Fishhooks, Lures, and Sinkers: Intensive Manufacture of Marine Technology from the Terminal Pleistocene at Makpan Cave, Alor Island, Indonesia

Michelle C. Langley*, Sue O’Connor, Shimona Kealy, Mahirta

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    10 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    While fishhook technology is currently known to date back to ca. 22,000 cal. BP, almost all Pleistocene-aged assemblages consist of less than 10 artifacts, restricting the ability of archaeologists to reconstruct the technology. Excavations at Makpan Cave on Alor Island (Indonesia), however, has recovered an extensive assemblage of marine shell material culture, including an unprecedented number of fishhook artifacts. Here we describe 214 jabbing and rotating fishhooks made from marine gastropods, along with several possible lures, coral tools associated with their construction, and coral sinkers. Recovery of debitage as well as fishhooks in all stages of manufacture, from blanks through to fully finished examples, allow for a complete chaîne opératoire to be constructed for both main forms (jabbing and rotating) of shell fishhooks. The assemblage indicates a wide-ranging approach to marine resource extraction at Makpan over the past 15,000 years with fishhooks ranging between around 1 cm to over 5 cm long all occurring during the same period.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)33-52
    Number of pages20
    JournalJournal of Island and Coastal Archaeology
    Volume18
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2023

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