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The Archaeological Consequences of Human Fire Use: Analyses, Interpretations, and Implications for Understanding the Evolution of Pyrotechnic Behaviors.

Author(s): Christopher Parker ; Nicole Herzog ; Earl Keefe ; James O'Connell ; Kristen Hawkes

Year: 2017

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Summary

The importance of controlled fire use in human evolutionary history is widely acknowledged, but the timing of initial anthropogenic fire use and control remains contentious. This debate has recently extended to question whether fire-making behavior was maintained and employed by early hominins moving into northern latitudes based on inconsistencies in archaeological fire signatures in the European record. A series of recent publications interpret these inconsistencies as indicating that populations moving out of Africa into colder climes during the Pleistocene did not maintain pyrotechnic behavior, but rather used fire opportunistically. For these analysts, earlier archaeological evidence of anthropogenic fire use does not imply a sustained pattern of fire using behavior. Here, we review the archeological evidence from European Paleolithic sites interpreted as reflecting opportunistic fire use in light of archaeological and ethnographic evidence of human fire-making and maintenance, and suggest that the inconsistencies in archaeological fire records do not indicate lack of ability to create and maintain fire on the part of early Homo. We argue that the benefits provided by fire control and use are substantial and pervasive enough they would not be abandoned once adopted.


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The Archaeological Consequences of Human Fire Use: Analyses, Interpretations, and Implications for Understanding the Evolution of Pyrotechnic Behaviors.. Christopher Parker, Nicole Herzog, Earl Keefe, James O'Connell, Kristen Hawkes. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429107)


Keywords

Geographic Keywords
Europe


Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16077

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America