ANCIENT LAKE DWELLINGSby@scientificamerican


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Among the many traces which man has left of his existence in long past ages on the face of the earth, says a correspondent of the Scotsman, none are more interesting and instructive than the lake dwellings of Switzerland and other countries, which have been discovered within the last fifty years or so. Although these relics of the past are far more modern than those which we referred to in a late article on "Primeval Man," and are probably included within the range of Egyptian and other chronologies, yet they stretch far beyond the historic period, so far as Europe is concerned, and throw a flood of light on the habits of our ancestors, or at any rate predecessors, in these regions. We are tolerably well acquainted with the history of the Jews when David worked his way up from the shepherd's staff to the royal scepter, or when Joshua drove out the Canaanites and took possession of their land, but of what was going on in Europe in these times we have hitherto had no knowledge whatever. These lake dwellings, however, were in all probability inhabited by human beings somewhere about the time when the events we have referred to took place, and may have been inhabited before the earlier of them. The first hint we had of the existence of these remarkable dwellings was obtained in 1829, when an excavation was being made on the shore of a Swiss lake. Some wooden piles, apparently very old, and other antiquities were found by the workmen. Not much attention, however, was paid to this discovery till 1854, when a Mr. Aeppli drew attention to some remains of human handiwork found near his house, in part of the bed of a lake which had been left dry during a season of great drought. The workmen employed in recovering some land from the lake found the heads of a great many wooden piles protruding through the mud, and also a number of stags' horns, and implements of various descriptions. Stimulated by this discovery, search was made in various lakes, and the result was truly astonishing. In every direction remains of the habitations of prehistoric man were discovered, and relics were found in such abundance that the history of this unknown past could be traced through long ages, and the habits of the people ascertained with a very considerable amount of probability. The details are so numerous that it would be impossible in the space at our disposal to go into them all.
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