The world's oldest fish hooks discovered

Illustration for article titled The world's oldest fish hooks discovered

As long as 50,000 years ago, humanity was pretty good at the whole sailing thing, colonizing Australia and sailing on open water — but our evidence of advanced fishing technology doesn't reach back nearly as far that. Even though people have been catching sea life for millennia, but the evidence of deep-sea fishing only reaches back around 11,000 years. Part of the reason for this is that water levels have changed so much in the interim that finding old sites can be excruciatingly difficult. However, new research has pushed that date to almost 20,000 years ago, and potentially much further.


The site is the Jerimalai shelter in East Timor, and there are fish remains there dating back from 42,000 to 2,700 years ago. The fish hook above was dated to between 23,000 and 16,000 years old, making it the oldest definitive evidence of hook manufacturing in the world, and a major indicator of maritime technology. This wasn't just for going out and grabbing fish from a stream, but a sign of some pretty serious fishing going on. These hooks also don't spring into life fully formed, there would have had to have been a period prior to this where the technology was discovered, which could mean the original date is substantially older.



I wonder about this. Some early fishers took a thorny branch (with two or 3 thorns left pointing up) attached it to some line, presumably smeared some bait on it, and then the fish would get it jammed in their throat.