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 Roc de Marsal

Neandertal Use of Fire - How Was it Used?

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Lacking from much research, however, are more in-depth analyses of such features, their contexts and their associated cultural remains, with the goal of better understanding the nature of Paleolithic use of fire and the role it played in hominin adaptations.

The question is not just whether or not they had the technologies to produce fire at will, but rather under what conditions was it used, and for what was it used? Common or known applications of fire in the context of hunter-gatherer adaptations have been compiled elsewhere (see Table).






Identifying specific uses of fire in Pleistocene contexts is faced with a number of prob-lems, not the least of which is the poor preservation of fuels and the original structure of fire features.

Likewise, many of the applications listed in the above table either do not have an archaeological signature or would only rarely leave one.

It is possible, however, to examine the archaeological context in which direct evidence (the hearths themselves) or indirect evidence (the percentage of other burned remains) of fire occurs and, with reference to the associated fauna and lithics, attempt to interpret how the site was being used at that time (e.g., for initial carcass preparation, raw material exploitation, or as a base camp).

Without any doubt, an understanding of Middle Paleolithic applications of fire technology will help provide significant insight into varying Neandertal adaptations that occurred through the course of Middle and Late Pleistocene climatic and environmental changes.

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