8 World’s Fair
Switzerland presented its new "identity" around the history of pile dwellings
at the World's Fairs in Paris in 1867 and 1889 and in Vienna in 1873.
With many representations in paintings, reconstructions and findings
the Swiss caused astonishment and great attention.
The fascinated European public experienced
an optimistic view of technical progress at these exhibitions
and the reassurance of their own cultural superiority.
"Primitive" and "exotic" people, mostly from Africa,
whose cultures were portrayed as retrograde,
were shown as a contrast.
Their own pile-dwelling history served as proof
of the "foreigners" lack of development.
European ancestors were credited with the invention
of agriculture and animal husbandry,
and even the beginning of the specialisation of crafts,
which in turn led directly to modern industry.
The combination of the exploratory instinct and enthusiasm typical of the 19th century
can be observed at world exhibitions,
which led to the construction of new historical facts.
One's own "savagery of the past" is reinterpreted
before the eyes of all and is the root of incipient civilisation.
Ferdinand Keller's descriptions were essential
for the interpretations of pile-dwelling history at world exhibitions.
Keller referred to descriptions and illustrations
by the explorer Jules Dumont d'Urville (1790-1842),
who reported on pile dwellings in western New Guinea.
Keller was also familiar with the descriptions
of New Zealand pile dwellings by James Cook (1728-1779).
He combined the reports with findings from his own pile-dwelling history.
This gave rise to the present-day disproved interpretation
of large platforms with individual houses.
At the same time, illustrations from the European colonies were printed in newspapers,
and later also photographs, which brought this foreign world
closer to a broad readership.
The history of pile-dwelling was to be lively and vivid.