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Barbed Bone Points: Ethnoarchaeological and Archaeological Perspectives on Selective Fishing on the Shores of Lake Turkana.

Author(s): Benjamin Smith

Year: 2016

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Summary

As riverine and lacustrine environments expanded across north tropical Africa at various times in prehistory, humans developed special methods for fishing or "aquatic hunting." Barbed bone "harpoon" points, used across much of Africa north of the equator during early Holocene times, represent an especially compelling innovation. Studying barbed bone points from Turkana Basin, NW Kenya can shed light on hunter-gatherer technology, tool use, and resource acquisition in a context of environmental and social change. Ethnoarchaeological studies of modern local fishing practices reveal contexts of near-shore fishing methods and tools analogous to those of early Holocene Turkana. For example, modern Turkana fishers have traditionally employed harpoon-like tools to acquire the largest, often shallow water fish species, while using baited hooks and traps for smaller and deep-water species. Reproduction experiments demonstrate the significant time required to produce these points and provide a foundation for reanalyzing collections from archaeological sites west of Lake Turkana. An analysis of these collections demonstrates new ways of investigating variability in site use. The poster concludes with some reflections on the implications of barbed bone point research for better understanding changing mobility strategies, resource intensification and technological innovation during early Holocene times.


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Barbed Bone Points: Ethnoarchaeological and Archaeological Perspectives on Selective Fishing on the Shores of Lake Turkana.. Benjamin Smith. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 405219)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -18.809; min lat: -38.823 ; max long: 53.262; max lat: 38.823 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America