lake dwelling, prehistoric habitation built over the shallow waters of a lake shore or a marsh, usually erected on pile-supported platforms, but sometimes on artificial mounds. Such a site afforded easy access to a varied food supply by the availability of fish, marsh fowl, and good cropland. Africa, Asia, and South America have had lake-dwelling peoples; pile dwellings were also found in the lagoons of Pacific islands. In Europe, remains of Bronze Age lake dwellings were discovered in Britain, Ireland (where they are called crannogs ), and central Europe. The lake dwellings of Neolithic Switzerland have been reinterpreted as lakeside villages constructed during periods of low water level; sometimes houses were built even on dry lake beds.
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