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Researchers find that termite mounds in Netherlands are reminiscent of sedimentary deposits from 5,000 years ago
This fire has been burning for 4,000 years
Scientists have found evidence of an ancient fire that started in the Middle East and spread thousands of miles around the world to the coast of the Netherlands.
The fire, which was about 25,000 years old, has been burning for more than 4,000 years and is the first evidence of such an extensive continuous fire in the Middle East.
“This is a very exciting time for us,” said Susanne De Jong, from the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands.
De Jong and colleagues dug up bricks used to build in the Neolithic village of Westerdorp, which lies around 40 miles (65km) south of Amsterdam.
The roof of a pit, the south-eastern end of which were exposed for the first time, showed the outline of a fire pit and where wood had been used to fuel it.
“Based on other temporary fires of the village, we can already calculate that this one had started after 4,000 years,” De Jong said.
The researchers also analysed the ancient charcoal deep in the mound which had been fed by Neolithic fires.
“The charcoal has a very different morphology from charcoal from recent fires,” said Adam McNutt, a professor at the University of Oxford, who was not involved in the study.
“It has a very distinctive imprint, very black. It has been igniting and burning continuously for hundreds of thousands of years,” he said.
“It is the first sustained event like this, in the Middle East.”