Israeli archaeologists have discovered a rare ancient limestone slab during excavations near Beit Shemesh. This 9,000 year old slab was used by inhabitants of the land to light fire during the Stone Age.
The Israel Antiquities Authority revealed the discovery to coincide with the Lag B’Omer holiday which is marked with bonfires all across Israel. The archeological dig manager and prehistorian expert Anna Eirich-Rose described the discovery as an “extraordinary find” She explained “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 and this mechanism permitted the rapid rotation of a piece of wood within the conduit like a drilling machine.
Although the use of fire became much more prevalent about 10,000 years ago during the Neolithic period, there is evidence of the use of fire from the Early Stone Age, about 800,000 years ago. For example Seeds and burnt flint have in the past been found at the site of the Daughters of Jacob Bridge on the upper Jordan River.
There are only about ten similar slabs from this period in the National Treasures making it a very rare artifact. This excavation also uncovered a fragment of a bracelet, flint tools and a number of animal bones.
Photo credit for all the photos: Assaf Peretz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority