The Bronze Age village

The Bronze Age pile-dwelling village on Lake Constance in Baden-Württemburg
The Bronze Age pile-dwelling village on Lake Constance.

A recreation of Stone Age and Bronze Age pile-dwelling villages on the shores of the Bodensee (Lake Constance)

Inside one of the recreated huts in Lake Constance's Bronze Age stilt village
Inside one of the recreated huts in Lake Constance's Bronze Age stilt village.

In the 1920s, excavations in the shallows of Lake Constance revealed small forests of spaced wooden supports hammered in the muddy lake bed aeons ago, the remains of pile house villages that variously date back to the Bronze Age, the Copper Age, and the Stone Age, from 975 BC back through 4,000 BC.

By 1922, ambitious archaeologists had started building replicas of the prehistoric houses (just up the lakeshore; the original site is protected, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site).

Over past two decades, more sections of this conglomerate stilt village have been built, each representing a different era.

What's more amazing is that these house were built entirely using period-appropriate tools, materials, and techniques. No power tools. No steel. Just homemade stone adzes and bronze axes, hewn log ladders, and lots of elbow grease. (The videos of them at work is fascinating.)

It is undeniably cool—and weirdly picturesque—and well worth a visit for a glimpse at how our ancient ancestors might have lived. It is, in many ways, surprisingly modern. I don't think, say, a medieval man would find himself that out of place in one of these 3,000-year-old huts.

(In 2006, German television tested this, Colonial House–style, by having a pair of families live in two recreated prehistoric houses for the summer—sort of Real World: Bronze Age Edition.)

These prehistoric lake villages were built on wooden stilts out over the water, presumably for the triple advantage of security, easy access to fishing, and placement right on the continental trade routes that used the lake as a major highway.

Oh, yes. Pan-European trading predates historical record. Finds at the Bodensee and other sites prove that materials and finished goods from modern-day Italy, Iberia, the British Isles, and Central Europe spanned the entire continent. For example, the chert used as flint stones here came from Apulia, in Southern Italy.

Much of the material they have to recreate daily life come from other digs and from the spectacular Ötzi find, the Copper Age "Ice Man" found in a glacier between Austria and Switzerland (and now preserved in an excellent museum in Bolzano, Italy).

There is also a fun little park where the kids can try out a prehistoric hanging xylophone, lugging rocks on sledges, and using bow drills to drill a hole in a stone (well, to incrementally further the hole that countless others before you have started).

Tips & links


Pfahlbauten Unteruhldingen
Strandpromenade 6, Uhldingen-Mülhofen
Tel. +49-(0)7556-928-900
Open Apr-Sept daily 9am–7pm, Oct daily 9am–5pm, Mar and Nov Sat-Sun 9am–5pm

How long should I spend in the Bronze Age Village?

It takes a good hour to 90 minutes to watch the videos and explore the site.

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This article was by Reid Bramblett and last updated in July 2014.
All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 1998–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.