Archaelogists say a set of peculiar, ancient artifacts might just be the earliest known matches. The cylindrical objects, fashioned from stone and clay, date back nearly 8,000 years. At first, scientists thought they were phallic cultural symbols, but then a group of Israeli researchers noticed a striking similarity to other fire-making tools found at different sites. They put the objects under an electro-microscope and discovered marks likely made by the high-speed spinning of the matches into holes on a "fire board," reports the BBC.
"We have fire evidence in modern humans and Neanderthals, from charcoal, ashes and hearths, but there was nothing ever found that was connected with how you ignite the fire," says the lead scientist. They were unearthed at the Sha'ar HaGolan dig site, located in Israel near the Sea of Galilee.