Type of settlement found in Switzerland, southwest Germany, and northern Italy, characterized by clusters of large wooden stakes found projecting from the muddy floors of established lakes, and associated with Neolithic pottery and a wealth of organic material that was preserved in the waterlogged conditions. When they were first found in the mid 19th century, it was believed that these represented the remains of villages constructed on piles above open water. It has recently been shown, however, that since Neolithic times the water in the lakes has risen to its present level. Originally these structures were built on marshy land around lake shores. The earliest are of the 3rd millennium bc Jura and Chassey cultures, but later examples of the Cortaillod and Lagozza cultures are also known. The latest belong to the later Bronze Age (Urnfield) period.