Fire engineers of the Stone Age

People in southern Africa 72,000 years ago heated stones in preparation for toolmaking

By Bruce Bower, 15:45 PM August 13, 2009

Stone Age toolmakers didn’t need motivational speakers to get fired up at work. People living on the southern tip of Africa 72,000 years ago decided on their own to heat stones with carefully controlled fires in order to make the rock more suitable for tool manufacturing, a new study finds.

Coastal residents of southern Africa may even have heated stones as a first step in toolmaking as early as 164,000 years ago, say Kyle Brown, an anthropology graduate student at the University of Cape To...

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