May 26, 2018

Even Millennia Ago, Home Was Where the Hearth Was

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Even Millennia Ago, Home Was Where the Hearth Was

You may have helped clients bat around ideas for a kitchen remodel, but Dr. Ruth Shahack-Gross isn't going to listen to your advice: The kitchen she's working with is 300,000 years old.

Shahack-Gross discovered the site during an archaeological dig that began in 2000 outside Tel Aviv, Israel, and has found artifacts such as teeth, animal bones, and flint tools whose design suggests they were used to cut meat. The site also contained an area that showed signs of high-temperature fire, which suggests that he particular spot was used as a hearth and kitchen.

To confirm her theory, Shahack-Gross extracted a cube of sediment from the hearth and examined it layer by layer. The results confirmed that the site was used for cooking repeatedly over time. 

The placement of other artifacts in other areas of the cave suggests that its residents organized "various 'household' activities into different parts of the cave," much as we have different rooms for different activities, according to a press release by the Weitzmann Institute of Science, which is sponsoring Shahack-Gross' work. 

“These findings help us to fix an important turning point in the development of human culture – that in which humans first began to regularly use fire both for cooking meat and as a focal point — a sort of campfire — for social gatherings,” she says. With the holidays just past and festivities for the Super Bowl imminent, it's a vivid reminder that the desire for a home is a long, deep-seated — even prehistoric — urge.

Source: "300,000-Year-Old Hearth Found," Weitxmsnn Institute of Science

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