The History of Fire Pits

The History of Fire Pits - Mancave Backyard

Over 700,000 years ago, man first discovered fire. Ever since then, fire has contributed greatly to our survival as a species. Ancient mankind relied on fire for protection from the elements and predators, while it also became a necessity for cooking food and as a source of light.

Once fire had been harnessed, it had to be controlled. Somewhere during the mid-Paleolithic period, humans began using fire pits. This helped them to contain fires so that they would not spread. It is also likely that holes in the ground ensured that the fire would not be seen at a distance by predators or enemy tribes.

Given that fire was so central to the survival of mankind, it is no wonder that it became prevalent in many religions and cultures throughout the world. Whether ancient civilizations were making offerings to gods or using fires in cultural celebrations and festivals, fire has become important to human history not only to survive. The historical design of fire pits has tangentially become indicators of various cultures, depending on the application of their use. 

The remnants of fires have provided us with many insights into the life of ancient man. The charcoal remains of fire pits can be carbon-dated. This means that scientists can determine during which period tribes settled into various regions. Remnants of bones and seeds, also give us an indication of the diet of ancient man.

Fire Pits and Metal

As man progressed through history, it was discovered that metals could be softened by fire, making them easier to shape and work with. The ability to concentrate heat made smelting metals a possibility. 

This led to the beginning of manufacturing metal tools and weapons. It also marked an evolution for firepits themselves.

Previously firepits were simply holes dug into the ground or else controlled with the use of stones placed around the edge of the fire. With the manufacturing of metal, firepits themselves became constructed from the material. This allowed for firepits to be more durable while also allowing for hotter temperatures to be reached.

The chimenea of Mexican origin, originally made from clay was a free-standing fire pit with a rotund body. Mexican tribesmen used chimeneas to heat and shape metals. Once this discovery had been made, chimeneas themselves were made from metals as well. 

The copper fire bowl, which has stood the test of time and is still used today was one of the first metal fire holders. The copper fire bowl was initially used in religious worship but also allowed for fire to be placed as decoration or to provide outdoor lighting at night.

The use of metals in the manufacturing of fire pits is now common practice in our modern times.

Fire Pits During the Frontier Era

While the early Americans fought for their place on the frontier, fire pits allowed for cooking food. During this period, it is thought that the barbecue grill was invented. Previously, meat was cooked by holding it over a fire, however, the invention of cooking on a grill meant that meat could be left unattended while it cooked.

The Dakota people during this period also created what is now known as the Dakota Fire Pit. The fire pit is made by digging two connected holes into the ground. One of the holes is made for the fire, while the other hole draws in oxygen as the fire burns from the top down. The result of this is a fire that brightly but produces very little to no smoke, while the flames remain hidden. Because of this, the Dakota Fire Pit was adopted by the US military as a method of cooking food and a source of heat, but one that did not produce smoke that would potentially give away their location to the enemy.

The Modern Fire Pit

Nowadays, persisting through history, a firepit is a common feature of the US backyard. Enjoying a Sunday barbecue or else sitting around a fire pit with friends, watching the flames on a late summer’s evening is an irreplaceable pastime. In modern times, many memories are created around the fire.

Modern fire pits come in many shapes and forms, usually made from metal, reinforced concrete, and many other materials. Manufacturers may offer premade fire pits or are else professionally built as a permanent feature in your garden. 

If you are looking to install a fire pit in your garden, contact Mancave Backyard and let the professionals help you decide what sort of fire pit will work for you.