300,000-year-old hearth found in Israel
|This is a scan of a sediment "slice" from the hearth area of the cave showing burnt bone and|
rock fragments within the gray ash residue [Credit: Weizmann Institute of Science]
Next, Shahack-Gross tested the micro-morphology of the ash. To do this, she extracted a cubic chunk of sediment from the hearth and hardened it in the lab. Then she sliced it into extremely thin slices -- so thin they could be placed under a microscope to observe the exact composition of the materials in the deposit and reveal how they were formed. With this method, she was able to distinguish a great many micro-strata in the ash -- evidence for a hearth that was used repeatedly over time. These findings were published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.
"These findings help us to fix an important turning point in the development of human culture -- that in which humans first began to regularly use fire both for cooking meat and as a focal point -- a sort of campfire -- for social gatherings," she says. "They also tell us something about the impressive levels of social and cognitive development of humans living some 300,000 years ago." The researchers think that these findings, along with others, are signs of substantial changes in human behavior and biology that commenced with the appearance in the region of new forms of culture -- and indeed a new human species -- about 400,000 years ago.
Source: Weizmann Institute of Science.[January 27, 2014]
Labels Ancient, ArchaeoHeritage, Archaeology, Breakingnews, Early Humans, Greater Middle East, Israel, Near East