9,000-year old fire starting ‘panel’ attests to advanced technology in prehistoric Israel


A junction of Highway 38 and Virginia Boulevard in a neighborhood of Bet Shemesh (west of Jerusalem) has revealed one of the unique archaeological finds of this year. According to Israel Antiquities Authority, the excavation project, aided by participants from the Hannaton pre-military preparatory program and funded by Netivei Israel, has resulted in the discovery of a 9,000-year man-made panel-like equipment. This particular contrivance, dating from the Neolithic 2 period, was probably used for starting fires without the need for external tools (like matches).

According to prehistorian Anna Eirikh-Rose, who is also the excavation director of the project on behalf of Israel Antiquities Authority –

The ancient people who lived here during the Pre-pottery Neolithic B period (the New Stone Age) prepared a thick limestone slab with two depressions in it and grooves between them that connected the hollows. Some think this is an ancient game board but according to researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, such slabs were used for starting fire: this device made it possible to rapidly rotate a wooden branch in the hollow (similar to a drill). The rotational energy was translated into heat, and when it came in contact with a flammable material placed inside the hollow, it began to burn and the fire was lit. There are only about ten similar slabs from this period in the National Treasures; thus it is a rare artifact. Additional finds uncovered in the excavation include a fragment of a bracelet, flint tools, and numerous animal bones.

Now when it comes to the prehistoric scope of fire, scholars widely believe that the extinct Homo erectus (the first species of hominids known to have moved out of Africa) had already learned the controlled use of fire around 600,000 years ago. There are also evidences that confirm the fire controlling measures initiated by the anatomically modern humans around 125,000 years ago. But the actual technological boost to the endeavors of humanity came around 50,000 years ago, fueled by the evolution of multi-purpose brains of Homo sapiens.

And as history has proven, the use of the fire became crucial around 10,000 years ago, when modern humans had comfortably made their progression from survivability to adaptability with various developed parameters like language, music and culture. Archaeological finds have rather complemented such a scenario, with evidence of various fire-generating techniques from the said period (including areas that correspond to modern-day Israel). In any case, if interested, you can take a gander at the superbly crafted short animated video by Youtube channel Kurzgesagt that covers the backstory of human origins and progression over a million years –

Article Source/ Image Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority

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