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On Fire-using
Issue time:2019-11-07


The use of fire can be called an epoch-making pioneering work, greatly accelerating the pace of human evolution. The use of fire by human beings began 1.83 million years ago in Ruicheng County of Yuncheng City.

In the primitive society, the ancient Hedong region (now Yuncheng city and some counties and cities in Linfen city) where the yellow river turned was characterized by a warm climate, abundant aquatic plants, high trees, dense forests and swarms of animals. At that time, our ancestors did not know how to use fire and lived a life of eating raw meat here. One day, an accidental thunder fire ignited a large forest. Groups of animals scattered and fled. Some died in flames and some fled to distant places. After the fire, the surviving ancestors temporarily lost their food sources and their survival was seriously threatened. In desperation, they had to find burned animal meat and plant fruits in the ashes to live. However, they were pleasantly surprised to find that the roasted food is completely different from the food they used to eat, not only delicious, but also easy to chew. Therefore, they began to pay attention to the preservation of kindling. Later, ancestors observed from long-term practice that although fire is terrible, it can cook food, illuminate and dispel cold, so they consciously collect kindling and try to use fire and eat cooked food. This has played a vital role in the development of human body and brain.

Our ancestors discovered fire, got to know fire, and learned the skills of using fire and eating cooked food from the gift of nature. They carefully preserved the natural fire at the beginning, and invented the method of drilling wood and striking flint to make fire tens of thousands of years later, which was the first for the Chinese nation to make fire. From 1961 to 1962, archaeologists inspected at Xihoudu cultural site in Ruicheng County of Yuncheng City, they discovered more than 20 extinct fossils of China's long-nosed hippophae, Shanxi's hairy rhinoceros, southern Shanxi's elk, and Elephas namadicus, among which the bones and muscles, antlers, and horse teeth of mammals in gray, black, and grayish green are no different from the bones and teeth of burned animals discovered in the Beijingers' ruins. Tests have proved that the remains of these animals were indeed burnt, which is the famous "burning bones".According to paleomagnetic measurements, the Xihoudu cultural site is at least 1.83 million years old. Therefore, people in academic believe that the Xihoudu people lit the first sacred fire of human civilization, initiated the history of human’s fire using, and became "the ancestors of human cooking". This discovery has pushed forward the use of fire by human beings for more than a million years, which can be called the great contribution of the Xihoudu people to human beings.  

Fire brings cooked food, light and warmth to human beings. The use of fire greatly accelerated the pace of primitive human evolution. Artificial ignition marks the first time that mankind has mastered the powerful force to change the material world and has made a major leap forward in human civilization. It was because of the discovery and use of fire that our primitive ancestors gradually acquired all-weather mobility and tenacious viability. No wonder World History commented: "Fire is the greatest discovery of all discoveries. It enables human beings to live in different climates, produce many foods and make natural forces to work for people". This assessment is appropriate.


Fire is a double-edged sword, which not only brings happiness to human beings, but also often causes disasters. The benefits of fire and the harm of fire prevention have become an eternal topic. In ancient times, people's fear of fire gradually evolved into worship of Vulcan. As far back as the clan society, there were places dedicated to offering sacrifices to Vulcan. When human beings enter the stage of family life, the fire of stove is evolved into the symbol of Vulcan. To this day, in Yuncheng and other places, people still keep the custom of offering sacrifices to the kitchen god on the evening of 23rd day of the twelfth lunar month each year.

Chinese descendants have performed the Chinese sacred fire from ancient times to the present, from the ground to the sky, to the fullest extent. It can be said that the development history of human civilization is a history of fire culture that shines on the whole world.