The first encounter with our ancestors probably happened on the shore of a pond or in a cave. Men had started to hunt big animals with the help of spears and to use the skin of these killed preys to protect themselves against the cold.
Being organic materials, after a few days they started to rot and became unusable. However, someone noticed that if the hides were scraped with the hot stones of the bonfire, washed in the ponds and stretched out to dry nearby the fire, the decomposition process slowed down.
There had to be something in the water or in the smoke capable of stabilizing the skin. In fact, leaves and branches of tree that fell in the water of the ponds released the tannin of the plant, contained also in the smoke of the bonfires.
Then they started to look for a method to optimize this natural process, which required many attempts, trials and errors and which led to the first vegetable tanning techniques.