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Greek fire
DEFINITION: Any of several flammable materials used in warfare in ancient and medieval times. Ancient writers refer to flaming arrows, firepots, and such substances as pitch, naphtha, sulfur, and charcoal, but true Greek fire was evidently a petroleum-based mixture. It was evidently invented during the reign of Constantine IV Pogonatus by a Greek-speaking Syrian refugee from the Arab conquest of Syria. It could be thrown in pots or discharged from tubes and was difficult to put out when alight.
DEFINITION: The natural product of combustion, seen in the form of flame and smoke. The use of fire was a major landmark in man's adaptation to the cooler environment of the earth; it is often considered the single most important discovery by early man. Man probably knew how to make fire between 500,000-800,000 years ago in Europe or Asia. The ability to make fire efficiently and at will rather than merely catching it from natural sources may date from less than 200,000 years ago. Fire is first found on occupation sites of the Lower Palaeolithic period, approximately half a million years ago, although true hearths do not become typical until the penultimate glacial period, perhaps 200,000 years ago. Hearths and thick deposits of burnt material are typical of the last glacial period, by which time it is likely that the two main methods of making fire (the friction method of rubbing or rotating sticks to generate heat and the percussion method of striking sparks with iron and flint) were both in use.
fire brick
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A brick made of clay which is difficult to fuse, used in boilers and fireplaces.
fire hardening
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: The exposure of a wooden implement to fire in order to dry out the wood but not char it. The tool becomes harder and more useful.
fire hearth
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A flat piece of wood upon which a stick (drill) is twisted vigorously to start a fire.
fire mark
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A wall plate used by insurance companies to identify insured property.
fire-cracked rock
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Rocks which have been cracked or broken by the heat of a fire. A common element in aboriginal campsite debris.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: An instrument consisting of an iron bar held horizontally at one end by an upright support, used to ensure the proper burning of a fire. A pair of these was put at each side of the hearth or fireplace to support burning wood; the end of a log could rest on the crosspiece, which was supported by two uprights. Decorative iron examples come from La Tene Iron Age contexts, mostly in graves. In a kitchen fireplace, the upright support might hold a rack in front for the spit to turn in.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Of stone, showing the effects of having been heated, as in cooking.
CATEGORY: geology
DEFINITION: The softening or cracking of the working face of a lode of quarrying stone, to facilitate excavation, by exposing it to a wood fire built against it. The fire shattered the outcrops of rock.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: The combustion chamber of a kiln, typically beneath the ware chamber
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A heat-resistant clay
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A darkened area on a vessel's surface resulting from uneven firing and the deposit of carbon in the pores during firing, characteristic of firings in which fuel and vessels are in immediate proximity
fired clay
CATEGORY: ceramics
DEFINITION: Any clay to which heat is applied.
CATEGORY: feature
DEFINITION: A pit, usually basin-shaped, in which localized burning occurred and construction was expedient and minimal.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: fire-place, hearth
CATEGORY: structure
DEFINITION: A place for building a fire, especially a semiopen space with a chimney; housing for an open fire within a dwelling. They are used for heating and cooking. Very early medieval fireplaces had semicircular backs and hoods and there was no chimney; the smoke passed out through an opening in the wall. By the 11th century, chimneys were added. Early fireplaces were made of stone; later, brick became the more popular material.
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A wood tool having a base with drilled holes and a stick that is rubbed through the holes in the base to produce enough friction to give a spark.

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