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Early Settlements and Roman Age

Mild climate, abundant water, diverse flora and fauna favorably impacted human communities as early as the Neolithic Age. Numerous archaeological finds of weapons and tools made of stone and bone, various forms of pottery and other objects found in the western part of Osijek in the oldest prehistoric settlement Starčevo culture (6th-5th millennium BC) testify to this. The first inhabitants in the region were farmers and breeders of domestic animals. Continuity of life in this region is evident by numerous artefacts made of copper, bronze, and those artefacts dated in the early and late Iron Age. The Celts roamed here during their conquest of Europe, penetrating through Pannonia and the Danube region to Greece and Asia Minor. During the 1st century BC military power of the Celts declines. Despite defeat in wars with Dacians and Romans, their cultural influence in this region still lasts. At the same time, according to historical sources, in Osijek and its surroundings lived Pannonian tribe Andizeta, whose center is the Mursa. The Romans seem to take that old name, and in that area built a smaller camp, which is in the latter time has grown into a large ancient city with the status of a colony: Colonia Aelia Mursa.At the end of the 1st century BC, in the time of Emperor Augustus, the Romans conquered almost the whole Pannonia. On a slightly elevated south bank of the Drava, in Celtic and Andizet Mursa, Romans raised the military camp. This largest settlement in Lower Pannonia was created in today's Lower Town neighborhood, surrounded by swamps. Favorable position accelerated increase in population and development of this colony, turning it commercial and transportation center of the whole region. The stone bridge over the Drava and hard road through swamps in Baranja have connected Mursa with Aquincum (today's Budapest) and other cities of Upper Pannonia. Therefore, due to the importance of Mursa Roman, probably in year 124, Roman emperor Hadrian granted this village status of a colony with full citizenship (Colonia Aelia Mursa).City law and the status of the colony attracted many Roman citizens and veterans of Roman military units. Therefore, increased demand for different (and even luxury goods) directly influenced the strengthening of trade routes along the Danube. Mursa became one of the major hubs of trade, but still remains an important military stronghold to the Romans. Skilled builders in Mursa erected a forum, built public and administrative buildings, temples, amphitheater, houses with floor heating and gardens for wealthy citizens and beautified the city with statues.The weakening of the imperial government at the time of the militant emperors brought Roman Empire into a deep crisis, which is particularly reflected in Pannonia. Roman army retreated and abandoned Dacia, making Mursa exposed to incursions and invasions of peoples and tribes from the north and east. Rule of Emperor Diocletian briefly calms the situation in the Imperium and Mursa could be relieved, because Mursa suffered after Visigoth devastation and their conquest of large parts of the Roman Empire from year 378. With the split of the Roman Empire in year 395 Mursa remained under the rule of the Western Emperor Honorius. But, during his successor Valentinian III. Pannonian rule, Noricum and Dalmatia were left the Eastern Roman emperor Theodosius II. who surrendered the area between the Sava, Drava and Danube rivers to Attila's Huns. Mursa is completely abandoned in year 441. after the Hun invasion that destroyed the city.