16 julio, 2024

Discovery of fire: history, dates, consequences

He ddiscovery of the fire was one of the most important milestones in human history. Thanks to this element, man was able to warm himself, have a defense against predators, change his way of eating and, of course, illuminate the dark nights.

When dating this discovery, it is necessary to distinguish between the moment in which the ancestors of man began to use it and, later, when they learned to light it by themselves.

The species that began to use fire was the erectus, which achieved significant advantages over direct competitors in survival. It is assumed that, at first, they took advantage of the occasions in which the fire was produced by natural causes, such as lightning from a storm.

One of the most important effects of the discovery of fire was the increase in intelligence. Thanks to being able to cook the meat, it could be more easily eaten. The amount of nutrients grew and, therefore, the brain was increasing in capacities.

History of the discovery of fire and approximate dates

Today it is difficult to imagine a life without fire; its importance is such that its discovery is considered the most important in the history of mankind.

In fact, given its relationship with the subsequent evolution of the species, it is likely that without this element, human beings would never have become what they are today.

One of the ancestors of the human being, the erectus, was the species that began to use it. Research suggests that it already took advantage of it 1,600,000 years ago, although it took about 800,000 years to master it.

Who discovered the fire?

As previously noted, the species responsible for the discovery of fire was the erectus; It is a hominid directly related to the Homo sapiens. The oldest remains of this species date from 1 million years ago, while the most modern are from 10,000 years ago.

This hominid was robust and quite tall. Analyzing their bones, it has been concluded that there were individuals that reached 1.80 meters in height. He walked on his two legs, in an erect position (which gives him his name). This gave it advantages over other species that did it on all four limbs.

Having free hands allowed him to transport objects and better provide himself with food. It is assumed that they were collectors, although they soon began to take advantage of the remains of dead animals. In the end, they also became hunters; thus, meat was one of the most important elements in their diet.

When was the fire discovered?

It may never be possible to establish the time when the fire was discovered. The only dates indicated by the experts are given by the analysis of remains found in ancient settlements.

Likewise, it is possible that such a discovery was not made in one place. It is more probable that fire began to be used in several areas at the same time and taking advantage of different circumstances.

The most accepted theory is that, at first, the erectus He took advantage of natural phenomena to get fire. Studies claim that this happened about 1.6 million years ago. It is noted that its first uses were taking advantage of fires caused by lightning storms or by the eruptions of a volcano.

Despite already being aware of its virtues and using it regularly, the ancestors of man still did not know how to turn it on.

the mastery of fire

The last relevant finding on this matter was made by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Along the Jordan River they found several settlements and analyzed the fossils found there.

According to the results, there was evidence of the use of fire. In addition, the analyzes indicated that it was an intentional use, with knowledge of how to cause it. Archaeologists noted that they dated back about 800,000 years.

What is difficult is knowing what methods they used to light the fire. The best known hypotheses are that they did it by rubbing the wood against a trunk or hitting two rocks until it caused a spark.

fire transport

Another very important aspect in those years was how to carry fire from one place to another. First, when they did not know how to turn it on, it was essential to transport it, since the necessary circumstances did not always appear to achieve it. Later, although they learned how to turn it on, it was not very easy either.

It is assumed that the way to take it from one place to another was using burning torches. Since they were nomads, when they arrived at a new settlement they used these torches to light a new bonfire.


The importance of the discovery of fire encompassed a whole series of aspects that changed the history of humanity forever. Among these, it granted independence over nature, which contributed to migrations from Africa to Europe and, from there, to the rest of the planet.

Knowing how to handle fire, the erectus he stopped having to worry about the weather, darkness and other natural aspects, and began to control his own destiny.


One of the uses of fire was for protection. Bonfires around the settlements kept predators away. In addition, it allowed them to make basic tools.

light and heat

The fire offered the erectus an effective way of procuring light and heat. Before that, these hominids only went out during the day, dedicating the night to rest in their settlements. Thanks to the fire, they were able to lengthen the day and make it more profitable.

In the same way, the heat it provided greatly improved their living conditions. They were able to shelter from the low winter temperatures or migrate to colder places without fear.

Change in diet

One of the great differences with the animal world had fire as its protagonist: cooking food. The implications of this step were very important for the development of the species. First, the food that could be consumed multiplied and, furthermore, it kept longer once treated with fire.

On the other hand, cooking favored the digestion of meat and vegetables. Experts point out that life expectancy doubled simply because of this.

Another great consequence was the increase in calories thanks to this cooking process. The metabolism of the hominids was accelerated and the nervous system function greatly improved. This produced an enormous development in the brain, which needs 20% of all the energy we acquire through food.


Over time, the ancestors of the Homo sapiens They learned to put fire to other uses. Some of these served to improve health, such as sterilization of wounds.

Finally, when cooking certain herbs, it can be said that they created the first medicines; As an example, by boiling willow bark, a substance with the active principle of aspirin was obtained.


Curious History of Andalusia. Who discovered the fire. Retrieved from historiadeandalucia.com
Vazquez, Lucia. Man discovered fire 790,000 years ago. Retrieved from vix.com
Pena, Alexander. How was the fire discovered? Retrieved from okdiario.com

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