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In ancient geography, especially in Roman sources, Dacia was the land inhabited by the Dacians or Getae as they were known by the Greeks—a branch of the Thracians north of the Haemus range.

Dacia was bounded in the south approximately by the Danubius river (Danube), in Greek sources the Istros, or at its greatest extent, by the Haemus Mons (the Balkan Mountains). Moesia (Dobruja), a region south of the Danube, was a core area where the Getae lived and interacted with the Ancient Greeks. In the east it was bounded by the Pontus Euxinus (Black Sea) and the river Danastris (Dniester), in Greek sources the Tyras. But several Dacian settlements are recorded between the rivers Dniester and Hypanis (Bug River), and the Tisia (Tisza) to the west.

At times Dacia included areas between the Tisza and the Middle Danube. The Carpathian Mountains were located in the middle of Dacia. It thus corresponds to the present day countries of Romania and Moldova, as well as smaller parts of Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, and Ukraine.

Dacians (or Getae) were North Thracian tribes Dacian tribes had both peaceful and military encounters with other neighboring tribes, such as Celts, Ancient Germanics, Sarmatians, and Scythians, but were most influenced by the Ancient Greeks and Romans.

Dacian symbols.
Dacian symbols
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The extinct Dacian language developed from Proto-Indo-European (PIE), possibly in the Carpathian region sometime in the period 3000-1500 BC. The language was probably extinct by AD 600. In the 1st century AD, it was probably the predominant language of the ancient regions of Dacia and Moesia and possibly of some surrounding regions.

While there is unanimous agreement among scholars that Dacian was an Indo-European language, there are divergent opinions about its place within the IE family: (1) Dacian was a dialect of the extinct Thracian language, or vice versa e.g. Baldi (1983) and Trask (2000). (2) Dacian was a language distinct from Thracian but related to it, belonging to the same branch of the Indo-European family (a "Thraco-Dacian", or "Daco-Thracian" branch has been theorised by some linguists). (A dated view, now largely rejected, considered the extinct Phrygian language also to belong to the same branch as Dacian and Thracian). (3) Dacian was a language unrelated to either Thracian or Phrygian, each of these languages belonging to different branches of IE e.g. Georgiev (1977) and Duridanov (1985).

The Dacian language is poorly documented. Unlike for Phrygian, which is documented by several inscriptions, only one Dacian inscription is believed to have survived. The Dacian names for a number of medicinal plants and herbs may survive in ancient literary texts, including about 60 plant-names in Dioscorides. About 1,150 personal names and 900 toponyms may also be of Dacian origin. A few hundred words in modern Albanian and Romanian may have originated in ancient Balkan languages such as Dacian (see List of Romanian words of possible Dacian origin). Linguists have reconstructed about 100 Dacian words from placenames using established techniques of comparative linguistics, although only 20-25 such reconstructions had achieved wide acceptance by 1982.

There is scholarly consensus that Dacian was a member of the Indo-European family of languages. These descended, according to the two leading theories of the expansion of IE languages, from a proto-Indo European (proto-IE) tongue that originated in an urheimat ("original homeland") in S. Russia/ Caucasus region, (Kurgan hypothesis) or in central Anatolia (Anatolian hypothesis). According to both theories, proto-IE reached the Carpathian region no later than ca. 2,500 BC. Supporters of both theories have suggested this region as IE's secondary urheimat, in which the differentiation of proto-IE into the various European language-groups (e.g. Italic, Germanic, Balto-Slavic, Celtic) began. There is thus considerable support for the thesis that Dacian developed in the Carpathian region during the third millennium BC, although its evolutionary pathways remains uncertain.


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