Archaeologists have for long no doubts about the infromation value transmitted by the raw material of prehistoric finds. We can consider the raw material of stone artifacts as a specially valuable and informative source of evidence because it had not been subjected to chemical processes in couurse of the fabrication of the artifact. Therefore, lithic raw materials are primarily well suited for the investigation of former sources and zones of supply. The action radius of a prehistoric community can be studied in the first place by the analysis of the distance separating raw material sources from the archaeological sites. The only condition for this type of investigation would be the unambiguous distinction of the raw material types and their correct allocation to sources.

As soon as the beginnings of Hungarian Palaeolithic research since the beginnings of the century, archaeological sites of the period were primarily investigated by geologists. Consequently, a scientific -geological approach has always been following the traditional typological methods of investigation. As a result of this approach, raw material of the lithic artifacts was looked upon as something important for the analysis of the archaeological assemblage. By the polarisation of branches of science, some break in the continuation of this approach could be observed. In the series of great Palaeolithic monographs the artifact and its raw material were already treated separately. Petrologists were studying the composition, origin and sources of the lithics recovered from the sites.

Raw material studies were performed in these days - same as before - mainly in connection with the investigation of Palaeolithic materials. As the raw material set for chipped stone artifacts of the more recent periods are basically the same, though possessing a lower relative importance among the finds, their statements can be used in all archaeological periods when chipped stone artifacts were in use.

Petroarchaeological analyses attained a fresh impetus since the 70-ies. Casual interdisciplinary collaboration of the previous period was substituted by expedient work. Intensive research of raw materials were started along two lines:

- the investigation of certain special materials (obsidian, Szeletian felsitic porphyry, hydrothermal and limnic quartzites) and their distribution in space and time

- investigation of certain geographical regions from the point of raw material (e.g. silex varieties of the Transdanubian Mid-Mountains or the M tra foothill region)

In the meantime, the scope of investigations became wider. In the complex project of 'Industrial archaeology', various techniques, raw materials and processes of manufacturing were incorporated.

Information on lithic raw materials accumulated by 1985 to a level where organization of a conference on 'Prehistoric Flint Mining and Lithic Raw Material Identification in the Carpathian Basin' became actual. The Lithotheca owes its existence to this very meeting. The history of the core of the collection is consequently fairly short, though individual items of the collection may already have a 'research historical' value in themselves. The basic fond of the collection comprises four main constituents: 1, It was considered as an important task for the organisers of the Conference to present a representative exhibition of the most important Hungarian lithic raw materials. To answer this need, intensive and systematical collecting trips and field surveys were performed. After the Conference, this small exhibition was incorporated into the Prehistoric Collection of the Hungarian National Museum.

2, In course of the years, in different public collections - in the first place, the Hungarian Geological Survey - and private collectors important material was accumulated falling within the scope of the Lithotheca. On the foundation of the collection and ever since, numerous experts and amateurs have contributed to the comparative raw material collection by transferring at least part of their collections for the benefit of the Lithotheca.

3, Foreign colleagues taking part on the Conference were asked to bring or to send, if possible, from the most important raw material types in use in their countries. These samples were also incorporated by the collection.

4, We have collected left-overs, preparata and control pieces of former and current petroarchaeological analyses on archaeological and/or geological samples in a separate fond within the collection.

We are greatly indebted to all Hungarian and foreign collectors who contributed the collection. The list of collectors is enclosed here - at least for the material covered by the Catalogue.

The incrementation of the collection is continuous. In the first place we are concentrating on raw materials within the Carpathian Basin occurring, naturally, as most frequent items on our archaeological sites. From these points we are aiming at collecting extra quantities for an exchange stock; list of the localities and raw materials according to the current availability is enclosed at the end of this book.

In function of the distance from the Carpathian Basin, the amount of raw materials represented in the Lithotheca are naturally decreasing. There are however certain areas in Europe where, due to existing personal contacts, raw material varieties are fairly well represented in our collection and there are areas where much work is needed as yet.

The Catalogue reflects state of affairs in 1989. Naturally, the collecting activity was not stopped and we have very important new acquisitions from several regions of utmost importance. Also we can, and do help in similar efforts of colleagues and fellow institutions by way of our exchange stock. From the regions outside Europe we have but a few and fairly casual samples. In spite of this investigations of the past few years have already proved that even these scattered poieces of information can also be used to the advantage in characterising finds of remote places.

We are confident that the present volume will open new possibilities of acquuisition for us; also we do hope that in the near future, possibilities of a European Raw Material atlas will emerge in frames of multinational interdisciplinary collaboration.

A catalogue is necessarily regulated by restrictions concerning contents and format. It was not in our means, neither in our purpose to check or complete the original information supplied by the collector on deficiently documented or so far not adequately known samples; we are confident that accessibility and a mere description on unified aspects in itself help us in opening up existing information. At the same time we are making an effort to assure a systematical investigation of the collection for increasing its documentation and scientific value.

The topographical accuracy of our data is also burdened by compromises. The scale of the maps do not support the exact location of the sources much rather reflects areas rich in raw material sources and/or higher degree of petroarchaeological cognoscence. Marking all spots of collection, especially at localities rich in varied kinds of raw material would be impossible. The geographical coordinates attached to each site given, where it was possible, with the accuracy of degrees and minutes helps in assigning the source to very narrow limits but does not facilitate finding the actual outcrop. For this the reader should consult more detailed information hopefully existing in the references and geological maps.

The volume is closed by the extract of analysis reports and list of most important references.



The authors are indebted to all who made the compilation of the comparative raw material collection and the present Catalogue possible; collectors contributing the collection specialists performing instrumental analyses, friends for good advice and encouragement. We would like to express special thanks to Barbara Voytek for sending us a Munsell Rock Color Chart which helped essentially in systematical descriptions and Csaba Németh for his valuable help in locating remote localities on all available maps. For computer facilities and software supporting this project we must thank the Archaeological Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the National Centre of Museums.

Key of symbols and abbreviations

Lithotheca inv. nr.:

To avoid possible interactions and answer special needs of describing material beyond traditional inventorisation habits elaborated for archaeological finds, objects belonging to the Lithotheca are inventorised separately. The Lithotheca is a part of the Palaeolithic fond of the Prehistoric Collection of the Hungarian National Museum, recorded in a separate inventory. Elements of the inventory number comprise:

L = Lithotheca special collection

86 = year of acquisition for the collection without centuries

1- = incrementation by the year, starting from 1 annualy

Other inv. nr.:

In case the sample has been a part of any inventorised collection, archaeological or geological, or any marks facilitating identification were added on them, these are registered in this column.


Number of pieces inventorised under 1 item, without possible exchange stock

Collected by:

Name of the collector, in most cases the person who donated it to the collection and supplied basic information. In case the piece comes from an archaeological assemblage, typically the leader of the excavation or the person in charge of the material is named.

Exchange material available:

T (True) = exchange material available

F (False) = no exchange material available

Name of the rock:

Possibly the most general term referring to the rock in petroarchaeological technical literature known to us or given according to the information of the collector


Names generally used to denote the rock in technical literature or mapping practice. Outdated names are marked with an asterisk (*)

Genetical group:

Origin of the rock as known from the circumstances of the locality or deduced from the sample

Geological age:

Formation of the rock in generally accepted geochronological terminology. In case the collector is using a special (local) term or determined the rock amidst closer units, this term was used

Character of the locality:

PG = primary geological source, found in the bedrock

SG = secondary geological source, to some extent, reworked (transported from original position)

A = archaeological; samples coming from archaeological localities or pieces with obvious traces of working


L = local; distribution of the rock not exceeding a day's walking distance

R = regional; raw material of regional distribution. Flexible category changing by age and culture. Roughly, this term denotes raw materials used by the people/cultural unit inhabiting the environs of the source. The category can be delineated very tediously as yet but has a very important historical message.

LD = long distance goods ─ travelling over hundreds of miles from the source area, a 'cross-cultural' item

Local exploitation:

M = mine

W = workshop

S = settlement, archaeological site

- = no data


the locality the sample was obtained from, whether geological or archaeological. Details are given in the following scheme:

Country - abbreviated according to international symbols for cars

mountain, county or district name of the current settlement and possible closer allocation of the source

Coordinates (Lat./long.):

Geographical coordinates in the Greenwhich system, by latitude and longitude, with the accuracy of degrees and minutes, if possible

Description: apparent description of the rock by macroscopic inspection. As a next phase the samples were described according to the following criteria:

Munsell-colour: Code of the characteristic colour of the sample according to the Munsell 'Rock Color Chart' of 1984


0 = completely non-transparent

1 = slightly translucent by the edges

2 = translucent by the edges

3 = translucent

4 = translucent - transparent

5 = completly transparent


apparent features of the texture observable macroscopically, grain size, degree of crystallinity


Distinctive features like changes of colour, spots, stripes and inclusions


Dealing primarily with raw materials for chipped stone implements, fracture is an important feature of the sample


description of the natural surface gloss of the samples, termed in increasing order: lustreless, dull, greasy, waxy, silky, opalescent-porcelainish and glassy. Special gloss effects were described as resinous, metallic and pitch-like lustre.


marks were given on a scale of 1-5 according to suitability for the production of chipped stone artifacts:

1 = not suited for chipped artifacts

2 = poor quality

3 = medium quality

4 = good

5 = excellent

- = the sample is not suited for the production of chipped stone artifacts (but can be used, e.g. for polished implements or other utensiles known from archaeological record).


TS = petrographical thin section (mineralogical composition, texture, microfossils)

NAA = neutron activation analysis (trace elements)

OES = optical emission spectroscopy (trace elements)

K = chemical analysis of the main components

TH = thermal experiment (weathering properties)

TA = thermal analysis (mineral phases, water content)

XRD = X-ray diffraction analysis (mineral phases)

EDS = eelectron energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry (main components)

OHD = obsidian hydration dating (archaeological age)

IR = infra-red spectroscopy (mineral phases)

FTD = fission track dating (geological age)

SEM = scanning electron microscopy (surface morphology)

XRF = X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (trace elements)

Reference nr.: code denoting the register of the analyses if existing

References: bibliographical references on the sample