The remains of Diana, one of the largest and best preserved Roman and early Byzantine forts (castrums) on the Danube, are located on a high cliff above the Danube in Karataš, in the vicinity of Kladovo. Diana fortress was built of cut stone, at the time of the Emperor Trajan, probably in 100-101 AD, at the time when the canal was dug and when a safer navigation on the Danube was enabled. The Danube is very turbulent in this section, with many eddies, rapids and underwater rocks that make the navigation almost impossible, which is precisely the reason why the Emperor Trajan built a canal parallel to the Danube, connected with the impassable section that had prevented a smooth navigation on the Danube. Diana is a rectangular castrum measuring 100m by 200m, with reentrant towers on the walls. Fortress Diana received its final form in the late 3rd and early 4th century, by addition of the walls with protruding towers that stretch towards the Danube, closing and guarding a part of the bank.
The Huns destroyed the fort Diana around the middle of the 5th century, and was rebuilt under Emperor Justinian, around 530 AD. In addition to the remains of the walls with gates and towers, military barracks and other structures were discovered inside the fort Diana, along with a sanctuary, a necropolis and a small settlement above the walls. Exceptional archaeological material (various items for everyday use, statues of marble and bronze) indicates that in addition to defending the channel, Diana was also an important economic centre with a wharf.
Diana is an ancient fortified settlement on the Danube. It is located in Karataš, downstream from the HPP Đerdap I. The fortification was built as one of the base camps for the Dacian Wars and to secure the navigation on the Danube. Nowadays, the remains of the fort are preserved, with archaeological excavations being carried out within the site. Diana is an archaeological site of great importance, and as such is protected by the Republic of Serbia.
The fort was built in the late 1st century, during the reign of Emperor Trajan, during his preparations for the conquest of Dacia (the so-called Dacian Wars). In addition, the fortress guarded channels which enabled navigation on the Danube, as they circumvented cataracts. The fort was first restored in the 3rd century, while two additional walls stretching down to the Danube were added in the early 4th century.
It was partially burned by Goths during their invasion of the Balkans, in 378 AD, after which it was restored as one of the defensive imperial forts on the Danube from barbarian raids. But then it was damaged again by the Huns, in 443 AD. Within the great conquests and securing the territory of the Byzantine Empire that had been undertaken during the reign of Justinian, Diana was restored once again in the early 6th century. The fortress was finally ruined in 596 AD, during the incursion of the Slavs and Avars into the Balkans.
The fort has the foundation in the form of a rounded rectangle, in which the south and north sides are shorter and with towers planted in its vertices. It had four gates (one on each side), reinforced by semi-circular towers, except the north gate (facing the Danube), which was guarded by two ordinary three-sided square towers. In addition to towers which were parts of the gates and those at the vertices of the foundations, the walls were reinforced with two towers on the north and south sides respectively, and with three towers on the east and west sides of fort. The towers at the vertices of the south side, as well as the semi-circular towers at the south gate were slightly bigger and harder than those on the north side, because the greatest threat for Diana was coming from the inland.
The rectangular foundations were expanded in the early 4th century with two additional walls, descending towards the Danube and with a tower located at both ends. The first wall was protruding as an extension of the west wall from the north-west vertex strait down towards the Danube (much like the expansion in Kladovo (Fetislam)), while the other was protruding as an extension of the northeast vertex towards northeast.
In the course of the archaeological excavations of the site, in addition to the remains of fortifications, the remains of several buildings in the interior were also discovered. Wikipedia contains even more multimedia files related to: Fort Diana. A multi-naved structure with an apse which had underfloor heating, principium with a portico, dated to the period 1st-2nd century, military barracks, dated to the period 3rd-4th century, latrine, i.e. sewage drain, dated to the period 1st-2nd century.
Outside the walls, the existence of a sanctuary has been established, the remains of the Martyrium and a part of a necropolis have been explored, as well as a part of the settlement that stretched west from the military camp. The first trench excavations were initiated in 1964 and, except for a few disruptions, are continuing until the present day. The explored structures have been conserved.
Roman fortress – castrum is at present located about 2 km downstream of HPP Đerdap I, along the route of the modern road Belgrade-Tekija-Kladovo, on a rocky, slightly elevated bank of the Danube, known as Karataš (Black Rock).
Owing to its natural position, together with the fortress Pontes in the vicinity of Trajan's bridge, about 12 km downstream, is the only one of the many shoreline forts and Roman military-technical installations with a road that, by a happy coincidence, remained beyond the reach of Đerdap reservoir high water.
Fortress Diana, as well as Pontes, belongs to the archetypal Roman fortresses. By its area of over 3 hectares, it was certainly one of the greatest auxiliary fortresses/castrums on the Roman limes.
It is considered one of the most complexly excavated forts on the Roman (Upper Moesian) limes in general and together with the Pontes, because of its historical significance and preservation, has the status of a monument of great importance for the Republic of Serbia. Protection zone covers the wider area of the fortress. As a segment of the Roman Empire limes, it is potentially in the UNESCO World Heritage List, together with Tabula Traiana and the bridge and the fortress Pontes.
Bysystematic archaeological research and excavations, it is covered, as well as a number of locations downstream, by a programme of long-term measures for integrated heritage conservation in the large Project Đerdap – Project Diana. Ever since 1978/79, when they have been initiated, these works have been carried out continuously, with shorter interruptions and with varying intensity until today, under the leadership of J. (Rankov) Kondić, museum consultant of the National Museum in Belgrade (and director of the Archaeological Museum of Đerdap since 1996).
Only 1/3 of the total area of the fort has been researched until 2012, with a smaller portion of the nearest environment, the territory of the settlement, with necropoles.
The question of the exact name and the ubication of the Station Diana – the town of Zanes/polichnion Zanes (it was mentioned under this name in early Byzantine sources), has definitely been settled with the discovery of a votive base with a dedication to the Egyptian god Thoth, that was discovered here in 1981. Except for the dedication, the full name of this place was also mentioned on it, STATIO CATARACTARUM DIANA - DIANA CATARACT STATION.
Thename Diana is of Roman origin, linked with the name of a Roman goddess, and in addition to epigraphic sources and descriptions, Diana, DA(cia)R(ipensis)DIANA occurs on the seals of many Roman bricks, which have been discovered here and which were produced from the 3rd century onwards.
Diana, located on the Danube’s cataract Iron Gate, was a continually occupied military post for 600 years, ever since the time of August/Tiberius (the transition from the Old to the New Era). After the construction of Trajan's canal in 101 AD, it became an unavoidable node and the intersection point of the main river and land routes.
According to archaeological data, it has been established that the military garrison of Diana consisted of the combined troops, units of infantry, cavalry (and the fleet), detachments of the Roman Moesian legions, V Macedonica, VII Claudia, IIII Flavia, XIII Gemina. Up to now, the auxiliary troops, VI Thracum and V Gallorum, have been also confirmed through the inscriptions.
During the systematic campaigns, archaeological excavations and research of the Roman fortress Diana, the most complete, accurate data on the development stages and construction techniques have been obtained, the elements necessary for the reconstruction of the general (urban) plan of development stages of this auxiliary post. The first, oldest fortress (T I), with an almost square foundations, with walls of compacted clay, stone, with a wooden palisade, reinforced by a wooden skeleton and storeyed towers, framed with additional two outer, sharp moats, was built at the time of establishing the Roman border and laying the route of the military road along the Danube, for detachments of the first of the Moesian legions – IIII Scythica and V Macedonica (Julian-Claudian-Flavian position).
Another, larger, also quadrangular fortress (T II), was built at the same place, according to a similar, classic division scheme of the fortification interior. It is divided into three unequal parts by axial axes, according to a new architectural programme, at the time of Trajan's restoration of the limes (998/9 - 105/6 AD). This basic plan, with reconstructions, was also kept in subsequent centuries, during the reign of immediate successors, as well as during the late Roman period and, partly, through the early Byzantine period, when the area of the fort had been increased to more than 3 hectares, by constructing fortified annex toward the edge of the plateau (4th-6th century).
In these uncertain times, structures of the fortress were destroyed in conflicts with nations and groups of different tribes, which advanced from the hinterland of the left bank of the Danube, from the middle of the 3rd, 4th/5th to 6th/7th century, from the edge of the borders of the Roman Empire (Goths – Germanic tribes, Huns, Avars, Slavs... and others). In the period of the second half of 4th-6th century (T III), after extensive destruction, stone structures were thoroughly reconstructed, while parts of intact, well-preserved ramparts were reinforced from within. In this period, powerful, multi-story towers of various shapes (square, horseshoe, rectangular, polygonal) were added outside the walls, typical of the late Roman Empire and early Byzantine period (from Aurelian-Diocletian and Constantine I and heirs to the throne, until Justinian’s great and fundamental restoration of a Roman-Late Roman limes (527-565 AD).
Through thecurrent systematic archaeological research (until 2012), its strong, well-preserved arched stone walls have been discovered, with 19 quadrangular, inner towers (of 22, in total), all four of the main gates, positioned on all sides of the fort (porta praetoria, decumana, principalis sinistra and dextra), one of the two main thoroughfares, general headquarters building (principium) with a portico in the centre of their intersection (via praetoria-via principalis), a warehouse for the storage of food (horreum) near the main north gate (porta praetoria), late Roman military barracks (contubernia) along the south gate (porta decumana), sanitary facilities – public bath/latrinum, balneum with a drainage channel beneath the walls (the northwest corner of the fort), a number of furnaces, workshops (from different periods), and two, representative, special purposes large structures with semi-circular conches/apses on narrower sides. They were constructed by repairing/ renovating older structures during the Late Roman period (4th/5th century), one of which has a preserved central heating system (oriented north-south), and the other, where the research is in progress (oriented east-west), has a perfectly preserved capacity for running water/pools (4), with preserved lead and clay pipes of varying cross-section. A solidly built and well-preserved underground Crypt/Crypta with 4 niches facing each other (Christian church in the last phase) was also discovered outside the immediate area of T II (north of the North Gate). The overground structure has not been preserved (the lowest part of the foundation of upper walls remained partly visible, with a parapet panel, also preserved).
This early Roman, late Roman and early Byzantine auxiliary fortress/castrum, the Roman station/statio was also surrounded by a large and significant settlement, a wharf and necropoles. Natural, as well as a strategically advantageous position was decisive to develop here an urban settlement, which early Byzantine sources mention as a town Zanes/polichnion Zanes. Although its large parts were destroyed by rapid industrialization, research has so far located the main roads and the necropoles and, according to the location of some of the findings, it is possible to perceive its size, too, in its widest limits of propagation, from the northern point of the Trajan’s Canal (upstream of HPP Đerdap I) to Kladušnica (Kladovo), with the gravitating, mountainous hinterland and the islands.
This sector of the limes at the Danube’s cataract Iron Door, both upstream and downstream of Diana with the Trajan canal, was defended with a few more fortified Roman military posts and installations, discovered at the mouth of the Đevrinski creek, Kašajna and Kosovica, the island Adakale/Adakaleh and Bansko/Banului (Transdiana), then downstream of Kladovo – Shipyard (Customs/Butorke) and near the Kladovo ferry (on the left, Romanian bank), identified on the right, Serbian, bank, based on literary sources, such as Ducis Pratum, Caput Bovis, Transdiana...
Decades of research of Diana have yielded an exceptionally numerous and valuable archaeological material. Diana is known for findings of exceptional artistic craftsmanship and beauty, some of which are world’s museum rarities. This rich archaeological collection, which has been collected by systematic excavations (Đerdap Project-Project Diana), is kept and exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Đerdap, in Kladovo (a part of its collection is, unfortunately, still in the Negotin Museum).
Parts of architectural elements can be seen at the site itself, at the fortress Diana, which is being regularly maintained and is open to visitors.