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Prehistoric Pile Dwellings around the Alps

Criteria for the inscription of the "Prehistoric Pile Dwellings around the Alps"

To be inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, UNESCO World Heritage properties must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one of ten selection criteria. The Prehistoric Pile Dwellings around the Alps meet criteria IV and V for the inscription.

Criterion (iv): The series of prehistoric Pile Dwelling sites are one of the most important archaeological sources for the study of early agrarian societies in Europe between 5'000 and 500 BC. The waterlogged conditions have preserved organic matter that contributes in an outstanding way to our understanding of significant changes in the Neolithic and Bronze Age history of Europe in general, and of the interactions between the regions around the Alps in particular.

Criterion (v): The series of Prehistoric Pile Dwellings around the Alps has provided an extraordinary and detailed insight into the settlement and domestic arrangements of pre-historic, early agrarian lake shore communities in the Alpine and sub-Alpine regions of Europe over almost 5'000 years. The revealed archaeological evidence allows an unique understanding of the way these societies interacted with their environment, in response to new technologies, and also to the impact of climate change.

Integrity: The series of Prehistoric Pile Dwellings represents the well defined geographic area within which these sites are found to its full extent, as well as all the cultural groups in it during the time period during which the pile dwellings existed. It therefore comprises the complete cultural context of the archaeological phenomena. The sites selected have been chosen to be those that still remain largely intact, as well as to reflect the diversity of structures, groups of structures and time-periods. As a whole the series and its boundaries fully reflect the attributes of Outstanding Universal Value. The visual integrity of some of the sites is to a degree compromised by their urban setting. Many of the component sites can also be said to be vulnerable to a range of threats ranging from the uses of the lakes, intensification of agriculture, development, etc. Monitoring of the sites will be crucial to ensure their continuing integrity.

Authenticity: The physical remains are well preserved and documented. Their archaeological strata, preserved in the ground or underwater, are authentic in structure, material and substance, without any later or modern additions. The remarkable survival of organic remains facilitates the highest levels of definition in relation to the use and function of the sites. The long history of research, cooperation and coordination provide an unusual level of understanding and documentation of the sites. However, the ability of the sites to display their value is difficult as they are mostly completely hidden underwater which means that their context in relation to the lake and river shores is important in order to evoke the nature of their setting. This context is compromised to a degree on those sites that survive in intensely urbanised environments. Because the sites cannot be overtly presented in situ, they are interpreted in museums. An overarching presentation framework needs to be developed that allows coordination between museums and an agreed standard archaeological data to ensure understanding of the value of the whole property and how individual sites contribute to that whole.

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