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The discovery that fire was already the act of the generation during the proto-human era, was apparent 790,000 years ago, researchers say. Previous research had shown that early humans – probably Homo erectus or Homo ergaster – from this period could manipulate and use fire, but it wasn't clear whether they had the ability to create the fire themselves, or whether they stole fire from natural occurrences like lightning strikes.

To investigate, Nira Alperson-Afil from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, analysed archaeological remains from the shore of an ancient lake near the river Jordan.

The site includes 12 layers of remains from different groups of early humans covering a 100,000 year span, and has been dated back to 790,000 years ago, long before modern Homo sapiens evolved. As each society left the region, water from the lake washed over the site and buried the remains, preserving their tools for archaeologists to analyse.

The remains included 500,000 chips of broken flint, produced as the early humans crafted their stone axes and knives. Roughly 2% of these chips were cracked and charred by fire, and the team mapped where each burnt fragment came from.

So lets just say we've been having home cooked food for a good 790,000 years. Oh yeah.

via New Scientist