Eine gemeinsame Ausstellung des Archäologischen
Landesmuseums Baden-Württemberg und des Landesamts
für Denkmalpflege im Regierungspräsidium Stuttgart in
Zusammenarbeit mit dem Federseemuseum Bad Buchau und
den Staatlichen Schlössern und Gärten Baden-Württemberg.

Unter der Schirmherrschaft des Bundespräsidenten
Dr. h. c. Joachim Gauck

4,000 years of pile dwellings

Special Exhibition of the State of Baden-Württemberg in honour of the group of UNESCO World Heritage sites “Prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps”

Faithful reproduction of a building found in Bodman-Schachen, around 1900 BC.

Houses were built from wooden poles bound with rope.

The walls were covered in clay, which was also used for fireplaces and ovens.

The roof was made of bark, wooden shingles, straw or reeds.

4,000 years of pile dwellings

Between 5000 and 850 BC, the settlements of the Stone and Bronze Ages were built in wetlands or on the edges of lakes – these pile dwellings are some of the most fascinating and informative archaeological phenomena in the world. Exciting scientific research, recently excavated artefacts from Lake Constance and Upper Swabia as well as top class exhibits from international museums: Experience 4000 years of pile building cultures, technological innovation and social change.

Flaxen fishing net, Hornstaad, ca. 3900 BCE

Birch tar chewing gum with teeth marks, Hornstaad, ca. 3900 BCE
Bast fibre hat, Sipplingen, ca. 3300 BCE

Decorated flute made of elder wood, Hagnau, ca. 1050 BCE

Preserved in water

What makes pile dwellings so unique are the sensational conservation conditions they offer for all organic materials: man-made structures, wooden tools, fishing nets, musical instruments, textiles, hats and footwear, food and even chewing gum – all millennia old, but all looking freshly preserved and in every way as important and meaningful as “Ötzi” the glacier man.
Modern science allows us to explore with unprecedented precision the environment of pile dwellings and the environmental changes resulting from human land use.

Water chestnuts, Ödenahlen, around 3700 BC.

Cereal (durum wheat), Hornstaad, around 3700 BC.

Opium poppy seeds, Konstanz Hörlepark, around 850 BC.

Of mash and frog’s legs

How did the pile dwellers live and what did they eat? Grain was the most important food staple for these sedentary farmers. Red deer, roast beef, whitefish and frog’s legs were also on the menu – even evidence of truffles was found. A specialty at the “Federsee”, a lake that has since silted up, were water chestnuts. The nutricious seeds of this aquatic plant could be collected by boat.

Breast modelled in clay and painted wall fragments
from Bodman-Ludwigshafen on Lake Constance, ca. 3860 BCE

Man-made structures and religious beliefs

The highlight of the exhibition is a pile dwelling from Ludwigshafen on Lake Constance, a structure which is unique in its kind in Europe.
Its painted interior shows female figures with raised hands and with breasts modelled in clay. Could these be an expression of ancestor worship and rural fertility rites?

Stone Age wooden wheel from Olzreuter Ried near Bad Schussenried, ca. 3000

BCE Replica of a backpack based on finds in Hornstaad, ca. 3900 BCE

Typical clothing of a Stone Age pile dweller, ca. 3000 BCE

Backpack and wheel

Pile dwellers lived in small, highly mobile communities with contacts extending from the Baltic Sea to northern Italy, from France to the Great Hungarian Plain. One of the world’s oldest wheels, dating from around 3000 BCE, was discovered in a marshland settlement near Bad Schussenried.

Grosse Landesausstellung Baden-Württemberg