Stone Age Canoes on the Attersee

Racing in dugout canoes built in a prehistoric style is all part of the yearly regatta at Seewalchen am Attersee in Upper Austria.

The event took place earlier this month as part of the Prehistoric Pile Dwellings Festival organised by the Pfahlbau am Attersee association, which is dedicated to preserving the UNESCO World Heritage site on the banks of the lake.

The mighty wooden boats come from the trees of the Austrian Federal Forests (ÖBf), which also manages the Attersee sustainably.

The dugouts, which were made around three years ago, consist of a single trunk. Around 8000 years ago these simple boats were the most important means of transport in the waters of the Alpine region.

Preparing the dugouts in the Attersee
Preparing the dugouts in the Attersee
© Gerald Egger

The federal forests in the Loibichl forest district harvested two particularly monumental trees for the dugouts. With a height of almost 50 metres and a circumference of up to 3.4 metres, the two white firs are unique in their dimensions.

One of the two trunks was then made with prehistoric tools from wood, stone, iron or bronze under the expert guidance of the archaeologist Wolfgang Lobisser from the University of Vienna, using the example of the Neolithic pile dwellers.

Prehistoric-style tools at the Attersee
Tools made from wood, stone, iron and bronze
© Gerald Egger

The other was machined but fairly quickly the chainsaw experts had to admit that there were certain advantages to the traditional method of construction.

The canoes can be viewed at any time at the Panoramasteg in Seewalchen, but are also a fixed part of guided tours. History enthusiasts can also borrow them.

UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Lake Dwellings on the Attersee

The Attersee is the Neolithic and Bronze Age pile-dwelling centre of Austria with 25-30 settlements discovered up until now.

The majority of prehistoric settlements are located at the northern end of Lake Attersee. Buried in the sediments of the lake floor, the remains of the wooden buildings and their inventory have been preserved under water for thousands of years.

Since three pile-dwelling locations on Lake Attersee were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011, Seewalchen has been filled with a noticeable enthusiasm for its history.

Thousands of visitors have already taken part in the pile dwellings time travel experience. The active elements are a special experience for families.

For example, flint knives are reconstructed, fires are ignited without a lighter and many details about the history of life on the Attersee lake over the last 6,000 years can be viewed.

More information: www.pfahlbau.at