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Žitenice quartzite

Material name: Žitenice quartzite
Synonyms: Skalice quartzite
Material (geologic): Eocene quartzite

Detail of Zitenice quartzite
Foto: Rengert Elburg, 2007

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General characteristics

(In part adapted from Malý et al. 2006 and Malkovský & Vencl 1995

Geographical setting: The source of the Žitenice/Skalice quartzite lies at the southeastern side of the České středohoří (German Böhmisches Mittelgebirge, in English somewhat awkwardly translated by Czech Midmountains). These mountains, or better high hills, of Paleogene (predominantly Oligocene) age are part of the neovolcanics that have broken through the Cretaceous sediments in the Bohemian basin. Near the Dlouhý Vrch these sediments are represented by the Santonian sandstones of the Merboltice Formation (Malý et al. 2006: 462)
Material and colour: Block with sedimentary structures
Foto: Andreas Kinne, 2007
  The Žitenice quartzite occurs in a approx. 10 m thick subhorizontal bank along the southern slopes of the Dlouhý Vrch hill. As you can see in the picture above the original sedimentary structures of the silicified sandstone like cross-bedding have been preserved very well. The coin the top of the exposed block, which serves as a scale in absence of a hammer, is a Czech 20 crown piece, the same size as a 2 Euro coin (diam. 26 mm).
The quartzite is mostly medium- to fine-grained and of light grey to yellowish colour, often with 2-5 mm wide dark grey bands. In the upper part of the bank there are abundant plant fossils, with pieces of silicified wood.
The material we found is mostly not very well cemented, but there are patches which have been very strongly silicified, and the lower part of the quartzite body seems to be of better quality. A very detailed description of the material and its formation is given in Malý et al. 2006, an article that can be found on the server of Geologica Carpathica.

The quartzite is quite similar to the material from Bečov, Zauschwitz/Profen/Pegau and Teufelsmauer (link to be added), but mostly somewhat coarser grained and less well-silicified.

Other information: The name of the material is a bit of a problem as the geological literature describes it as "Skalice quartzite" (Malý et al. 2006), but in the only archaeological publication it's called "Žitenice quartzite" (Malkovský & Vencl 1995: 28-29). As we are mostly interested in the archaeological aspects of the material, we have decided to use the latter name, to prevent further confusion.
Knapping notes: As the identification of this source was a matter of chance during a touristic trip in the area, the sample only consists of some smaller loose pieces that were lying around. We haven't done any experimental knapping with the quartzite, but it doesn't seem to be of very high quality, not to be compared with some of the very good quartzites further to the west.
Archaeological description: Not much is known about the prehistoric use of the Žitenice quartzite, apart from what is mentioned in the article by Malkovský & Vencl. It seems some worked pieces of material have been found near a sandpit north-east of the village of Skalice, but nothing is know about its distribution. We can very well imagine that some pieces of generic quartzite from (Neolithic) sites in Northern Bohemia and Saxony in southeastern Germany could come from this source. But as the material from Bečov is sometimes very similar and much more widely known, mistakes are very probable.

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Locality: Skalice, Litoměřice District, Ústí nad Labem Region, Bohemia, Czech Republic.
Synonyms: Dlouhý vrch; Žitenice; FlintSource sample 537.
Geographical description: The only known occurrence of this material is on the southern slope of a large hill, Dlouhý vrch, three kilometres north of the city of Litoměřice, around the 460 m isohypse.
Geographical co-ordinates: Lat. 50° 34' 18.6" N
Long. 014° 08' 01.3" E
(Mapdatum WGS 84)
Co-ordinate precision: As usual on these pages, the coordinates of the location were taken with a handheld GPS-receiver, and are good enough to get you to the spot where the photo below was taken.
Other topographical information: To get to the exposure you will have to take the small road that connects Litoměřice with Žitenice. Leave the latter village towards the northwest, and after approx. 2 kilometres you find yourself in Skalice. Here you follow the footpath with the green markings until you see the blocks of quartzite sticking out from the side of the wooded hill, like in the photo below.
Additional information: Exposure along footpath
Foto: Andreas Kinne, 2007
  Not a very spectacular sight, but this seems to be the best place to get a sample of the material. There might be other locations nearby, but we didn't see any during our short visit.
Visitors information: The town of Litoměřice is a local centre in Northern Bohemia and has all infrastructure you will need, ranging from a good number of pubs, a railroad station, a camping-site and some other places to spend the night. The landscape in the region of the České středohoří with its numerous volcanoes is downright spectacular, and worth a visit, even if you don't come for the quartzites. It's ideal hiking country, and the Bohemian beers are famed all over the world.
Sampling information: As the sampling of this site was done by chance during a hike through the region, we don't know if there are other, maybe better, exposures around, but at the coordinates given you will be able to collect a representative sample.
  Elongated flake with silicified wood
Foto: Rengert Elburg, 2007
Elongated flake of well-silicified
material with small piece of silicified wood.
length: 64 mm.
Piece with cortex
Foto: Rengert Elburg, 2007
Piece of quartzite with rough 'cortex'.
length: 70 mm
  Flake with coarser patch
Foto: Rengert Elburg, 2007
Flake with coarser patch
size: 36 mm.
Piece with slight patination
Foto: Rengert Elburg, 2007
Piece with slight patination.
size: 52 mm
Sample description: The piece left in the top row a a ventral view of a flake of typical material. Note the darker band at the left side and a small piece of silicified wood top right. Next to it is a photo of the cortex, with some vague impressions of plant remains.
In the next row there is on the left a piece with a patch of coarser grains, coloured by ironhydroxides, and again a darker band, that seems to be connected with the sedimentary structure too. The piece to the right shows some slight whitish patination. It seems the material fromŽitenice/Skalice does patinate quite easily, a feature not very common in this form with quartzites.
Below you see a flake with the original bedding of the sandstone well preserved by the silicification.
  Piece with cross-bedding
Foto: Rengert Elburg, 2007
Piece with slight cross-bedding
size: 67 mm.


Last modified on:
July 11, 2003
Contents primarily by:
Andreas Kinne & Rengert Elburg
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