Archaeologists May have Discovered One Million-Year-Old Campfire

Monday, 02 April 2012

Archaeologists from Boston University have recently uncovered what they feel could be the oldest campfire ever. Located in Wonderwerk Cave, located in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa, they found ash of grass, leaves and bone fragments at a depth of 30 meters - roughly one million years ago.

The excavated area is located far enough back in the cave to be out of reach of lightning strikes and has tested negative for bat guano (which can spontaneously combust in sufficient quantities), "This left us with the conclusion that the fire had to have been created by hominins," says Berna. "The fire was only confirmed when the sediment was analysed at the microscopic level. It is possible that the reason we have not yet seen more evidence of early fire use is because we have not been using the appropriate methods," he continued.

Derna's findings were published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and while many archaeologists agree that the evidence does suggest that hominins did use fire in the cave one million years ago, there is still debate on whether or not the early people mastered the flame sufficiently to cook regularly.

Via and

Flickr Photo Credit: Doug Beckers

David Johnston

David Johnston

David Johnston has been introducing people to the sport of sea kayaking for the past 15 years. He is a senior instructor trainer with Paddle Canada and teaches for several paddling schools in Ontario, Canada. Full Bio.

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