Sites & cities that bear the name of Isaccea


Today in : Romania
First trace of activity : ca. 3,700 B.C.E
Last trace of activity : today
Recorded names : Obluczyca, Obluchitsa, Облучица, Oblucița, Genucla, Noviodounos, Νοβιόδοῦνος, Noviodunum, Sakça, Saccea, Saktzas, Σακτζας, Saka-katai?, İshakçı, Saecdji, Vicina?, Noviodunum ad Istrum

Description : Isaccea (Turkish: İshakçı) is a small town in Tulcea County, in Northern Dobruja, Romania, on the right bank of the Danube, 35 km north-west of Tulcea. According to the 2011 census, it has a population of 4,955. The town has been inhabited for thousands of years, as it is one of the few places in all the Lower Danube that can be easily forded and thus an easy link between the Balkans and the steppes of Southern Ukraine and Russia, north of the Black Sea. The Danube was for a long time the border between the Romans, later Byzantines and the "barbarian" migrating tribes in the north, making Isaccea a border town, conquered and held by dozens of different peoples. The land where the town is now has been inhabited since prehistoric times: the remains of a neolithic settlement, belonging to the Boian-Giulești culture (4100–3700 BC) were found in the northwestern part of the town, in a place known as "Suhat". The neolithic culture was succeeded by the Getae culture with Hellenistic influences. The Celts expanded their territory from Central Europe, reaching Isaccea in the 3rd century BC (see Gallic invasion of the Balkans) and giving the ancient name of town, "Noviodunum", as well as of other names in this region, such as Aliobrix, on the other side of the Danube and Durostorum further south in Dobruja. In 514 BC, Darius I of Persia fought here a decisive battle against the Scythians. A trade post was also built in this town by the Greeks. Greek authors such as Ptolemy and Hierocles name it a "polis". The town was taken by the Romans in 46 AD and became part of the Moesia province. It was fortified and became the most important military and commercial city in the area, becoming a municipium. Its ruins are located 2 km to the east of modern Isaccea on a hill known as Eski-Kale (Turkish for "Old Fortress"). In Noviodunum was the main base of the lower Danube Roman fleet named Classis Flavia Moesica, then temporarily the headquarters of the Roman Legio V Macedonica (106-167), Legio I Italica (167-) and Legio I Iovia. Around 170 AD, the Roman settlements in Dobruja were attacked by the Dacian tribe of the Costoboci, who lived in what is now Moldavia, their attack being visible in the archeological remains of Noviodunum. Further attacks continued in the 3rd century, this time by the combined forces of the Dacian tribe of the Carpi and of the Goths, the decisive battle being probably in 247. The violent invasions of the Carpi, who plundered the cities and enslaved their inhabitants, left behind many archaeological traces, including buried coin hoards and signs of destruction. The fortress of Noviodunum was probably destroyed during the raids of the Goths and Heruli, during the rule of Gallienus (267), buried hoards being found near it, including a larger treasure containing 1071 Roman coins. The raids left Noviodunum, like other urban centres in the area, depopulated, only returning to its original state toward the end of the 3rd century. During the rule of Constantine I (306-337), the Noviodunum fortress was rebuilt as part of a bigger project of restoring the Empire's borders along the Lower Danube. By the 4th century, the town also became a Christian centre. The tomb of four Roman Christian martyrs, discovered in September 1971 in nearby Niculiţel, bears the names Zotikos, Attalos, Kamasis and Philippos. They were probably killed in Noviodunum during campaigns of persecutions of early Christians by Diocletian (303-304) and Licinius (319-324), being taken out of the city and buried as martyrs by the local Christians. In 369 an important battle was fought between the Romans, led by emperor Flavius Valens and the Thervingi led by Athanaric. Valens' army crossed the river at Noviodunum (Isaccea) using a boat bridge and met the Gothic army in Bessarabia. Although Valens obtained a victory for the Romans, they retreated (possibly because of the lateness of the season) and the Goths asked for a peace treaty, which was signed in the middle of the Danube, the Goths taking an oath to never set foot on Roman soil. After the division of the Roman Empire, it became part of the Byzantine Empire and it was the most important Byzantine naval base on the Danube. Valips, a chieftain of Germanic Rugians (who were allies of the Huns), took Noviodunum sometimes between 434 and 441 and it was included in the Hunnish Empire, the area becoming a fiefdom of the Hunnish leader Hernac after Attila's death. The Slavs began to settle in early 6th century and possibly the earliest reference to their settlement in the town is Jordanes' book (written in 551) The Origin and Deeds of the Goths, which mentioned Noviodunum as an extremity of the region were the "Sclaveni" lived. The town continued to be under Byzantine rule, but it suffered the raids from other nomadic peoples, such as the Kutrigurs (559) and Avars (561-562). In the mid-6th century, Justinian I built new fortifications and made it an episcopal see. During the rule of Phocas (602-610), a massive number of Avars and Slavs crossed the Byzantine border and although their presence protected the empire from other nomads, their control became just formal, until in 681, the Byzantines recognised the First Bulgarian Empire and gave up their claims for the Scythia Minor province. For more than 300 years, Isaccea faded from history and there is no historical or archaeological evidence that the place was even inhabited.

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