Fire-maker Man

Homo ignis (Homo erectus) in Asia 1.8 million years ago

Discovery of fire was a game-changer. Fires were lit to drive animals towards hunters waiting with spears. The trees burned down and the good thing about that was that you got regrowth of plants that attracted grazing animals so you could hunt them as well. The landscape was radically changed and you could look out over a plain for the first time. Of course, not everybody liked it and some got upset that the balsa trees they made rafts out of had burned down as well. All this burning of trees was controversial even 1.8 million years ago.

People moved from the forests to the plains to set up camp and hunt herd animals. You had to run fast to have any chance of killing this type of animal, and then walk for miles with parts of the animal over your shoulders back to camp. But it paid off. No more of that bringing a small lizard back to eat – it was now proper game and enough for the whole group to eat and be satisfied.

At camp the camp fire would already be lit to keep tigers and other wild beasts away from the encampment of shelters. Then when the hunters returned, everyone would gather round and choose their piece of meat and barbeque it on a stick. Some used stones to crack open marrow bones so the children could feed on the soft marrow inside.

Beside the fire were happy times. When all had had their fill, the rhythm started up and men and women danced around the fire.

Sticks have been used for barbecuing since time immemorial (please ignore the iron pots). I went to this BBQ in Chiloe Chile in 1996