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Palaeontology

When did humans first learn to create fire ?

By T.K. Randall
August 26, 2020 · Comment icon 12 comments



Humans first used fire over 1 million years ago. Image Credit: sxc.hu
Fire is one of mankind's most fundamental technological discoveries - but just how long ago did we discover it ?
The quintessential depiction of a human discovering fire - as seen in countless books and movies over the years - usually involves a prehistoric man coming across a fire sparked by a lightning strike.

While this is very likely to be how humans first discovered how to create fire, determining exactly when this might have happened is not quite so straight forward.

What scientists do know is that somewhere around 400,000 years ago, evidence of fire had began to emerge all across Europe, the Middle-East, Asia and Africa, suggesting that by this point humans had already mastered the art of creating fire and using it to their advantage.

Venturing further back still, evidence of fire in the form of flint, hearths and burned wood fragments has been found at a site in Israel dating back 800,000 years.
In South Africa, one cave site even has evidence of man-made fire from over 1 million years ago.

Beyond this however, things become a lot less clear.

Fossil remains of our ancestor Homo erectus indicate that their gut started shrinking and their brain started growing around two million years ago - indicators that could point to the invention of cooking.

While possible evidence of controlled fires has been found in Kenya dating back 1.6 million years, experts currently disagree over whether or not such fires were started deliberately.

As things stand, the exact time at which our ancestors first discovered fire still remains a mystery.

Source: Live Science | Comments (12)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #3 Posted by docyabut2 2 years ago
I think they learned when lighting hit a tree and started a fire † † https://study.com/academy/lesson/how-did-stone-age-man-make-fire-discovery-importance-facts.html
Comment icon #4 Posted by Imaginarynumber1 2 years ago
When Prometheus gave it to us, duh.
Comment icon #5 Posted by ChewiesArmy 2 years ago
No way did prehistoric man have the capacity to discover/use fire. Aliens had to have shown them. I think I will write a book, and I think I will call it Flashlight of the Gods.
Comment icon #6 Posted by third_eye 2 years ago
"Maui" You're welcome...† ~
Comment icon #7 Posted by Imaginarynumber1 2 years ago
try "Fleshlight of the Gods"†† You'll sell way more copies
Comment icon #8 Posted by Hammerclaw 2 years ago
Fire occurs naturally. Making fire is another thing. They learned from heat generated by friction, a smoldering rope pulling a burden up a slope rubbing on rocks. Friction from a spear straightener, on the wood shaft,†friction from a bow drill and so on. Observation, experimentation and discovery, we've done it our entire existence.
Comment icon #9 Posted by jethrofloyd 2 years ago
A fire was probably discovered by a volcanic eruptions. Wasnít that a story here recently about† the Neanderthals climbing a slopes of an erupting volcano in Italy (Devilís trail). They did it most likely to get to the fire. A same process was probably for a humans as well.
Comment icon #10 Posted by DieChecker 2 years ago
Probably some boys out throwing rocks. Some struck sparks. They showed the adults. Adults did some quick experiments. Boom! Firestarting spreads thousands of miles in a decade or so.
Comment icon #11 Posted by South Alabam 2 years ago
I believe it was 18,422 years ago.
Comment icon #12 Posted by DanL 2 years ago
The sparks made from striking two rocks together are not very good for making fire. You could spend days and days trying to get a fire with rocks at their best. Flint and steel is a totally different thing. The part that makes the fire is red hot tiny pieces of the steel that the sharp flint had scraped off. The heat is from the friction and the hot metal stays hot a LOT longer than the sparks that you see or the sparks from rocks. I imagine that man was USING fire for a long long time that he harvested from naturally made fires before he mastered actually making fire. When he did l figure out... [More]


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