Humans have been fishing for a long time. Recently discovered 5,000-year-old footprints of fishermen in Denmark offer a glimpse into fishing Stone Age style.
Archaeologists from Museum Lolland-Falster found the prints around a system of gill nets. These nets would have been located off the beach in the prehistoric coastal landscape.
“This is really quite extraordinary, finding footprints from humans,” said Terje Stafseth from the museum. “We are familiar with animal footprints, but to the best of my knowledge, we have never come across human footprints in Danish Stone Age archaeology before.”
The footprints show that at least two people stepped out into the seabed and worked the fixed gill nets. The gill nets on stakes show that the coast was a setting for many activities, and that the people of the time adapted to the destructive forces of the sea.
Evidence shows that repairs were ongoing on the wattle of the nets. The footprints essentially prove that the people tried to save the nets before the system was flooded and covered by sand.
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“The investigations have shown that the Stone Age population repaired and actually moved parts of the capture system in order to ensure that it always worked and that it was placed optimally in relation to the coast and currents,” said Stafseth.
“We are able to follow the footprints and sense the importance of the capture system, which would have been important for the coastal population to retain a livelihood and therefore worth maintaining.”
This glimpse into fishing’s past is one of the more extraordinary discoveries of late.