Scientific evidence suggests a distant human ancestor called Homo erectus staged the first barbecue. The discovery of live fire cooking 1.8 million years ago profoundly affected hominid behavior, nutrition, brain development, and even the look of the modern human face.
The oldest fire pit that’s been discovered to date is in the famous Wonderwerk cave in Langeban, South Africa. There, researchers discovered traces of a manmade fire pit dating back about 1 million years! How did they deduce it was manmade? Because someone had to drag logs deep into the cave.
To read more about the birth of barbecue, check out the first six pages of Planet Barbecue and the fascinating book How Cooking Made Us Human by Richard Wrangham.