Chapter Two

A Fire Upon the Deep1

In his much acclaimed book, Sapiens,2 Yuval Harari points out that humans are a social species by design as much as by choice; in other words, social behavior is actually written into our biology. Harari suggests that the taming of fire was the trigger that would eventually lead to the development of language, cognition and social skills. Fire allowed early humans to survive in unfriendly environments. Being able to cook food instead of eating it raw meant fewer infections and less time spent eating and digesting. Fire gave us control over our surroundings. Armed with fire, even the most fragile members of the tribe could burn down a whole forest in no time and, once the fire had died down, could harvest large ...

Get Offline now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.