The cradle of European agriculture
Albert Hafner has made a name for himself internationally as a prehistorian and specialist in lakeside settlements and underwater archeology, amongst other things. The UNESCO World Heritage Site “Prehistoric Pile Dwellings around the Alps”, comprising of 111 sites in the six Alpine states, is an initiative that Albert Hafner came up with. The shores of roughly a dozen lakes in the South Balkans were settled during the Neolithic period and the Bronze Age. But in comparison to the excavation sites which have been explored in the Alps over the past 150 years, very little is known about these lakeside settlements. “The excavation sites which have virtually not been studied at all until now are of outstanding scientific value”, explains Albert Hafner. “They could prove to be just as important as Neolithic and Bronze Age lakeshore settlements around the Alps.”
EXPLO wants to examine prehistoric settlement sites in lakes and shore zones. Here, thousands of wooden building structures have been preserved. This wood is used as a base for dendrochronology, a method which uses the growth rings of oak and conifer trees to work out the age of the wood. This method allows for a highly precise dating and is the backbone of the project. Excavations and sample collections are planned in the large lakes; Ohrid, Prespa and Orestiada. All of these sites are in an incredibly interesting historico-cultural area: the cradle of European agriculture. Here, agricultural techniques from Western Asia reached Europe over 8,000 years ago. The analysis of lake sediments should show how land use and also how the climate conditions in this region have changed over time.