Prehistoric pile - dwelling on Lake Ohrid

‘…But those who dwell about mount Pangaion, and about the lake Prasias itself, were not conquered at all by Megabazos. He tried however to remove even those who lived in the lake and who had their dwellings in the following manner:—a platform fastened together and resting upon lofty piles stood in the middle of the water of the lake, with a narrow approach to it from the mainland by a single bridge. The piles which supported the platform were no doubt originally set there by all the members of the community working together, but since that time they continue to set them by observance of this rule, that is to say, every man who marries brings from the mountain called Orbelos three piles for each wife and sets them as supports; and each man takes to himself many wives. And they have their dwelling thus, that is each man has possession of a hut upon the platform in which he lives and of a trap-door756 leading through the platform down to the lake: and their infant children they tie with a rope by the foot, for fear that they should roll into the water. To their horses and beasts of burden they give fish for fodder; and of fish there is so great quantity that if a man open the trap-door and let down an empty basket by a cord into the lake, after waiting quite a short time he draws it up again full of fish. Of the fish there are two kinds, and they call them paprax and tilon.’

In the last decade in collaboration with the famous archeologist Pasko Kuzman underwater research are done on the Ohrid Lake in which a prahistorical remains of pile dwelling are found.

The only one of the found dwellings which was reconstructed is called ‘Plocha Mikov Grad’ (Miko’s city on platform) by the name of the men, instructor of underwater activities, Milutin Sekulovic- Miko, who found the dwelling in 1997.

‘Plocha Mikov Grad’ is a part of the Water Museum. Water Museum is located 20 km from Ohrid, by the Ohrid Lake, after the village Pestani, next to camp Gradiste

This museum complex has tree components:
• A reconstructed part of a prehistoric settlement on a platform above
water, built on wooden piles attached to the lake bottom;
• Accessible museum building and a diving base
• The Gradishte – Roman castrum

On this site with underwater activities were registered 6000 remains of wooden piles at the bottom of the lake at depth of 3-5 m which were the support most probably of a common platform on which about twenty prehistoric dwelling building built also of wood functioned. Based on the re-measurements of the surface area of the settlement it was determined that it had spread on a surface of about 8500 m2. It was built on a platform of wooden piles attached to the bottom of the lake. Because of the type of the material used to built this settlements (timber, reed and straw), they were often renewed. That explains the concentration of the piles in the bottom of the lake. The settlement was connected with the shore by a light path – a bridge built in the same manner and with the same material. The bridge was lifted up at night for protection of the animals and enemies. Based on the results of the underwater field investigations and based on the analysis of the movable archaeological material this pile dwelling settlement belonged to the Late Bronze Age and the beginnings of Iron Age, i.e. the period between 1500 and 700 BC.

The settlement which is reconstructed on Lake Ohrid has 7 houses built on a platform which is supported on 1200 piles.

In the diving base, tourist who would like to dive and explore could have that chance, guided by an diving instructor.

In the near future there will be a restaurant with a great view on the settlement and the lake with traditional Macedonian food. At the moment this complex offers coffee terrace in front of the settlement.

The reconstructed interior of the settlement is shown on the next pictures.

Part of the remains that are found on this site are presented in the museum. The museum also has an aquarium in which the piles as they were put under water are presented.

The bay in which this settlement is found and rebuilt is called Bay of the Bones, because of the animal bones found on the site, which is characteristic of the period of which this settlement is.

The museum is connected with a Roman trail with another ancient monument the Roman castrum, that is a fortification from the 2 century BC.

The last few years with these underwater activities several pile dwellings are found in the lake Ohrid. One of these settlements is found near the village Trpejca in the bay which locals call ‘Na Dol’ and onother one in northern Riviera of the village Pestani in the recently named Bay of Bombs (because of the bombs found in the water from the First World War).

On a beautiful location, with great scenery, with the efforts of great archeologist Pasko Kuzman, The Ohrid diving club and the Ministry of Culture of RM which invested 2 million Euros for this project, Ohrid and the tourists have unique opportunity on the Balkan with these kind of presentation to go back in time from the prehistory to Roman time and back to the present on the beautiful perl Lake Ohrid