Archaeologists Find 300,000-Year-Old Hearth in Qesem Cave in Israel

Posted on January 28, 2014

Humans are estimated to have discovered fire over one million years ago. Newly found evidence indicates humans had fireplaces over 300,000 years ago. Israeli archaeologists found a 300,000-year-old hearth in the Qesem Cave, a site near Rosh Ha'ayin.

The researchers say microscopic evidence in Weizmann Institute labs shows repeated fire use in the spot over time. A chunk of sediment from the heart was hardened in the lab and then sliced into extremely thin slices so it could be studied under the microscope. The research was published here in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

The archaeologists also found tools for cutting meet in the hearth and outside of it. They also found other tools and burnt animal bones.

Dr. Ruth Shahack-Gross of the Kimmel Center for Archeological Science, says in a statement, "These findings help us to fix an important turning point in the development of human culture - that in which humans first began to regularly use fire both for cooking meat and as a focal point - a sort of campfire - for social gatherings. They also tell us something about the impressive levels of social and cognitive development of humans living some 300,000 years ago."

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