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The oldest traces of human activity on the territory of present day Caras-Severin County, dating back to the Middle Paleolithic, were discovered within the boundaries of the Baile Herculane thermal resort (80,000 – 70,000 BC) and at Tincova (first open-air Paleolithic settlement in Banat). The Bronze Age (1,800 – 800 BC) is represented by the discovery of human settlements on Barzava Valley, while the human settlements at Coltan, Bocsa, Ocna de Fier, Oravita, Bania, Sasca Montana are representative for the Iron Age (1,200 BC – 1st century AD).

Ruins of a Roman construction — Caras-Severin County
Photo credit: (c) Paula NEAMTU / AGERPRES ARCHIVE

In the heyday of Dacia, during the reign of kings Burebista and Decebalus, this area was well populated and incorporated many localities and citadels of great importance. After the Daco-Roman wars (101-102 and 105-106) and the conquest of Dacia by the Romans, the province of Banat (including the present territory of Caras-Severin) was part of Dacia Superior, and after the year 156 AD it became part of Dacia Malvensis.

During the Roman rule, this region experienced a significant development proven by the presence of numerous Roman camps discovered at Varadia (Arcidava), Mehadia (Ad Mediam), Berzovia (Berzobis), Jupa (Tibiscum), Teregova (Ad Pannonios) and by Dacian settlements, including Aizis (today’s Farliug) or Acmonia (Zavoi) etc.

The rock drawings discovered in the Gura Chindiei cave in Alibeg are of major importance, as they confirm the continuity of the habitation of this region by the indigenous population; this is also where one of the oldest Cyrillic inscriptions in Romania was discovered, dating from the 10th — 11th century. Traces of blast furnaces to reduce iron ore were uncovered within the boundaries of the localities Ghertenis, Ramna, Bocsa etc.

The present-day territory of Caras-Severin County has experienced some early forms of indigenous socio-political organization. Thus, at the end of the first millennium and in the early second millennium, this area saw the voievodeship of Glad — a strong Romanian social-political formation having its center most likely at the Cuvin (Keve) citadel and with other fortifications at Carasova, Coronini, Bocsa etc. and which is mentioned in the chronicles of the time (Gesta Hungarorum or ”The Deeds of the Hungarians”, and the Legend of Saint Gerard). According to the information chronicler Anonymus set down in the Gesta Hungarorum, Glad’s voievodeship was conquered by the Hungarians, and Glad’s successor Ahtum (10th — 11th century), who moved the capital from Cuvin to Morisena (present day Cenad) was defeated after heavy battles by the Hungarians in the early eleventh century.

In 1230 the ‘Banatus Severinensis’ was founded, a military-administrative unit that included southern Banat, the Severin area and a small part of Oltenia, with the center at the Severin fortress.

The first documentary mention of the ‘Banat of Severin’ dates from 1233; governed at first by ‘ban’ Luca, the Banat became later (beginning with the reign of voivode Basarab I) a feudal estate of the rulers of Wallachia Basarab I, then Vlaicu Voda (who also called himself “banus of Zeverino”, 1368) and Mircea the Elder.
The Romanians of Banat made an active contribution to the anti-Ottoman fight, participating in the campaigns conducted first under the command of General Pippo Spano of Ozora, then under that of John Hunyadi and, in the second half of the 15th century, in the army of Timisoara stadtholder Pavel Chinezu.

The Ottoman Empire rapidly expanded north of the Danube, with the Turks occupying Buda in 1541 and Timisoara in 1552, so that a part of the territory of Banat came under the suzerainty of the Ottoman Porte and the other, known as the Banat of Lugoj and Caransebes, was under the suzerainty of the Prince of Transylvania.

The series of military conflicts opposing the Habsburg and the Ottoman Empire continued into the early 18th century, when after more than one century and a half of Ottoman rule, Banat becomes Austrian ownership under the administration of the Imperial Court in Vienna.

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, as a result of the intense political ties between southern Banat and the other Romanian provinces, culture develops effervescently in the county of Caras-Severin, which can be proven by the dissemination of books published in Transylvania, Moldova and Wallachia. Many of the nineteen Romanian books that were put out between 1640-1699 circulated in the territory of southern Banat too. “The Homiliary of Varlaam” or “The Romanian Book of Teaching” printed in Iasi in 1643 reached Vermes, and another copy was found by historian Nicolae Iorga in the attic of the church of Domasnea. The “New Testament from Belgrade” was introduced in the entire territory of Romania and got to the church of Mehadia between 1704-1705. Around 1750, a certain Peter, “a grammaticist of the Caransebes School”, owned the “Psalter” printed in Alba Iulia in 1651. The Gospel published in Bucharest in 1682, during the reign of Serban Cantacuzino, had a wide circulation on the Romanian territory, reaching the church of Zagujeni in Banat and the Luncavita church.

After the Peace of Passarowitz (1718) the Habsburg rule sets in in Banat, which is converted into an estate of the Crown. The massive deposits of coal and iron ore favored the development, earlier than in other parts of Romania, of metallurgy. The first industrial plants were built at Oravita (1718, a high blast furnace for smelting iron ore), Bocsa (1719, smelter) and Resita (1769). As of the same period, strong mining centers organize and develop at Dognecea, Bocsa, Anina, Moldova Noua etc.
Beginning with the nineteenth century, the Romanians’ struggle for the state unity and independence intensified. These goals were pursued by Tudor Vladimirescu and the participants in the Revolution of 1821, which although quashed, gave a strong new impetus to national liberation movements that culminated with the 1848 Revolution.

One of the leaders of the Romanians in Caras-Severin County, Eftimie Murgu, actively participates alongside Nicolae Balcescu and Dumitru Filipescu, beginning with 1840, in the organization of a revolutionary movement to create a unified and independent Romanian state. Caras-Severin locals fought enthusiastically for the achievement of the ancient goal of the Romanians, and Eftimie Murgu joined his former students Ion Ionescu de la Brad, Nicolae Balcescu, C.A. Rosetti in this battle. On the occasion of the meeting of June 15/27, 1848 in Lugoj Eftimie Murgu was proposed “the supreme commander of Banat”.

The Union of the principalities in 1859, a decade after the defeat of the Revolution, had a strong reverberation in Banat. After the start of the 1877-1878 military operations for acquiring state independence, despite the prohibitions, banned books and maps circulated in Caras-Severin, as in the entire region of Banat, titled ‘The Romanian Country and Modern Dacia’, which included all Romanian territories, as well as those under the Habsburg domination. Many Caransebes locals enrolled in the Romanian army.

In the coming decades they were actively involved in the fight for the national liberation, supporting the actions of the Memorandists, and at the end of WW I they took decided steps for the establishment of the Romanian national unitary state. On December 1, 1918 in Alba Iulia, the delegates of Banat too signed the historical Union Act reinforced by the more than 100,000 participants in the impressive Assembly on ‘Horea’s Field’.

After the Belgrade armistice signed in October 1918, the entire Banat was occupied by the Serbian forces. In January 1919, the Serbs withdrew from the area and the French army took over instead. Banat came under Romanian administration on July 28, 1919 and after the Paris Peace Conference of August 1919, the territorial delimitation between Serbia and the Kingdom of Romania was nailed down.

In the late nineteenth century there were two administrative units in southern Banat (Caras and Severin) which were joined in 1880) into a single administrative unit called Caras-Severin.

In 1926, the great Caras-Severin County was divided into Caras (with the rural divisions Bocsa, Bozovici, Moldova Noua, Oravita, Racasdia, Resita, and 129 communes) and Severin (with the rural divisions Balint, Birchis, Caransebes, Faget, Lugoj, Marginea, Orsova, Sacu, Teregova, with 224 communes). This organization was preserved until September 1950, when they were incorporated as districts (Mehadia, Moldova Noua, Oravita, Resita, Caransebes) in the region of Timisoara (named as of 1960 the region of Banat).

Law No. 2/17 February 1968 reinstated the county of Caras-Severin, which has since evolved within the current boundaries, and which includes two municipalities, 6 towns and 69 communes. AGERPRES

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