Environmental Science

Humans Have Managed Landscapes With Fire For Almost 100,000 Years

Humans Have Managed Landscapes With Fire For Almost 100,000 Years

Ancient mythology recognized the importance of controlling fire for humanity, threatening our gods. However, the timing of this great development has been much debated.

A new discovery indicates that we have been changing around us with fire for at least 92,000 years. Upon arrival in the new country, people used fire to change them according to their needs. “Firestick Farming” has transformed the landscape of Australia and North America, created a more conducive environment for hunting for prey and could reduce the likelihood of large-scale collisions in destructive forms.

Anthropologists want to determine when this primitive technology was mastered and whether it preceded the spread of humanity, especially outside Africa. The difficulty in solving this question is that thousands of years later, the changes that have taken place as a result of human fires coincide with lightning. But Dr. Jessica Thompson of Yale has found a distinct signal in the sediments on the shores of Lake Malawi, one of the largest lakes in Africa.

Over a period of about 600,000, years, these sediments have exhibited changes in the abundance and diversity of pollen as the life of nearby plants has changed with the changing climate. About 92,000 years ago, Thompson’s charcoal deposits increased, triggering more frequent fires in the lake’s waterlogged region. Thompson said in a statement, there may be a number of reasons for such a change, but Thompson’s report in Science Advances combines it with pollen loss. “Trees that indicate dense, structurally complex forest canopies are no longer common and are frequently replaced by well-vegetated pollen with fire and trouble.” 

More sediment was deposited as well as more human-specimens. With the lowlands covered less by the forest, heavy rainfall brings down more dirt with them, sometimes with items the size of our ancestors. The new climate situation is not what matches these changes. Lake Malawi has shrunk drastically during the dry season, but is at a high point during this time.

“One way or another, it’s caused by human activity,” Thompson said. We do not know whether the changes were intentional. Rate Perhaps the increase in human population density in the region meant more campfires, resulting in more migration and the establishment of surrounding forests. Nevertheless, fire users almost certainly benefited, creating an ecosystem more attractive for a larger environment.