US scientists find fishing industry dating back 12,000 years –

US scientists find fishing industry dating back 12,000 years Published:  07 March, 2011

SCIENTISTS have found astonishing evidence of a sophisticated fishing industry on the Pacific Coast of the United States more than 12,000 years ago.

A team, led by Jon Erlandson, from the University of Oregon’s Museum of Natural and Cultural History, have unearthed tools used for fishing along with discarded sea shells and fish bones. They show that fishing played a vital role in keeping these very early Americans fed.

The revelations have come to light in the March issue of Science and show a rich maritime economy in what is now California, supplemented by well crafted tools in an era at least 10,000 years before the birth of the Roman Empire.

Dr Erlandson, described the finds as postcards from the past. He said in the Science article: “This is among the earliest evidence of seafaring and maritime adaptations in the Americas and another extension of the diversity of Paleo-Indian economies. The points we are finding are extraordinary, the workmanship amazing. They are ultra thin, serrated and have incredible barbs on them. It’s a very sophisticated chipped-stone technology.”

The term “Paleo-Indian” refers to a time around 13,500 years ago (11,500 BC) at the end of the last ice age when the first traces of humans, who are thought to have crossed from Asia, appeared in the archaeological record in North America.

The discoveries were made on three sites around the Santa Barbara area of California. They show remains of sea mammals, birds and fish and real evidence that the people had a well organised maritime economy based on fishing.

The findings are summarized in the Science article, which is titled “Paleo-Indian Seafaring, Maritime Technologies, and Coastal Foraging on California’s Channel Islands” and was co-written by  anthropology professor Todd Braje.