Archaeological evidence suggests that the controlled use of fire began with Homo erectus, who emerged nearly two million years ago. For those early hominids, a fire at night served as a light source and a way to deter predators.
Before its invention, our ape cousins would curl up and sleep as soon as it got dark. By keeping a fire burning at night, man was able to sit around and share conversation with others – the reason, scientists believe, helped our brains to adapt and develop and remain active for over 16 hours a day.
Fire has always been a focus for humans and played more than a practical role in rituals down the ages. The Vikings feared their fire gods, Hindus worship Agni, the fire god and the Egyptians created the mythical fire bird, the phoenix. From Native American Indians to Baden-Powell’s Boy Scouts, camp fires have been at the heart of any gathering.