What Were Man’s First Lamps?

The earliest lamps that we know about were used by primitive people, perhaps earlier than 50,000 B.C.

These lamps consisted of a hollowed piece of stone filled with animal fat or vegetable oil, such as olive or nut oil. A piece of moss was inserted into the oil, then lit from a fire. The moss served as a wick, soaking up the oil and burning slowly to give off light.

After people learned how to make clay, they fashioned lamps out of clay instead of stone. Clay lamps have been found that probably date back to the year 4500 B.C. or earlier.