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In 2002, remains of pile dwellings over 4,500 years old were discovered in the Ljubljana Marshes, now protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the Ljubljana Marshes Wooden Wheel, the oldest wooden wheel in the world.In the transition period between the Bronze age to the Iron age, the Urnfield culture flourished.

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The Romans established posts at Emona (Ljubljana), Poetovio (Ptuj), and Celeia (Celje); and constructed trade and military roads that ran across Slovene territory from Italy to Pannonia.

In the 5th and 6th centuries, the area was subject to invasions by the Huns and Germanic tribes during their incursions into Italy.

For the historic region of Croatia to its east, see Slavonia. Historically, the current territory of Slovenia was part of many different state formations, including the Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire, Carolingian Empire and the Holy Roman Empire, followed by the Habsburg Monarchy, Republic of Venice, French-administered Illyrian Provinces, Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary.

In October 1918, the Slovenes exercised self-determination for the first time by co-founding the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs.

This large dynasty, important at a European political level, had its seat in Slovene territory but died out in 1456.

Its numerous large estates subsequently became the property of the Habsburgs, who retained control of the area right up until the beginning of the 20th century.

In the mid-8th century, Carantania became a vassal duchy under the rule of the Bavarians, who began spreading Christianity.

Three decades later, the Carantanians were incorporated, together with the Bavarians, into the Carolingian Empire.

In a parallel process, an intensive German colonization significantly diminished the extent of Slovene-speaking areas.

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