Tag Archives: firesetting

The rhyolite quarries at Bømlo in Norway: Traces of firesetting in the Neolithic

A couple of days ago I climbed the mountain Siggjo in Western Norway together with my family. Siggjo is renowned for its deposits of the volcanic stone rhyolite that was heavily used for arrow heads and other tools from c. 4000 to 2500 BC in the Norwegian Neolithic. Finally I got to see the great traces of firesetting that are present in these hilltop quarries! The traces were interpreted by archaeologist Sigmund Alsaker almost 30 years ago, and we relied on them as an important reference when conducting experiments with firesetting in the North-Norwegian Mesolithic Melsvik chert quarries two years ago – experiments that I have previously reported in my blog. Continue reading

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Fire on the rocks! New paper on firesetting in ancient Egyptian stone quarrying

It started with Egyptologist and engineer Reginald Engelbach almost a hundred years ago. By the early 1920s he found evidence that fire would have been used in extraction of the famous Unfinished Obelisk at the Aswan granite quarries. But he … Continue reading

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Burning rock! An update for German-speaking readers

Recently I posted a preliminary report on our successful experiments with fire setting in the Melsvik Stone Age chert quarries in Northern Norway. For some curious reason German-speaking readers were not able to watch the attached video of the experiments, perhaps due to country-specific copyright infringements related to the music following the video. “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash is, sadly, obviously not for all! In this post there is a link to another version of the video, this time without good old Johnny. And there is more for my German-speaking readers; link to a recent article in Spiegel Online, based on my original story. The fire setting experiments were carried out within the Melsvik archaeological rescue project/excavations, headed by Anja Roth Niemi of the University Museum at Tromsø Continue reading

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Burning rock! Experiments with fire setting at the Stone Age Melsvik chert quarries in Northern Norway

In the Melsvik Stone Age chert quarries near Alta in Northern Norway there are dozens of extraction marks that are difficult to explain by other ancient techniques than fire setting. Hence within the Melsvik archaeological project, run by the University Museum of Tromsø, last week we experimented with fire in order to substantiate that it actually formed an important method of breaking loose small and big pieces of stone. The idea was that it is not necessary with big fires and high temperatures, but that small, controlled “bonfires” are enough to create high shear stress and cracking. In this way high temperatures greatly reducing the quality of the chert for tool making are avoided. It works! Here’s a preliminary report with video. Continue reading

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Ten quarries of Ancient Egypt: 10 – Firework!

It’s New Year’s Eve. Happy New Year to you all! What could be better than to end this little series on Ancient Egyptian quarries with firework! It was Reginald Engelbach that first suggested the use of fire for stone quarrying … Continue reading

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Firesetting in the Stone Age chert quarries at Melsvik in Northern Norway?

Update: See this blog post for confirmation of firesetting at Melsvik! A few weeks ago I had the great opportunity to take a look at the large, recently discovered Stone Age chert quarries at Melsvik, some 10 km to the … Continue reading

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