moesgaard museum, de etnografiske samlinger, ethnography, collections, museum, aarhus, denmark

Tinderbox – Afghanistan

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Middle East

Would you have guessed what this is, if we hadn’t given it away in the title?

Resembling a wallet more than an actual box, this 66-year old item was in fact used to kindle fires in mid-20th century Afghanistan. Appearing strikingly primitive with its iron plate, meant to be stricken across a crystal rock and added dry powder for the fire to catch on, it sure puts perspective to the technological advance in having one-click lighters today! Think you could catch enough spark to kindle a fire the old-fashioned way?

The tinderbox was collected by Danish biologist and ethnologist, Lennart Edelberg, in 1949, during one of his many expeditions to the Nuristan province of Afghanistan. On several occasions, Edelberg had to leave his wife and five daughters in Denmark for trips of up to two years ‘ duration across the globe, bringing home cultural collectables for museums.

/ Ciara Coogan



Photo: © 2007 Photo/Media Department of Moesgaard Museum.

Byline portrait: © 2015 Line Beck,




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putting thought to things

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