) and PUG (General Urban Plan) type documentations of the administrative-territorial units within the range of which lie respective monuments and documentation for the draft of large scale feasibility studies for each fortress were not prepared and drafted.
At Sarmizegetusa Regia, under the administration of the County Council of Hunedoara, things have changed for the better in the last six years, while discrepancies between this site and those unmanaged are increasingly more visible. There were set up the Administration of the historical monument of Sarmizegetusa Regia, constant security/surveillance, video surveillance, a Consulting Scientific Council was created and a regulation for visiting the site was drafted and enforced. There were established visiting routes and created explanatory panels with texts in Romanian and English for each monument, while in the pavilion from the access to the site may be purchased adequate informative materials. The access road to Sarmizegetusa Regia was asphalted, while at ca. 1 km from the entrance into the fortress was built a parking. The site is constantly attended and cleaned, regardless the season, thus reaching one of the standards that UNESCO monuments must comply. The County Council of Hunedoara also finances archaeological excavations, which led to the significant extension of the period when they are conducted, which led to outstanding results and impressive finds. A series of preservation works were also performed and the Day of Open Gates was set us as well.
Past all these positive things, there is a series of aspects that still require remedy. Amongst, the dislodgement of the constructional block and elements on certain parts of the fortification walls, the issue of the trees that fall onto the monument and lack of management plans.
The poor state in which lay part of these universal interest monuments reveals that the Romanian state, through the Ministry of Culture and National Identity, whose purpose, is among other, to protect the cultural heritage, shows nothing but contempt and total disinterest for these fortresses. The inactivity and lack of action of the state central authorities to which adds opposition in transferring the management of the fortresses left in ruin to other institutions is revolting and proves lack of vision, responsibility and respect for these unique monuments that belong to the universal heritage.


Source: Bârcă V. (2019). Positive And Negative Aspects in the Management of the Dacian Fortresses in the Orăștie Mountains Listed Among Unesco World Heritage Sites. Journal of Ancient History and Archeology. Vol.6. №1: 108-148

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