Dacia Ripensis

Dacia Ripensis (lit.'riparian Dacia') was the name of a Roman province in the northern Balkan peninsula, immediately south of the Middle Danube.[1] Its capital was Ratiaria (modern Archar, Bulgaria).[2] It was a district less urban than neighbouring Dacia Mediterranea and more militarized; "military camps and forts, rather than cities, were typical of the province".[3] Besides Ratiaria, Oescus was the major settlement.[3]

Dacia Ripensis
Provincia Dacia Ripensis
Δακία Παραποτάμια (Greek)
Province of Roman Empire
c. 283 – 586

The northern Balkans, including Dacia Ripensis, in the 6th century
CapitalRatiaria (now in Vidin Province, Bulgaria)
 Evacuation of Dacia Traiana, creation of Dacia Aureliana
 Dacia Aureliana partitioned
before AD 285 280s
 Devastated by Avar invasion
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Dacia Aureliana
Pannonian Avars

Dacia Ripensis was one of the "Two Dacias" established south of the Danube in the late 3rd century.[1] The Roman emperor Aurelian (r. 270–275) abandoned the province of Roman Dacia established by Trajan (r. 98–117) in 106 AD on the northern bank of the river, and created the two new "Dacias" between the existing provinces of Moesia Prima (upstream) and Moesia Secunda (downstream).[1][3] The northern part of Aurelian's Dacia Aureliana is attested as "Dacia Ripensis" in 343/4.[1] The southern part, with its capital at Serdica (modern Sofia) was known as Dacia Mediterranea.[1]

According to the Laterculus Veronensis, both provinces were part of the Diocese of Moesiae after the empire was divided into dioeceses during the reign of Constantine the Great (r. 306–337), but by the time of the Notitia Dignitatum they were part of the Diocese of Thrace. According to the Notitia, Dacia Ripensis was governed by a praeses, while the governor of Dacia Mediterranea was a more senior consularis. Dacia Ripensis was under the authority of the Praetorian prefecture of Illyricum.

Dacia Ripensis flourished in the mid-4th century, and some forts on the northern bank of the Danube were recovered by the Romans. In the 5th century Priscus described Ratiaria as large and densely populated. In the 6th century, Hierocles's Late Greek Synecdemus identifies Ratiera as the principal city of the province, calling the province Δακία Παραποτάμια, Dakía Parapotámia, 'Dacia-by-the-river', though Procopius referred to it as Ῥιπησία, Rhipēsía.[4]

In 535, emperor Justinian I (527-565) created the Archbishopric of Justiniana Prima as a regional primacy with ecclesiastical jurisdiction over all provinces of the Diocese of Dacia, including the province of Dacia Ripensis.[5]

Excavated ruins of fortifications at Oescus (after restoration)
Excavated ruins at Felix Romuliana (after anastylosis)