Important material evidence on life in the prehistoric Slovak territory is supplied by archaeological excavations which in many cases represent the only available historical source. The remains of prehistoric and ancient cultures are kept by museums throughout the country. The most significant archaeological sites preserved in the field are presented to the public as archaeological cultural monuments. The quantitative and qualitative resources of archaeological finds, the greatest of which are Bronze Age industry treasures, are testimony to the fact that during the Bronze Age Slovakia maintained active contact with Mediterranean countries and even more distant Asia. The long-term population of certain localities created several metre-deep cultural layers which have revealed many surprising artefacts.
The largest settlement discovered to date is the fortified centre of Hungarian culture in Nitriansky Hrádok, also known as the ‘Slovak Troy’. The social differentiation of Bronze Age cultures has been proven by the richly-equipped burial-mounds of tribal elders that have been found in several places, for example in Buková, Dechtice, Čaka and Očkov. Despite such active contact with other European and Asian regions, the contribution of the domestic environment, represented by the ‘Lužice’ culture, predominated. The people of the Urnfield culture developed extensive hill forts with religious sanctuaries in inaccessible terrain that were connected by a network of routes and mountain passes. The original traditions survived here even until the Late Bronze Age and Hallstatt period. The most important Hallstatt monuments include the extensive Molpír Fortified Settlement close to the village of Smolenice, the three courtyards of which ended in a stone acropolis with a sanctuary deep in the rock.
During the early Iron Age or La Tène period, the cultural as well as the ethnic situation changed more considerably and faster. In the 4th century BCE, mineral deposits attracted the Celts and their advanced La Tène culture. More than 50 La Tène settlements and burial grounds have been found up to the present day. A large Celtic fortification has been discovered in Bratislava, together with an extensive collection of Biatec coins. Recent studies at Bratislava Castle brought the findings of an extensive Celtic-Roman settlement together with the advanced material culture. It has been proven that the Slovak capital Bratislava had already been an important centre in the prehistoric period. By mixing Celtic and domestic features, the Púchov culture of the Kotins was created in the northern mountainous parts of the country. A hill fort of this culture was found at a place called Havránok (above the Liptovská Mara dam) – this has recently been reconstructed and is currently being used as an experimental archaeological open-air museum.