News FocusArchaeology

Geological Analysis Damps Ancient Chinese Fires

Science  10 Jul 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5374, pp. 165-166
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5374.165

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Studies of sediments at Zhoukoudian, China--long considered the site of the first use of fire--suggest that any flames there were not kindled by human hands. That means there's no strong evidence of fire use until about 300,000 years ago and none definitively associated with Homo erectus, the hominid that began to spread through Asia and into cold northern latitudes starting about 1.8 million years ago. Researchers must now consider that this colonization may have happened without fire.