some fire thoughts

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jon r

Native
Apr 7, 2006
1,197
9
30
England, midlands
www.jonsbushcraft.com
Just been thinking about fire and how it was discovered thousonds of years ago. How did Mankind have the determination to make fire by friction if they didnt know it was going to work? Do you think that fires were first found by humans in natural bush fires? :rolleyes:
 

Toddy

Mod
Mod
Jan 21, 2005
35,502
1,623
S. Lanarkshire
Well some thing are certain; earlier humans weren't stupid and they were good with their hands and good at the joined up thinking :cool:
Fire is a natural phenomenon, but it opens up opportunities for omnivorous scavengers; it's useful stuff. Perhaps they noticed certain plants that *kept* fire longer, like fomes does. That apart I reckon Goose's suggestion is pretty good; anytime you *work* something it gets hot, whether it's a bowdrill or even simply rubbing off the rough bits of bark on fibrous stuff by pulling it backwards and forwards around a branch. Sooner or later, fire :D

Cheers,
Toddy
 

bilko

Settler
May 16, 2005
513
5
49
SE london
Of course this is just supposition but i would imagine fire was discovered by accident. Perhaps someone was trying to break up a rock to make it smaller for a task by bashing it on another rock. it's possible that sparks flew and ignited some material near by.
Of all the fire by friction methods i would think the plough was the first to be discovered. Not just because Tom hanks used it :D . maybe a person was sharpening a stick by using a rock and although the rock was good at cutting it splintered the wood every time. the person then turned to rubbing out a spike on the stick by using a kind of plough method on a log or something.

maybe the plough was a failure for producing fire because of the lack of oxygen to the tinder and indeed any tinder but, it was excellent at rubbing out spikes or spears. the plough method of producing fire kept it's secret and the person not even having an inkling of the secret was non the wiser except for finding a good way of wearing down wood. One day a person wanted a hole in a piece of wood and used his rubbing stick to rub out a hole, the rest being history.

Wouldn't it be wonderfull to be there at that ureka moment that the first flame was produced by man! The beginning of science, the dawn of an age?
being able to see what lay deep in the back of a cave for the first time. To bring light to darkness. Is it any wonder the sun has been worshiped through the ages?
I wonder what the exact date was?, the time and place, was it night or day?, What wood was it that man first burnt?, how long did it take him to realise that meat could be cooked with it?
Was it just fire or was it the great flaming magik on the end of a branch that gave man the spirit and push he needed to evolve above the rest of the animal kingdom? Was it the moment that religion was born, when man realised the sun could be brought from the sky to the earth but he was akin to it, part of it, master of it?
Of course man was always more intelligent than beast but fire gave him the edge. It removed the cold, it made the day longer, it fought the beast or at least kept it at bay.
How long did the secret take to travel across continents and how far had man with fire progressed in learning by the time he reached man without fire? the learning curve of that particular tribe must have been so steep and rapid that, well, i wonder if that was a defining moment between two types of man?
 

Glen

Full Member
Oct 16, 2005
618
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London
bilko said:
Of course this is just supposition but i would imagine fire was discovered by accident.
I acidentally almost discovered the firesaw when I was at infant school, trying to widen out a gouge in the edge of my wooden school desk with a wooden ruler, wasn't long before it produced a few wisps of smoke and a distinct burning smell.

My teacher was less impressed by my discovery than I was.
 

Biddlesby

Settler
May 16, 2005
972
4
Frankfurt
I think, though romantic, fire was not discovered by accident. But there must have been a first person or group to produce it for themselves. Before this I imagine people would use embers from bush fires. As for meat, man may have found burnt carcasses from bush fires and discovered it was more digestible.

It would be interesting to find out at which point in evolution man started harnessing fire and conjuring it at will.
 

jon r

Native
Apr 7, 2006
1,197
9
30
England, midlands
www.jonsbushcraft.com
maybe the plough was the first but never worked so humans developed different ways to create more smoke and more heat like the bow drill in the hope it would get to something, the something we call fire!

Some great thoughts guys
 

sam_acw

Native
Sep 2, 2005
1,081
10
37
Italy
woodcrafterslog.blogspot.com
I thought fire affected the edibility of plant foods more than meat. The main problem with raw meat is one bacteria and parasites rather than digestibility. I think Mors Kochanski talks about this in Bushcraft.
 

Biddlesby

Settler
May 16, 2005
972
4
Frankfurt
Ah yes I think you're correct. I've got a feeling meat is more nutritious raw.

Replace 'digestible' with 'tasty and doesn't kill you'.
 

torjusg

New Member
Aug 10, 2005
1,246
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livingprimitively.com
I agree with Samuel on the meat thing.

Raw meat is indeed very digestable. It retains much more of the nutrition than cooked meat. Up here meat can be eaten safely raw (Only ungulates though). I believe there are probably less harmful bacteria where the snow lays for months each year.

Also didn't see that before I posted: The bloody is generally regarded as more tasty than both medium and well done in steaks. ;)

As for the hand drill. It seems unlikely to me that that was the first method of fire by friction. The fire plow seems more natural to me as I have this, slightly biased, idea that they didn't need holes. But who knows. It could be either way.
 

WhichDoctor

Nomad
Aug 12, 2006
384
1
Shropshire
Biddlesby said:
It would be interesting to find out at which point in evolution man started harnessing fire and conjuring it at will.
As far as I remember there is evidence of the use of fire quite a long way back in Human evolution.

There is a theory that fire was key to human evolution, the idea is that cooking food makes it easier to chew witch meant that early hominids with fire didn't need jaw mussels as big as the hominids without fire. That meant there skulls didn't need a large boney ridge down the middle to attach the jaw mussels to, allowing the skull and brain to enlarge.

If thats true then fire would have appeared in some form way back in human history. I would imagine, like has been said, that the first use of fire would have been natural fire court and kept alive for years.
 

torjusg

New Member
Aug 10, 2005
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WhichDoctor said:
If thats true then fire would have appeared in some form way back in human history. I would imagine, like has been said, that the first use of fire would have been natural fire court and kept alive for years.
In fact some pygmè tribes do that today as well. They don't know how to make fire anymore since they have carried it around with them for centuries.
 

bilko

Settler
May 16, 2005
513
5
49
SE london
So, is it possible that man had journeyed thousands of miles across the earth before the age of producing fire at will or was man created and evolving seperatly but at relativly the same time across the globe?
I would think that the race of men that harnessed fire eventually became known as homo sapien? What of man that fire and the knowledge of never reached? Where they the ones that died out and what were they called? And anyone know what continent the bones of these men have been found?
I am shockingly bad when it comes to history :D
 

billycan

Forager
Jan 21, 2006
240
1
Sussex
There are many theories on this, however i think i remember reading somewhere that one of the ways it was discovered was by using the bow as a drill to make holes in some object, as someone mentioned earlier in the thread. On the end of the drill was a flint or bone addition for drilling however for some reason it 'fell off' and people drilled and realised smoke was produced and it got really hot.

However I think that fire was not discovered in one place and the knowledge spread across the world, as so many methods and associated cultures have evolved and exist today in different locations e.g. fire plough in Indonesia and Australasia and the hand drill in Africa and central America and bow drill in the more northern areas. Why would this have happened if it originated from one place??? There has clearly been a lot of individual thinking and experimentation on separate continents and amongst individual tribes. Just my thoughts....
 

Ogri the trog

Mod
Mod
Apr 29, 2005
7,137
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Mid Wales UK
My take on things is this;
Early man was better able to maintain a fire than he was able to create it. If he was to stumble upon a natural blaze, (lightening strike, volcanic activity etc) he could then use it to his advantage for however long he stayed in that area. If however the fire went out - it mattered not and he would carry on as before, none the worse for not having fire. Then at a later date he could do the same if he came across another fire.
I'm guessing, but it would have been many millenia later when man discovered that he could either transport a live coal or indeed create fire from scratch, thus building on his existing skill of being able to control fire short-term. When the both skills were sufficiently embedded, then the species could be deemed to have an advantage over others.

:confused:

Well maybe anyway.

Ogri the trog
 

WhichDoctor

Nomad
Aug 12, 2006
384
1
Shropshire
bilko said:
I would think that the race of men that harnessed fire eventually became known as homo sapien? What of man that fire and the knowledge of never reached? Where they the ones that died out and what were they called? And anyone know what continent the bones of these men have been found?
I am shockingly bad when it comes to history :D
Well I know for certain that Homo erectus the race of man immediately before Homosapien (and the first Hominid to leave Africa 1.6 miliion years ago) had use of fire, whether they had knowledge of making fire we cant know. They were spread from Europe to China before Homosapien arrived from Africa and supplanted them, or they spontaneously evolved into Homosapiens all over the world at the same time but that is very disputed. And later the Neanderthals in Europe from around (350,000 years ago) had a sophisticated knowledge of fire before and after modern humans arrived (35,000 years ago) before they became extinct. there is evidence of fire being used in Africa much earlier than that as far back as (2.5 million years ago).

So it seems that there was one group of early humans that discovered fire in Africa, witch aloud them to out compete all the other primates and eventually evolve into modern humans. I hope that helps, and isn't to wildly inaccurate :eek: :p ,Im not a archeologist i've just pict stuff up over the years and dun a quick trawl of wikipedia :) .
 

Bisamratte

Nomad
Jun 11, 2006
341
1
Karben
as for discovering the fire carrying properties of certain fungi.......chuck log on the fire with fungi attached........then wonder why the fungi burns slower than everything else :rolleyes:

just a thought

Andy :)
 

scouser4life

New Member
Oct 6, 2006
86
2
30
liverpool
Glen said:
I acidentally almost discovered the firesaw when I was at infant school, trying to widen out a gouge in the edge of my wooden school desk with a wooden ruler, wasn't long before it produced a few wisps of smoke and a distinct burning smell.

My teacher was less impressed by my discovery than I was.

You reminded me of the time i did that too :)
 

Feygan

New Member
Oct 14, 2006
114
4
40
Northern Ireland
Earliest use of fire in the Europe region was roughly 800k years ago, and its not just barbequed kebabs either, but fully functioning built ovens etc. Also flint spark usage involved.

Here's a quick link for a brief idea. Ancient fire
 
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