Gone Fishing in Stone-Age Africa
Excavations at a site in southern Africa's Kalahari Desert suggest that the area's inhabitants caught and consumed freshwater fish from what was once a nearby lake for much of the past 25,000 years. Fishing expeditions to nearby rivers during spawning runs probably began more than 40,000 years ago, contend Lawrence H. Robbins of Michigan State University in East Lansing and his colleagues.
Until now, evidence of fishing at that time emerged only at African sites located at least 1,400 miles north of the Kalahari, many near the Nile River or East African lakes.
Discoveries in the Kalahari and elsewhere "increasingly document the importance of fish as a food resource in African prehistory," the researchers write in the summer JOURNAL OF Field Archaeology.
Fieldwork in 1991 at the White Paintings Rock Shelter in Botswana uncovered 15 barbed bone fragments, pointed at the end, similar to previous finds in East Africa; a few more of the carved implements emerged in 1992. Robbins and his co-workers suspect that the artifacts served either as spear or harpoon points, most likely for catching fish. …