At the foot of the Spiš Castle

The Spiš Castle hill is a remarkable natural sight and one of the dominant landmarks of the eastern part of the Hornád Valley. It was the mineral springs in the primal ancient times which had given rise to the origin of the castle hill. They started springing out millions of years ago, during the late Tertiary Period. Nature had created a rocky acropolis protected by steep cliffs thus providing a safe haven already to prehistoric men. Equally, it had inspired the medieval builders to construct the most important fortified residence in the Spiš region. The whole of the rocky massif is inwrought with a network of crevasses and clefts which had torn it into numerous blocks and floes, slowly moving along the unstable bed. With the movement of travertine blocks the crevasses were getting bigger and some of them had acquired, in the course of time, the character of a cave space. One of them is a large crevasse which was given the name the Dark Cave. The entry to it is on the north-western side of the castle hill. In 1970 it was speleologically mapped for the first time, and in detail, by Ivan Cebecauer and Milan Liška. The cave got into a wider public awareness in 2005 when a unique find of human skeleton remains was published. It was discovered in situ with the Roman coins, two leather purses and other artefacts. Until recently nobody knew that this was not the first remarkable find from this area.
When building up the museum exposition at the Spiš Castle in 1985, they came across a prehistoric earthen amphora, in the permanent exhibits illustrating the prehistoric settlement of the castle hill and its surroundings, with characteristic features close to the Baden culture. It was registered as an archaeological find from the Spiš Castle, without any further accompanying information. However, it was possible to obtain further information about the find from the materials acquired as a heritage from Adrián Vallašek, head of the archaeological section of monuments research at the Spiš Castle in the years 1969 – 1978. In the discovered list of rather significant pottery finds from the above mentioned research there is also a torso of a vessel corresponding to this amphora with its description. They had managed to take it out of the undeground space during the measuring of the biggest cleft in the castle hill. According to its description it must have, undoubtedly, been the above mentioned Dark Cave. It is quite likely that, during the millennia of settlement in this locality, numerous artefacts had ended up in bigger clefts, in addition to alluvia and debris. The overall composition of the finds taken out of the cave space (ancient finds from various periods, from prehistory up to modern times) is an evidence of it. Although, they surely represent only a modest part of the objects which had been bogged down inside the castle hill over the ages. At the same time, they make us think how many other remarkable finds will, apparently, for ever stay hidden in the inaccessible space of the underground.

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