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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ancient Controlled Fire - (c. 1,42,000 B.C.E)

Homo erectus harness lightning

Fire is an essential tool, control of which helped tostart the human race on its path to civilization. The original source of fire was probably lightning, and for generation blazes ignited in this manner remained the only source of fire.
Initially Peking man, who lived around 500,000 B.C.E, was believed to be earliest user of fire, but evidence uncovered in Kenya in 1981, and in South Africa in 1988, suggests that the earliest controlled use of fire by hominids dates from about 1,420,000 years ago. Fire were kept alive permanently because of the difficulty of reigniting them, being allowed to burn by day and damped soen at night, Flint struck against pyrites or friction methods were the most widespread methods of producing fire among primitive people.

The first human beings to control fire used it to keep warm, cook their food, and ward off predators. It also enabled them to survive in regions previously too cold for man habitation. They also used it in "fire drives" to force animals or enemies out of hiding. Controlled fire was important in clearing forest for roadways, grasslands and grazing, and agricultural lands - uncontrolled, the fire destroyed the potential of the soil. Mastering fire also opened up the possibilities of smelting metals, enabling humankind to escape the limitations of the Stone Age.