Haifa Cave witnessed the first use of fire 350,000 years ago, according to new archeological inquiries. The Tabun Cave, found roughly 12 miles south of Haifa, is considered rather unique by Ron Shimelmitz, archaeologist at University of Haifa.
That is because the cave dates a long time back. He was the scientist behind the new study that tried to investigate how fire use changed in the cave. Relics in an ancient cave close to Haifa, Israel suggest fire was first used 350,000 years ago.
The Tabun cave has been inhabited discontinuously from 500,000 to around 40,000 ago and as a result it displays a wide variety of relic and artifacts.
The experts involved in the study say that they have inspected relics which had been previously extracted from the site. These mainly consisted of flint tools used probably for grinding and cutting as well as the leftovers of their manufacturing.
By examining about 100 layers of dregs inside the cave’s rooms the researchers proved that none of the tools were burned before 350,000 years ago. The next layers showed that many of these cutting instruments had red or dark color and even some cracks that might suggest they were exposed to flames.
The experts came to the conclusion that it’s highly unlikely that these flames were caused by accidents and that most likely the fires were started by humans. Their theory has been published in the Journal of Human Evolution. There is also evidence that early humans might have known fire even earlier than that but there is no decisive confirmation that they were ready to ace its use.
As a matter of fact, scientists still debate if fire started being used consciously 2 million years ago or this actually happened more recently.
For instance, commenting upon this late discoveries, Richard Wrangham from Harvard University said that regardless of how exciting the new inputs are, these samples are not completely convincing.
Nevertheless he concurs with Prof. Shimelmitz that regardless of the exact time fire was mastered by humans it must have been a life changing experience that led to cooking abilities and the capacity of keeping warm during cold weather.
Prof. Shimelmitz expressed his enthusiasm about the new findings by saying there must be a reason why individuals believe that fire is a gods’ sent gift.
Today, humanity takes technological leaps all the time but the top innovation in human history is probably fire mastering. So, many have a very strong interest in figuring how and when did our ancestors take this crucial step in human evolution.