Our prehistoric ancestors may have been a fiery bunch. By about 750,000 years ago, the inhabitants of a lakeshore in what is now northern Israel had learned to build fires in hearths, a research team contends.
For the next 100,000 years, Stone Age folk who frequented the Middle Eastern site used hearths for what must have been a variety of purposes, including staying warm, fending off predators, and cooking meat, according to archaeologist Naama Goren-Inbar of Hebrew University in Jerusalem and her colleagues.
They describe their findings in the April 30 Science.
"This is the oldest evidence for the controlled use of fire in Asia and Europe," Goren-Inbar says.