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Material name: Jurassic chert from Lägern
Synonyms: N/A
Material (geologic): Jurassic chert, colour probably secondary

Detail of typical brownish chert
Foto: Matthias Rummer, 2001

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General characteristics

(In part adapted from Zurbuchen 1980a and Zurbuchen & Hauser)

  As we are redesigning the navigation for this region, this preliminary page is meant to give you in the meantime an impression of the locality and the material therefrom.
Geographical setting: View of the Laegern from the Southwest
Foto: Andreas Kinne, 2001
  The Lägern is a small, East-West oriented steep mountain range reaching 850 m asl. to the Northwest of Zürich in Switzerland. It stretches over about 10 kilometers, flanked in the East by the town of Regensberg and Wettingen in the West. About half way to the South lies Otelfingen as a good starting point to reach the sample site. Above 700 meters, the Jurassic limestones are exposed, the lower slopes are covered by Tertiary Molasse (for a geological section see Zurbuchen 1980a). The prehistoric flint mine is situated on the border between the primary limestones and the Tertiary cover.

In the picture above you are looking at the Lägern range from the Southwest at Wettingen. The sampling site lies towards the center of the foto, shortly underneath the top.

Material and colour: The chert found here has a predominantly brownish yellow (10YR 6/6) to yellowish brown (10YR 5/4) and light olive brown (2.5Y 5/6) colour, but weak red (7.5R 4/3) to red (7.5R 4/5-6) as well as grey hues are present too. The material is mostly very fine and shows very slight banding.
The brownish chert is strongly reminiscent of "Bohnerzjaspis", the secondary coloured Jurassic chert from Southern Germany.
Other information: The site at Lägern-Weiherboden has been recognized as a flint mining site around 1970. Most mining pits seem to have exploited the residual loam with chert instead of the primary limestone. A small excavation in 1982 showed evidence for mining in relatively shallow pits. The dating of the site remains somewhat problematic. Two 14C datings gave an age of BC 401-169 (2σ range) and AD 1468-1684 (2σ) respectively. The first date is supported by the find of Iron Age pottery in the same depth. On the other hand, the brownish chert from this site seems to have been quite a popular material in the Stone Age in Central Switzerland, with distribution ranges of 60 to 80 kilometers.
Knapping notes: As we took only a very small sample, by necessity cultural material only, we didn't do any experimental knapping ourselves. The flakes we found however, indicate very good knapping properties. One of the characteristics of the cultural material from the Lägern, as shown by the core below too, is a very sloppy processing of the chert. A lot of material shows hardly any signs of preparation and was literally smashed to pieces. This could be a sign, that most refuse dates to later prehistoric periods.
Archaeological description: See above.

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Locality: Islochweg, Otelfingen-Lägern, Zürich canton, Switzerland
Synonyms: Mining site CH 3, according to the catalogue of the museum in Bochum, 3rd edition (Weisgerber et al. (eds.) 1999).
Geographical description: The sampling site lies on the southern side of the Lägern range at a height of approx. 700 meters asl. The site is being cut by a road ("Islochweg"), the material is to be found in the bank of the road as well as on its surface. Towards the North, clear depressions in the woods mark the rests of the mining site.
Geographical co-ordinates: Lat. 47 28' 46" N
Long. 008 22' 42" E
(Mapdatum WGS 84)
Co-ordinate precision: The co-ordinates were taken with a hand held GPS unit, all heights given in the text are taken off large scale maps (Landeskarte der Schweiz 1:50 000, Nr. 215 Baden; 1:25 000, Nr. 1070 Baden).
Other topographical information: To reach Otelfingen, take the exit "Wettingen" off the main motorway A1 (toll road!, when using motorways in Switzerland, you have to buy a Autobahnvignette at the border) or take the local B3 between Basel and Zürich (toll-free) to Wettingen near Baden. Southeast of Wettingen, between Wettingen and Würenlos, take a left hand turn towards the Northeast in the direction of Otelfingen, which is the next town and can be reached by train too. Drive or walk through Otelfingen towards the North, in the direction of the Lägern range, following the signposted road to the Schützenhaus. Shortly before you reach the Schützenhaus, at the end of the public road, there are parking places where you can leave your car. From here, take the footpath in the direction of the Hochwacht.
It might be a good idea to bring one of the topographical maps mentioned above.
Additional information: View of the sampling area with traces of mining
Foto: Andreas Kinne, 2001
  In the picture above you are looking at the mining site from the north. The very clear pits suggest that the visible traces could be not too ancient, something supported by the quite late radiocarbon dates.
Visitors information: The local infrastructure is good, quite a few places to eat and drink are to be found in Otelfingen itself. Worth a visit is nearby Regensberg at the Eastern side of the Lägern, being a well preserved medieval town with at least some places to stay.
If you like hill walking, the ascend towards the summit of the Lägern is worthwhile. Here you find the ruins of a 13th century castle and at the Hochwacht there is a simple, but nice pub with a good view of the Alps (closed on mondays).
Sampling information: Selection of surface-material at sampling site
Foto: Andreas Kinne, 2001
  Getting a good sample of the local chert is quite easy, as it is in ample supply at the surface. As most material are artefacts, restrain from taking too much. In the picture above you see the result of a few minutes of gathering surface material.
For a full-blown picture of this sample, click here (72 KBytes). Flake of typical ochre coloured flint
Foto: Matthias Rummer, 2001
Flake of red flint from Otelfingen
Foto: Matthias Rummer, 2001
SomeDescription WhenNecessary
For a full-blown version of this picture, click here (61 KBytes).
For a full-blown picture of this sample, click here (60 KBytes). Piece of flint with still visible banding
Foto: Matthias Rummer, 2001
Core of typical flint from Otelfingen
Foto: Matthias Rummer, 2001
SomeDescription WhenNecessary
For a full-blown version of this picture, click here (82 KBytes).
Sample description: N/A

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Locality: Steinbruchweg, Otelfingen-Lägern, Zürich canton, Switzerland
Synonyms: N/A
Geographical description: This site lies approx. 800 meters to the East from the site described above at the Islochweg, 50 meters from the entrance of the large quarry. Here, over a length of about 10 meters, the chert bearing loam are exposed in the bank of the road, but the material can be found sparingly in an area of about 50 meters around the road cut in the woods.
Geographical co-ordinates: Lat. 47 28' 45.0" N
Long. 008 23' 22" E
(Mapdatum WGS 84)
Co-ordinate precision: Taken with a hand held GPS receiver, within a dozen or so meters.
Other topographical information: From the site at Islochweg, you follow the footpath towards the East until you get to the entrance of the quarry.
Additional information: View of the sampling area at Steinbruchweg
Foto: Andreas Kinne, 2001
  In the picture above you see the road cut at the entrance of the quarry where the loam with chert is nicely exposed. In contrast to the site at the Islochweg, no signs of mining are visible and the chert is to be found as unworked small nodules.
Visitors information: In addition to the places mentioned above, there is a small hut with a fire place in the quarry where you can stay if you bring a sleeping bag. Don't forget to bring water too.
Sampling information: This site is a lot less rich than the one at the Islochweg, but therefore you can find the chert in its natural state and you don't have to have a bad conscience about taking archaeological relevant material.
For a full-blown picture of this sample, click here (75 KBytes). Split nodule from secundary deposit
Foto: Matthias Rummer, 2001
Sample description: N/A


Last modified on:
December 26, 2001
Contents primarily by:
Andreas Kinne & Rengert Elburg
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