An archaeological discovery in Tabun Cave, 15 miles south of Haifa, in Israel, has lent proof to the fact that humans started kindling and using fire some 350,000 years ago. Located in northern Israel, the cave contained the oldest archaeological layers of evidence that suggested that our ancestors devised the use of fires since that long.

The archaeologists found burned flint tools and flint debris in a layer within 52-feet deep of sediment patches, and over 100 consecutive layers of such sediments of flints were found within the Tabun Cave. Researchers estimate that the first 52-feet deep layer of sediment patch was about 350,000 years old; other deeper layers that were estimated to be as much as 500,000 years old equally contained flint tools, but no proofs existed that the flints were ever used to kindle any fires.

Ron Shimelmitz, an archaeology professor at the University of Haifa states that “Tabun cave is unique in that it’s a site with a very long sequence. We could examine step by step how the use of fire changed in the cave.”

Scientists appear glad to accept the fact that humans must have started using fires some 350,000 years ago because this theory appears consistent with findings from several other archaeological sites. However, scientists had earlier postulated in 2011 that humans started using fire between 400,000 to 300,000 years ago – but it appeared the Tabun Cave finding established the fact that they started using fire 350,000 years ago when humans moved into colder regions.

Fire is useful for cooking, and for providing light and warmth, as well as protection from wild animals; but some people, among them a Harvard professor, Richard Wrangham, does not believe in the 350,000 years theory. He believes humans started using fire almost 2 million years ago because the evolution of complex human brains appear attributable to the earlier use of flint fires.


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