Horgen culture

The Horgen culture is one of several archaeological cultures belonging to the Neolithic period of Switzerland. The Horgen culture may derive from the Pfyn culture and early Horgen pottery is similar to the earlier Cortaillod culture pottery of Twann, Switzerland.[1] It is named for one of the principal sites, in Horgen, Switzerland.

Horgen culture
Geographical rangeSouthern Germany and Switzerland near Lake Constance, Rhine river basin.
PeriodLater Neolithic
Dates3,500–2,850 BC
Characteristicssimple pottery, well-developed stone tools, lake shore settlements
Preceded byPfyn culture


Dates and locations of prehistoric Swiss cultures

The Horgen culture started around 3500/3400 cal BC and lasting until 2850 cal BC. Tree ring dates range from 3370 – 2864 BC.[1]


The Horgen core area is in Northern Switzerland and Southwest Germany near Lake Constance, but it may have reached farther north along the Rhine River.[1] It may have had ties to the French Seine-Oise-Marne culture. [2] Sites include Horgen, Hauterive-Champréves, Eschenz and Zürich.

At Feldmeilen-Vorderfeld and Meilen on the right bank of Lake Zurich near Zürich, four layers of Pfyn culture artifacts (4350-3950 BC calibrated) are followed by five Horgen culture (3350-2950 BC) layers were found at Feldmeilen. In nearby Meilen, one Pfyn layer (4250-4000 BC) followed by three Horgen (3300-2500 BC) layers were discovered.[3]


Archäologie im Parkhaus Opéra - Ausstellung im Tiefparkhaus Sechseläutenplatz - Horgener Kultur - Fragment eines Topfes mit (!) Verzierungen 2014-10-31 17-09-36
Horgen culture ceramic, found at Sechseläutenplatz, Zürich, Grabung Parkhaus Opéra

There were three phases of pottery; early, middle and late. The early pottery exhibits an affinity with the Pfyn and maybe the Cortaillod at Twann, Switzerland. The spindle whorls on the pottery may indicate connections to the southern Funnelbeaker culture and early Baden culture. The middle phase (found at Naschdorf-Strandbad, Lake Constance and Dullenried, Federsee) may be influenced by more westerly traditions. The final Horgen phase exhibits similarities to the Burgerroth, Wartberg, and Goldberg III cultures.[1]

The pottery was less refined and decorated than the earlier Cortaillod culture. However, the flint industry was well developed and produced elegant stone tools.[2]

Pigs became increasingly important during the Horgen era. Pig bones were the most common bones found in the village midden heaps, accounting for up to 70% of all bones.[4]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Comparative Archeology Web Archived 2010-11-02 at the Wayback Machine accessed 28 June 2010
  2. ^ a b Barbara A. Purdy; National Endowment for the Humanities; University of Florida (1988). Wet site archaeology. CRC Press. pp. 80–. ISBN 978-0-936923-08-6. Retrieved 28 June 2010.
  3. ^ Rainer Berger; Hans Eduard Suess (1979). Radiocarbon dating: proceedings of the ninth international conference, Los Angeles and La Jolla, 1976. University of California Press. pp. 104–107. ISBN 978-0-520-03680-2. Retrieved 7 July 2010.
  4. ^ Francesco Menotti (2004). Living on the lake in prehistoric Europe: 150 years of lake-dwelling research. Routledge. pp. 154–. ISBN 978-0-415-31719-1. Retrieved 28 June 2010.

Altnau is a municipality in the district of Kreuzlingen in the canton of Thurgau in Switzerland.

Cortaillod culture

The Cortaillod culture is one of several archaeologically defined cultures belonging to the Neolithic period of Switzerland. The Cortaillod Culture in the west of the region is contemporary with the Pfyn Culture

in the east and dates from between 3900-3500 BC. The Classic Cortaillod Culture of the western Alpine foreland and the Early Cortaillod Culture of central Switzerland pre-date this at 4300-3900 BC.

Evidence such as higher frequencies of dog bones and pendants made from dog metapodials suggests a special relationship between dog and man during the later part of this period in the western part and the early Horgen culture in the eastern part of the Alpine foreland.


Eschenz is a municipality in Frauenfeld District in the canton of Thurgau in Switzerland.

Freienbach–Hurden Rosshorn

Freienbach–Hurden Rosshorn is one of the 111 serial sites of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps, of which are 56 located in Switzerland.


Gletterens is a municipality in the district of Broye, in the canton of Fribourg, Switzerland.

It is home to the Les Grèves prehistoric pile-dwelling (or stilt house) settlements that are part of the Prehistoric Pile dwellings around the Alps UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Greifensee–Storen–Wildsberg is one of the 111 serial sites of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps, of which are 56 located in Switzerland.

Grosser Hafner

Grossner Hafner is one of the 111 serial sites of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps, of which are 56 located in Switzerland.


Horgen is a municipality in the district of Horgen in the canton of Zürich in Switzerland.

It is one of the larger towns along the south bank of the Lake of Zurich.

On 1 January 2018 the former municipality of Hirzel merged into the municipality of Horgen.

Kleiner Hafner

Kleiner Hafner is one of the 111 serial sites of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps, of which are 56 located in Switzerland.


Lüscherz is a municipality in the Seeland administrative district in the canton of Bern in Switzerland.

Megalithic entrance

A megalithic entrance is an architectonic feature that enables access to a megalithic tomb or structure. The design of the entrance has to seal the access to the cultic structure in such a way that it is possible to gain access to the interior again, even after a long time, in order to perform rituals. To that end, the practitioners of Nordic megalith architecture, the Wartberg culture and Horgen culture, used several variants, that are also found in other megalithic regions in identical or slightly modified form.

As the solutions were refined in detail, they all had in common the aim of sealing the structure that its re-opening was possible under difficult but manageable conditions by the tribal community.

In general the following forms of entrance may be differentiated:

Simple dolmens (upper image)

1. no entrance

2. entrance on the top

3. half-height entrance sealed with a closure stone

4. full height half-width stone (with passage)Dolmens (except No. 4)

5. squared entrance (eingewinkelter Zugang)

6. additional entrance to the external passagePassage graves (lower image)

7. triangular entrance

8. portal entrance (with lintel)

9. low passage entrance in front of a portalGallery graves and stone cists

10. round (or similarly shaped) port-holeVariation 7 has its focus in the Swedish Bohuslän (Dolmen of Haga). The stones forming the entrance were so selected or fashioned that together they form a triangular entrance (top left). This special form, which effectively replaces the lintel, is also found in the region of Languedoc-Roussillon, e.g. at the dolmen of Banelle, which lies near Saint-Hippolyte-du-Fort in the southern French department of Gard.

The portal entrance used a lintel, a horizontal block placed over two lower supporting stones in order to level out the distance to the capstone. This enabled access, usually only by crawling, through a trilithon opening (top centre), and may be seen across the whole area where Nordic megalithic architecture occurs.

In portal-like openings in the chamber wall, which, for example, have been made by leaving out a supporting stone, (bottom image: above right and below right), a passage in front of the chamber allows the cross-section of the entrance to be reduced. An example of this type of construction is the Sieben Steinhäuser in Lower Saxony. Such "chambers without (detected) passages" may be found in the Netherlands and Schleswig-Holstein. The entrance location and size determines, ultimately, whether the structure is a passage grave or a dolmen (J. Ross). In the Netherlands (Drenthe), where this form is very common, structures with no passages are known as portal graves; which otherwise, as portal tombs form a sub-group of megalithic tombs on the British Isles but structurally have nothing in common with the sites in the province of Drenthe.

Variation 7 is not dissimilar to the so-called port-hole (bottom left), in which the front stone or, as in the diagram, two front stones are hewn out so as to create a circular access hole. The slabs were made of a material that enabled contemporary methods and tools to be used to fashion them. This version occurs Central Europe at sites built by the Wartberg and Horgen cultures in Baden-Württemberg and Switzerland. Some Swedish so-called megalithic stone cists also have port-holes. In German, such a hole is known as a Seelenloch ("soul hole"), a name that originated because of the erroneous assumption that holes were created with the intention of releasing the soul of the deceased (in the minds of the builders). In the Bronze and Iron Age sites on Sardinia and the Iberian Peninsula, similar openings are found, that are also narrow, but nearer the ground, and apse-like, (recess-shaped) with embedded closure stones.

Another feature of ground-level entrances is a so-called stone sill (Schwellenstein). This separates the secular or profane area of the passage from the sacred burial chamber. In some cases, it also serves to support the closure stone or slab. In some embedded simple dolmens and portal tomb it is so high that it forms a half-height front stone, enabling access above it, and is thus part of the wall of the chamber.


The Neolithic ( (listen), also known as the "New Stone Age"), the final division of the Stone Age, began about 12,000 years ago when the first developments of farming appeared in the Epipalaeolithic Near East, and later in other parts of the world.

The division lasted until the transitional period of the Chalcolithic from about 6,500 years ago (4500 BC), marked by the development of metallurgy, leading up to the Bronze Age and Iron Age. In Northern Europe, the Neolithic lasted until about 1700 BC, while in China it extended until 1200 BC. Other parts of the world (including the New World) remained broadly in the Neolithic stage of development until European contact.The Neolithic comprises a progression of behavioral and cultural characteristics and changes, including the use of wild and domestic crops and of domesticated animals.The term Neolithic derives from the Greek νέος néos, "new" and λίθος líthos, "stone", literally meaning "New Stone Age". The term was coined by Sir John Lubbock in 1865 as a refinement of the three-age system.

Neolithic Europe

Neolithic Europe is the period when Neolithic technology was present in Europe, roughly between 7000 BCE (the approximate time of the first farming societies in Greece) and c. 1700 BCE (the beginning of the Bronze Age in Scandinavia). The Neolithic overlaps the Mesolithic and Bronze Age periods in Europe as cultural changes moved from the southeast to northwest at about 1 km/year – this is called the Neolithic Expansion.The duration of the Neolithic varies from place to place, its end marked by the introduction of bronze implements: in southeast Europe it is approximately 4,000 years (i.e. 7000 BCE–3000 BCE) while in parts of Northwest Europe it is just under 3,000 years (c. 4500 BCE–1700 BCE).

The spread of the Neolithic from the Near East Neolithic to Europe was first studied quantitatively in the 1970s, when a sufficient number of 14C age determinations for early Neolithic sites had become available. Ammerman and Cavalli-Sforza discovered a linear relationship between the age of an Early Neolithic site and its distance from the conventional source in the Near East (Jericho), thus demonstrating that, on average, the Neolithic spread at a constant speed of about 1 km/yr. More recent studies confirm these results and yield the speed of 0.6–1.3 km/yr at 95% confidence level.

Pfyn culture

The Pfyn Culture is one of several archaeological cultures of the Neolithic period in Switzerland. It dates from c. 3900 BC to c. 3500 BC.

Prehistoric pile dwellings around Lake Zurich

Prehistoric pile dwellings around Lake Zurich comprises 11 – or 10% of all European pile dwelling sites – of a total of 56 prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps in Switzerland, that are located around Lake Zurich in the cantons of Schwyz, St. Gallen and Zürich.

Quaianlagen (Zürich)

Quaianalagen (German, plural; English: quays, or quaysides; from French: des quais) or Seeuferanlagen (German, plural for lakeshore sites) on Lake Zürich (German: Zürichsee) is a series of lakefronts in Zürich. Inaugurated in 1887, the quaysides are considered an important milestone in the development of Zürich. The construction of the lake fronts transformed the medieval small town on the rivers Limmat and Sihl to a modern city on the Lake Zürich shore. The project was managed by engineer Arnold Bürkli.

Sechseläutenplatz, Zürich

Sechseläutenplatz (literally: Sechseläuten square) is the largest town square situated in Zürich, Switzerland. Its name derives from the Sechseläuten (the city's traditional spring holiday), which is celebrated on the square in April.

Seine–Oise–Marne culture

The Seine–Oise–Marne or SOM culture is the name given by archaeologists to the final culture of the Neolithic and first culture of the Chalcolithic in northern France and southern Belgium.

It lasted from around 3100 to 2000 BCE and is most famous for its gallery grave megalithic tombs which incorporate a port-hole slab separating the entrance from the main burial chamber. In the chalk valley of the River Marne rock-cut tombs were dug to a similar design. Some have examples of megalithic art with images of axes, breasts and necklaces carved on their walls.Diagnostic artefacts include transverse arrowheads, antler sleeves and crude, flat-based cylindrical and bucket-shaped pottery decorated with appliqué cordons. The SOM culture had trade links with neighbouring cultures enabling the use of Callaïs and Grand Pressingy flint imported from Brittany and the Loire and later, the use of copper.

The culture seems to have had strong links with other areas and may have arisen from a composite of influences as indicated by the gallery grave design common across Europe and the pottery types which have comparators in Western France from 2600BC and also in Brittany, Switzerland and Denmark.


Unterlunkhofen is a municipality in the district of Bremgarten in the canton of Aargau in Switzerland.



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