A pair of fish hooks found in a cave in Okinawa, Japan claimed the title of the oldest hooks ever unearthed. Last week, researchers, who have been digging in the Sakitari cave located on the Okinawa Island, found hooks that looked like ancient jewelry.
The researchers are from various Japanese institutes and universities and have been excavating in the Sakitari cave since 2009. Further analysis of the objects by the experts led to the confirmation that they are fishing hooks.
The researchers said that pieces of charcoal discovered in the same layer as the fishhooks helped determined that they were between 22,380 and 22,770 years old. The scientists are not that surprised by how old the hooks are.
They were found on the small Okinawa Island, which is located between Japan and Taiwan, where early modern humans are said to have lived nearly 30,000 years ago.
Previously, experts believed that the oldest fish hooks were found in Papua New Guinea dating back 18,000 years. Moreover, in Timor, an island at the southern end of Maritime Southeast Asia – they found fishing hooks that were about 16,000 years old.
According to the paper published in the PNAS journal, the scientists discovered hooks that were carved and others that were unfinished. All of the hooks were made from sea snail shells.
Along with the old fish hooks, researchers also unearthed beads and tools. They also found charred frogs, birds, and eels, which served as delicacies for the humans of that era. The ancient relics suggest the following:
“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.”
The findings also revealed that our ancestors have been consuming freshwater crabs and freshwater snails earlier than previously thought. Masaki Fujita, study co-author and curator at Okinawa Prefectural and Art Museum, explained that ancient angler’s tools were instrumental in humans being able to disperse and survive across the world. Fujita said:
“Humans are believed to have first crossed into Australia some 50,000 years ago, but that, until now, evidence of human maritime adaptation was only reported from Australia to Wallacea a group of mainly Indonesian islands.”
“Our findings suggest that Paleolithic people had adapted their maritime technologies to live not only in Wallacea and Australia, but a much wider geographic zone. We found fish and human bones that dated back some 30,000 to 35,000 years. We don’t know what kind of tools were used to catch these fish, but we’re hoping to find some even older fishing tools.”
The researchers are currently working on several remains found in the cave.