Friday 17 September 2010

Humans used fire to heat treat tools 72,000 years ago

Stone age humans used fire to heat treat rocks and make them more suitable for toolmaking at least 72,000 years ago, acoording to new research in South Africa - some 50,000 years earlier than previously believed.

According to  Doctoral student Kyle Brown, who led the research at the University of Cape Town in South Africa: ''Our illumination of the heat treatment process shows that these early modern humans commanded fire in a nuanced and sophisticated manner.

''We show that early modern humans at 72,000 years ago, and perhaps as early as 164,000 years ago in coastal South Africa, were using carefully controlled hearths in a complex process to heat stone and change its properties, the process known as heat treatment.''

Previously, the first use of heat treatment was thought to have been in Europe 25,000 years ago. The technique was not believed to have been invented until long after the ancestors of modern humans had left Africa and settled in Europe and Asia.

Read the story in full in The Daily Telegraph here:-

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