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


Dates and locations of prehistoric Swiss cultures

The Horgen culture started around 3500/3400 cal BC and lasted 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]


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]

The Horgen culture practiced copper smelting to a limited extent, though copper finds are rare and evidence of processing is sporadic.[5] Ötzi the iceman, who was found with a copper axe, also had stone tools of Horgen culture type.[6]


Horgen archer, reconstruction

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.
  5. ^ ielsen, Ebbe (2016). "Neolithic Copper Artefacts from the Canton of Lucerne (Central Switzerland)". Archaologisches Korrespondenzblatt. 46 (2): 149–165. During the late Neolithic Horgen Culture (approx. 3300-2800 BC), copper fnds are rare in eastern and central Switzerland, and evidence of processing is only sporadically established.
  6. ^ Wierer, U. (2018). "The Iceman's lithic toolkit: Raw material, technology, typology and use". PLOS ONE. 13 (6): e0198292. Bibcode:2018PLoSO..1398292W. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0198292. PMC 6010222. PMID 29924811.
  7. ^ Bondar, Maria (2023). "The paradigm shift in the later fourth millennium BC: Why did life change in the Middle Copper Age in the heartland of the Carpathian Basin?". Acta Archaeologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae. 74 (1): 1–21. doi:10.1556/072.2023.00001.