Fire As an Engineering Tool of Early Modern Humans

  title={Fire As an Engineering Tool of Early Modern Humans},
  author={K S Brown and Curtis W. Marean and Andy I. R. Herries and Zenobia Jacobs and Chantal Tribolo and David Braun and David L. Roberts and Michael Christian Meyer and Jocelyn Bernatchez},
  pages={859 - 862}
Friendly Fire Hints of the use of more advanced materials by humans, including symbolic marking and jewelry, appear about 75,000 years ago or so in Africa. Brown et al. (p. 859; see the Perspective by Webb and Domanski) now show that these early modern humans were also experimenting with the use of fire for improved processing of materials. Replication experiments and analysis of artifacts suggest that humans in South Africa at this time, and perhaps earlier, systematically heated stone… 
Fire and Stone
On page 859 of this issue, Brown et al. show that in coastal South Africa, the deliberate use of controlled heat treatment of stone materials dates back at least 72,000 years (and perhaps as long as 164, thousands years), predating its use outside Africa.
Heat treatment significantly increases the sharpness of silcrete stone tools
Humans were regularly heat‐treating stone tool raw materials as early as 130 thousand years ago. The late Middle Stone Age (MSA) and Late Stone Age (LSA) of South Africa’s Western Cape region
On the evidence for human use and control of fire at Schöningen.
Is early silcrete heat treatment a new behavioural proxy in the Middle Stone Age?
A direct and expedient comparison between the technical complexities of four alternative heat treatment procedures is presented by coding the behaviours required for their set-up in so-called cognigrams, a relatively new method for understanding complexity based on the problem-solution distance.
An early and enduring advanced technology originating 71,000 years ago in South Africa
This research shows that microlithic technology originated early in South Africa, evolved over a vast time span (∼11,000 years), and was typically coupled to complex heat treatment that persisted for nearly 100,000 years.
Using Pyrotechnology: Fire-related Features and Activities with a Focus on the African Middle Stone Age
Pyrotechnology was important in prehistory and has been a research topic for decades, in particular, the origins of controlled and habitual use of fire. The earliest putative evidence of fire use is
Early Use of Pressure Flaking on Lithic Artifacts at Blombos Cave, South Africa
Replication experiments show that pressure flaking best explains the morphology of lithic artifacts recovered from the ~75-ka Middle Stone Age levels at Blombos Cave, South Africa.
A previously undescribed organic residue sheds light on heat treatment in the Middle Stone Age.
On the earliest evidence for habitual use of fire in Europe
The review of the European evidence suggests that early hominins moved into northern latitudes without the habitual use of fire, and the increase in the number of sites with good evidence of fire throughout the Late Pleistocene shows that European Neandertals had fire management not unlike that documented for Upper Paleolithic groups.
Steak tournedos or beef Wellington: an attempt to understand the meaning of Stone Age transformative techniques
  • P. Schmidt
  • Psychology
    Humanities and Social Sciences Communications
  • 2021
Research into human uniqueness is gaining increasing importance in prehistoric archaeology. The most striking behaviour unique to early and modern humans among other primates is perhaps that they


An early bone tool industry from the Middle Stone Age at Blombos Cave, South Africa: implications for the origins of modern human behaviour, symbolism and language.
Comparisons with similar bone tools from the Later Stone Age at Blombos Cave, other Cape sites and ethnographic collections show that although shaping methods are different, the planning and execution of bone tool manufacture in the Middle Stone Age is consistent with that in the late Holocene.
Emergence of Modern Human Behavior: Middle Stone Age Engravings from South Africa
Two abstract representations engraved on pieces of red ochre recovered from the Middle Stone Age layers at Blombos Cave in South Africa support the emergence of modern human behavior in Africa at least 35,000 years before the start of the Upper Paleolithic.
The revolution that wasn't: a new interpretation of the origin of modern human behavior.
The African Middle and early Late Pleistocene hominid fossil record is fairly continuous and in it can be recognized a number of probably distinct species that provide plausible ancestors for H. sapiens, and suggests a gradual assembling of the package of modern human behaviors in Africa, and its later export to other regions of the Old World.
Early human use of marine resources and pigment in South Africa during the Middle Pleistocene
It is shown that by ∼164’kyr ago (±12 kyr) at Pinnacle Point (on the south coast of South Africa) humans expanded their diet to include marine resources, perhaps as a response to these harsh environmental conditions.
Ages for the Middle Stone Age of Southern Africa: Implications for Human Behavior and Dispersal
Age ages for nine sites from varied climatic and ecological zones across southern Africa show that both industries were short-lived (5000 years or less), separated by about 7000 years, and coeval with genetic estimates of population expansion and exit times.