Fire is a natural phenomenon. A lightning strike or a volcanic eruption can cause fire. For the first humans, such fires were certainly frightening events. However, they quickly recognised the benefits of flames. The first controlled fire burned in Africa 1.6 million years ago. The art of making fire with flint, pyrite and tinder was achieved 600,000 years ago. This technique only became obsolete with the invention of the match from 1829.
Fire became indispensable to people. It provided warmth and light, protected against predators, and made meat edible. Throughout history, the hearth became the central place within settlements. Here, experiences were exchanged and stories told.
The ability to defy the seasons through fire made it possible for people to survive even in climatically less favourable areas 500,000 years ago. It was only a few thousand years ago that people began to use fire for other purposes as well: They melted metal, smelted ore and invented firearms. The invention of the steam engine finally created the basis for industrialisation, without which our world today would be unthinkable.