October 27, 2008

Fiery Abilities 790,000 Years Old

A new study makes a fiery claim: That humans had the ability to make flames nearly 790,000 years ago.

It's a skill researchers believe helped them migrate from Africa to Europe.

Researchers at Israel's Hebrew University discovered that early civilizations had learned to light fires, by analyzing flints at an archaeological site on the bank of the river Jordan.

It marks a turning point in history that allowed them to venture into unknown lands.

A 2004 study of the site showed that man had been able to control fire through burning branches during that early time period.

 But researchers now say ancient man could start fire, rather than relying on natural phenomena like lightning.

The new study was published in a recent edition of Quaternary Science Reviews.

It mapped 12 archaeological layers at Gesher Benot Yaaqov in northern Israel.

"The new data shows there was a continued, controlled use of fire through many civilizations and that they were not dependent on natural fires," archaeologist Nira Alperson-Afil said.

Alperson-Afil said the patterns of burned flint found in the same place throughout 12 civilizations were evidence of fire-making ability, though the methods used were unclear.

She said the site is located in the Jordan valley, which was a heavily traveled route between Africa and Europe.

"Once they mastered fire to protect themselves from predators and provide warmth and light, they were secure enough to move into and populate unfamiliar territory," Alperson-Afil said.


Image Courtesy Of Google


On The Net:

Quaternary Science Reviews

Hebrew University