Man had always known about fire, but causing it himself proved the means of his advancement. He needed it for cooking food, warding off dangerous animals and heating caves. But most importantly, fire allowed man to move out of hotter climes to colonize the globe.
The earliest trace of purposeful fire comes from charred animal bones around rudimentary hearths in Kenya and South Africa. They have been dated to nearly 1.5 million years ago. Yet it took until about 7000BC for Neolithic Man to realize friction caused by rubbing two pieces of wood together could cause a spark to ignite a fire. As for a truly portable means of starting a fire, that had to wait until 1827, and the friction match.
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