Who Mastered Fire and When?

On one side of the debate is Richard Wrangham, an anthropologist at Harvard, who claims that hominids became people, like you or I, by mastering fire and learning to cook food over it some 1.8 million years ago. Other anthropologists and archaeologists believe humans learned to control fire only 12,000 years ago.

That’s a pretty huge window, obviously, but why?

The difference between the two numbers stems over whether one believes the use of fire was directly manufactured by humans or whether it was used opportunistically and transported from a naturally occurring fire, like a lightening strike or volcano eruption for example.

At the same time, the likeliest answer as to who mastered fire and when isn’t so black and white. Like most of human evolution, available evidence suggests, “different groups mastered fire independently of one another at different points in time.” They were also using different techniques for obtaining and controlling it, as well.

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