{1-170.} The Goths Depart

Archaeological traces of the end of Gothic rule have been found in Transylvania, most of them in the region's southeastern part. In 1887, some 15–16 gold bars, with a total weight of 6 kilograms, were found in the Carpathians at Krászna (= Krasznaüveg-huta), on the Bodza River. Produced in the mint at Sirmium, they bear a series of state hallmarks. Two of the bars bear the likeness of three emperors — one child and two adults — as well as the letters DDD NNN, signifying their joint reign, evidence that dates the bars between 367 and 375 (Valentinian I, Valens, Gratian); the treasure is therefore coincidental with the Goths' great 'collapse' of 376–380, which began with their migration across the Danube and ended with Athanaric's flight. It also offers evidence of the collapse, for the Krászna trove had been most probably 'salvaged' from the Gothic treasury by someone fleeing through the Bodza pass; the refugee had hurriedly buried the gold and never found the opportunity to reclaim it. Minted in Sirmium, Thessaloniki, and Naissus, the five gold bars discovered in 1880 at Szászföldvár are part of a similar treasure; the one bar that remains also bears the image of three emperors, supposedly Valentinian II, Gratian, and Theodosius I; even if that identification is correct, the gold bars cannot date from later than 379 or 380.

The treasure unearthed at Gyergyó-Tekerőpatak-Kápolnaoldal (which was noted earlier) included not only silver jewellery but also forty silver coins and a gold solidus, the most recent coin, dating from the reign of Gratian (367–383). The latter coin also coincides with the period of the collapse; it thus offers a useful guide to dating the jewels and ornaments in this trove, which were noted earlier in the analysis of Visigothic society. At Maroscsapó, a commoner buried his tiny fortune of 15 coins, the latest of which are four pieces minted under Valerian I (364–375). Another, somewhat wealthier, commoner buried his life savings of 75 coins near {1-171.} Zernyest, in Törcsvár Pass (yet another case of a treasure concealed in the course of flight through a mountain pass!); the latest mintages are those of Valentinian I, Gratian, and, allegedly, Valentinian II, and all fit into the period 376–380. The 83 bronze coins buried at Szamosújvár probably constitute a fortune that a family had amassed over a long period; 56 of them are the mintage of Valerian I, Valens, and Gratian, extending up to 375, which gives an accurate indication that the catastrophe struck the Goths of northern Transylvania in the same way and at the same time as elsewhere. In southern Transylvania, a purse full of coins, minted under Valentinian I and Valens, was found buried in the Roman amphitheatre at Várhely.

The most important trove is that of Tekerőpatak, for none of the other Visigothic burial sites — some sixty in all — yielded fibulae, clasps, and pendants of a later type than those in this treasure. A sign of the generalized catastrophe is that between 376 and 381, Visigothic burial grounds fell into disuse; how many of the people who had used these cemeteries fled and scattered in the lands north of the Danube is not known. The region of the lower Danube entered a new period: that of Hun rule.


The Visigoths had destroyed the fortresses, towns, and villages of Roman Dacia. Worse still, during their century-long rule, whatever survived the wars was allowed to go to ruin, including, notably the gold mines; the gold-mining districts were known as an uninhabited wilderness throughout the early Middle Ages. The Goths made as little of the Roman way of life as the Alamanni, who had occupied the Agri Decumates (lying between the Rhine, Neckar, and Danube rivers) and Western Raetia at the very same time that the Goths took over Dacia. The land seized by the Alamanni projected into the rich Rhine and Danubian provinces and was no {1-172.} smaller than the Transylvanian part of Dacia occupied by the Romans. It had been conquered by the Romans a quarter of a century earlier, during the reign of the Flavii. Its border, the Raetian limes, was protected from Germanic attacks by the Roman empire's 'Great Wall'; within the province, the Romans erected a chain of fortresses almost unequalled in the whole empire. After the Alamanic invasion, the abandoned fortresses and inner settlements were overgrown by forests, and their names were not preserved by the Germans, who sought only ploughland and pasture. The tiny remnant of the 'Roman' population was assimilated by the conquerors. This contemporaneous episode may well bear similarities to the fate of Roman Dacia.