The adoption of fire into the lives of hominins is widely held to be one of our genus’ most significant technological advances. The ability to start fire at will and therefore control when and where fire was available may have been a key factor for survival during the Palaeolithic. However, archaeologists have few methods for identifying fire-starting activities in context. Based on archaeological, anthropological, and mineralogical literature, experimental procedures were developed to identify, describe, and collect microscopic debitage from the strike-a-light fire-starting technique. In these experiments, iron disulphide debitage was the primary focus of study. The experiments produced promising qualitative, quantitative, and semi-quantitative base-line data with great potential for identifying strike-a-light fire-starting in the archaeological record and for advancing our knowledge of the prehistory of fire.
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Thesis advisor: Berna, Francesco
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