Project »Zeitensprung«: Environment and agriculture of the lakeside settlements along the Attersee

In preparation of the Upper Austrian national exhibition 2020 on the topic of pile settlements extensive research is being conducted on the UNESCO-world heritage site »Prehistoric Pile Dwellings around the Alps«. Archaeobotanical investigations on the materials preserved wet from the early Neolithic settlements along the Attersee will aid particularly in reconstructing the diet and the agriculture of the pile dwellers.

Pile dwellings and lake shore settlements have drawn the interest of scholars since the mid-19th century. The stilt houses on Austrian territory have only again gained interest in the last several years. The project »Zeitensprung« led by J. Leskovar and C. Dworsky is the scientific basis for the Upper Austrian national exhibition 2020 and is generating new impetus.

Excavations below the lake level


In this project laborious underwater excavations are of great importance and take place in the Neolithic settlement along the shore of the Attersee. The primary aim is the clarification of the settlement structure, size, and chronology and subsequently questions regarding diet and environment, economy and social structure will follow. Based on the connection with the project BELAVI important results are expected.

Unusual preservation conditions 


The array of methods in the project also includes sedimentological and pollen analyses. The exceptionally good preservation conditions in the oxygen-poor and largely undisturbed lake sediments contributed to the preservation of a large quantity of prehistoric plant remains and thus a large amount of data can be obtained from the samples of the cultural layers.

Data creation


During preliminary work for the project at the VIAS it was already possible to identify over 10,000 plant remains from the pile dwelling settlement in Seewalchen. Further investigations have been taking place at the department for bioarchaeology at the OeAI since January 2017 and are concentrated on the cultural layers of the sediment cores from the settlement Weyregg II. Here, the infrastructure for handling wet preserved plant materials was specifically set up.

Perspectives 


Together with the results from the archaeological study and the vegetation history data (the pollen profiles are currently being evaluated at the University of Innsbruck) in dialog with international experts on pile dwellings the archaeological project element in »Zeitensprung« will lead to invaluable new insights on the topics of diet and agriculture.