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Was the Emergence of Home Bases and Domestic Fire a Punctuated Event? A Review of the Middle Pleistocene Record in Eurasia

From: Asian Perspectives
Volume 43, Number 2, Fall 2004
pp. 248-280 | 10.1353/asi.2004.0027


The concept of a home-based land use strategy is fundamental for studying recent and prehistoric foraging populations. A proposed datum for the emergence of this behavior is set during later Middle Pleistocene times, around 400–350 kya, and temporally linked with the first established evidence for domestic fire making. Precise causes for this dual appearance remain obscure. Surveying the known Paleolithic record and contexts serves to identify possible factors and processes leading to this development. The emphasis here is on fire technology, particularly domestic fire making and uses, and fire's relationship with home base sensu lato characteristics, as contrasted with a previous land use system that reflects earlier primate patterns. Intentional bush and grassland burning could be components of this home base and domestic fire system. The issue of domestic fire and home base at Locality 1 in Zhoukoudian Cave is evaluated from the perspective of contemporaneous hominid behavior in Eurasia and Africa.

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