According to a report by ScienceAlertthe mastery of fire would have allowed ancient humans access “to entirely new worlds”. It revolutionized the life of the ancestors by facilitating and improving their daily lives. However, no one knows how or when this mastery took place. Remains of burnt materials suggest that the use of fire began there 1.5 million years old.
In new research, scientists have used a artificial intelligence used as a spectroscopic thermometer. This technology is able to estimate the exposure of stones and fossils to heat.
Researchers used AI in a Lower Paleolithic area in Israel, dating back around a million years, to detect hidden traces of campfires.
Subtle chemical signatures?
Visual clues are essential to identify traces of fires in archaeological sites. Zane Stepka and his colleagues at the Kimmel Center for Archeological Science, used the thermometer on flint artifacts, dated from 1 to 0.8 million years ago, from a place in Israel. The artifacts were discovered next to animal fossils in yellow-gray sand and on red silt, with no evidence of the use of fire.
However, according to a report from Mail Onlinethe thermometer would have revealed subtle chemical signatures. Several stone tools and pieces of animal tusks were said to have been heated to various temperatures, some of which exceeding 400 degrees Celsius. The researchers assume that they were in contact with the fire.
Early hominins controlled fire
According to the team, the Forest fires are not to be excluded. However, the tools and bones grouped together, as well as the fires confined to the camps, suggest that early hominins controlled fire. The discovery of a handful of archaeological sites with signs of ancient artifacts and traces of fire reinforce this idea.
The researchers believe that further use of this new approach could help them learn more about “the spatio-temporal relationship between the first hominins and fire”. Reassessing artifacts found at other Lower Palaeolithic sites, including those in the Levant, would help.