Magdalene Mountain

Magdalene Mountain

Located north of Grosuplje in the small settlement of Zgornja Slivnica, at an elevation of 505 metres, Magdalene Mountain has been a strategic communication, defence, and economic site since the early Iron Age.

Archaeological research has revealed continuous settlement from the early Iron Age (Hallstatt period) through the Celtic invasion to the Roman occupation era. This long history is evidenced by 28 visible burial mounds, where hundreds of graves have been excavated.

The settlement structure, oriented north-south, is divided into two parts: the upper part, where the Church of St. Magdalene now stands, and the lower, longer plateau part along the ridge, ending with the main southern entrance to the settlement. The upper settlement structure was designed in terraces (Kernc, 2019).

The rich archaeological heritage unearthed from numerous graves in large mounds speaks of over a millennium of settlement. The most valuable and well-preserved finds date back to the Iron Age, including bronze situlae, weapons and other military equipment, various clasps, and decorative jewellery. A decorative plate in the form of a four-armed cross with horse heads, found here, forms the basis for the coat of arms of the Grosuplje municipality.

In the broader area of Magdalene Mountain, there once was a prehistoric settlement with artificially made terraces and defensive embankments. Its diverse historical and archaeological significance ranks Magdalene Mountain among the most renowned archaeological sites in Slovenia.

The first permanent settlement in the broader Šmarje area, as per Western civilisation’s history (counted from Greek culture), was established in the 8th century BC on the Magdalene mountain,a hill northeast of Šmarje. At that time, the valley where Grosuplje and Šmarje now stand was marshier, l eading to primary settlements on hilltops. This community was one of the larger ones in the Dolenjska region at the time, rivalling only the community near Vir pri Stični. The quantity of tools, weapons, and pottery found suggests significant trade and military importance.

Their settlement in this area was no coincidence. During the Iron Age, iron use increased, and in the Šmarje area, iron was practically everywhere on the ground. Their community was hierarchically organised, and their power transition rituals are depicted on situlae found here,narrating ceremonies held on this hill 2500 years ago.The community peaked in the 5th century BC, gradually declined, and eventually integrated into the Roman Empire in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC. The decorative plate in the form of a four-armed cross with horse heads, found at Magdalene mountain, is the basis for the coat of arms of the Grosuplje municipality.

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