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May 15, 2017 12:03 pm

Ancient Fire-Making Stone Discovered in Israel as Lag B’Omer Bonfires Flare

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A 9,000-year-old stone slab, recently discovered in Israel, that was used to ignite fires. Photo: Israel Antiquities Authority.

JNS.org – Coinciding with Sunday’s Lag B’Omer holiday and its celebrations marked with bonfires across Israel, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) revealed the recent discovery of an ancient stone slab used to ignite fires.

The stone was discovered about a week before the Lag B’Omer festivities in an archaeological dig 25 miles from Jerusalem, near Ramat Beit Shemesh. The dig was funded by Israel’s National Transport Infrastructure Company, and was part of preparations for infrastructure work on one of Israel’s main roads.

The rare 9,000-year-old stone is an “extraordinary find,” said excavation manager Anna Eirich-Rose.

“The ancient people of the New Stone Age prepared these thick slabs of limestone with two indentations. Some thought that we might have discovered a primitive board game, but according to researchers from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the slabs were used to ignite fire,” Eirich-Rose said, adding, “The mechanism enabled the user to rotate a tree branch in the indentations at a very high speed, which combined with a flammable material inside the indentation, would lead to ignition.”

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Ten similar stones used for making fires, from the same era, are housed at the IAA’s National Treasures Department.

Other items discovered during the dig included flint tools, animal bones and a fragment from a bracelet.

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