In many ancient cultures, there are descriptions of advanced tools and techniques that are still a mystery for modern science. The existence of mysterious lamps that, according to our forefathers burn for centuries, millennia, or more without human intervention. The tales of ancient eternal flames have been mentioned in many parts of the world.
So, what was it? A product made by ancient gods, some kind of magical artifact, or a lost highly developed technology from the depths of antiquity? Moreover, this eternal flame phenomenon, which has not received a scientific explanation, is really very intriguing. What are these so-called mysterious lamps? And do they really exist?
At different points in history, ever-burning lamps were recorded by various chroniclers in various parts of the Earth. For example, in one of his works, the ancient Greek historian and philosopher Plutarch described a mysterious lamp that burned above the door of the Egyptian temple of Jupiter Ammon. It was in an open space and neither wind nor rain could extinguish it. Similar accounts of these lamps are also given in the altars of temples in Armenia (Temple of Aderbain) and in Cyrene (Temple of Apollo).
In the 6th century, during the reign of Byzantine emperor Justinian, his warriors stumbled upon a burning lamp, skillfully closed from the external environment, in a niche above the gate. According to the inscriptions next to it, it was lit at the beginning of the first century, that is, by that time it had been burning for five centuries until clumsy soldiers broke it.
In 100 BC, there is an account scrawled upon papyrus and later described by the Arab philosopher Iamblichus, which tells of an expedition of explorers who sought access to the underground chambers under Giza and during their adventure came across these eternal flames. According to Iamblichus, the report read:
“We came to a chamber. When we entered, it became automatically illuminated by light from a tube being the height of one man’s hand [approx. 6 inches or 15.24 cm] and thin, standing vertically in the corner. As we approached the tube, it shone brighter… the slaves were scared and ran away in the direction from which we had come!
When I touched it, it went out. We made every effort to get the tube to glow again, but it would no longer provide light. In some chambers, the light tubes worked and in others, they did not. We broke open one of the tubes and it bled beads of silver-colored liquid that ran fastly around the floor until they disappeared between the cracks (mercury?).
As time went on, the light tubes gradually began to fail and the priests removed them and stored them in an underground vault they specially built southeast of the plateau. It was their belief that the light tubes were created by their beloved Imhotep, who would someday return to make them work once again.”
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In the tomb of the son of King Evander, Pallas, a lamp was discovered in 140 AD that burned for over 2,000 years. It was impossible to extinguish it with water or a breath of air. It went out after the strange liquid that was there was drained from the lamp bowl. There are many such references in various historical texts.
In the Middle Ages, there was a lot of evidence of the discovery of eternally burning lamps. They were found in ancient tombs and temples around the world. Unfortunately, they were all destroyed by superstitious diggers, vandals, and marauders.
Another early Roman account of the ever-burning lamps was given by early Christian theologian and philosopher St. Augustine, who mentioned such a light in an Egyptian temple dedicated to Venus, which he believed to have been fashioned by the Devil himself. According to St. Augustine, this flame could not be put out by any means ordinary man possessed, and he was convinced it was fueled by dark, ancient magic. Indeed, this was a common go-to explanation for such oddities back in those times.
The Middle Ages, probably, cannot be called times of the triumph of science and thought. Many scientists suffered during this period for their beliefs and desire to bring the light of knowledge. The theme of an ever-burning fire excited the minds of not only researchers but also those in power in those days, no less than now. How did our ancestors manage to make lamps that could burn without fuel for hundreds, and in some cases thousands of years? From whom could the ancients receive this great secret knowledge? This has been the subject of endless debates and speculation.
Some people flatly rejected even the very idea of the existence of such a phenomenon, despite all the known evidence. Others believed that this was possible.
A curious story is described by the occultist Eliphas Levi in his work “The History of Magic.” He talked about a certain mysterious French rabbi (Jewish scholar) named Jechiele. He was an adviser at the court of Louis IX in the 13th century. This rabbi had a lamp that he placed in front of his house for all to see. There was no wick or oil in it. Neither rain nor wind could extinguish its flame. To all questions about how it was possible, Jechiele said that it was a secret.
Some sources describe that such a lamp was also found in England during the time of Henry VIII. This happened when the rebellious king decided to break away from the Roman Catholic Church and founded the Anglican Church. He then ordered the destruction of all Catholic churches that refused to convert to a new religion. In the dungeon of one of them, an ancient lamp was found.
At all times, there have been many assumptions about the secret source of energy for eternal lamps. In the Middle Ages and later, many great thinkers tried to solve the problem by preparing a special kind of fuel. It had to be renewed as quickly as it was spent. None of the vast number of experiments yielded results. No one has even come close to the secret of making an ever-burning lamp. The technology of the ancients has remained a mystery.
The earliest descriptions of the divine flame, the eternal source of light, are found by historians in many myths and legends of the ancient world. All these stories are closely connected with the gods. After all, its very origin is of a divine nature. The ancient Greek god Prometheus was punished for giving fire to mortals. The ancient Greek writer and geographer of the second century, Pausanias, wrote about an unusual golden lamp in the Athenian temple of Minerva. This lamp, made by a scientist named Callimachus, burned steadily for years without any need for refilling the oil or trimming the wick.
About the legendary second ruler of Rome, Numa Pompilius, they wrote that he had direct communication with the gods during his lifetime. They told him the secret of the eternal flame, which he later placed in the temple. Someone suggested that Numa simply knew about electricity. This is evidenced by the fact that his successor, Tullus Hostilius, died when he tried to get electricity from lightning.
According to the traditions of the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and also Romans, the deceased needed a light that would illuminate his/her path to the Valley of Shadows. Therefore, before sealing the tomb, it was customary to put an unquenchable lamp inside. It served as a kind of offering to the god of the dead and was supposed to drive away evil spirits. Hundreds of years later, when people opened the crypts, they found burning lamps in perfect condition.
In 1534, King Henry VIII plundered the alleged tomb of Constantius Chlorus, a father of the Great Emperor Constantine, which supposedly held a flame that had been constantly burning for 1,200 years, and in 1580, the Spanish scholar Juan Luis Vives March wrote of an ever-burning lamp that had been burning for 1,500 years and which disintegrated into pieces and dust when touched.
There is an ancient Hindu temple in India called “Jwala Ji.” It is located in the city of Javalamukhi in Himachal Pradesh, in the Himalayas. Its walls exude a mystical blue glow. It comes from the rocks in various places of the temple. The word Jwala itself means “flame.” It is said that this fire has always burned, from the very beginning of its known history.
Scholars estimate that about 170 medieval authors wrote about this mysterious phenomenon. They believe that the wise and skillful ancients did their best to keep this knowledge secret.
Could people in ancient times have such vast secret knowledge? How could they create ever-burning lamps? Has all this great scientific knowledge been irrevocably lost in the pages of history? Perhaps, our ancestors knew about the eternal fire. As Eliphas Levi wrote: “Undoubtedly, the Zoroastrian magicians possessed methods unknown to us for the production and direction of electricity.” But how and why did the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and other cultures have the same knowledge?