The territory of modern Serbia is rich in traces of the past and of ancient civilisations. Besides archaeological sites testifying to human presence from as far back as prehistoric times, there are also frequent finds of Late Pleistocene animals: mammoth, bison and giant deer. Archaeological evidence of human settlement on the territory of Serbia dates back to the Paleolithic era, 40,000 BC. The oldest known civilisations in Europe date back to the Mesolithic and Late Neolithic – Lepenski Vir (6500-5500 BC) and Vinča (5500-3500 BC).
The most abundant examples of classical cultural heritage on the territory of Serbia are those left behind by the great Roman Empire. The territory of modern Serbia produced 17 Roman emperors, a fifth of their total number. Among them was Emperor Constantine – one of the most important figures in the establishment of the Christian civilisation. The banks and waters of the Serbian portion of the Danube Basin have, since far back into prehistory, been the stage for many cultural developments and historical events. Archaeological materials are heterogenous in their chronology and type: tools, weapons, metal vessels, money, pieces of ceramic vessels. To date, two boats from the Roman era have been discovered in Serbia’s rivers. One of the first military fortifications on the Danube was Viminacium near Požarevac. The largest Roman bridge over the Danube, almost a kilometre and a half long, was built in the Đerdap Gorge. Near to Sremska Mitrovica was Sirmium, the oldest Roman town on the territory of Serbia. Mediana near Niš, Gamzigrad near Zaječar, Caričin Grad near Leskovac and Singidunum – today’s Belgrade – are all sites rich in Roman remains.
Serbia sits at the crossing of the ways of Eastern and Western culture, and this has been a major influence on the unique cultural heritage of this region. Especially numerous are mediaeval Byzantine and Orthodox monuments, first and foremost those Serbian monasteries and churches from the 12th century and later, as well as the remains of Turkish and Austro-Hungarian structures.