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Journal Articles Open Archaeology Year : 2022

Mesolithic Freshwater Fishing: A Zooarchaeological Case Study

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Abstract

Abstract In this article we investigate the importance of freshwater fishing during the Mesolithic in France, in inland sites where fishing was always associated with big game hunting. We present a review of Mesolithic sites that have yielded freshwater fish remains and focus on a case study from an occupation dated to the eighth millennium BC at Les Cabônes rock shelter, located near the Doubs River, that yielded over 9,300 fish remains. Cyprinid (including bream, roach, and minnow) remains are predominant; other taxa, such as salmonids (probably trout), grayling, burbot, perch, and eel, are represented by only a few remains each. Although small fish (about 15 cm) constitute the majority of the catch, we provide evidence that their accumulation in the shelter is mostly of human origin. These catches constituted a source of food throughout the year, particularly during the lean season. According to the ecological preferences of the fish species identified, it is highly unlikely that they were caught in a single location. The animals were probably caught with passive fishing equipment in shallow banks or side channels where large numbers of specimens could be captured. Fishing appears to have been optimised to maximise yield-to-effort ratios, together with other wetland resources. Finally, we question the presumed causal links between site micro-setting, site occupation, and increased dependence on aquatic resources and reduced group mobility.
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Dates and versions

halshs-03806418 , version 1 (07-10-2022)

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Anne Bridault, Annelise Binois-Roman, Déborah Frontin, Christophe Cupillard, Christophe Petit. Mesolithic Freshwater Fishing: A Zooarchaeological Case Study. Open Archaeology, 2022, 8 (1), pp.739-764. ⟨10.1515/opar-2022-0254⟩. ⟨halshs-03806418⟩
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