When the first lake-dwellings were discovered in 1856, people at once began to explore every site above or below water where the presence of stakes indicated a pile-settlement. These investigations, however, were carried out with no regard for system or stratification ; had it been otherwise the problem under discussion would have been solved then. Unfortunately the collection of masses of objects was the main consideration ; digging was conducted quite haphazard, and was concentrated on those spots where finds were expected. Thus has it come about that the surface of our Swiss lake-dwellings is so riddled with pits that too often it no longer exists at all save as a memory. But when surface-digging proved barren it often happened that excavations were simply discontinued, with the result that the upper layers or those below remained intact. It was this fact which moved the Neuchatel Committee for Archaeological Research to undertake a series of systematic excavations, by means of which a limited number of sites would be uncovered layer by layer, with the least possible disturbance. After several fruitless attempts we have at last found, amongst the most important of our Stone Age sites, some which are virgin and have never been dug into ; and these have enabled us to determine the succession of the different neolithic cultures.
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