A team of Swiss and Albanian archaeologists believe the Albanian shore of Lake Ohrid was the location of a stilt house settlement estimated to have been built between 6,000 and 5,800 BC. The discovery from the underwater excavation was first reported by Agence France-Presse (AFP). The Lake Ohrid site represents the oldest lakeside village ever discovered in Europe, based on the preliminary findings.
The renowned archaeologist from Switzerland’s University of Bern, Professor Albert Hafner, told the agency that his team spent the past four years excavating at Lin, on the Albanian side of Lake Ohrid, situated between Albania and Macedonia. He said the village is “several hundred years older than previously known lake-dwelling sites in the Mediterranean and Alpine regions,” which suggests that the site is “the oldest” of its type in Europe.
The stilted village, discovered by a team of underwater excavators, was protected by 100,000 defensive wooden spikes. It is estimated that between 200 to 500 people inhabited the settlement.
The discovery in Lake Ohrid holds an invaluable archaeological significance spanning over 8 millennia. Previous discoveries of stilted settlements in Scotland, Austria and elsewhere have provided insights into early agrarian societies’ ways of life, architecture, and resource utilization, writes Ancient Civilizations Magazine. There is a lot that can be revealed in one of “Europe’s earliest sedentary communities”.
According to Albanian archaeologist Ilir Gjepali, the team found “seeds, plants, and bones of both wild and domesticated animals.” Such findings coupled with a complex architectural and defense system give new insights into the villagers motivations for building stilted settlements.
One of the oldest known stilted villages in Europe, and the world, was the “The Stilt House Settlement on the Lake of Zurich” in Switzerland. The prehistoric village was built around 1100-800 BC during the Late Bronze Age.
Until this recent discovery on Lake Ohrid, the oldest stilted settlement known to archaeologists was the “Sankt Peter am Wallersee” site in Austria. Dating back to around 3943-3668 BC, during the Neolithic period. The houses in this ancient village were all built on wooden stilts over the water.
Professor Hafner called the heavily defended submerged settlement of Lake Ohrid “a real treasure trove for research.”