Time for Fishing
About 11,500 years ago, a high-status woman was buried in a cave with handmade fishhooks fashioned out of seashells. These artifacts, unearthed on the Indonesian island of Alor, are the oldest fishhooks on record found in a human burial, a new study reports.
The discovery suggests that women participated in fishing activities thousands of years ago. It also shows that the culture likely valued fishhooks and viewed them as essential for the transition to the afterlife, said study lead researcher Sue O'Connor, a professor in the School of Culture, History and Language at Australian National University. [Read the full story about the ancient fishhooks]
The archaeologists found the burial of the ancient woman in a rock shelter known as Tron Bon Lei, on the Indonesian island of Alor.
Skull and hook
The skull, likely that of an adult woman, was discovered in the rock shelter. A fishhook and pierced bivalve shell were found near her jaw.
A view of the volcanic ridge (top) where Tron Bon Lei is located. The white arrow points to the rock shelter. A photo at the pit taken from the southern edge of the rock shelter is shown at the bottom of the image.
The four circular, rotating fishhooks (A, B, C and E) found within the burial. The discovery is the oldest burial with grave goods on an island in Southeast Asia on record.
A J-shaped fishhook found in the Tron Bon Lei burial. The dotted lines show the probable shape of the shaft.
Archaeologists found a pierced shell belonging to the bivalve Vasticardium flavum in the burial. The shell was worn and rounded along the top.
[Read the full story about the ancient fishhooks]
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Laura is the archaeology and Life's Little Mysteries editor at Live Science. She also reports on general science, including paleontology. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Scholastic, Popular Science and Spectrum, a site on autism research. She has won multiple awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association for her reporting at a weekly newspaper near Seattle. Laura holds a bachelor's degree in English literature and psychology from Washington University in St. Louis and a master's degree in science writing from NYU.