Halmyris: Geoarchaeology of a fluvial harbour on the Danube Delta (Dobrogea, Romania)

Matthieu Giaime, Gwenaël Magne, Alexandra Bivolaru, Emmanuel Gandouin, Nick Marriner, Christophe Morhange

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In Northern Dobrogea, north of the Dunavăţ promontory, the Roman fortress of Halmyris was founded in the late 1st century AD on a Getic settlement dating to the middle of the 1st millennium BC, probably associated with a Greek emporium of the Classical and Hellenistic periods. At the time of the foundation of Halmyris, the Danube delta had already prograded several kilometres to the east leading to the progressive retreat of the sea and the formation of a deltaic plain characterised by numerous lakes and river channels. Here, we present the results of a multiproxy study combining sedimentology and palaeoecology to (1) understand the evolution of fluvial landscapes around Halmyris since ca. 8000 years BP and (2) identify the fluvial palaeoenvironments close to the city in Getic/Greek and Roman times, in order to locate and characterise the waterfront and the harbour. Our overriding objective was to improve understanding of human–environment relations in river delta settings. We demonstrate that Halmyris, protected by the Danubian floods due to its location on a palaeo-cliff top, had direct access to the river. A secondary channel of the Saint George, flowing north of the site, has been elucidated between the 7th century BC and the 7th century AD and could have been used as a natural harbour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-327
Number of pages15
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2018.


  • Black Sea
  • Danube delta
  • Halmyris
  • fluvial harbour
  • geoarchaeology
  • geomorphology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Archaeology
  • Ecology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Paleontology


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