Skeletal Remains and Fish Hooks on Alor
Science & Technology

Archaeologists Discover Oldest Known Funereal Fish Hooks

These are skeletal stays and fish hooks on Alor. Credit score: ANU

An archaeologist from The Australian Nationwide College (ANU) has uncovered the world’s oldest identified fish-hooks positioned in a burial ritual, discovered on Indonesia’s Alor Island, northwest of East Timor.

The 5 fish hooks had been amongst gadgets fastidiously positioned below the chin, and across the jaws of a feminine from the Pleistocene period, relationship again 12,000 years.

Distinguished Professor Sue O’Connor from the Faculty of Tradition, Historical past and Language within the ANU Faculty of Asia and the Pacific mentioned the invention activates its head the idea that the majority fishing actions on these islands had been carried out by males.

“These are the oldest identified fish-hooks related to mortuary practices from anyplace on this planet and maybe point out that fishing tools was seen as important for transition to the afterlife on this space,” Professor O’Connor mentioned.

The fish hooks faraway from the Alor burial as soon as cleaned. Credit score: ANU

“The invention exhibits that in each life and dying, the Pleistocene inhabitants of the Alor Island area had been intrinsically linked to the ocean, and the affiliation of the fish-hooks with a burial denotes the cosmological standing of fishing on this island surroundings.”

Previous to the discover, the earliest fish-hooks related to a burial website date again solely about 9,000 years and had been present in a river surroundings of the Mesolithic period in Siberia, often known as the Ershi cemetery.

Professor O’Connor mentioned in a maritime context, the earliest burials with fish-hooks are from Oman, the place rotating fish-hooks product of pearl shell have been dated to about 6,000 years in the past.

Older fish hooks from Japan, Europe and East Timor date again so far as 22,000 years, however they weren’t associated to burial rites.

This can be a map of Alor. Credit score: ANU

Within the Alor Island discover, two several types of fish-hooks had been buried – a J-Formed hook and 4 round rotating hooks usual from the shell of a species of sea-snail.

Professor O’Connor mentioned the looks of the Alor rotating fish-hooks so early on a disconnected island means that a number of fishing communities developed the identical know-how individually, reasonably than studying from one another via contact.

“The Alor hooks bear an uncanny resemblance to rotating hooks utilized in Japan, Australia, Arabia, California, Chile, Mexico and Oceania,” she mentioned.

“We argue that the identical form of artefact was developed independently as a result of it was essentially the most becoming kind to go well with the ecology, reasonably than via cultural diffusion.”

Publication: Sue O’Connor, et al., “Fishing in life and dying: Pleistocene fish-hooks from a burial context on Alor Island, Indonesia,” Antiquity, 2017; DOI:10.15184/aqy.2017.186

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