The Occurrence of Lithic Raw Materials in the Western Part of Central Germany 

Lay summary authored by Thomas Hess. Link to full article:

The western part of Central Germany reveals an extensive archaeological record, including sites dating potentially as far back as the Lower Palaeolithic. Due to its geomorphological features, the region is extraordinarily diverse in terms of the occurrence of lithic raw materials that were used by prehistoric people for the production of tools and weapons. It is virtually impossible to distinguish the various rock types in the area based on macroscopic criteria alone. Nevertheless, only a few studies have addressed this topic so far. In the framework of a research project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) in cooperation with the Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies of the University of Aarhus, the use of lithic raw materials by Late Palaeolithic and Mesolithic groups in Central Germany was systematically analyzed. For this purpose, important raw material outcrops in the study area were sampled, in order to establish a reference collection. The latter comprises a broad range of specimens, including various types of silicified sandstone, siliceous shale, chalcedony, Cretaceous flint, jasper, Jurassic chert, and several variants of Triassic chert.

Colour spectrum of chalcedony occurring in the
western part of Central Germany. Photograph: T. Hess.

The rocks were subsequently described petrographically, using optical microscopy with reflected light. Additionally, selected materials were studied in thin-section. Our article presents a detailed description of lithic raw materials in the Federal State of Hesse and adjacent regions. Furthermore, it contains a diachronic overview of the importance of the respective rock types throughout history. The results of the study give interesting new insights into the formation and distribution of the mentioned raw materials. In combination with GIS-analyses, they contribute to a better understanding of subsistence strategies, mobility patterns, and social networks in the past.    

‘Macroscopic and microscopic view of
rock samples. Figure: T. Hess

Full paper: Hess, T. and Riede, F., 2022. The Occurrence of Lithic Raw Materials in the Western Part of Central Germany. Open Quaternary, 8(1), p.1. DOI:

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