Havránok is an important archaeological site in northern Slovakia. It is located on a hill above the Liptovská Mara water. The archaeologists unearthed a prehistoric Celtic hill fort and a medieval wooden castle in the 1960s, during the construction of the Liptovská Mara dam. Both objects have been partially reconstructed. During the Iron Age and the Roman Era, the shrine of Havránok was an important religious center of the Celts living in Slovakia.
The Havránok hill fort was an important religious, economic, and political center of the Púchov culture (300 BCE - 180 CE), in which the dominant Celtic tribe of Cotini mingled with the older people of the Lusatian culture. The prosperous oppidum was destroyed along with other Celtic settlements in Slovakia around the beginning of the Common Era either by the Germanic tribe of Quadi or by Dacians.
A medieval wooden castle existed near the remnants of the ancient hill fort from the 11th to 15th century CE.
The hill fort was a religious center of the Celts living in northern Slovakia. Its wooden shrine was built in the 1st century BCE around an exceptionally high wooden column, probably a totem or a statue. Excavation of a ritual pit situated near this central cult object revealed bones of at least seven people sacrificed during druidic rituals. The victims were beaten to death, quartered, and in some cases also burnt. Parts of their bodies were subsequently thrown into the pit. A large number of agricultural tools in the vicinity of the pit indicate that human sacrifices may have served to insure a good harvest.
The shrine also included a number of smaller wooden columns, with burnt offerings (mostly jewels, agricultural products, and animals) buried next to them.
In addition to the shrine, the reconstructed buildings include a fortified gateway of the hill fort with a part of the stone walls (120-50 BCE), farmstead (300-100 BCE), a pottery kiln (300-100 BCE), and huts from various periods.
In the Iron Age and the Roman Era, Havránok was surrounded by several Celtic villages. Some of them were inundated by Liptovská Mara reservoir. The small medieval castle is also partially reconstructed and the whole area of Havránok is now an open air museum. The site was proclaimed the national cultural monument in 1967.References:
Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia, occupying the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms.
Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic peculiarity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world.
A traditionally and historically Iranian city, the first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BC. The site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BC. Until the 4th century AD, it was part of Caucasian Albania which was a satrap of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In the 5th century Derbent functioned as a border fortress and the seat of Sassanid Persians. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs.
The Sassanid fortress does not exist any more, as the famous Derbent fortress as it stands today was built from the 12th century onward. Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.
The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century. Today the fortifications consist of two parallel defence walls and Naryn-Kala Citadel. The walls are 3.6km long, stretching from the sea up to the mountains. They were built from stone and had 73 defence towers. 9 out of the 14 original gates remain.
In Naryn-Kala Citadel most of the old buildings, including a palace and a church, are now in ruins. It also holds baths and one of the oldest mosques in the former USSR.
In 2003, UNESCO included the old part of Derbent with traditional buildings in the World Heritage List.