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The oldest known trace of human occupation is a mandible found in Banyoles, described by some sources as pre-Neanderthal some 200,000 years old; other sources suggest it to be only about one third that old.
From the next prehistoric era, the Epipaleolithic or Mesolithic, important remains survive, the greater part dated between 8000 BC and 5000 BC, such as those of Sant Gregori (Falset) and el Filador (Margalef de Montsant).
Under the terms of the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659, which ended the wider Franco-Spanish War, the Spanish Crown ceded the northern parts of Catalonia, mostly incorporated in the county of Roussillon, to France.
During the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714), the Crown of Aragon sided against the Bourbon Philip V of Spain, whose subsequent victory led to the Nueva Planta decrees which abolished non-Castilian institutions in the Crown of Aragon, replaced Latin and other languages (such as Catalan) with Spanish in legal documents, abolished internal borders and customs except for the Basque and Navarrese territories and ended the Castilian monopoly over trade with the Spanish Empire.
The eastern counties of these marches were united under the rule of the Frankish vassal, the count of Barcelona, and were later called Catalonia.
In 1137, Catalonia and the Kingdom of Aragon were united by marriage under the Crown of Aragon, and the Principality of Catalonia became the base for the Crown of Aragon's naval power and expansionism in the Mediterranean.
Around the middle of the 7th century BC, the Iron Age arrived in Catalonia.
In the nineteenth century, Catalonia was severely affected by the Napoleonic and Carlist Wars.
In the second half of the century, Catalonia experienced significant industrialisation.
The origin of the name Catalunya is subject to diverse interpretations because of a lack of evidence.
One theory suggests that Catalunya derives from the name Gothia (or Gauthia) Launia ("Land of the Goths"), since the origins of the Catalan counts, lords and people were found in the March of Gothia, known as Gothia, whence Gothland The first known human settlements in what is now Catalonia were at the beginning of the Middle Palaeolithic.