The investigation of prehistoric pile dwellings or lake shore settlements was one of the core areas of the Prehistoric Commission, founded in 1878, of the OeAW. With the bioarchaeological examination of the way of life and economic systems, above all in the Neolithic period pile dwellings in the region of today's Austria, this thematic emphasis returns to the OeAW.

Upper Austria: Zeitensprung

After its beginnings at the end of the 19th century, Austrian research into pile dwellings experienced a sort of twilight sleep, with the exception of the important initiatives under J. Offenberger in the 1970s and 1980s. The project >Zeitensprung<, begun by the Kuratorium Pfahlbauten in 2015 and financed by the state of Upper Austria, has as its goal the promotion of archaeological and scientific fundamental research into the Austrian UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites >Prehistoric Pile Dwellings around the Alps<, and at the same time the communication of this information to a broad public. Accordingly, the activity of the >Kuratorium Pfahlbauten< also constitutes the basis and the framework of the research at the ÖAI of the OeAW

Mooswinkel am Mondsee: Maintenance or cultivation? Woodland management strategies in the late Neolithic pile dwellings of Lakes Mondsee and Attersee and in surrounding settlements

Since 2020, in the context of a doctoral study at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna, the occupation layers of the lakeshore settlement of Mooswinkel am Mondsee have been investigated. This settlement is a relatively small one, on the north-east shore of the Mondsee, with settlement phases datable to the mid-4th millennium B.C. In addition to Scharfling and See, Mooswinkel is now the third lakeshore dwelling site to be discovered at the Mondsee. It is characterised by an exceptional state of preservation, above all of the organic remains.

The goal of the dissertation is to examine the manner and intensity of woodland management in the late Neolithic era. To this end, remains of cultivated plants, seeds, timbers and plant remains from animal excrement from the pile dwelling at Mooswinkel will be examined from an archaeobotanical perspective. In addition, pollen analyses from the occupation layers will be carried out in cooperation with the University of Vienna.

The archaeobotanical and environmental-historical data thereby obtained will be combined with the results from the projects »Jenseits der Seerandsiedlungen«  (FWF DACH I 1693) as well as »Zeitensprung« , so that a model of the late Neolithic land and woodland usage in the region can be created.

Ljubljansko barje: dog or master? Scientific treatment of coprolites from a lakeshore dwelling in Slovenia

Excavations at a lakeshore dwelling in the Laibacher Moor brought numerous organic remains to light, which enable an interesting insight into the daily activities and diet of the human inhabitants. Amongst these have been found to date sixteen very well-preserved remains of dung, so-called coprolites. They contain direct information regarding the type of diet of the individuals. Nevertheless, based on their form alone it cannot be precisely decided whether they originate from dogs or from humans. The undigested residue in the coprolites will therefore be carefully investigated in multi-disciplinary examinations to gain information about those who produced them.

The strikingly high proportion of fish-head bones that has been confirmed so far could indicate that dogs were fed with them. In addition, faecal chemical biomarkers will be examined in the laboratory. Due to the variety of fatty acids contained in the coprolites, information can be gained about whether the diet consisted primarily of meat, as with dogs, or of plants, as with humans. The studies of the stomach- and intestinal parasites offer great potential for identifying their host. Together with aDNA analyses and a radiometric dating of coprolite contents, it is expected to be able to determine whether the faeces are of human origin, and how old they are.

The finds are so important because such coprolites are very rarely found in such a good state of preservation, and the results therefore offer a remarkable possibility to study the nutrition of individuals. Furthermore, via the interdisciplinary research, scientifically based and objective criteria can be established for differentiating between animal and human coprolites.