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New evidence sets back 30 thousand years for the first use of fire in India | India News


NEW DELHI: It devastated the forests in which they lived, scared away animals and “changed” the objects that came into contact. But the moment when humans were able to control fire – start one, keep it burning, and use it – is one that evolutionary scientists identify as the only great spark of human intelligence. About 80 km from Prayagraj, in the Belan River valley, scientists have found evidence of that point in India, setting back the first controlled use of fire known here in 30,000 years.
“Before this, the first reported use of fire in the Indian subcontinent was 18,000-20,000 years ago. Homes were found in the same valley, considered the first direct evidence of human use of fire, ”Prasanta Sanyal, co-author of the article published in the Elsevier journal ‘Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology’ told TOI.
For this study, IISER-Kolkata scientists looked at macrochar (greater than 125 microns) from six archaeological sites in the valley: Deoghat, Koldihwa, Mahagara, Chillahia, Chopani-Mando, and Main Belan. They found charcoal from buried soils, which were 50,000 years old. But that did not necessarily imply that they were the result of human activity.
“You can get charcoal from two sources: wildfires and man-made fires. Say, there was a forest fire in the Himalayas. It could have produced this coal, which was transported and deposited, ”Sanyal said. “But we found that the internal structure of these carbon samples was still well preserved, which could not have happened if they had been transported.” Then there was the topography. The document says that “the gentle slope of the Belan valley and its small area of ​​influence make long-distance transport unlikely.”
Then, they reconstructed the weather patterns of the last 100,000 years. It turned out that the period to which the charcoal samples go back was of very high precipitation. “In addition, the vegetation was characterized by trees. Both factors are not very conducive to forest fires. You can have a natural forest fire only in dry and arid conditions ”, explained Sanyal. “We conclude that the charcoal in these archaeological sites came from human use of fire.”
Which means that the human brain developed enough to control fire. “This is the time when the cognitive abilities of prehistoric humans were developed. This coincided with the period when they began to create different types of tools, ”Deepak Kumar Jha, lead author, told TOI.
Once acquired, this knowledge, how to harness fire, was one that was transferred. “The use of fire was persistent from the Middle Palaeolithic to the Neolithic (55,000 to 3,000 years ago) … from the earliest prehistoric populations to later agricultural communities,” the document says.
This is now the thirteenth oldest evidence of the use of fire in the world. The oldest is from 1.6 million years ago, at Koobi Fora in Kenya. Sanyal said: “If you look at China, human-controlled fire has been discovered for 400,000 years. Why this gap? Perhaps we have not studied the Indian sites enough. ”

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