Fongoli chimpanzees groom together at the edge of a bush fire on Djendji plateau.
Satellite image from the NASA Earth Observatory showing data for wilderies during August 2014
The magical pull of fire: flames dancing above a fire made after hedge cutting in Shropshire, with the ancient hill fort of Caer Caradoc in the background.
Fire is undoubtedly an important behavioral adaptation. In the archaeological record – where several past occupations commonly overlap each other as time goes by –, the presence of a hearth can potentially lead to thermal changes of the underlying deposits.
Studying the remains of ancient fire is a tricky business, and over the years, researchers have used a variety of techniques to try to reveal them. They have examined individual objects (e.g., stone tools, bones, ceramics) to uncover such traces, and have carried out studies of the deposits in the field and in the laboratory using geophysical and chemical techniques, for example.