Introduction

Neolithic and Bronze Age wetland sites around the Alps (so called pile-dwellings, Pfahlbauten in German  or palafittes in French) are of outstanding universal value (UNESCO-world heritage since 2011). Typical sites are in lakes, rivers and bogs, dating between 5300 and 800 BC. Of common character is the perfect conservation of wood, textiles from plant fabrics and many other organic materials. Larger quantities of sub-fossilized wood, as in the peri-alpine sites, offer the possibility of high-precision dating by dendrochronology. Through large scale of initial research from the 19th century, and further, since the 1970s, excavations and the evolution of underwater archaeology the Swiss accumulated a thorough experience with these specific sites. European research in wetland sites has led to a worldwide unique accumulation of knowledge. Comparable sites exist outside of the Alpine area. Regions like Russia (small lakes in NW-Russia) and Macedonia (medium size lakes in the border zone of Macedonia, Albania and Greece) have a high scientific potential; rivers in Ukraine are supposed to have the same type of sites.

This SCOPES Institutional partnership (IP), funded by Swiss National Science (SNF) Foundation, was established in order to build up a scientific network in Neolithic and wetland archaeology and to transfer knowledge from Switzerland, as one of the worldwide leading countries in this field, to the participating Eastern European countries. The further aims of IP are to concentrate on an improvement of archaeological field techniques (mainly underwater archaeology/documentation under water/diving security) and dating methods.

Dendrochronology is by far the most precise dating method available, but this method is not yet widely applied in Russia, Macedonia and Ukraine. The combined application of locally developed dendrochronological calendars and radiocarbon dating is most promising. All EE-sites have the potential to give new insights on the process of the Neolithisation of Europe.

To achieve the aims of the IP proposal several jointly organized central events have been scheduled and already fulfilled.  The closest event in the frames of the NEENAWA project is scheduled for May 2017. In order to improve teaching capacities and to promote EE archaeology in Switzerland a seminar for students is organized at University of Bern (U-Bern), Institute of Archaeological Science (IAS). The seminar on Neolithic Archaeology is a joint teaching activity of the three EE countries. The theme of the seminar is „Neolithisation of Eastern Europe”. Participants are MA students from University of Bern and other Swiss universities. Lecturers are the project countries team members and staff from their institutes.

In August 2017 the European Scientific Diver course (ESD course) is scheduled to be held in Ohrid (Macedonia). The course is organized by U-Bern in close collaboration with collaboration partner Hemmenhofen Training Centre for Inland Water Archaeology, Hemmenhofen, Germany, recognized partner of the UNESCO UNITWIN Network of Underwater Archaeology.

 The European Scientific Diving Committee was set up as interim commission based on a meeting of experts in scientific diving and underwater sciences held in Germany in summer. The official ESDCourse was established in autumn of the same year. In the year 2009, the ESDC was adopted as a panel of the Marine Board of the European Science Foundation, and was therefore renamed to European Scientific Diving Panel (ESDP). Objectives of the ESDP are to encourage international mobility in the European scientific diving community through the implementation of a practical support framework; to promote safety in scientific diving across Europe and to advance underwater scientific excellence in Europe. European Scientific Diving Panel (ESDP) enhances substantially job chances for young archaeologists. Participants are divers CMAS ** or relevant certificates, BA/MA, postdoc level holders from the partner countries.

The final public event of the SNF-SCOPES NEENAWA project “Network in Eastern European Neolithic and Wetland Archaeology for the improvement of field techniques and dating methods” is the open seminar “WETLAND ARCHAEOLOGY and PREHISTORIC NETWORKS in EUROPE”