Articles

Prometheus’ Gift to Mankind

Share

Legend has it that it was Prometheus, one of the Titans* in Greek mythology, who gave fire as a gift to Mankind; he was punished severely by the gods for giving humanity a precious and useful tool. If one thing about this legend is true, it is the fact that fire is truly a gift. Fire transformed the world of primitive men; in other words, it was one of Man’s first steps towards civilization as we know it today. Legends aside, let us see when fire was discovered, and how it helped Man throughout history to reach for the stars!

New evidence suggests that fire may have been used a million years ago. A study of a Homo erectus Wonderwerk Cave in Africa revealed the presence of ash and charred bones. Homo erectus are our ancestors; signs of burning inside the cave along with stone tools indicate that humans used fire that did not start by some natural disaster or another. The fact is fire was not invented; it was always there as a natural phenomenon. Early human beings  must have looked with wonder at fire created when lightning struck forests. No one knows exactly how human beings discovered the way of starting a fire; actually, it does not matter when that moment was, what matters is that it was a moment that changed history.
Fire was used in lighting dark areas, keeping wild animals away, warming people in cold weather, and also in cooking food. Fire made the food edible, and, therefore, changed human beings’ eating habits. Not only that, it also played a role in expanding Man’s lifespan by protecting people’s life and health, saving them from contracting Escherichia coli (E. coli) and salmonella, which are unhealthy bacteria found in raw meat. Fire provided warmth and protection from frostbite and hypothermia; it also enabled human beings to inhabit different areas of Earth, rather than staying only in warmer locations. Fire, in short, transformed the life of primitive Man.

Fire played a more important role to Mankind than merely providing heat, protection, and a healthy taste to food; without fire, we would not have moved from primitive life to a more sophisticated world. The Industrial Revolution changed life completely; a major contributor to that is the steam engine, a source of power that drove humanity into our technologically advanced work. We can easily guess that fire is the driving force behind the steam engine; through burning coal, the steam engine generates energy.

From teaching Man to eat differently, to teaching them to live differently, fire has always been a gift to Mankind. Prometheus did not offer it to us though; it was discovered coincidently and realized we can control it, and therefore, control every aspect of our lives. The way human beings started fire differed throughout the ages; however, its importance in our lives never quavered. The presence of fire everywhere is a living proof of its importance to Mankind.

 

*The Titans, in Greek mythology, are the children of Uranus (Heaven) and Gaea (Earth) and their descendants.

References 
greekmyths-greekmythology.com
wonderopolis.org
huffingtonpost.com
fubini.swarthmore.edu
explainthatstuff.com

About Us

SCIplanet is a bilingual edutainment science magazine published by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Planetarium Science Center and developed by the Cultural Outreach Publications Unit ...
Continue reading

Contact Us

P.O. Box 138, Chatby 21526, Alexandria, EGYPT
Tel.: +(203) 4839999
Ext.: 1737–1781
Email: COPU.editors@bibalex.org

Become a member

© 2019 | Bibliotheca Alexandrina