Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Fish Production in the Aegean During the African Humid Period and Rise of Early Mediterranean Civilizations

Fish Production in the Aegean During the African Humid Period and Rise of Early Mediterranean CivilizationsJannke, Helen Anne

  Eastern Mediterranean archaeological sites record intensified marine resource use among coastal hunter-gatherer groups in the Upper Mesolithic (~10.5-8.5 ka (1)) and into the Early Neolithic, followed by a decline in fishing effort as the widespread use of agriculture and pastoralism was established in the Neolithic (~8.5-4 ka (2)). We used a fish microfossil record of teeth, bones, scales, and otoliths deposited in an Aegean deep-sea sediment core to show that pelagic fish availability may have played a role in shaping this dietary evolution. We found elevated deposition of pelagic fish remains during what broadly corresponds to the Mesolithic and Early Neolithic periods, with fish fossil abundance increasing 12-fold starting around ~10 ka. The abundance of fish remains then declines in the open ocean during the Middle-Late Neolithic, with fish fossils decreasing 6-fold after ~6 ka. Our findings reveal that fish were abundant when Mesolithic and Early Neolithic coastal hunter-gatherer groups were exploiting them more heavily, and diminished as human fish use declined and widespread agriculture was established in the Neolithic. We infer that environmental changes in fish availability altered the costs and benefits of the different subsistence strategies, with fishing being a productive strategy during the Upper Mesolithic, and reliance on domesticated resources becoming increasingly advantageous as fish availability declined into the Neolithic. We argue that Early Holocene environmental changes influenced not only the uppermost marine trophic levels, but also the choices and economies of early humans, ultimately favoring the development of agriculture in the Neolithic.

Publication Date:
UC San Diego Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Local Identifier(s):
ProQuest ID: Jannke_ucsd_0033M_21255
Merritt ID: ark:/13030/m59d42z6

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