While on vacation at the Bodensee we saw the “Pfahlbauten”, which are wooden huts built on stilts or poles that were reconstructed from an old settlement of the Bronze age about 3000 years ago.
The Pfahlbauten that were reconstructed in 1999 originally consisted of 80 such huts with 400 m², and now has 27 of them with their prehistoric equipment.
Walking the grounds gave us insights into the areas of living, handcrafts, cult and religion, as well as the environment and animals. The life of our Stone and Bronze Age ancestors was extremely difficult. They were constantly concerned about food, safety and health. Crop failures, climate fluctuations, storms, tribal wars, predatory attacks, injuries and illnesses were constant dangers. That is why the settlers tried early on to find places to live that offered them favorable living conditions.
The landscapes around Lake Constance was a popular settlement area. Here, the residents found trade routes, fertile land and good opportunities for fishing and hunting.
To protect themselves from floods and intruders, they placed their houses or huts on poles. They used Tools like stone or bronze axes, also hewn log ladders, They lived relatively protected from flooding, wild animals and human predators. The settlements were located on a trade route, the goods were bought and traded by canoe from neighboring European countries.
Their main means of transportation was a self made canoe. It consisted of a hollowed-out tree trunk and was easy to steer. It also provided enough space to accommodate and transport fish and other goods.
The settlers diet was monotonous. Meat was a rarity, many foods popular today such as potatoes, rice or tomatoes were unknown. The main food source was cereal porridge, simple breads, legumes, plants, fruits like strawberries. They also ate fish and it was cooked on land nearby.
How many such huts on poles and settlements existed around Lake Constance can no longer be reliably traced, about 14,600 poles with the widths of 15 cm were found. There are said to have been over 100 locations with mostly very small settlements. Some could be traced using scientific methods and assigned to specific residents.
The remains, mainly of the poles of the “Pfahlbauten” were researched in 1922 more closely, and than partially restored. This is how the Unteruhldingen constructed village came into being. It includes a museum that provides information about the way of life of the former inhabitants and the objects they needed to live.
A tour of the reconstructed village with 23 Huts gave us a good impression of life in the Stone and Bronze Age of Lake Constance. The facility is the most visited open-air museum in Europe. Almost 300,000 visitors, including many school classes visit every year. The reconstructed settlement with the Pfahlbauten has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2011.