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Stone Age to Iron Age
The next developments occurred between two million and two hundred thousand years ago. This was the age of “upright man” or Homo erectus. As the name suggests they were once again a bit more upright than those that came before, Homo habilis, and their brains were that bit bigger.
Food could now be cooked and this meant another step forward in dietary quality.
Because they were now gathering together for safety around fires Homo erectus also began to work together in other ways – they would hunt as a group which made them much more effective than hunting singly.
It was now possible to hunt larger animals which, in turn, gave more food to the group and made them stronger.
Fire served many purposes. Keeping warm is an obvious advantage and so they would gather round the fire in groups. At this time they also began living in caves – the fire would drive out the darkness of the cave and they would be much safer from wild animals inside the protection of the rocks. The fire itself would also drive wild animals away.
Homo erectus spread from Africa into China and even Europe which was covered in ice at the time! They were able to do this because they had mastered the use of fire.
Beginning with naturally occurring fires made by lightning strikes they learnt, over time, to create it themselves either creating sparks from striking stones together or generating heat by rubbing sticks together.
There is evidence that they learnt to make a fireplace using a ring of stones – this would contain the fire and also keep it protected from the wind.