Humans were already using complex fishing tools and techniques more than 12,000 years ago, according to a new study led by Antonella Pedergnana of the Archaeological Research Centre. The research has identified some of the earliest evidence of sophisticated fishing technology.
Early fishing tools were made from perishable materials like plant fibers and wood, which has made it challenging for experts to study the history of fishing technology.
For the current study, the researchers examined a collection of fishing hooks and stones obtained from the archaeological site of Jordan River Dureijat in northern Israel. The fishing tools are more than 12,000 years old.
The experts analyzed the shape of 19 bone fish hooks, as well as the residue that was left behind on them. The collection also included six grooved pebbles that appear to have been used as sinkers.
Plant fiber residue found on both the hooks and stones suggests that they were used with fishing line. A wide variety of hook shapes were used to catch different types of fish. In addition, grooved lines and residue was found on the bends of some hooks, which indicates the use of artificial lures.
According to the study authors, the use of this sophisticated fishing technology – including lures and a wide variety of hook shapes – suggests that early humans were not only hunting a broad spectrum of fish, but also that they had profound knowledge of fish behavior and ecology.
“Except for the use of metal and plastic, modern fishing has not invented anything new since the Natufian,” said the researchers.
“A look at the JRD fishing gear reveals that all fishing techniques and knowledge already existed some 13,000 years ago. The finds highlight the importance of aquatic resources for the emergence of sedentism and the Neolithic life ways in the Levant.”
The study is published in the journal PLoS ONE.