The Romanian Who Lives like a Dacian High in the Carpathian Mountains
Somewhere high up in the Carpathian Mountains, there is a deserted village known as Craiva Veche. This village is a short distance away from an ancient Dacian fortress of Apulon. Here now resides a single blacksmith, a man as if transported in time from 2,000 years ago. Emanuel Bezeriţă, also known as Komakiza after a Dacian mercenary soldier in Egypt, built himself a small hut and workshop in the deserted village of Craiva Veche. He’s working with the same tools his ancestors did during Roman times.
The Dacians were a group of ancient peoples who inhabited the region known as Dacia, located in the area in and around the Carpathian Mountains and west of the Black Sea. This area now includes the countries of present-day Romania, Moldova, as well as parts of Ukraine, Eastern Serbia, Northern Bulgaria, Slovakia, Hungary and Southern Poland. They were contemporaries of the ancient Romans, and are now the people on who Romanians place their cultural ancestry.
The village of Craiva Veche was deserted some 50 years ago due to some severe landslides which took place in the region. The only building left standing was the village church whose ruined walls were made from stones found in the ancient Dacian fortress of Apulon. This was the last stronghold conquered by the Romans when they invaded Dacia at the beginning of the 1st century AD and is believed to be King Decebal’s last refuge before he took his own life. Locate some 18 kilometers away from the town of Alba Iulia, Emanuel moved here in order to have the peace and quiet he so desperately wanted for making his metal creations.
With the exception of a phone and internet connection, he lives exactly like his ancestors did all those years ago. High up in the Carpathian Mountains, there are no such thing as electricity, plumbing or asphalt.
Next to the hut he built himself, he also made a blacksmith workshop, covered with animal hides and sporting a Celtic anvil in the middle. Here he crafts the feared Dacian weapons which terrified the Roman soldiers centuries ago. The famous Dacian sword, the falx, a two-handed sword with the blade on the inside, capable of tremendous downward cutting power, capable of slicing through metal helmets and cutting through shields. This is the weapon Komakiza prides himself with, but not the only one he makes at his forge in the mountains.
“What I’m doing here is focused on craftsmanship, nature, and is a sanctuary for me. I’m trying to put this region’s historic past into the spotlight, as well as the craft of blacksmithing, which is all but lost.
I think I’m among the youngest blacksmiths in the country (42 years old). There are other blacksmiths, sure, but they’re old and nobody wants to learn the craft these days,” said Komakiza.
Emanuel plans to build an archaeological park in Craiva Veche.
“I want to build a blacksmith, a pottering, and carpentering workshop. My vision is for this place to be a special place, open for all those who want to see how weapons and tools were made during ancient times. I am the only one in Romania who exclusively makes these kinds of objects and I now make a living out o them,” said Emanuel.
“It will be a place for a different kind of people. It will be a place where people will learn history and culture, and where one can live in harmony with nature. It is a perfect place for several people or a family to see how to manufacture metal through ancient techniques and even learn for themselves if they want to. There’s even a guided tour of the ancient Dacian fortress,” he continues.
Besides falx swords, Emanuel also crafts knives, spoons, spears, breastplates, bows, and chain-mails. He also makes jewelry and other decorative objects like in the days of old. Komakiza has worked tirelessly for 45 days on a scale armor, made out of over 1,500 individual small armor scales (plates), mounted on a leather harness.