The oldest octopus lures

Lost at the end of the world, the Mariana Islands in Micronesia in the Philippine Sea have been inhabited since the Neolithic. Archaeological excavations testify to the occupation accompanying the occupation of Polynesia about 3500 years ago. Recently, small perforated shells were discovered there, the purpose of which remained mysterious. A new study concluded that these were tools used to catch octopuses.

Mysterious artifacts

These small perforated sea shells, found at seven different sites, belong to Cypraea sp. They are also called “porcelains”. They have been used for thousands of years as decorative items or used as currency. They are also a delicacy for octopuses. The oldest ones were found inNorthern Mariana Islands, Tinian and Saipan, and carbon-14 dating of sedimentary layers from which they were extracted, indicate the age of plants 1500 BC. But shells do not have a serrated edge like other well-known food scraping tools.

In addition, Michael Carson of the University of Guam re-examined the artifacts with fresh eyes and said they were octopus lures designed to catch them. A fibrous rope connected to a stone sinker and a hook was inserted into their holes. A claim supported by the discovery in Tonga (Polynesia) of similar but later lures dating from about 1100 BC. “We therefore believe that these may be the oldest octopus lures in the entire Pacific region and, in fact, the oldest in the world,” the university said in a statement.

The Mariana Islands are located in the Philippine Sea. Credit: University of Guam.

People Chamoro

The question now is to understand how this innovation was forced upon the people of Ch.Amorros, the first inhabitants of the Marianas and natives of Southeast Asia. Did they take it with them on their first trips or is it an adaptation to their new environment?

AGAINSTHowever, no such artifacts have yet been discovered in the potential lands of the early settlers of the Marianas. This strongly suggests that octopus baits were invented locally to take advantage of a new food source, according to the authors of a study published in the journal World Archeology. “This type of food resource was so important to them that they invented something very special to catch these foods. We can’t say they made up a huge part of their diet – they probably didn’t – but it was important enough to become what we would call a “tradition” in archeology.” Michael Carson. You will also need to know if there are similar objects elsewhere and at an earlier time. “From an archaeological point of view, it is always important to know the earliest of something, because then you can trace how things have changed over time,” he concludes.

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