The Longest Burning Fires
Eternal flames fall into two categories; human-made fires, tended to and replenished for ceremonial purposes, and naturally replenished eternal flames.
Natural eternal flames can be caused by static electrical discharge or accidental human activity, but the longest burning fires in the world are typically a result of lightning strikes.
And the oldest known natural eternal flame is at Mount Wingen, Australia – otherwise known as the Burning Mountain. The fire began in a coal seam that was struck by lightning at the surface, some 6,000 years ago. Today, the fire continues to burn 100 feet underground, slowly depleting the coal seam.
Another ancient fire burns in Turkey, at the site of what is believed to be Mount Chimaera – referred to as the origin of the mythical fire-breathing creature. The Fires of Chimaera have burned for over 2,500 years, and were once used as navigation beacons.
Humans have long sought to control the power of fire. Since ancient times, it has been one of our most powerful tools – and one of our deadliest foes.
Controlling something so powerful would naturally lead to some kind of spiritual connection. In fact, fire is symbolic in most religions and cultures around the world.
And this is probably most notably demonstrated in the zoroastrian tradition of maintaining eternal flames, many of which have burned for 250 years – with the exception of one.
The Behram Fire at the Yazd Zoroastrian Fire Temple in Iran is thought to be the oldest human-made eternal flame, at more than 1,500 years old. It has been burning since 470 AD and can only be witnessed by practicing zoroastrians, who’ve tended to it over countless generations.
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