Courtesy of the University of Toronto
Fire good. That is what we have always know. What we didn't know is how long humans or their ancestors have known this. Microscopic traces of wood ash, alongside animal bones and stone tools, were found in a layer dated to one million years ago at the Wonderwerk Cave in South Africa. Thats right, 1 million years ago!
“The analysis pushes the timing for the human use of fire back by 300,000 years, suggesting that human ancestors as early as Homo erectus may have begun using fire as part of their way of life,” says anthropologist Michael Chazan, co-director of the project and director of the Archaeology Centre at the University of Toronto.
The researchers also found extensive evidence of surface discoloration that is typical of burning.“The control of fire would have been a major turning point in human evolution,” says Chazan. “The impact of cooking food is well documented, but the impact of control over fire would have touched all elements of human society. Socializing around a camp fire might actually be an essential aspect of what makes us human.”
Here is the link to the full PDF document of the study.