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Hominins in Israel May Have Controlled Fire 300,000 Years Ago

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Israel Hominin ToolsREHOVOT, ISRAEL—According to a Gizmodo Australia report, hominins living in central Israel’s Qesem Cave some 300,000 years ago heated their flint at varying temperatures before knapping it into different tools. Heating the stone would have given the toolmakers more control of the knapping process, but if done incorrectly, the rock would have broken and become unusable. Archaeologist Filipe Natalio of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and his colleagues evaluated two types of flint tools recovered from Qesem Cave with spectroscopic chemical analysis, and then heated flint samples in a laboratory oven in order to estimate the temperatures to which the ancient stones had been heated. They found that the blades had been heated to nearly 500 degrees Fahrenheit, while the flakes had been heated to 775 degrees. Pot lids recovered from the cave had been heated to more than 800 degrees Fahrenheit. While the study suggests that hominins were able to control fire and manage the resources necessary to keep it burning, the scientists still do not know the techniques the hominins might have employed. To read about early hominin tools found in Kenya, go to "Earliest Stone Tools," one of ARCHAEOLOGY's Top 10 Discoveries of 2015.

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