Identification of fish processing methods and their long-term preservation in Antiquity is not an easy task. In this article we present unique evidence of fish butchery methods, based on an analysis of fish remains recovered from the coastal, Late Bronze Age (LBA) (14th -13th century BCE) site of Tell Abu Hawam (TAH; southern Levant). Based on fish butchered today by traditional fishing communities, we developed an ethnographic-taphonomic model enabling us to identify the exact butchery method applied to a dusky grouper (Epinephelus marginatus; Lowe, 1834) recovered at TAH. This model verifies, for the first time, the antiquity of traditional fish butchery and preservation methods, and reveals their similarity to the methods depicted on ancient Egyptian tomb reliefs from the Old Kingdom (ca. 2649–2150 BCE). Analysis of the entire fish assemblage expands our relatively poor knowledge of fish exploitation patterns during the LBA. At Tell Abu Hawam we found a diverse exploitation pattern, with 14 species of fish originating from two main habitats: the Eastern Mediterranean Sea (79%) and the Nile (20%; Egypt). Although rare, we also recovered the remains of several pelagic species (11%). The presence of pelagic fish was uncommon during the LBA period. We therefore assume that these fish represent either local seasonal fishing from the littoral zone or one of the earliest indications of pelagic fishing. Another possibility is that these species also represent trade connections either with the Aegean Sea or with Egypt.
|Number of pages||10|
|Journal||Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports|
|State||Published - Feb 2019|
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The Hatter Foundation and the Israel Antiquity Authority funded the excavation at Tell Abu Hawam. Irene Levi Sala CARE Archaeological Foundation generously supported the establishment of the fish reference collection and the Ethnographic study in Sinai. The Smithsonian Institute, and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), Panama, funded the ethnographic project in Panama.
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd
- Epinephelus sp.
- Fish butchery
- Fish trade
- Tell Abu Hawam
ASJC Scopus subject areas