ARCHAEOLOGISTS have begun excavating the remains of a medieval village dating from the 10th -13th century, covering an area of 14 hectares, on land where the Hyundai/Kia car plant near Žilina is due to be built.

Matej Ruttkay of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, Archaeology Institute, said that this is the first opportunity for a complete medieval village to be studied on Slovak territory.

He claimed that archaeologists' work would not threaten the plant's construction, since the site in question is some distance away from the planned carmaker's main buildings.

"Only the discovery of a unique stone architecture, such as a church, might complicate the factory's construction," he insisted.

The archaeological study of the site should be finished by the spring of 2006. Korean carmaker Kia will build a car assembly plant close to the town of Žilina in northwestern Slovakia, on an area of 166 hectares.