The effects of the use of fire were determined 800 million years ago by scientists in Galilee, a discovery that represents one of the first recorded times of the controlled use of fire in history. The suspects in question are hominins from up to a million years ago, a time when skilled person It began to transform into Homo erectus.
Science calls theories about this the “cooking hypothesis”, since fire is believed to have been beneficial in our evolution, not only to allow our ancestors to keep warm, make weapons and ward off predators, but also to cook food. To kill pathogens and improve the digestion and nutritional value of food.
Wherever there is smoke, there is fire
The difficult part of this hypothesis is the lack of evidence. For archaeologists, finding evidence of pyrotechnics is primarily based on visual recognition of changes caused by the combustion of objects, often represented by a color change. Methods like these have found evidence of widespread use of fire for nearly 200,000 years, but no more than that.
Little evidence of a 500,000-year-old fire has been found: only five archaeological sites around the world provide such evidence. Using artificial intelligence and spectroscopy, researchers at Weizmann’s Department of Botanical and Environmental Sciences have observed the use of fire in stone tools in Israel, dating back 200,000 to 420,000 years.
Following the successful results of this pioneering method, it was used to verify fire exposure in artifacts from Evron Quarry, a Paleolithic site in Western Galilee that houses stone tools and animal fossils dating from 800,000 to 1 million years ago. Of these, 26 broken stone tools showed exposure to several different temperatures, some reaching over 600°C.
Combining this with another spectroscopy technique, 87 animal remains were also analyzed, revealing that the tusks of the extinct elephant also showed skeletal changes due to warming. Excited by the results of the new technology, the scientists plan to use the method at other Lower Paleolithic sites to uncover unseen evidence of the use of fire, which could shed more light on the phenomenon’s origins as a tool and its evolution through ancestors.
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