The Origin and Development of Fire Technology in Africa

Session Date: 
May 31, 2019

Fire has traditionally provided humans with light, warmth, social comfort, protection from predators, and the ability to cook and process a variety of useful products. When did humans first recognise the advantages rather than the dangers of fire? When did people learn to control and reproduce fire instead of using it expediently? Sophisticated fire technology was known to Homo sapiens, but archaeological evidence implies that fire could be used at will by hominins in Africa long before modern humans took control of the landscape. The ability to cook food and extract nutrients easily may even have played a role in hominin evolution, allowing smaller teeth and gut, and larger, more expensive brains.