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The remains of a fire-making kit found in an abandoned village,  Kahun, Egypt.

From left to right a bow drill, bearing block, hearth board, and spindle.

Last used in about 2000 BC.


Like an unfixed photograph that fades in the light, disappearing as it is looked at,

Of where brief heat was rubbed from darkness,

I am the match that burns away its gift.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Bodger permalink
    30/07/2009 9:58 am

    We all need warmth and light. Let the objects stand as a reminder of our connection with the peoples of the past and future.

    We’re not that different, really.

  2. 30/07/2009 11:46 am

    —— m m m ?
    Only the question here is not poetic at all,
    Did Museum allowed you to burn a match there ?
    (they even hate flash light because of its UV light,
    so, I’m very surprised)

  3. travelswithmybaby permalink
    30/07/2009 2:13 pm

    Hello Hermit. I hear you’re offering yourself up as the final object? I’d like to get my bid in now: you can come back to mine… and get on with the housework. A hermit’s work is never done…

  4. 31/07/2009 1:03 am

    I tried to write something poetic, but actually I’m just too nuts and bolts. I think you better save this kit, Ansuman, until we see if Obama’s Green Economy pans out.

  5. 19/08/2009 10:16 pm

    Ahh! This one is for me!

    Nice choice Ansuman. I have just returned from a rigorous long weekend demonstrating and running workshops on fire by friction at the Eden Project. I was facilitating letting members of the general public experience the hugely satisfying sense of achievement from conjuring fire from rubbing sticks together. The kits I make up in advance are almost identical (in principle) to the one in your image. I make mine from woods I find surrounding my locality in Devon but once you have learned the basics the process can be adapted to almost any wood.
    I have come to this blog late. I have been working away from the computer and have missed so much but this one I must respond to in some way.

    Looking at the bow drill kit pictured I am both smiling a warm hearted smile because I know what the sensations are to use one. I know what joy it can bring, and I can only guess at what relief it might offer to someone in a real life threatening situation.

    At the same time I am moved almost to tears, thinking of it laying there in an abandoned village – abandoned itself. The kit is not spent, the hearth-board can still be used to evoke the spirit of fire several more times. Was this left behind in a hurry, or does it point to a death of an individual? Did the fire of knowledge die with this individual?

    I personally know the regenerative power that these simple materials can offer anyone skilled to use them and it offers a glimpse into an-other way for humans to live: closely allied to the earth, its materials and in awe of its elements.

    I would like to break the rules and offer you a bribe! In return for not destroying this window into humanity, I will personally teach you to conjure fire from wood and the be touched by the spirit of fire.

  6. 02/09/2009 5:03 pm

    Well, I’m not sure I can offer a better place for this wonderful object than in a museum but it does concern me that something so precious can go unnoticed. I am not familiar with the displays at Manchester as I live in Exeter but I hope this one is somewhere for us all to enjoy. I would like it to go wherever there is most potential for others to learn from it.
    I would love to come and see it. Perhaps even handle or at least have a chance to study its finer details at close hand, looking at its materials and traces to decipher some of its past: the choices made by its owner, how competent they were… I know I could benefit personally from this and could interpret what I find for others to also learn.
    May I offer to bring my skills. I will demonstrate the process to anyone who is interested and run a workshop on fire by friction, focussing specifically on the bow drill technique and use. I can make a replica or use wood found locally.
    If this is an option of interest to someone at the museum and would help liven up or tie in with any activity you might envisage then please do contact me.

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