The Marcus Aurelius column and Slovakia

From the 1st to 4th centuries the territory of Slovakia, inhabited at the time by members of Germanic tribes, was in close contact with the Ancient World. As well as trade and cultural influence, there were also wars between the Romans and Germani. The most serious fighting took place from 160 to 180, known as the Marcomanni Wars. The Romans won, led by Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Even though the emperor himself died on the battlefield, a victim of the plague, a 30m triumphal column was built in his honour in Rome. It still stands there today. The column depicts battles, including events which took place on the territory of Slovakia. At the end of the nineteenth century, moulds were made from some of the scenes and stored in Berlin; staff from the SNM – Museum of Archaeology were able to find them. Three scenes (the Roman border, the so-called miraculous rain and the Barbarians being led into captivity) were cast and transported to the museum, where they are on display. Their significance is highlighted by the fact that this is the very earliest iconographic evidence from the territory of Slovakia.