The last Mesolithic hunter-gatherers (9500-5500 BC) lived in the forest-covered area with their camps based on the lake shores in Lausanne-Vidy. Farming and live-stock breeding developed during the Neolithic period (5500-2200 BC). Cultivating fields ensured this population which was no longer nomadic could be fed. The forest was cleared and villages were established, particularly at the edge of the lake, from 4000 BC. Two Neolithic cemeteries and an important line of prehistoric stones still remain in Lutry (at the western end of the Lavaux site) as a reminder of this period. During the Bronze Age (2200-800 BC) exploitation of the Lake shores and deforestation continued.
A Bimillennial history
History under Roman rule (20 BC to 450 AD) is better known thanks to texts and archaeology: monuments, from then on built in stone, such as villae, sanctuaries and paths line the land. Digs undertaken in Saint-Saphorin, for instance where the church currently lies, show there was continual occupation in Lavaux throughout the period of Roman rule and into the Middle Ages. In the foundations of the church an area has been dedicated to this bi-millennium history.
Source : KAENEL, Gilbert, « Préhistoire et Antiquité », in Lavaux, Vignoble en terrasses face au lac et aux Alpes, Lavaux World Heritage Site Application File for UNESCO, Cully, January 2006, pp. 130-132.