300,000-year-old firepit found in Israel could be the first example of a social campfire
The fire-pit found near Tel-Aviv could hold the secret to the beginnings of social culture among early humans
Humans may have used fire as a social focus 300,000 years ago, a new study into a cave in Israel suggests.
Full of ash and charred bones, the 6.5 feet wide hearth discovered in the Qesem Cave, 11 miles east of Tel Aviv, could help archaeologists learn more about the development of human culture.
It also puts into question the popular theory that Homo sapiens arose in Africa 200,000 year ago.
Fragments of stone tools used for killing and slicing animals found a few feet away from the pit, alongside layers of ash, indicate the fire was used repeatedly over time as a sort of base camp
Ruth Shahack-Gross of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel said the findings could point towards a time when humans first began to regularly use fire both for cooking meat and as a focal point for social gatherings.
“[The findings] also tell us something about the impressive levels of social and cognitive development of humans living some 300,000 years ago,” Ms Shahack-Gross said.
The study conducted by Ms Shahack-Gross and her colleagues, which was published in the 'Journal of Archaeological Science', argues that whoever built the pit must have had a certain level of intelligence.
Experts have debated over which homini species –comprising of the Homo genus- was first responsible for using fires in a controlled manner. Evidence found in Wonderwerk Cave in South Africa suggests that fire was used in this way at least 1million year ago, while other anthropologists argue that the teeth of a Homo erectus had adapted to cooked food over 1.9 million years ago.
Archaeologists discovered other traces of fire at the Qesem Cave when it was uncovered over a decade ago during the construction of a road to Tel Aviv.
Researchers thought remains including scattered deposits of ash, clumps of soil that had been heated to high temperatures, and the remains of large animals, had been left by pre-historic cave dwellers up to 400,000 years ago.
A 2010 study into the traces caused controversy in the archaeology world as it questioned the theory of Homo sapiens originating in Africa, but the archaeologists were unable to draw a concrete conclusion from the evidence.
- 1 Man on naked bike ride gets ejected after becoming aroused
- 3 Ann Summers survey reveals the UK's favourite sex position
- 4 Jaden Smith wears gender fluid dress to high school prom with Hunger Games actress
- 5 How much sex should I be having?
Ed Miliband returns to the backbenches but it's all a bit awkward as he tries to avoid eye-contact with fellow Labour MPs
Man on naked bike ride gets ejected after becoming aroused
Charles Kennedy 1959-2015: A gifted, compassionate politician whose career was cut short by the 'demon drink' - latest news
Ayyan Ali: Pakistan's top model now appears in the courtroom rather than on the catwalk
Isis tortures 14-year-old Syrian boy and films it in graphic video for 'propaganda purposes'
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Why this year's general election was the most unfair in Britain's history
£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Case Handler is requi...
£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Conveyancing Case Hand...
£12675 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Assistant is required...
£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Case Handler/Probate ...