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Excavation and screening on Smokehouse Island on the Babine River. (Farid Rahemtulla)

 

original article:

cbc.ca

Archaeological findings out of northern B.C. have confirmed the oral history of the Lake Babine First Nation, dating back at least 1,300 years.

Some of the more significant findings include a large village and remnants of fishing weirs that were used for more than 1,000 years.

In 2010, the Lake Babine First Nation, located about 220 kilometres west of Prince George, approached researchers at the University of Northern British Columbia to help them with archeology in their region.

They wanted archeological evidence to confirm their people’s oral history which was once passed down through generations, but had been fragmented during colonization.

“It’s an area that has never been explored archeologically … that really is kind of a black hole,” project director and archeologist Farid Rahemtulla told Daybreak North, adding that most parts of B.C. have been studied more closely.

“This is really kind of all brand new and pretty exciting for the archeology and Indigenous communities in general.”

Focused on studying villages and fishing weirs

Researchers focused on finding remains of villages and fishing weirs around Lake Babine, a 150-kilometre long lake north of Burns Lake.

“They told us that these villages were quite large,” said Rahemtulla, and that people would gather for a few months in the summer and fall to harvest salmon and preserve the fish for the winter.

Oral history surrounding Lake Babine says a number of villages existed on its shores prior to European settlers moving into the area and that salmon was the primary resource. The discovery of the millennium-old weirs supports that version of events.

“The Babine watershed actually is home to quite a large number of the Skeena sockeye that come in from Prince Rupert,” Rahemtulla said.

“This allowed the Babine people to take quite a number of those fish through these complex wood fish weirs that they constructed.”

Having examined the weirs closely, Rahemtulla said they were technologically advanced. Researchers are currently working to find out how they were built and used.

One village called Nass Glee, near Fort Babine on the northern reach of the lake, is so large that archaeologists have yet to find its boundaries. Because of its size, Rahemtulla said the only way it could have been sustained would have been by fish caught using the wooden weirs.

Researchers are planning to head back to the region in the summer to focus on a man-made island engineered 1,000 years ago using stone tools.

“As far as I know it might be the only one in the world,” Rahemtulla said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The limestone sinkers, each weighing between 14 to 52 grammes, would have been tied to the bottom of nets and used to catch small fish such as minnows in shallow streams

 

Original Article:

Phys.org

 

Archaeologists excavating a cave in South Korea have found evidence that suggests human beings were using sophisticated techniques to catch fish as far back as 29,000 years ago, much earlier than experts previously thought.

Carbon dating procedures on the fourteen limestone sinkers, unearthed in the eastern county of Jeongseon in June, have pushed back “the history of fishing by nets by some 19,000 years”, Yonsei University Museum director Han Chang-gyun told AFP.

Previously, researchers had excavated sinkers—stones used to weigh down nets for catching fish—in Japan’s Fukui Prefecture and South Korea’s Cheongju city, but those discoveries were all dated back to the Neolithic Era and believed to be around 10,000 years old, Han said.

“This discovery suggests humans in the Upper Paleolithic era were actively catching fish for their diet”, he added.

The limestone sinkers, each weighing between 14 to 52 grammes and with a diameter of 37 to 56 millimetres, had grooves carved into them so they could be tied to the bottom of nets and used to catch small fish such as minnows in shallow streams, he said.

Researchers also found fossilized bones belonging to fish and other animals, as well as stone tools and flakes, inside the Maedun cave, he said.

Prior to the South Korean find, the oldest fishing implements were believed to be fishing hooks, made from the shells of sea snails, that were found on a southern Japanese island and said to date back some 23,000 years.

pastedGraphic.png Explore further: Ancient fish hooks found on Okinawa suggest earlier maritime migration than thought

 

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Museum archaeologist Patrick Saltonstall and helicopter pilot Keller Wattum document a petroglyph site on Afognak Island. (Photo courtesy Patrick Saltonstall)

Original article:

Mitch Borden, KMXT-KodiakMay 10, 2018

Ktoo.org

A routine assessment of  historical sites on Afognak Island by air turned into a day full of surprises.

Local researcher Patrick Saltonstall usually kayaks when he goes out to find and study archaeological sites around the Kodiak Archipelago.

Paddling can be a pretty slow way to travel. Recently Saltonstall got the chance to take to the air in a helicopter for a change.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been so ecstatic after a survey, and it was really quick! You know, it was like one day and we found all this stuff that usually takes weeks.”

Alutiiq Museum archaeology curator Saltonstall made new discoveries on the trip.

One of them being a special Alutiiq fish trap, structures constructed along shorelines to corral fish.

The structure is only the second of its kind to be found in the region. The first was only discovered last year.

“It’s another one of these traps, we found one last summer, where when the fish come in, get over these walls and then when the tide goes out there are trapped.”

The traps are an estimated 500 years old.

Saltonstall said these types of devices can found all over Southeast Alaska. He suspects more and more will be found around Kodiak.

The only reason Saltonstall was able to find the second fish trap was the high vantage point from flying in the helicopter.

“I’d actually been there on survey and had found a village there and hadn’t seen the fish trap,” he said. “When we’re in the air you look down and I was like ‘ oh my god, it’s so obvious.”

The fish trap wasn’t the only big find of the day.

Saltonstall thinks some 100-foot-tall rock spires inhabited by puffins could have been defensive sites where hundreds of years ago people would wait and watch for enemies

It’s impressive to think about someone going out to these rock formations and climbing up so high, Saltonstall said.

“They must’ve had a rope ladder they built to get up and down and, probably, they were hoisting baskets of food up. It was kinda amazing.”

More research will have to be done on these new sites to learn more about them, but Saltonstall knows a lot more discoveries to be made around Kodiak.

He’d like to use helicopters more in the future to find them.

 

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NJust how important food and the means to obtain it is clearly evident from the article below. Also note the importance the fish hooks are not only as a possible ” status” element in that culture but also as a way to “feed ” one self in the after life. JLP

Original Article:

heritagedaily.com

Archaeologists from the Australian National University has discovered five fish hooks dating from the Pleistocene era, approximately 12,000 years ago on Indonesia’s Alor Island. photo by Professor Sue Oconnor

five fish hooks dating from the Pleistocene era, approximately 12,000 years ago on Indonesia’s Alor Island.
The hooks, comprising of a shaped hook and four circular rotating hooks fashioned from sea-snail shell were part of a ritual burial, which included several carefully placed grave goods under the chin and around the jaws of a female.
Professor Sue O’Connor from ANU said “the discovery turns on its head the theory that most fishing activities on these islands were carried out by men.
“These are the oldest known fish-hooks associated with mortuary practices from anywhere in the world and perhaps indicate that fishing equipment was viewed as essential for transition to the afterlife in this area,” Professor O’Connor said.
“The discovery shows that in both life and death, the Pleistocene inhabitants of the Alor Island region were intrinsically connected to the sea, and the association of the fish-hooks with a burial denotes the cosmological status of fishing in this island environment.”
The earliest other burial with fish-hooks used as a funerary item date from 9,000 from the Mesolithic era in Siberia’s Ershi cemetery.
Fish hooks have been discovered previously from Japan and Europe dating as far back as 22,000, but these were not related to burial practices.
Professor O’Connor said the appearance of the Alor rotating fish-hooks so early on a disconnected island suggests that several fishing communities developed the same technology separately, rather than learning from each other through contact.
“The Alor hooks bear an uncanny resemblance to rotating hooks used in Japan, Australia, Arabia, California, Chile, Mexico and Oceania,” she said.
“We argue that the same sort of artefact was developed independently because it was the most fitting form to suit the ecology, rather than through cultural diffusion.”

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One of the ancient Viking cod bones used in the study. The bones, dating from between 800 to 1066 AD, were found on the site of the early medieval Baltic port of Haithabu. Credit: Dr.James Barrett

Original Article:

Popular-archaeology.com

 

UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE—Norway is famed for its cod. Catches from the Arctic stock that spawns each year off its northern coast are exported across Europe for staple dishes from British fish and chips to Spanish bacalao stew.
Now, a new study published today in the journal PNAS suggests that some form of this pan-European trade in Norwegian cod may have been taking place for 1,000 years.
Latest research from the universities of Cambridge and Oslo, and the Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology in Schleswig, used ancient DNA extracted from the remnants of Viking-age fish suppers.
The study analysed five cod bones dating from between 800 and 1066 AD found in the mud of the former wharves of Haithabu, an early medieval trading port on the Baltic. Haithabu is now a heritage site in modern Germany, but at the time was ruled by the King of the Danes.
The DNA from these cod bones contained genetic signatures seen in the Arctic stock that swims off the coast of Lofoten: the northern archipelago still a centre for Norway’s fishing industry.
Researchers say the findings show that supplies of ‘stockfish’ – an ancient dried cod dish popular to this day – were transported over a thousand miles from northern Norway to the Baltic Sea during the Viking era.
Prior to the latest study, there was no archaeological or historical proof of a European stockfish trade before the 12th century.
While future work will look at further fish remains, the small size of the current study prevents researchers from determining whether the cod was transported for trade or simply used as sustenance for the voyage from Norway.
However, they say that the Haithabu bones provide the earliest evidence of fish caught in northern Norway being consumed on mainland Europe – suggesting a European fish trade involving significant distances has been in operation for a millennium.
“Traded fish was one of the first commodities to begin to knit the European continent together economically,” says Dr James Barrett, senior author of the study from the University of Cambridge’s McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research.
“Haithabu was an important trading centre during the early medieval period. A place where north met south, pagan met Christian, and those who used coin met those who used silver by weight.”
“By extracting and sequencing DNA from the leftover fish bones of ancient cargoes at Haithabu, we have been able to trace the source of their food right the way back to the cod populations that inhabit the Barents Sea, but come to spawn off Norway’s Lofoten coast every winter.
“This Arctic stock of cod is still highly prized – caught and exported across Europe today. Our findings suggest that distant requirements for this Arctic protein had already begun to influence the economy and ecology of Europe in the Viking age.”

Stockfish is white fish preserved by the unique climate of north Norway, where winter temperature hovers around freezing. Cod is traditionally hung out on wooden frames to allow the chill air to dry the fish. Some medieval accounts suggest stockfish was still edible as much as ten years after preservation.
The research team argue that the new findings offer some corroboration to the unique 9th century account of the voyages of Ohthere of Hålogaland: a Viking chieftain whose visit to the court of King Alfred in England resulted in some of his exploits being recorded.
“In the accounts inserted by Alfred’s scribes into the translation of an earlier 5th century text, Ohthere describes sailing from Hålogaland to Haithabu,” says Barrett. Hålogaland was the northernmost province of Norway.
“While no cargo of dried fish is mentioned, this may be because it was simply too mundane a detail,” says Barrett. “The fish-bone DNA evidence is consistent with the Ohthere text, showing that such voyages between northern Norway and mainland Europe were occurring.”
“The Viking world was complex and interconnected. This is a world where a chieftain from north Norway may have shared stockfish with Alfred the Great while a late-antique Latin text was being translated in the background. A world where the town dwellers of a cosmopolitan port in a Baltic fjord may have been provisioned from an Arctic sea hundreds of miles away.”
The sequencing of the ancient cod genomes was done at the University of Oslo, where researchers are studying the genetic makeup of Atlantic cod in an effort to unpick the anthropogenic impacts on these long-exploited fish populations.
“Fishing, particularly of cod, has been of central importance for the settlement of Norway for thousands of years. By combining fishing in winter with farming in summer, whole areas of northern Norway could be settled in a more reliable manner,” says the University of Oslo’s Bastiaan Star, first author of the new study.
Star points to the design of Norway’s new banknotes that prominently feature an image of cod, along with a Viking ship, as an example of the cultural importance still placed on the fish species in this part of Europe.
“We want to know what impact the intensive exploitation history covering millennia has inflicted on Atlantic cod, and we use ancient DNA methods to investigate this,” he says.
Article Source: University of Cambridge news release

 

 

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IMG_1236
Vinette 1 vessel from the Peace Bridge site, Ontario (image courtesy of Archaeological Services Inc)

Archaeologists from the University of York and Queens College, City University New York (CUNY) have discovered the first use of pottery in north-eastern North America was largely due to the cooking, storage and social feasting of fish by hunter-gatherers.

Studying how pottery production in north-eastern North America developed 3000 years ago, researchers found that the increasing use of pottery was not simply an adaptive response to increased reliance on specific kinds of wild foodstuffs, as previously thought.

Instead, new analysis on pottery vessels indicates that social factors triggered the innovation of pottery. While a wide range of wild animal and plant foods were exploited by hunter-gatherers of north-eastern North America, their pottery was used principally to process fish, and produce fish oil. This suggests that abundant aquatic resources allowed investment in the production of pottery, as fish became a valued exchange commodity and was prepared, cooked and consumed in hunter-gatherer group feasts.

Conducting organic residue analysis on approximately 133 vessels from 33 early pottery sites in north-eastern North America, tests were carried out to measure bulk carbon and nitrogen isotopes, compound-specific carbon isotopes, and to extract and identify lipids, notably aquatic biomarkers. Findings show high traces of aquatic organisms in most samples, consistent with the cooking of marine and freshwater foods and the preparation and storage of fish oil.

Dr Karine Taché, Professor of Anthropology at CUNY Queens College who undertook the research as an EU Marie Curie research fellow at the University of York, said: “These early pottery sites are now thought to have been important seasonal meeting points for hunter-gatherer groups, drawing communities together and, especially in periods of high abundance, promoting the cooperative harvesting of aquatic resources and new social contexts for the cooking and consumption of fish.”

Dr Oliver Craig, Reader in Archaeological Science at the University of York, said: “Combined with similar results obtained in different parts of the world, like Japan, Northern Europe or Alaska, our study points to a close association between aquatic resources and the innovation of pottery by hunter-gatherer societies. It also highlights once again the incredible potential of organic residue analysis to directly address the often posed question Why humans initially made pots?”

Original article:
york.ac.uk
Feb 3, 2015

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Cod bones reveal 13th century origin of global fish trade.

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