Stilt house

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City of Yawnghwe in the Inle Lake

Stilt houses or pile dwellings or palafitte are houses raised on piles over the surface of the soil or a body of water. Stilt houses are built primarily as a protection against flooding,[1] but also serve to keep out vermin.[2] The shady space under the house can be used for work or storage.[3][dead link]


Reconstruction of Bronze Age stilt houses on Lake Constance

In the Neolithic and Bronze Age, stilt-houses settlements were common in the Alpine and Pianura Padana (Terramare) region.[4] Remains have been found at the Ljubljana Marshes in Slovenia and at the Mondsee and Attersee lakes in Upper Austria, for example. Early archaeologists like Ferdinand Keller thought they formed artificial islands, much like the Scottish Crannogs, but today it is clear that the majority of settlements were located on the shores of lakes and were only inundated later on.[5] Reconstructed stilt houses are shown in open air museums in Unteruhldingen and Zürich (Pfahlbauland). In June 2011, the prehistoric pile dwellings in six Alpine states were designated as the UNESCO World Heritage Site. A single Scandinavian pile dwelling, the Alvastra stilt houses, has been excavated in Sweden.[citation needed]

According to archeological evidences stilt-houses settlements were an architectural norm in the Caroline Islands and Micronesia and are still present in Oceania today.[6] Today, stilt houses are still common in parts of the Mosquito Coast in northeastern Nicaragua, northern Brazil, South East Asia, Papua New Guinea and West Africa.[7] In the Alps, similar buildings, known as raccards, are still in use as granaries. In England, granaries are placed on staddlestones, similar to stilts, to prevent mice and rats getting to the grain. Stilted graneries are also a common feature in West Africa, e.g., in the Malinke language regions of Mali and Guinea.[citation needed]

Western hemisphere[edit]

Palafitos in Castro, Chiloé.
Summer, family dwellings of the natives of the Kamchatka Peninsula called Itelmens or Kamchadals. Their winter dwellings were earth sheltered and communal.

Stilt houses are also common in the western hemisphere, and appear to have been an indigenous creation by the Amerindians in pre-Columbian times. They are especially widespread along the banks of the tropical river valleys of South America (Palafito), notably the Amazon and Orinoco river systems. Stilt houses were such a prevalent feature along the shores of Lake Maracaibo that Amerigo Vespucci was inspired to name the region "Venezuela" (little Venice). As the costs of hurricane damage increase more and more houses along the Gulf Coast are being built as or converted to stilt houses.[8]

Types of stilt house[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ David M. Bush (June 2004). Living with Florida's Atlantic beaches: coastal hazards from Amelia Island to Key West. Duke University Press. pp. 263–264. ISBN 978-0-8223-3289-3. Retrieved 27 March 2011. 
  2. ^ Our Experts. Our Living World 5. Ratna Sagar. p. 63. ISBN 978-81-8332-295-9. Retrieved 27 March 2011. 
  3. ^ Cambodian Heritage Camp yearbook[dead link]
  4. ^ Alan W. Ertl (15 August 2008). Toward an Understanding of Europe: A Political Economic Précis of Continental Integration. Universal-Publishers. p. 308. ISBN 978-1-59942-983-0. Retrieved 28 March 2011. 
  5. ^ Francesco Menotti (2004). Living on the lake in prehistoric Europe: 150 years of lake-dwelling research. Psychology Press. pp. 22–25. ISBN 978-0-415-31720-7. Retrieved 29 March 2011. 
  6. ^ Paul Rainbird (14 June 2004). The archaeology of Micronesia. Cambridge University Press. pp. 92–98. ISBN 978-0-521-65630-6. Retrieved 27 March 2011. 
  7. ^ Dindy Robinson (15 August 1996). World cultures through art activities. Libraries Unlimited. pp. 64–65. ISBN 978-1-56308-271-9. Retrieved 27 March 2011. 
  8. ^ "Fortified Home Design Pioneered on the Texas Gulf Coast". Retrieved 2012-08-01. 

External links[edit]