August 03, 2012

Neolithic fire starting technology

PLoS ONE 7(8): e42213. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0042213

The Earliest Matches

Naama Goren-Inbar et al.

Cylindrical objects made usually of fired clay but sometimes of stone were found at the Yarmukian Pottery Neolithic sites of Sha‘ar HaGolan and Munhata (first half of the 8th millennium BP) in the Jordan Valley. Similar objects have been reported from other Near Eastern Pottery Neolithic sites. Most scholars have interpreted them as cultic objects in the shape of phalli, while others have referred to them in more general terms as “clay pestles,” “clay rods,” and “cylindrical clay objects.” Re-examination of these artifacts leads us to present a new interpretation of their function and to suggest a reconstruction of their technology and mode of use. We suggest that these objects were components of fire drills and consider them the earliest evidence of a complex technology of fire ignition, which incorporates the cylindrical objects in the role of matches.

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1 comment:

Teo. said...

The history of fire-making has a series of quirks to it.
According to some, even early hominins could make fire, and yet by most accounts Andamanese islanders in as late as the 19th century didn't know to make fire (or at least didn't do it, and only had and kept what they got from natural sources).