When Did Humans Start Cooking?
Educator Anthony Cosentino holds an MA and a BA in history. He currently teaches social studies and sociology at Woonsocket High School in Rhode Island and is a volunteer firefighter with the Putnam Fire Department in Connecticut. When he is not planning lessons or responding to emergencies in Putnam, Anthony Cosentino enjoys spending time cooking.
Ever wondered when humans started cooking? According to anthropologists, plant and burnt bone ashes found in archeological sites such as the Wonderwerk Cave in South Africa provide evidence that humans began using controlled fire around 1 million years ago. It was not until about 500,000 years ago that Homo erectus, an early human species, could have used fire to prepare food. However, widespread cooking didn’t happen until 250,000 years ago when hearths started appearing in the Middle East and Europe.
How the Homo erectus came to know they could use fire to cook is still unknown, but researchers suggest early man could have eaten roasted meat after scavenging animals that died in forest fires. After finding it tastier and easier to chew than raw meat, they found a way to roast their prey. Anthropologists have posited that learning to cook fast-tracked human evolution because cooking allowed humans to get more nutrients and calories from food, making them healthier.