Ancient Fossil Fuel

Ancient Fossil Fuel

When Marco Polo left Venice he was instructed to bring back samples of every new product he could find. One of the new products he brought back to Europe was coal. He had observed Chinese royalty using coal to heat a room. Astonished by this solid rock that burned, he inquired about its origin. Nobody could answer except that the rock had been burned by their ancestors for centuries.

Through the centuries the Chinese have received the credit for discovering coal and for having used it long before it appeared in Europe. Many textbooks back this up as a statement of fact. After all, didn't Marco Polo bring back the first samples from China? Yes, he did, but recent evidence shows coal was used as a fuel in Europe centuries before it made its appearance in China!

Paleolithic hunters inhabiting eastern Europe lived under Arctic conditions. They constructed stout tents with heating and eating hearths both inside and outside the tents. Scientists excavating these living sites examined the contents of the hearth ashes and found that the fuel used by these ancient people was coal.

How coal was actually discovered by these Stone Age hunters will doubtless never really be known. Possibly log fires were built where there were outcrops of coal, and the primitive people observed and realized that these black rocks would burn slowly and steadily and could not be blown out. Whatever fortunate circumstances brought about some Stone Ager's discovery of coal, it happened nearly 30,000 years ago.

From the book: 
Petrified Lightning