The burning question
New evidence for the earlier use of fire by human ancestors
The ability to control fire was a crucial turning point in human evolution, but the question when hominins first developed this ability still remains. Here we show that micromorphological and Fourier transform infrared microspectroscopy (mFTIR) analyses of intact sediments at the site of Wonderwerk Cave, Northern Cape province, South Africa, provide unambiguous evidence—in the form of burned bone and ashed plant remains—that burning took place in the cave during the early Acheulean occupation, approximately 1 million years ago. To the best of our knowledge, this is the earliest secure evidence for burning in an archaeological context.
A more accessible version was reported by The Guardian.