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Some anthropologists claim that early humans, such asHomo erectus, began exploiting fire as long as 1.5 million years ago while still in Africa. However, much of this evidence - which consists of heated clays and charcoal fragments - is disputed and could have occurred as a result of natural bush fires.
There are some who believe that fire played an instrumental role in the evolution of early hominins around two million years ago when our teeth and guts became smaller. They have also argued that fire played a key role in the evolution of larger human brains. However, many experts believe that early uses of fire may well have been opportunistic where early humans used natural bush fires rather than lighting fires themselves.
The artifacts found at these sites often show few signs of burning, suggesting fire was not used regularly, according to Dr Shimelmitz and his colleagues, whose research is published in the Journal of Human Evolution. They say their findings at Tabun Cave are supported by evidence from other recent discoveries. Burnt flints, bones and ash found in the Qesem Cave in Tel Aviv, Israel, point towards the use of a hearth in this cave that has been dated to around 300,000 years ago.
Exactly when humans first began using fire to make their lives easier remains one of the most controversial topics in archaeology. The earliest suggested date is around 1.5 million years ago. However, some research suggests that our ancestors first began using fire to cook their food as far back as two million years ago. Cooking meat played a vital role in human evolution, making it easier to digest, reducing the time it took to feed and requiring smaller teeth. A study in 2011 by biologists at Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts compared the body patterns, DNA and other characteristics of modern humans, non-human primates and 14 extinct hominins. They found used the information to look for patterns when eating time began to reduce. They calculated that if humans were ordinary primates living off raw food, eating would take up 48 per cent of their day. However, modern humans spend just 4.7 per cent of their day to food consumption. They suggest that the evolution of smaller teeth in Homo erectus around 1.9 million years ago coincided with a change in diet that may have been driven by the cooking of food.
Abstract The Neanderthal hominid Tabun C1, found in Israel by Garrod & Bate, was attributed to either layer B or C of their stratigraphic sequence. We have used gamma-ray spectrometry to determine the230Th/234U and231Pa/235U ratios of two bones from this skeleton, the mandible and a femur. The ages calculated from these ratios depend on the uranium uptake history of the bones. Assuming a model of early U (EU) uptake the age of the Tabun C1 mandible is 34±5 ka. The EU age of the femur is 19±2 ka. The femur may have experienced continuous (linear) U uptake which would give an age of 33±4 ka, in agreement with the mandible's EU age, but implies marked inhomogeneity in U uptake history at the site. These new age estimates for the skeleton suggest that it was younger than deposits of layer C. This apparent age is less than those of other Neanderthals found in Israel, and distinctly younger than the ages of the Skhul and Qafzeh burials. This suggests that Neanderthals did not necessarily coexist with the earliest modern humans in the region. All of the more complete Neanderthal fossils from Israel are now dated to the cool period of the last glacial cycle, suggesting that Neanderthals may have arrived in this region as a result of the southward expansion of their habitable range. The young age determined for the Tabun skeleton would suggest that Neanderthals survived as late in the Levant as they did in Europe.
Fire use seems to have occurred after humans expanded into cold climates
originally posted by: babybunnies
I think there is a huge cover up going on in archaeological circles, regarding the actual human timeline. There is just so much stuff that they're finding now that doesn't fit the accepted parameters of human history as defined by archaeologists.
Artifacts out of place with the established timeline of human evolution have been found for some time, and they keep changing the official story as they find new things, but many things (such as hammers, advanced tools etc) have been found in coal hundreds of millions of years old,
suggesting advanced civilizations capable of extraordinary alloy creation not even capable today have risen and obviously fallen in the way distant past.
Also, how do you explain that humans lived in caves until 5,000 BC but there are cities and temple structures found that date to 15,000 years earlier than that, and older?
originally posted by: rickymouse
Kids playing with a lighter 350,000 years ago? Things really haven't changed. At least they were doing it in a safe place. I bet they were trying to set the tail of a saber tooth tiger cub on fire.
originally posted by: rickymouse
a reply to: Hanslune
I found a little pile of rocks buried here that when rubbed together give off some red sparks. They are very hard. I am not sure if they are quartzite or if they are some sort of pyrite. If you were to put some moss in between them they would probably start a fire. I keep forgetting to try this although I have read about it somewhere. Sometimes the Indians would leave a couple of rocks piled in locations that were made of these materials. It was usually on areas of rock outcrops. Maybe they put them there so people traveling would build their fires on this rock instead of in the woods where they would catch the woods on fire.
This is just speculation though. The Indians were pretty smart about these things. Sometimes you see two or three small rocks out there in the hills around here sitting on rock. Sure the glacier could have left them there, but so could many tribes of Indians since the time of the glacier.
Another promising site is a South African cave called Swartkrans, where archaeologists in the ’80s found burned bones in a section dating between 1 million and 1.5 million years ago. In 2004, Williams College chemist Anne Skinner analyzed the bones using electron spin resonance, which estimates the temperature to which an artifact has been heated by measuring molecular fragments called free radicals. She determined that the bones had reached at least 900 degrees — too hot for most wildfires, but consistent with a campfire. But since the cave has a gaping mouth and a downward-sloping floor, naysayers argue that the objects might have washed in later after being burned outside.
Until the Wonderwerk Cave find, Gesher Benot Ya’aqov, a lakeside site in Israel, was considered to have the oldest generally accepted evidence of human-controlled fire. There, a team of scientists found traces of numerous hearths dating to between 690,000 and 790,000 years ago. A wide range of clues made this site convincing, including isolated clusters of burned flint, as if toolmakers had been knapping hand axes by several firesides. The team also found fragments of burned fruit, grain and wood scattered about.
Then came Wonderwerk. The ash-filled sediment that Goldberg and Berna found came from a spot approximately 100 feet from the entrance to the tunnel-like cave, too far to have been swept in by the elements. The team also found circular chips of fractured stone known as pot-lid flakes — telltale signs of fire — in the same area. These clues turned up throughout the million-year-old layer of sediment, indicating that fires had burned repeatedly at the site.
Does that mean fire drove the evolution of H. erectus? Is the cooking hypothesis correct? The occupants who left these ashes at Wonderwerk lived nearly a million years after the emergence of H. erectus. Goldberg and Berna point out that it’s unclear whether the cave’s inhabitants knew how to start a fire from scratch or depended on flames harvested from grass fires outside the cave. If they were eating barbecue, it may have been only an occasional luxury. Whether that could have had an impact on human development remains an open question.