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Zürich, Switzerland

Gibaja J.F.,Institucion Mila y Fontanals | Ibanez J.J.,Institucion Mila y Fontanals | Nielsen E.,Kantonsarchaologie Luzern | Kienholz A.,Kantonsarchaologie Zurich | And 2 more authors.
Quaternary International | Year: 2016

The study of the use-wear marks on the Neolithic reaping knives from the site of Egolzwil 3 (Switzerland, late fifth millennium cal BC) shows that these tools were used to reap cereals by cutting the stems near the ground. The stems were gathered together using the pointed distal end, held in the free hand and cut with the flint blade, in what we term a two-stage reaping method. These types of sickles or reaping knives are found at Neolithic sites in the northern Mediterranean (centre and north of the Iberian Peninsula, Provence in France and continental Italy) from the mid-sixth millennium, in the context of the early Neolithic Cardial Culture, and lasted until the early fourth millennium. Within the tradition of two-stage reaping knives, the Egolzwil type would have been adapted to reaping at a low height in very dense cereal fields. These tools show that the Neolithic groups in the Swiss central plain belonged to the circle of northern Mediterranean farming technical traditions, in their northernmost expression, in contact with the groups in south Germany who reaped with curved sickles whose flint elements were inserted obliquely. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. Source

Coccato A.,Ghent University | Karampelas S.,Gubelin Gem Laboratory | Worle M.,Collection Center | Van Willigend S.,Swiss National Museum | Petrequin P.,University of Franche Comte
Journal of Raman Spectroscopy | Year: 2014

Raman spectroscopy was used for the characterization of seven gem quality green 'jade' samples and three green 'jade' samples of archaeological importance. The results were also compared with those acquired by other nondestructive techniques such as classical gemology, energy-dispersive X-ray fluorescence (EDXRF), ultraviolet-visible-near infrared (UV-Vis-NIR) in absorption, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) in absorption and micro-FTIR in reflectance. Five samples of gem quality and two samples of archaeological interest were found to be 'jadeite jade', whereas two samples of gem quality and one sample of archaeological interest were 'omphacite jade'. Raman spectroscopy is found to be the most efficient method for their characterization. The results were confirmed with EDXRF and micro-FTIR in reflectance. Data acquired using classical gemology, UV-Vis-NIR absorption and FTIR absorption spectroscopy were similar on 'omphacite jade' and 'jadeite jade'. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Source

Morales-Molino C.,University of Bern | Morales-Molino C.,Technical University of Madrid | Vescovi E.,University of Bern | Krebs P.,Swiss Federal Institute of forest | And 5 more authors.
Holocene | Year: 2015

Changes in fire occurrence during the last decades in the southern Swiss Alps make knowledge on fire history essential to understand future evolution of the ecosystem composition and functioning. In this context, palaeoecology provides useful insights into processes operating at decadal-to-millennial time scales, such as the response of plant communities to intensified fire disturbances during periods of cultural change. We provide a high-resolution macroscopic charcoal and pollen series from Guèr, a well-dated peat sequence at mid-elevation (832 m.a.s.l.) in southern Switzerland, where the presence of local settlements is documented since the late Bronze Age and the Iron Age. Quantitative fire reconstruction shows that fire activity sharply increased from the Neolithic period (1–3 episodes/1000 year) to the late Bronze and Iron Age (7–9 episodes/1000 year), leading to extensive clearance of the former mixed deciduous forest (Alnus glutinosa, Betula, deciduous Quercus). The increase in anthropogenic pollen indicators (e.g. Cerealia-type, Plantago lanceolata) together with macroscopic charcoal suggests anthropogenic rather than climatic forcing as the main cause of the observed vegetation shift. Fire and controlled burning were extensively used during the late Roman Times and early Middle Ages to promote the introduction and establishment of chestnut (Castanea sativa) stands, which provided an important wood and food supply. Fire occurrence declined markedly (from 9 to 5–6 episodes/1000 year) during late Middle Ages because of fire suppression, biomass removal by human population, and landscape fragmentation. Land-abandonment during the last decades allowed forest to partly re-expand (mainly Alnus glutinosa, Betula) and fire frequency to increase. © The Author(s) 2014. Source

Mannes D.,Paul Scherrer Institute | Lehmann E.,Paul Scherrer Institute | Schmidt-Ott K.,Swiss National Museum | Przychowski A.V.,Museum Rietberg | And 4 more authors.
Insight: Non-Destructive Testing and Condition Monitoring | Year: 2014

The use of non-invasive and non-destructive methods is highly relevant for cultural heritage objects in particular, due to their uniqueness and the often high cost of material as well as immaterial value. It is, however, of great importance to gain a simple overview of their material distribution, the manufacturing techniques, the provenance and the current condition (for example the determination of possible damage) by transmission imaging techniques. While X-ray imaging is often sufficient for such investigations, there are numerous cases where the method reaches its limits. Here, the complementarities of neutrons applied in a similar manner can provide new insights into the object studied. The better transmission for metals and the higher contrast for organic materials can already be exploited in the simple neutron radiography mode. More advanced are the neutron tomography methods, which are available at the neutron imaging facilities of the Paul Scherrer Institut (PSI) on a wide dimensional scale range. Virtual slices through the objects at arbitrary positions enable deeper perceptions and also dimensional determinations in full 3D. Further methodical improvements have been developed. Narrowing the neutron energy band allows information on the microcrystalline structure to be obtained directly, and using phase-contrast and dark-field techniques by means of a grating interferometer device enables a deeper understanding of the material compositions and structures. The examples in this paper are chosen to demonstrate the application range of neutron imaging and the performance of the different set-ups. Source

Karampelas S.,Gubelin Gem Laboratory | Worle M.,Swiss National Museum | Hunger K.,Swiss National Museum | Lanz H.,Swiss National Museum | And 2 more authors.
Gems and Gemology | Year: 2010

The gemstones that adorn a late-16th-century ciborium from Einsiedeln Abbey in Einsiedeln, Switzerland, were investigated by nondestructive gemological methods and EDXRF and Raman spectroscopy at the Collections Center of the Swiss National Museum. The ciborium is decorated with 17 colored stones: 10 almandine garnets, four grossular garnets, and three sapphires. Inclusions in the sapphires and a historic description of the piece suggest a Sri Lankan origin for the gems. © 2010 Gemological Institute of America. Source

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