7,500-yr-old fishing seines and traps found in Russia

An international team of archaeologists led by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) has found a series of more than 7,500-year-old fish seines and traps at an archaeological site near Moscow. 

Wooden fishing trap found at the Zamostje 2 site [Credit: Dr. Ignacio Clemente/CSIC]
According to the CSIC, the newly discovered seines and traps display a great technical complexity and are among the oldest fishing equipment ever found in Europe. 

“Until now, it was thought that the Mesolithic groups had seasonal as opposed to permanent settlements. According to the results obtained during the excavations, in both Mesolithic and Neolithic periods, the human group that lived in the Dubna river basin, near Moscow, carried out productive activities during the entire year,” said Dr. Ignacio Clemente, a researcher at the CSIC. 

The archaeologists explained that during Neolithic and Mesolithic periods the inhabitants of this region, known as Zamostje 2, preferred to hunt during summer and winter, fish during spring and early summer, and harvest wild berries at the end of summer season and autumn. 

The Zamostje 2 site, discovered in the 1980s, contains four archaeological levels dating to the Mesolithic and the Neolithic periods. 

“We think that the fishing played a vital role in the economy of these societies, because it was a versatile product, easy to preserve, dry and smoke, as well as store for later consumption,” explained Dr. Clemente. 

The team also unearthed hooks, harpoons, weights, floats, needles for nets manufacture and repair, as well as moose rib knives to scale and clean the fish. 

Tools found at the Zamostje 2 site [Credit: Dr. Ignacio Clemente/CSIC]
“The documented fishing equipment shows a highly developed technology, aimed for the practice of several fishing techniques. We can highlight the finding of two large wooden fishing traps (a kind of interwoven basket with pine rods used for fishing), very well-preserved, dating back from 7,500 years ago. This represents one of the oldest dates in this area and, no doubt, among the best-preserved since they still maintain some joining ropes, manufactured with vegetable fibers,” said archaeologists. 

“It is really unusual to find sites with so much preserved organic remains. The ichthyological remains that we have found give us an idea of the protein percentage provided by fish in the diet of the prehistoric population. Furthermore, these remains will help us to conduct a survey from the point of view of species classification, catch amount and size, and fishing season among others. These details are essential to be able to assess the role played by fishing in the economy of these human groups,” concluded Dr. Clemente. 

Author: James Freeman | Source: Sci News [January 25, 2012]

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