Who were the pile dwellers and when did they live?
The pile dwellers belong to the earlier farmers and breeders of the Prealps. They occupied the lake- and riversides as well as the bogs around the Alps (Switzerland, Austria, France, Germany, Italy and Slovenia). The pile-dwelling period lasts from about 5000 to 500 BC (about 4300 to 800 BC in Switzerland), comprising therefore the Neolithic (Late Stone Age) period, the Bronze Age and the beginning of the Iron Age.
What is so special about the pile dwellers?
Architectural structures of entire settlements and excellently preserved organic remains provide comprehensive insight into the history of early farmers in Central Europe. Nowhere else in the world is the development of Late Stone Age and Metal Age settlement communities as clearly understandable : researchers can highlight in detail the culture, economy and environment of prehistoric times.
Did the pile dwellers live on elevated dwellings?
Images from the South Pacific inspired the historian Ferdinand Keller and 19th century artists to paint imaginative reconstructions of pile-dwelling life, especially houses on elevated wooden platforms. In the early 20th century, the knowledge of varying lake levels, along with newly discovered timber floors and hearths on the lakeshores and in bogs led to the forming of the idea of lakeshore pile dwellings and villages built at ground level.
Today, we know of an entire range of constructions that were adapted to the individual locations where the early farmers built their settlements.