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The Slovakia Historic Collections Exhibition
History of Slovakia
This article is part of a series
|Principality of Nitra|
|Kingdom of Hungary
|History of Czechoslovakia|
|Slovaks in Czechoslovakia
|Slovak People’s Republic
|Slovak Soviet Republic
|Slovak National Uprising
|Slovaks in Czechoslovakia
|Slovak Socialist Republic (1969–1990)|
v • d • e
This article discusses the history of the territory of Slovakia.
Radiocarbon dating puts the oldest surviving archaeological artifacts from Slovakia – found near Nové Mesto nad Váhom – at 270,000 BCE, in the Early Paleolithic era. These ancient tools, made by the Clactonian technique, bear witness to the ancient habitation of Slovakia.
Other stone tools from the Middle Paleolithic era (200,000 – 80,000 BCE) come from the Prepost cave (Prepoštská jaskyňa) near Bojnice and from other nearby sites. The most important discovery from that era is a Neanderthal cranium (c. 200,000 BCE), discovered near Gánovce, a village in northern Slovakia.
Archaeologists have found prehistoric Homo sapiens skeletons in the region, as well as numerous objects and vestiges of the Gravettian culture, principally in the river valleys of Nitra, Hron, Ipeľ, Váh and as far as the city of Žilina, and near the foot of the Vihorlat, Inovec, and Tribeč mountains, as well as in the Myjava Mountains. The most well-known finds include the oldest female statue made of mammoth-bone (22 800 BCE), the famous Venus of Moravany. The figurine was found in the 1940s in Moravany nad Váhom near Piešťany. Numerous necklaces made of shells from Cypraca thermophile gastropods of the Tertiary period have come from the sites of Moravany-Žákovská, Podkovice, Hubina and Radošina. These findings provide the most ancient evidence of commercial exchanges carried out between the Mediterranean and Central Europe.
Discovery of tools and pottery in several archaeological digs and burial places scattered across Slovakia, surprisingly including northern regions at relatively high altitudes, gives evidence of human habitation in the Neolithic period. The pottery found in Želiezovce, Gemer, and the Bukové hory massif is characterized by remarkable modeling and delicate linear decoration. It also reveals the first attempts at coloring. This deliberate adornment shows a developed aesthetic sense of the Neolithic craftsmen.
Important archaeological discoveries have been made in several formerly-inhabited caves. For example, humans inhabited the famous Domica cave, almost 6000 meters long, to a depth of 700 meters. This cave offers one of the biggest Neolithic deposits in Europe. The tribes who created the pottery from the Massif Bukové hory inhabited Domica continuously for more than 800 years.
The transition to the Neolithic era in Central Europe featured the development of agriculture and the clearing of pastures, the first smelting of metals at the local level, the “Retz” style pottery and also fluted pottery. During the “fluted-pottery” era, people built several fortified sites. Some vestiges of these remain today, especially in high-altitude areas. Pits surround the most well-known of these sites at Nitriansky Hrádok. Starting in the Neolithic era, the geographic location of present-day Slovakia hosted a dense trade-network for goods such as shells, amber, jewels and weapons. As a result, it became an important hub in the system of European trade routes.
 Bronze Age
The Bronze Age on the territory of Slovakia went through three stages of development, stretching from 2000 to 800 BCE. Major cultural, economic, and political development can be attributed to the significant growth in production of copper, especially in central Slovakia (for example in Špania Dolina) and north-west Slovakia. Copper became a stable source of prosperity for the local population. After the disappearance of the Čakany and Velatice cultures, the Lusatian people expanded building of strong and complex fortifications, with the large permanent buildings and administrative centers. Excavations of Lusatian hill forts document the substantial development of trade and agriculture at that period.
The richness and the diversity of tombs increased considerably. The inhabitants of the area manufactured arms, shields, jewelry, dishes, and statues. The arrival of tribes from Thrace disrupted the people of the Calenderberg culture, who lived in the hamlets located on the plain (Sereď), and also in the hill forts located on the summits (Smolenice, Molpí). The local power of the “Princes” of the Hallstatt culture disappeared in Slovakia during the last period of the Iron Age after strife between the Scytho-Thracian people and the Celtic tribes, who advanced from the south towards the north, following the Slovak rivers.
 Iron Age and the Roman era
A Celtic coin minted in Bratislava and its replica on a modern 5-koruna coin.
The victory of the Celts marked the beginning of the late Iron Age in the region. Two major Celtic tribes living in Slovakia were Cotini and Boii. Cotini were probably identical or made significant part of so-called Púchov culture. The Celts built large oppida in Bratislava and Liptov (the Havránok shrine). Silver coins with the names of Celtic kings, the so-called Biatecs, represent the first known use of writing in Slovakia. Celtic dominance disappeared with the Germanic incursions, the victory of Dacia over the Boii near the Neusiedler See, and the expansion of the Roman Empire.
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