African Archaeological Review

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 3–27 | Cite as

Fire and its roles in early hominid lifeways

  • J. D. Clark
  • J. W. K. Harris


Discovery of the uses and later the invention of fire-making are fundamental to humanity. Following reports over the last decade of traces of fire found on Lower Pleistocene archaeological sites in eastern Africa, the dating of the control of fire by hominids has become a controversial issue. In this paper we critically review the contexts and, in the light of a battery of archaeometric techniques, the nature of reported instances of fire from Koobi Fora and Chesowanja in Kenya, and from Gadeb and the Middle Awash in Ethiopia. We conclude with a discussion of the roles fire may have played in the lifeways of early Pleistocene savanna-living hominids.


Cultural Study Controversial Issue Archaeological Site Early Hominid Koobi Forum 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


La découverte des usages du feu et ensuite de sa préparation est fondamentale pour l'humanité. Suite à des rapports au cours de la dernière décennie signalant des traces de feu relevées dans des sites archéologiques du Pléistocène inférieur dans l'est de l'Afrique, la datation du contrôle du feu par les hominiens est devenu une source de controverse. Dans cet article, nous révisons d'un oeil critique les contextes et la nature des cas de feu signalés à Koobi Fora et à Chesowanja au Kenya, et à Gadeb et dans l'Awash moyen en Éthiopie, à la lumière d'une suite de techniques archéometriques. Suit en conclusion une discussion sur les rôles qu'aurait pu jouer le feu dans les modes de vie des hominiens vivant dans les savannes du Pléistocène inférieur.


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© Cambridge University Press 1985

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  • J. D. Clark
  • J. W. K. Harris

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