The end of the lake-dwellings in the Circum-Alpine region

The end of the lake-dwellings in the Circum-Alpine region

Edited by Francesco Menotti
Copyright Date: 2015
Published by: Oxbow Books
Pages: 208
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    The end of the lake-dwellings in the Circum-Alpine region
    Book Description:

    After more than 3500 years of occupation in the Neolithic and Bronze Age, the many lake-dwellings around the Circum-Alpine region ‘suddenly’ came to an end. Throughout that period alternating phases of occupation and abandonment illustrate how resilient lacustrine populations were against change: cultural/environmental factors might have forced them to relocate temporarily, but they always returned to the lakes. So why were the lake-dwellings finally abandoned and what exactly happened towards the end of the Late Bronze Age that made the lake-dwellers change their way of life so drastically? The new research presented here draws upon the results of a four-year-long project dedicated to shedding light on this intriguing conundrum. Placing a particular emphasis upon the Bronze Age, a multidisciplinary team of researchers has studied the lake-dwelling phenomenon inside out, leaving no stones unturned, enabling identification of all possible interactive socioeconomic and environmental factors that can be subsequently tested against each other to prove (or disprove) their validity. By refitting the various pieces of the jigsaw a plausible, but also rather unexpected, picture emerges.

    eISBN: 978-1-78297-863-3
    Subjects: History
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Acknowledgements (pp. v-vi)
  4. List of Contributors (pp. vii-viii)
  5. List of Figures (pp. ix-x)
  6. List of Tables (pp. x-x)
  7. List of Maps (pp. x-x)
  8. Chapter 1 The lake-dwelling phenomenon: myth, reality and … archaeology (pp. 1-14)
    Francesco Menotti

    The study of the Circum-Alpine region¹ (Fig. 1.1) lake-dwellings does not only concern archaeological research, but it also encompasses a number of other disciplines as well as a myriad of aspects of our social existence; and that is why we often come across the term ‘phenomenon’. In order to understand how the lake-dwelling (phenomenon) research developed, and how we (archaeologists, and scholars of other disciplines) have managed to achieve such an excellent knowledge of those prehistoric lacustrine settlements, it is necessary to go back to the very beginning, and indeed when Mr Aeppli made that fortunate discovery which, in many...

  9. Chapter 2 Bronze Age lacustrine settlements in the Circum-Alpine region: chronology, architectural styles, occupational patterns, and much more (pp. 15-67)
    Joachim Köninger

    In 1980, the lectures (subsequently published by Kimmiget al.1981: 1–63) held by the Bronze Age study group as part of the annual conference of the West and South German Association of Archaeology in Baden (Canton Aargau, Switzerland), summarised the state of research, up until that time, in Bronze Age (lake-) pile-dwellings around the Circum-Alpine region. In south-western Germany, the project Bodensee-Oberschwaben (Lake Constance-Upper Swabia) had just started, but some of the spectacular results (similar to those achieved up until then in western Switzerland and the southern slopes of the Alps) were already available. The highlights included aerial...

  10. Chapter 3 Dendrochronology and Bronze Age pile-dwellings on both sides of the Alps: from chronology to dendrotypology, highlighting settlement developments and structural woodland changes (pp. 68-84)
    André Billamboz and Nicoletta Martinelli

    Thanks to the dendrochronological network based on southern Germany’s oak master treering chronology established in Hohenheim from the 1970s onwards (Beckeret al.1985), we can now understand important aspects of the Bronze Age lake-dwelling development, especially north of the Alps. Regarding the early period (the Early Bronze Age), some of the most relevant sites that have contributed to systematic tree-ring investigations include Zurich-Mozartstrasse (Schmidheiny 2011) and Meilen-Schellen on Lake Zurich (Ruoff 1987); Bodman-Schachen 1 on Lake Constance (Köninger 2006); Siedlung-Forschner in the southern Federsee bog (Billamboz 2009); Concise-sous Colachoz on Lake Neuchâtel (Winiger 2008); and Préverenges on Lake Geneva...

  11. Chapter 4 Climatic variations in the Circum-Alpine area during the period 4500–2500 cal BP, as reflected by palaeohydrological changes (pp. 85-100)
    Michel Magny

    In the Circum-Alpine region, the period around 4500–2500 cal BP (which coarsely spans the Bronze Age) was punctuated by major climatic changes, such as that of the transition from the Middle to the Late Holocene atc. 4200 cal BP (Walkeret al. 2012), or the 2700 cal BP cold event, which marks the transition from the regional Subboreal to Subatlantic pollen zones (van Geelet al. 1996). A lot of data based on various proxies, including glacier history, pollen, tree-rings, speleothems, lake and alluvial sediments, and chironomids (Holzhauseret al. 2005; Giraudi 2005; Nicolussiet al. 2005, 2009;...

  12. Chapter 5 Micromorphological studies of wetland site formation processes: additional help for a better understanding of the lake-dwellings’ final disappearance (pp. 101-124)
    Philipp Wiemann and Philippe Rentzel

    Lakes are generally considered to be useful palaeoenvironmental archives; for instance, they form the basis of research areas such as palaeolimnology (Cohen 2003). This is because lake sediments are seen as highly detailed archives of environmental and climatic changes (Gaillardet al. 1994) on the one hand and of anthropogenic impacts (Wirthet al. 2011) on the other. Prehistoric lake-dwellings, however, also provide exceptionally good preservation conditions and are invaluable archaeological archives that are studied by archaeologists as well as archaeobotanists, zooarchaeologists, and researchers from a host of disciplines within the area of natural scientific archaeology. It is generally accepted...

  13. Chapter 6 Vegetation history and plant economy in the Circum-Alpine region Bronze Age and early Iron Age environments: stability or major changes? (pp. 125-178)
    Marlu Kühn and Annekäthi Heitz-Weniger

    The Bronze Age and Early Iron Age (the Hallstatt period) were characterized by highly fluctuating climatic conditions, changes in the vegetation and types of land use, an expansion of long-distance contacts, varying settlement types, and technological innovations. From an archaeobotanical point of view, one might raise the question as to why the people, and in particular lake-dwellers, decided to cultivate new plants, change their farming methods, intensify their approach to their natural environment, and finally abandon the lake-shore and bog settlement areas at the transition from the Late Bronze Age to the Hallstatt period.

    By means of analysing microbotanical and...

  14. Chapter 7 Animal husbandry and hunting activities in the Late Bronze Age Circum-Alpine region (pp. 179-210)
    Barbara Stopp

    One of the most obvious innovations of the Bronze Age compared to the preceding Neolithic was the use of metal, which had now become a regular occurrence (e.g. Hochuliet al. 1998). The extraction of copper from a number of locations throughout the Alps led to new areas being opened and settled that had previously been only rarely frequented. However, the tin required to produce bronze could only be found in a few European regions, which led to an increase in the exchange and trade of goods between far-flung areas. The question might be raised, therefore, as to whether the...

  15. Chapter 8 Bronze Age trade and exchange through the Alps: influencing cultural variability? (pp. 211-235)
    Benjamin Jennings

    Trade and exchange in prehistory revolved around more than simply the circulation of goods; it was about social communication, the maintenance of intra-community relationships, the transmission of technology, ideas and manufacturing processes, and the generation of social power and prestige. In this respect the Circum-Alpine region has been considered as a ‘buffer’ or ‘interaction’ zone between northern Europe and the Mediterranean, linking northern European cultures with those of the southern Alpine slopes and the Italian peninsula (Della Casa 2002; Primas and Schmid-Sikimiæ 1997). Utilising the theoretical concepts ofrelational theory,object biographiesandcultural object translationprovides an opportunity to...

  16. Chapter 9 The 3500-year-long lake-dwelling tradition comes to an end: what is to blame? (pp. 236-250)
    Francesco Menotti

    When we look at the chronological history of occupation of the lake-dwellings around the Circum-Alpine region, we cannot help but wonder why and how such a long tradition (more than three and a half millennia) ‘suddenly’ came to an end. If we consider all the variables involved in answering such seemingly straightforward questions, it is perhaps not surprising that a single straight answer may not be possible. We are however pleased to state that, although involving some degree of complexity, a plausible explanation has indeed been found. Not only does this final chapter draw the conclusions of an edited book,...


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