Spatial analysis of fire: Archaeological approach to recognizing early fire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The use of fire by early hominins is considered a significant technological and cultural revolution. Recently, the study of fire use has been affected by a troublesome trend that views chemical and microscopic techniques as the only acceptable analyses of fire residues, thus ignoring basic archaeological observations and analyses. This paper discusses the diverse expressions of early fire, their variability, and their level of significance and suggests that the spatial analysis of burned residues is a reliable method for recognizing early fire. Evidence from the site of Gesher Benot Ya‘aqov (GBY) suggests that fire was routinely used by Acheulian hominins. In addition, new data on the spatial association between percussive activities and fire are presented. Such evidence of routine and habitual use of fire requires intensity and recurrence, documented in sites with long occupational sequences such as GBY. This requirement excludes habitual use of fire from the majority of early hominin habitations, documented by short-term occupations of open-air sites. To deny Early to Middle Pleistocene hominins of the habitual use of fire is to ignore the archaeological record of their evolution, behavior, and culture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S258-S266
JournalCurrent Anthropology
StatePublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 by The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. All rights reserved.


Dive into the research topics of 'Spatial analysis of fire: Archaeological approach to recognizing early fire'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this