Homo-Sapiens: The Domestication of Fire and its Impact

2 min readMar 28, 2022

This is a part of a series of blog posts written based on concepts I read in a few books — Sapiens, Glimpses of World History, Discovery of India

800,000 years ago: Humans started occasional deliberate use of fire.

300,000 years ago: Humans started regular use of domesticated fire.

The domestication of fire had the following benefits for humans -

  1. Utility: Fire was a dependable source of light and heat.
  2. Weapon: It was an advantageous weapon in the fight against animals such as lions and tigers
  3. Food: Fire could be used to burn entire forests, and then eat the burnt animals, roots, and nuts. It cooked the animals and also got rid of germs. Moreover, fire could also be used to cook regular food such as meat, tubers, seeds, and vegetables that couldn’t be eaten raw.

The Consequences of Cooking

More time and energy: Chimpanzees take 5 hours every day to chew food. Humans, in contrast, take an hour or less. This saved an enormous amount of energy.

Smaller Intestines, Bigger Brains: It took less effort to digest food. Therefore humans were able to have smaller intestines. The additional energy allowed for larger brains.

Domestication of Fire and the Food Chain: Fire domestication allowed humans to gain control of an obedient and limitless force. The power that humans had was no longer proportional to their size, muscle, speed, or wingspan. A tiny man or woman with a flint could burn down an entire forest. This along with the ability to build tools allowed humans to eventually rise to the top of the food chain.