The series off 111 pile-dwelling archeological sites, out of the 937 known to exist in Alpine and sub-Alpine regions in six European countries, comprises the remains of prehistoric settlements found underwater, on the banks of lakes, along rivers or on marshland, dating back to between 5,000 and 500 B.C. The extraordinarily well-preserved organic matter, together with extensive recent research in different fields of the natural sciences, such as archeobotanics and archeozoology, has yielded remarkable details about the first agrarian societies in Europe. Information about their agriculture, animal husbandry, and the development of metallurgy over a period of more than four thousand years coincides with one of the most important periods of recent human history – the dawn of modern society.
Thanks to the exact dating of wooden architectural elements by dendrochronology, the sites provide outstanding archeological information about whole prehistoric villages, their building techniques and their spatial development over very long periods. They also reveal details of the trade routes across the Alps and plains for flint, shells, gold, amber and pottery, as well as evidence of the use of dug-out canoes and carts with wooden wheels, some with axle trees, dating back to about 3,400 B.C., among the oldest that have been preserved worldwide. The oldest textiles in Europe, dating back to 3,000 B.C., have also been found there. Taken together, this evidence provides insight into the domestic lives and settlements of about 30 different cultural groups in the Alpine lacustrine regions that provided the conditions for these pile-dwelling sites to flourish.
Criterion (iv): The series of pile-dwelling sites is one of the major archeological sources for studying the earliest agrarian societies in Europe, established between 5,000 and 500 B.C. The water-logged conditions preserved the organic matter, yielding remarkable information about significant changes during the Neolithic and Bronze Age in Europe in general, and about the interactions between the regions around the Alps in particular.
Criterion (v): The series of pile-dwelling sites has provided extraordinary and detailed insight into the settlement and living conditions of prehistoric communities which were among the earliest lacustrine agrarian societies living in the Alpine and sub-Alpine regions of Europe over a period of nearly 5,000 years. Archaeological evidence provides a unique understanding of the way that these societies interacted with their environment, responded to new technologies, and adapted to climate change.