A few years ago, I was listening in on a conversation between OZme and some Finnish guys about firelighting in ancient Finland. I remember OZme mentioning that little or no evidence has survived from ancient times to indicate which methods might have been used. This really got me wondering. In a place where winter can last half the year or more and where fire is crucial to survival, how did people get them going before matches, flint and steel etc.? Things like wooden bow drills, hand drills etc. would rot relatively quickly due to Finland’s harsh climate/seasonal extremes, so there’s no way to know if they were used. Is there any way, then, to find out what they may have used? I think I might have accidentally stumbled upon one possible answer.
One summer while breaking up rocks to build a fire ring, I noticed that after one rock-on-rock smash, I smelled something burning. At first, I looked around me because I thought the smell must have been coming from some fire nearby. Then I realized that the rocks I had been smashing must have created a spark! It’s absolutely conceivable, as the rocks contained both quartz and what I guess would be iron ore (I’m not a geologist, so forgive me). Having read many years ago that arctic peoples, specifically the Inuit in North America, used rocks of various types to create a spark for firelighting, I realized that this could certainly have been a method employed in Finland as well. Horse hoof fungus, aka tinder fungus, aka fomes fomentarius can be found throughout the country, and when processed properly, will take a spark and burn hot as a glowing ember, so the tinder element is there as well.
Perhaps we will never know exactly how people in ancient Finland started fires. Maybe they used several different methods. In any case, to my mind, I feel like I have possibly confirmed one of them.
If any readers have more info on this topic, I’d love to hear it!