These are the first maps of the world as it was created

With every heat of a fire, an ancient civilization burns itself alive. So it may be a safe bet that fire-ravaged Iran is somewhere near where fire was a relatively new, largely new phenomenon….

These are the first maps of the world as it was created

With every heat of a fire, an ancient civilization burns itself alive. So it may be a safe bet that fire-ravaged Iran is somewhere near where fire was a relatively new, largely new phenomenon. Perhaps most startling of all, it was also the first time we began to see many of the earliest maps of the globe, with an aim of offering clear, physical representation of where people lived at the time. From a written standpoint, pre-Columbian alphabets date back as far as 5,000 years ago.

But what of the fire itself? Makers of fire tend to make the most dramatic claims, so let’s take a closer look at the fire of more recent years — namely, 4,000 years ago. And yes, the 4,000-year-old fire here burns so hot, much of the cylinder left entirely melted — including the lid, which can be seen here. It may take a millennium to put this fire out, and the natural damage doesn’t seem to be ending.

This fire burned around the mid-Pottery and Meath settlement, which in the early Pliocene epoch would have been in Iran at the junction of the Indian and the Asian continents. This region, along with the other two centers of Iran’s large Phallological and Algolan customs, were the cradle of humanity’s gaseous alchemy.

What brought on this fire, we cannot tell. It may have burned pots or jars, something workers of the time did regularly, either as part of the spiritual practice of ritual death or an art of burning symbols. What we do know, though, is that the fire burst and melted whatever it burned, including bowls, jars, birds, fruit, animal bones, bits of pottery, et al, if found in the now-destroyed alchemy, as well as small fragments of animal bones that had been made into jewelry.

To our knowledge, no civilization has been completely destroyed by fire — the first recorded one was set on fire by another civilization, therefore, in the year 606 B.C. However, it can be argued that the same fire has killed people whose products we now use on a daily basis. Perhaps only time will tell the continued life and death of fire.

About the author:

Elizabeth Semmelhack is the director of the Center for Archaeological Research at George Washington University, Washington, D.C. Semmelhack is also an assistant professor of archaeology and director of the Historic Sites and Archaeological Research Program, and the author of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History journal article, “The Great Fire of 779,” and of the book, “Fire in Civilization.”

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of, and should not be attributed to, New York Times News Service.

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