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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Ancient Fishhook (c. 35,000 B.C.E.)

Early humans discover how to retain their caught fish.


The major problem with dating inventions earlier than the written word is that there are no first-hand accounts documenting their conception or use. Paleoarcheologists have the difficult task of piecing together the prehistory of man based on scraps of physical evidence left behind by our ancient ancistors. The fishhook is one such ingenious conception of early man and is probably more importanat to the success of humans than most of us would suspect.

The earliest examples of fishhooks so far found by archeologists date form around 35,000 B.C.E. Appearing well before the advent of metalworking, early fishhooks were faishoned from durable metarials of organic origin such as bones, shells. animal horn, and wood. With the addition of variety of baits on the hook, prehistoric man gained access, previously largely denied, to an easy source of energy loaded with protien and fat. Adding fish to his diet also ensured a healthy intake of essential fatty acids.

Over thousands fo years of the techonology of fishhooks has evovled to optimize prey attraction, retention and retrevai, The very earlier fishhooks of all are thought to hae been made from wood, although, being more perishable than those of bone or shells, very few examples of these primitivie hooks have survived. Wood might seem much too buoyant a material to be ideal for catching fish, but actually wooden hooks were used until the 19960s for catching species such as burbot.

Gaining easy access to adequate food supplies is thought to have been an essential foctor in the success of early man. To fish in fecund waters requires very little energy and time, and this enabled our ancestors to pursue other activities, meaning that they were able , not just to survive, but to prosper.