1.4 MILLION YEARS AGO Throughout millions of years, humans have evolved from a species largely at the mercy of nature to one that has managed and shaped its destiny—learning to use fire was key to that process. The two earliest known examples of the deliberate use of fire occurred in today's Chesowanja, Kenya, and Swartkrans, South Africa, dating back 1.4 and 1.3 million years ago, respectively. When Homo erectus started to migrate from Africa to Asia, they began to use naturally occurring fires in order to adapt to colder climates.
Later, around 7000 B.C., Homo sapiens began making their own fires, by using sticks or striking flint against pyrite to set a spark to dried grass that would erupt into flame. These methods are still used by
traditional peoples in Africa and Australia, as well as campers around the world.
Fire served several functions for early man, the first and second being warmth and light. It also changed how humans ate, since cooked flesh was easier to digest and prevented diseases ingested through raw meat. As time went on, fire became a military tool. Greek and Roman soldiers often used scorched-earth tactics in wars.
Since then, the uses of fire have varied widely. It is even used to shape ore into metal, creating the foundation for modern-day steel plants. Fire's significant role throughout human history is greatly represented through the flame as a symbol of both love and religion today.
CONNECTIONS John Walker (1781-1859), an English chemist, invented the first commercial friction matches in 1826. Friction matches, made with white phosphorous, changed the game for flame.