November 21, 2013

0348, 0871 SWITZERLAND / AUSTRIA - Prehistoric pile dwellings from the Alps (UNESCO WHS)

0348 Switzerland - Reconstruction of a prehistoric pile dwelling
from Bronze Age at Laténium, Hauterive.

Posted on 30.09.2012, 21.11.2013
Among the sites included in 2011 by UNESCO in its list of World Heritage Sites is one called Prehistoric Pile dwellings around the Alps, which contains, as say its name, pile-dwelling settlements in and around the Alps, built on the edges of lakes, rivers or wetlands. So far have been identified 937 such sites, of which UNESCO has chosen 111, located in Austria (5), France (11), Germany (18), Italy (19), Slovenia (2), and Switzerland (56).

0871 AUSTRIA - Computer animation of some prehistoric pile dwellings,
which are nowadays on the bottom of the Keutschacher See, Carinthia.

These settlements were built between 5,000 and 500 BC, i.e. during Neolithic and Bronze Age, a period about which we know little, but for which clarification would be an important step in finding our origins as Europeans. For now it is clear that at the end of the Neolithic has occurred a profound transformation, due to the penetration in Europe of a Proto-Indo-European populations wave, named by Marija Gimbutas Kurgan Culture. Equally clear is that these populations, more warlike and technologically superior to the ones found in Europe, were imposed and caused a cultural leap.

Unclear is whether the Indo-Europeans exterminated the populations which they have found here or just conquered their territories and assimilated them. Perhaps some will find unimportant this "detail". To me it seems important to know if in our veins flowing those people's blood or not. To those uninterested in this aspect, I tell just that to drive safely on the  history's highway, is needed not only a large windscreen, clear and clean, but also a proper rearview mirror.

Undoubtedly UNESCO involvement will positively influence the extent of archaeological research in the area, but probably the answer to this question can't be given than with the help of genetics. For now, UNESCO say only "The exceptional conservation conditions for organic materials provided by the waterlogged sites, combined with extensive under-water archaeological investigations and research in many fields of natural science, such as archaeobotany and archaeozoology, over the past decades, has combined to present an outstanding detailed perception of the world of early agrarian societies in Europe.  The precise information on their agriculture, animal husbandry, development of metallurgy, over a period of more than four millennia, coincides with one of the most important phases of recent human history: the dawn of modern societies."

Obviously, the dwellings from the postcard 0348 it isn't an original one, but a reconstruction done to a Park and Archaeological Museum Laténium, located in Hauterive, a suburb of Neuchâtel (Switzerland), and the ones from the postcard 0871 are a computer animation of some dwellings which are nowadays on the bottom of the Keutschacher See, a lake in Carinthia (Austria).

About the stamp
On the postcard0348 (Switzerland)

The stamp was issued by Swiss Post on May 9, 2012 for Europa stamps 2012- Visit..

On the postcard 0871 (Austria)

The stamp is the third of the series Austrian Photographic Art, begun in 2011. If the one from 2012 was dedicated to Elfie Semotan (I wrote here about it), the one from this year, issued on March 13, 2013, was dedicated to Valie Export and one of her emblematic works, Valie Export - Smart Export.

This is a post for Sunday Stamps #90, run by Viridian from Viridian’s Postcard Blog. The theme of this week is Anything you wish. Click on the button to visit Viridian’s blog and all the other participants.

Prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps - Wikipedia
Prehistoric Pile dwellings around the Alps - UNESCO official site
Laténium - Official site
Civilizaţie şi cultură, by Marija Gimbutas - Ed. Meridiane, Bucureşti, 1989
Europa postage stamps - Wikipedia

Sender 0348: Zasa Lein (direct swap)
Sent from Bern (Switzerland), on 20.05.2012
Sender 0871: Nina Kramlinger (direct swap)
Sent from Vienna (Austria), on 18.11.2013


  1. ha ha ha, I love the humorous touch of this one...really welcoming for a country to be visited :))

  2. Yes, hello and welcome! It is interesting hearing about these houses. I am sure they were on lakes and wetlands in part for defense.
    Thank you for participating!

  3. The stamp is the best! No explanations, needed.
    Talking about the pile houses - I am surprised to see and know about them because, basing on the postcard, they are something that you'd normally see in Asia. It looks like a palm hut, suited to the tropical climate. I wonder how the dwellers survived the harsh winter season in that kind of dwelling.

    Postcards Crossing

  4. A fun stamp, it would make you smile to receive a card/letter with that on :)

  5. The stamp is so funny, great contribution to the Europa theme. I've seen a recreated pile house by a lake in Wales but not on the scale of the Swiss one. Interesting to think how our ancestors were building similar things.

  6. I expected the buildings to be in Asia and not in the Alps. Loved the stamp - such fun.