It is well known that fire was the greatest of prehistorical technical and cultural advances.
It remains fairly certain that Homo erectus never learnt how to make fire and that even his successor did not for a long time possess this skill. That he knew how to use it, on the other hand, is indisputable.
Many of the ancient folklores revolve around fire. In almost all of them a heroic figure or a magical beast seizes fire. (e.g. Prometheus steals the fire of the gods) Fire was first taken from some natural source like volcanic activity natural outbreak like forest fire (from lightning).
Fire affected hominids life is numerous ways:
- It brought warmth and light. Thus enabling man to venture into darkness and cold.
- Hunting: Big game could be driven for hunting. Weapons could be hardened with fire.
- Cooking: Seeds, distasteful or bitter plants could now be eaten.This must have stimulated attention to the variety and availability of plant life;the science of botany was stirring without anyone knowing it.
- Social Effects: Fire enables life after dark. Cooking fire was a source of light and warmth. It also led to gathering of community around it. In some ways this gathering led to the origin of language. It must have been the desire to express, but that desire must have been motivated by this group intercourse.
- Social Hierarchy: Fire was a mysterious thing to the hominids. Somewhere along the fire-bearer or the fire specialist appeared, beings of awesome and mysterious importance. I see the emergence of concept of priests (read powerful men) here.
However, in the end fire, broke the rigidity of night and day. Man had more time at his disposal. And we know that this extra time was well used.