There are several theories why Azerbaijan is called Land of Fire. Yet, since olden times Aturpatakan, which was one of the early primary names of oil-rich Azerbaijan mentioned in Persian sources, meant “a place where sacred fire is preserved”. Oil extraction in Absheron peninsula which is one of the ancient oil regions of the world, dates back to the 7th-6th centuries BC. Information about is found in the works of ancient and medieval historians. For instance, ancient Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus, (4th century AD) in his “History” noted that in the ancient states of Azerbaijan they used “Midian oil” which was called nafta in the local language.
Besides, fire-worshipping was strong in Azerbaijan, a region where Zoroastrianism first spread. This was engraved in the architectural monuments and superstitions where fire was sacred. Yet since ancient times the existence of a few burning mountains and gasesin the Southern Caucasus showed that the region was one of the first places where fire was used. Additionally, ancient Greek mythology says that, by the order of Zeus, Prometeus was bound with a chain on the Caucasus Mountains because he had stolen fire from the Gods and brought it to mankind.