Muddy Waters. An international, interdisciplinary and theoretical approach to why people initially settled lacustrine environments in the European Neolithic.

DSpace Repository


Dokumentart: PhDThesis
Date: 2022-01-18
Language: English
Faculty: 5 Philosophische Fakultät
Department: Ur- und Frühgeschichte
Advisor: Bartelheim, Martin (Prof. Dr.)
Day of Oral Examination: 2017-09-20
DDC Classifikation: 930 - History of ancient world to ca. 499
Other Keywords:
lakeside settlements
landscape archaeology
Order a printed copy: Print-on-Demand
Show full item record


This dissertation is centred on the question why people in Neolithic Europe decided to settle lakesides, not only in the most extensively studied circum-Alpine area, but also in southern Europe. The answer to this question is sought for in the assessment of four archaeological case studies (Egolzwil 3, Switzerland; Hörnle IA, Germany; La Draga, Spain and Dispilio, Greece) and two ethnographical and modern examples of pile dwellings (the Ribeirinhos, Amazon and Amsterdam, the Netherlands). The exploitation of resources, the relationship of the lake-dwellers with the landscape and ritual evidences are all taken into account in order to make observations regarding the reasons the first people to settle on lakeshores in distinct regions could have had, the influence of the lake on their life and identity and a broader assessment of culture and identity as a „liquid“ concept. This research proposal originally stems from the observation that any explanations for initial wetland settling in prehistoric archaeology are overly simplified. Existing tendencies rely on fishing (although no specialisation can be proven), a defensive character (although no conflicts are evident from those chronologies) or fertile soil (although many settlements maintain a mixed subsistence pattern in which hunting and gathering is equally or more important). Aspects such as the agency of the landscape or nuanced views regarding identity are generally omitted. The current study aims to change this. Apart from this it is aimed to implement and at the same time assess the use of theoretical considerations such as symmetrical archaeology, following the ontological turn and the possibilities of interdisciplinary research. There is a strong emphasis on landscape archaeology and the accompanying methods, GIS, are implemented in the work. The added advantage is that several regions are represented, making this study the first of its kind in assessing such a broad and diverse lakeside settling panorama. A regional overview is included in each case study, which adds shifting conditions and different regional dynamics. This work does not pretend to reach a definitive answer, a single reason explaining the settling of the lakeshore, but is rather a theory- based excercise that moves beyond conceptual and modern borders.

This item appears in the following Collection(s)