Human Control of Fire, C. 1,600,000 BCE by Homo erectus
Controlling fire has been a hallmark of human culture since before the existence of modern Homo sapiens. Early people obtained fire from natural sources, later developing a variety of methods to create fire artificially. The ability to create, control, and use fire remains essential to human civilization.
The first exposure that early humans had to fire most likely came from wild ﬁres and forest fires sparked by lightning. While destructive and potentially deadly, they provided early access to the tool, although it was not a force that people could control, much less create at will.
There is evidence to show that as early as 1.6 million years ago Homo erectus groups had harnessed fire to some extent, and by 400,000 to 250,000 BCE there is clear evidence that Homo erectus could control and perhaps even create it. By 125,000 BCE, well after the emergence of modern Homo sapiens, human use, control, and creation of fire were widespread and common.
Humanity’s mastery of fire had an immediate and profound impact on its evolution. Fire gave people protection from wild animals, allowed them to illuminate the darkness, gave warmth to fend off the cold, enhanced their ability to fashion tools, gave them the ability to cook food, and served as an effective deterrent against insects and pests. Fire was so useful in the preparation of food that humans became the only animal that could nutritionally thrive by eating cooked but not raw food. Fire’s importance in culture is so marked that the word itself became a ubiquitous metaphor used to describe ideas such as romantic love, conflict, destruction, and intense desire.
Cast away on a deserted island? Here's a survival technique for making a fire with the most basic of resources. How to make a fire rubbing 2 sticks together!
Further reading: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4874402/
Article by Mark Theoharis. Mark is a writer and comer attorney living in Kansas, United States. He writes about legal issues for Law firm businesses, and professionals who need to reach lay audiences.