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Fire Use

28 June 2017

At https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/quest-for-clues-to-humanitys-… … is an interesting read – if only to illustrate how difficult it is to establish between natural fire (such as lightning and landscape blazes), and human induced fire (such as camp and hearth fires). It is thought by some archaeologists that fire use may go back to Homo erectus. Strangely, there appears to be a lot of scepticism towards an early date for making fires – some archaeologists even think Neanderthals could not light their own fires.

Most tools to start a fire consist of sticks to spin and create friction (providing a spark). These were invariably made from wood and have not survived in the archaeological record. Other ideas are striking rocks to create a spark – such as pyrite against flint (and again difficult to prove their use). Another problem they have encountered is how can you tell if fire was purposeful rather than accidental. If humans were able to light fires to cook food that would explain certain Homo erectus characteristics – which might imply fire use goes back 2 million years (on orthodox geochronology). See also www.sapiens.org

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