The story about the 12,000-Year-Old Fish Hooks


Some discoveries are pretty darn amazing, and show us just how far back civilizations go. One of the other great things about them is that they illustrate to us how many things we still use today were actually used hundreds, sometimes thousands of years ago. Excavations all across the world are taking place right now, and stunning new discoveries are being made every day.
One such discovery recently took place in Asia, specifically on Indonesia’s Alor Island. This was a dig, and discovery, that took place in 2014, when archaeologists and scientists made an incredible find. While digging on the south coast of the island, they unearthed some fish hooks that were buried with human remains. Now, in and of itself this would be nothing to write home about, except that the fish hooks are dated at around 12,000 years old!

The find

Australian archaeologists, believed to be from Australian National University, made the discovery during their excavation of a rock shelter. The stumbled upon the partial remains that were found to have come from a female, and she had the fish hooks buried with her. This is perhaps a good indicator of the importance of fishing, even back then. Fishing is one of the oldest professions, and we still have fishermen to this day. Back then we guess the process would have been a little more rudimentary – but, it illustrates how important fishing was to these people.

The hooks

These are dated as being the oldest fish hooks ever found in a grave, and they are pretty amazing in their design. There were five of them found, with a circular design, and crafted from the shell of a sea snail. Another different shell was also found with the body, but it is unclear what purpose this shell served. If you get to see pictures, one thing you will notice, that’s pretty incredible, is how well the hooks have been preserved over all this time. Dating back to a specific time period, scientists deduced that the remains, and the hooks, would have been buried sometime during the Pleistocene Epoch.

The importance of fishing

The location of this find is important, because it points to the necessity of fishing. For example, the Alor Archipelago, where Alor Island is found, is a volcanic archipelago. This means it is rocky and there is not much by way of life and vegetation here. As such, fishing would seem the obvious choice as being the most important and staple food for the ancient residents of the island. It’s likely that most adults would have created their own fishing gear, and these hooks represent the sort of thing that would likely have been around at the time.

These hooks are not the only discovery of ancient fish hooks. There have been plenty of other places around the world where archaeologists have uncovered ancient fishing hooks. In fact, the oldest hooks ever found were discovered on Okinawa Island in Japan, and are thought to be over 23,000 years old – but they weren’t discovered in a grave. These hooks did appear to be the same kind of design as the ones discovered on Alor Island though, with that distinctive circular shape.