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7 August 2007
5600-year-old tinder device unearthed in China

What was the secret to keeping the fires burning thousands of years ago? An archaeological discovery in Luoyang, in central China's Hunan province offers one clue. The discovery was made during excavation of a Neolithic site. Workers uncovered stoneware, pottery and osteal products. Then they found an odd, handmade pottery container, over five thousand years old. Archeologists' were curious. Their examinations revealed the artifact to be an ancient tinder device.
     Li Defang, archeologist, said, "It was found by the hearth in a house, so we think it was related to fire and cooking. Another reason is its shape and characteristics. It has three holes on two sides and the bottom. So it would contain solids but not liquid. What's more, it's thickness is more than a centimeter. And it's fireproof."
     After studying the device, archeologists preliminarily figured out how to use the device: place live charcoal inside the device, cover it by black charcoal, then appropriately shut down the entrance cover and put it in a place with good air circulation. In this way, the charcoal will burn slowly in the device. To use the fire, open the entrance cover and burn up the fire by using blow fire tube or similar tools, then the fire will burn up. To shut it down, shake the devices to remove the open-fire, and then cover it with black charcoal. By using this kind of device, people can store tinder for a long time.

Sources: People's Daily Online (2 August 2007), CCTV.com (3 August 2007)

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