No. XXXIV (2003)

Essay about Roman Ancient Times in the Region of the Đerdap in the Literary Work of Bela de Gonda

Vladimir P. Petrović
Institute for Balkan Studies, Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts

Published 01.12.2003


  • Roman Empire,
  • Balkans,
  • Iron Gates,
  • Đerdap,
  • Bela de Gonda

How to Cite

Petrović, V. P. (2003). Essay about Roman Ancient Times in the Region of the Đerdap in the Literary Work of Bela de Gonda. Balcanica - Annual of the Institute for Balkan Studies, (XXXIV), 71–95.


The purpose of this article would certainly be to take us back in time to the end of the 19th century, and to introduce us to the conditions of that time on the territory of the Iron Gate, which have been forever changed by the modern development of civilization. Along that path, we will follow the text of the very important but not well known literary work of the Hungarian engineer Bela de Gonda; L’amelioration des Portes de Fer et des autres cataracts du Bas-Danube, which was announced in Budapest in 1898. It seems that the book itself was composed for the purpose of describing enormous technical works; the construction of roads and navigable canals through ravines during the 19th century, which count István Szécenyi began in 1833. However, one completely separate segment, which is also the subject framework of our article, is dedicated to the works of the Romans on the Danube. It is marked number four and in the original text it is titled Les Travaux des Romains dans le Contrees du Bas-Danube. For the first time, translated from French, with important notes and discussions, is a short but especially important segment of Bela de Gonda’s book. Gonda tried to add to his own observations the experiences of previous researchers like Count F. Marsigli from the beginning of the 18th century, and later G. Teglas and the enthusiast G. Nevdeck and P. Vasarhelyi from the 19th century. In that manner he composed an all-inclusive review of the then current knowledge of the Iron Gate ancient times during the Roman period. Without any intention of disturbing the authentic expressions of Gonda, worthy on their own, the framework of observations points out the interpretations and realizations of modern researchers of the Iron Gate in ancient epochs. We believe that Gonda’s expressions should certainly be considered an important supplement to our overall picture of the first explorations of the Iron Gates and its antiquity from the Roman period. We should not forget to mention that Gonda’s book, in addition to the archeological segment, which this article is written about, contains important information from other scientific fields. Here it would be difficult to name every topic that Bela de Gonda still deals with, and thus we find the need to translate the entire work into Serbian so that it would be available to the entire skilled public in our country.


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