View Full Version : Fire!

04-16-1999, 01:36 AM
It is getting to be a croweded MB but that is what I got questions (and an unquestion) about. The questions:
When did humans start using fire? Did Neanderthals use fire? Does anybody know of a good book or website that examines myths (that tell the story of mans gaining the use of fire) other than the Prometheus one? Does the bible give an explanation?

Unquestion rumination follows: It seems to me that this is the first thing we did that no other creature ever in the history of the planet did. This act strikes me as more a sign of a willingness to take the daring chance rather than a sign of smarts. In other words its not so much our brains as our guts that have led us to our present state. At that moment that that first creature overcame her or his fear and discovered the ability to master fire the dye was cast and a great extinction had begun. Anyway I would be grateful for any help with the questions thanks.

04-16-1999, 01:45 AM
I think I saw this in my 7th grade history book. I don't know the exact day, but there is evidence that man first used fire around 30,000 years ago. If I'm not mistaken, that is during the Ice Ages.

04-16-1999, 01:45 AM
Nitpic coming.
Humans make fire, a lot of creatures use it omce it's there. My wierd-assed cat, for example.

04-16-1999, 10:16 AM
ya can't tell us about your weird-ass cat using fire without going into detail!!! C'mon, out with it.

All Hail Unca Cecil, or the next best thing available!

04-16-1999, 11:17 AM
There's more than one way to skin a cat, but the quickest involves gasoline and a match.

04-16-1999, 12:32 PM
Does the bible give an explanation? I don't think so. I looked through Genesis' primeval history section (Ch. 1-11) for my discussions/arguments/flame-wars with Phil D. in the God threads. I don't remember anything like God giving fire to Adam and Eve. Genesis treats fire as a primal force, like air, water, and earth.

"I had a feeling that in Hell there would be mushrooms." -The Secret of Monkey Island

04-16-1999, 03:17 PM
Funny you shoud mention it. There was a documentary on TLC about this about a week ago.

Yes, Neandertals used fire. There is evidence that they even used it to delouse caves by burning their bedding in a large pile. While Neandertal artifacts are few and far between, it is believe that the first fires that man used were naturally -occurring ones. Then, one day, it could have been that Grog was making a spear-head when he noticed that these two rocks produced a spark when struck quickly.

Most likely, they didn't start a new fire from scratch when they moved from campsite to campsie. Some believe that hot coals might have been transported in animal horns.

04-16-1999, 04:07 PM
I think Lissa is on to something here. I don't see how a culture could have the ability to fashion tools by chipping stone without also stumbling upon the means to create fire. I think it's safe to say that man's control of fire is at least as old as the stone age.

04-16-1999, 06:01 PM
Wierd I thought I posted a reply awhie ago. Anyways...Diceman I thought that was the case although Adam's kids are said to have used fire to make sacrifices to God. God is often associated with fire (burning bush etc.). I was listening to the radio show "Pulse of the Planet"on the local NPR station a week or so ago and they were talking about a mountain in Azerbyjahn that has been burning leaking gas for the last 100,000 years. They said it was a sacred site to Zoroasterians whom they said worship fire.
Um thanks Lissa this begs the question when did the neanderthals dissappear?*

Is there any evidence as to which species first mastered fire?
Obviously light is neccesary to paint a cave I doubt they used fireflies.

*( I wonder how things are in the country)

04-16-1999, 09:27 PM
Not to be picky, hon, but it's Neandertal, minus the "h."

Modern humans, according to who you ask, appeared beween 115,000 and 85,000 years ago. As they spread, the Neandertal started to die off. In the Middle East, they existed along side one another for about 30,000 years. But in Europe their co-existance lasted a mere 5,000 years before the end of the Neandertal.

The first cave paintings, by the way, are around 30,000 years old.

04-16-1999, 09:42 PM
Not to be picky but it is spelled Neanderthal. It is pronounced Ne-an-der-tal. It's a German word and "th" is pronounced as a hard "t"

04-17-1999, 12:51 AM
Not to be picky, but you are both being picky. Both of you are correct. Neandertal is a more recent spelling.

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary says "Neanderthal, also: Neandertal". National Geographic magazine uses -tal. You are both right. Now please give it a rest.

04-17-1999, 12:52 AM
Well, I never have a problem being picky when it is required.

Dobson, J. E., 1998 "Geographic Analysis Yields New Neandertal Theory", GIS World , November, 1998.

«Author's Note
In its original German language, the spelling was "Neanderthal," but the proper pronunciation always was "täl." "Thal," meaning "valley," was one of many words spelled "th" but pronounced "t." The German language reform of 1900 changed many such spellings to conform with pronunciation. Today, most German, French and American scholars prefer "Neandertal," while many British scholars prefer "Neanderthal." The general public in the United Kingdom and America typically employ "th" in spelling and pronunciation.»

I have seen an increasing number of authors and periodicals drop the "th" for "t" since around 1990, citing the German spelling reform of 1900.


04-17-1999, 01:06 AM
Sheesh burning cats??? Um I'm afraid this isn't helpful. Thanks Louie, I guess that answers the neanderthal question too.(if one is willing to take the word of a 7th grade text)...Uh I assume that mangeorge has a cat that warms itself by a fire. Mangeorge is right I misspoke but I belive my meaning was decipherable.

04-19-1999, 01:34 AM
ya can't tell us about your weird-ass cat using fire without going into detail!!! C'mon, out with it.

O.k, Olentzero, maybe I was padding the literal meaning of "using" here just a little. He (my cat) simply lounges in front of the fireplace. But he does it so well.
Other animals do seek and follow a forrest fire to harvest other animals disturbed by the flames. Did ancient humans?

Bruce Knuckledragger: "Here hon, I caught a lizard. It's quite tasty".

Ashley Knuckledragger: "Well, I picked one up after that forrest fire. Here try it".

B.K: "Yummy, much better, lets go find another fire".

A.K: "Sure, babe, or maybe we could make one inside this little circle of rocks"

B.K: "Well, yeah, thats what I meant"


"If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything" Mark Twain 1894

04-20-1999, 10:59 AM
I've read that inconclusive evidence of the use of fire has been discovered in south African caves, and dated to as long ago as 250,000 years ago - which would put it long before modern humans or Neandertals.

However, the cave paintings of Lasceaux (and others in France and Spain) are generally believed to have been created between 30,000 and 40,000 years ago, and they would definitely have required the use of controlled fire. Some of the pigments used were burned (ever heard of burnt ochre?), and charcoal was also a used.

Usually, though, I've read that the use of fire was picked up by homo habilis or later. The date I see most commonly is circa 80,000 years ago.

04-20-1999, 11:29 AM
Hmmm, I thought the bible said the planet is only a few thousand years old? At any rate, I guess it came pre-antiqued.

04-20-1999, 12:29 PM
No, Slartibartfast was responsible for burying fossils, I think. Or one of his colleagues.

...oh, you were maybe referring to a DIFFERENT bible...

02-17-2000, 12:52 PM
From Stringer & Gamble:
"In Search of the Neanderthals"
Neanderthals have fire. The use of fire is was probably not what we would generally think of when its mentioned that Neanderthals have fire (my assumption). You probably think of a group of people at a cave mouth at dusk huddled around a campfire. They are there with some roasting game and that this was the norm and this happened every few days.

There is no general evidence of hearths at Neanderthal sites so no regular cooking or heating. In fact the "homes" of Neanderthals are referred to as more like "nests" than a continually inhabited home site with fixed home items like walls, chairs or even arranged rocks i.e. no record of cumforts/improvements. Also the nest would more likely be somewhere in the open rather then in a cave.

The point of the authors for Neanderthal not having hearths suggests Neanderthal was not developed very far. The scenario I mentioned above about roasting some game probably did happen but it was irregular and not at fixed locations over long periods. Neanderthal "located" some place, had a few meals over weeks or months and moved on but the use of fire was very sporadic.

02-17-2000, 12:59 PM
>>It is getting to be a croweded MB...

Can you yell "Fire!" on a crowded message board?

02-18-2000, 01:11 AM
Where IS Quarterat these days, anyway? Didn't he move to Kentucky or some such??