Ancient Strategies for Hunting

Editorials News | Mar-17-2017

Ancient Strategies for Hunting

A unique trove of bone material has revealed that surprisingly sophisticated hunting strategies were used at that time. One key find was that the early Mesolithic humans practiced a very selective hunting strategy. The strategy helped them maximize gain and preserve the local population of certain species.

"A telling example is that only fully grown red deer were hunted. Since they reproduce less frequently, there would be a risk of depleting the animals in that area. In contrast, wild boars were hunted independent of age. This could safely be done as they have a higher reproduction rate, permitting a higher outtake of young," says Adam Boethius, doctoral student in Osteology at Lund University in Sweden.

A large amount of fish bones found at the site revealed that there had been a fish fermentation facility at the settlement. It could probably be the world's oldest storage of fermented fish. For smaller animals such as squirrels and pine martens, traps were put out in winter. The plan was to trap the animals when fully grown and also when their fur would be the thickest.

Larger predators like wolves, foxes, bears and beavers were hunted selectively. Only adults were targeted, possibly because it was beneficial to have less of those animals in the area.

“The hunting patterns ensured a continued restocking of the animals while also maximizing the amount of raw materials obtained from each animal. Not only did the site host a settled community, it was a more advanced society than we have previously believed," says Adam Boethius.