A fortress founded by roman army veterans

On the outskirts of Pantelimon one can find the ruins of one of the most interesting ancient fortresses of Dobrogea, Ulmetum. The latin name means “Elm forest”, a forest that covered most of the land 2000 years ago. The story of Ulmetum began after the conquest of Dacia in the 2rd century A.D., when Trajan and the emperors that followed him offered land in Moesia Inferior (Dobrogea) to the roman veterans as a reward for their sevices. At first, the ex-soldiers founded a small village together with Thracian families of Bessi origin.

The village location was important, both economically and geographically, being at the crossroads of commercial routes. The downside was that it attracted nomadic attacks and bands of thugs, hence the Roman Empire decided to build a castrum in the 3rd-4th century A.D., so the inhabitants could take shelter inside its walls.

A couple of hundred strong military guarded the roads, protecting the transport of grains that were likely being stored in a big storage house in Ulmetum.

At the end of the 4th century, Ulmetum became home for a few hundred Goths that had received permission from the Empire to settle in Scythia Minor. Almost continuously under attack by nomadic people, Ulmetum was abandoned and, according to the historian Procopius from Cesareea, at the beginning of the 6th century, the fortress became home for thugs and “Sclaveni barbarians”.

Emperor Justinian sent an millitary expedition to take back the fortress from the outlaws that ruled over it. The expedition was successful and the fortress was rebuilt but not for long, as in the second half of the 6th century it succumbed to the attacks of the Avars and Slavs and was finally abandoned.

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