Department of Archaeology

History of the department

Comenius University Faculty of Arts building, erected in the early 20th century.
Comenius University Faculty of Arts building, erected in the early 20th century.
The Old Bridge, former Franz Joseph Bridge, built in 1890.
The Old Bridge, former Franz Joseph Bridge, built in 1890.
Present day Comenius University Faculty of Arts building.
Present day Comenius University Faculty of Arts building.
Archaeological library situated on the ground floor of the faculty building.
Archaeological library situated on the ground floor of the faculty building.

The beginning of the study of archaeology at Comenius University wasn't straightforward. Rather it was a step-by-step process. Its origins are connected with the name of J. Eisner, who in 1924 became a docent of Prehistoric Archaeology at Comenius University, followed by the title of associate professor in 1929 and tenured professor in 1934. He was the first professor of archaeology in Slovakia. In the academic year 1938/1939 he was appointed as a dean of faculty. Unfortunately, after the creation of Slovak state he left the country.

Instead of him, Prof. V. Ondrouch, an expert in classical archaeology and numismatics, started lecturing ancient history. Archaeology, as a course aimed at Slovak Prehistory and Early History, returned in 1941 with Prof. V. Budinský-Krička, who arrived from the State Archaeological Institute in Martin. He stayed at the faculty until 1951, when he was forced to leave for political reasons. In 1948 Ing. Š. Janšák entered the faculty as a prehistoric archaeology lecturer and up until 1960 he taught the basics of modern fieldwork.

The beginnings of constituting of the Department of Archaeology are linked to the Act no. 58/1950 Coll. from May 18th 1950, when previously established seminars were abolished and eight new departments, among them the Department of History and Archaeology led by historian Doc. J. Dubnický (then also the dean) were created. Archaeology had a special status as sub-department section. From December 1st 1952 it was led by Dr. J. Dekan, who in the following year became a docent and at the same time was appointed dean of the faculty. After Doc. J. Dekan's departure to the Institute of Archaeology of Slovak Academy of Sciences in Nitra in 1964. The directorship of the section was undertaken by Doc. B. Novotný, who continued as a professor (1965) at the head of the section until 1987. In years 1987 through 1989 the section was led by Prof. J. Vladár and in years 1990 and 1991 by Dr. E. Krekovič.

Within years 1960-1968 the Section of Archaeology belonged to a joint Department of Archaeology, History of Arts, Ethnography and Folklore. During the short period of years (1969 and 1970) archaeology formed a shared department with ethnography only to be assigned to the Department of History under the name used in 1950. Downright separation of the Department of Archaeology occurred in 1992. As the head of the department served consecutively: Prof. T. Štefanovičová (1991-1998), Doc. M. Slivka (1998-2001), Doc. J. Hoššo (2002-2011) and since 2011 Prof. J. Bátora.

During the existence of archaeology a discipline practiced on the Faculty of Arts; a wide range of both internal and external scientists participated on lecturing as well as field practice and other activites. Among them particularly notable is Prof. M. Novotná (since 1954), who together with her husband Prof. B. Novotný significantly contributed to the development and profiling of the Department. Other notable associates include: Prof. T. Štefanovičová, Doc. V. Němejcová-Pavúková, Dr. E. Studeníková, Doc. J. Pavúk, Dr. A. Kozubová, Dr. P. Kmeťová and Doc. P. Pavúk, who led the newly created Section of Classical Archaeology until its abolishment in 2014. Worth mentioning are also the external lecturers who contributed in the last 20 years, such as: Z. Farkaš, M. Gojda, J. Hunka, Ľ. Kaminská, M. Oliva, S. Stegmann-Rajtár, P. Šalkovský, P. Titz, D. Thurzo a J. Zábojník.

Scientific and educational characteristics of the department

The Department of Archaeology provides guaranteed three-degree study of archaeology with proportional representation of courses in accordance with the historic periods from the Paleolithic to the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Age, focusing on material and spiritual culture in broader historic and social context. Students also have lectures from the field of theoretical and experimental archaeology. Since school year 2017/2018 completely new lectures on the subject "Battlefield archaeology" are being lectured at the department. In addition to internal staff - department lecturers - external experts are often invited for basic and special courses alike. Besides courses in archaeology the students attend also courses in natural sciences, physical anthropology, geophysics and geology (the Quaternary Period). Students become familiar with computer applications in archaeology. Language preparation is in the forefront as well - in addition to mandatory German the students choose from several other world languages. Field practice presents an important component of the study of archaeology, available to the students mainly by participation in the excavations of the Department of Archaeology and the Archaeological Institute of Slovak Academy of Sciences. By taking part in mandatory excursions, the students familiarize themselves with movable and immovable achaeological monuments in Slovakia and abroad, as well as establish contacts with other archaeological departments.

The Bachelor's degree study is focused mainly on the archaeological cultures of Slovakia and immediate vicinity. In the Master's degree study the students are acquianted with the results of the archaeological research in European context. Emphasis is put on the study of cultural and historical development in the Eastern and Southeastern Europe, including the Eurasian region and the Caucasus. Within the third degree of study - the PhD. study, future scientific and scientific-pedagogical professionals address current issues in the European Archaeology. They are being tutored and led by the department's professors and docents.

A sizeable advantage of the study of archaeology at Comenius University is the fact that the department has one of the best archaeological libraries in Central Europe. The number of registered volumes currently exceeds 30 000.