|M. Fujita et. al., PNAS 113, 37 (16 September 2016) National Academy of Sciences|
Michael Price. There’s no telling what kinds of fishermen’s tales they told, but the early modern humans who lived on tiny Okinawa Island between mainland Japan and Taiwan nearly 30,000 years ago are the world’s oldest known anglers. Now, archaeologists have discovered the oldest known fishhooks in a limestone cave in the island’s interior, dating back nearly 23,000 years. The fishhooks, all carved from shells, were found in Sakitari Cave, which was occupied seasonally by fishermen taking advantage of the downstream migrations of crabs and freshwater snails. Unlike their mainland counterparts, who fashioned tools and beads out of shells and stones, the ancient people of Okinawa Island used shells almost exclusively.
Japanese archaeologists excavating the cave discovered both a finished and an unfinished fishhook that had been carved and ground from sea snail shells. By radiocarbon dating pieces of charcoal found in the same layer as the fishhooks, the researchers determined the hooks were between 22,380 and 22,770 years old. Accounting for margin of error, that gives them an edge over similar fishhooks found in East Timor (between 23,000 and 16,000 years old) and New Ireland in Papua New Guinea (20,000 to 18,000 years old). The findings lend support to the idea that these early modern humans were more advanced with maritime technology than previously thought, and that they were capable of thriving on small, geographically isolated islands. [...] Science | AAAS / Link 2