Fishing How the sea fed civilization

Brian M. Fagan

Book - 2017

"Before prehistoric humans began to cultivate grain, they had three main methods of acquiring food: hunting, gathering, and fishing. Hunting and gathering are no longer economically important, having been replaced by their domesticated equivalents, ranching and farming. But fishing, humanity's last major source of food from the wild, has grown into a worldwide industry on which we have never been more dependent. In this history of fishing--not as sport hut as sustenance--archaeologist ...and writer Brian Fagan argues that fishing rivaled agriculture in its importance to civilization. It sustainably provided enough food to allow cities, nations, and empires to grow, but it did so with a different emphasis. Where agriculture encouraged stability, fishing demanded travel, trade, and movement. It required a constant search for new and better fishing grounds; its technologies, centered on boats, facilitated journeys of discovery; and fish themselves, when dried and salted, were the ideal food--lightweight, nutritious, and long-lasting--for traders, travelers, and conquering armies. In Fishing, Fagan tours archaeological sites worldwide to show readers how fishing fed the development of cities, empires, and ultimately the modern world."--Dust jacket.

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Subjects
Published
New Haven : Yale University Press [2017]
Language
English
Physical Description
xvi, 346 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages 311-331) and index.
ISBN
9780300215342
0300215347
Main Author
Brian M. Fagan (author)
  • Bountiful waters
  • Part I. Opportunistic fishers. Beginnings ; Neanderthals and moderns ; Shellfish eaters ; Baltic and Danube after the ice ; Rope-patterned fisherfolk ; The great journey revisited ; Fishers on the Pacific Northwest Coast ; The myth of a Garden of Eden ; The Calusa: shallows and sea grass ; The great fish have come in
  • Part II. Fishers in the shadows. Rations for Pharaohs ; Fishing the Middle Sea ; Scaly flocks ; The fish eaters ; The Erythraean Sea ; Carp and Khmer ; Anchovies and civilization
  • Part III. The end of plenty. Ants of the ocean ; The beef of the sea ; "Inexhaustible manna" ; Depletion ; More in the sea?.
Review by Choice Reviews

Since the dawn of human antiquity, fish have been a staple of the human diet. The advent of agriculture brought with it the decline of the hunter-gatherer lifestyle. In fact, seafood remains the only large-scale nourishment source still obtained from the wild. In this well-researched and informative account, which will particularly interest archaeologists and anthropologists, Fagan (emer., Univ. of California, Santa Barbara) chronicles fishing's part in the rise and worldwide dispersal of human civilization. Discussion is global in scope: Fagan considers the evolution of this ancient activity from a means of procuring local sustenance to its importance in the early development of regional trade routes and, finally, to its enduring role in feeding an ever-burgeoning global population. Fagan also explores the evolving technology of fishing, from early use of spears, bone hooks, and handheld nets to the worldwide expansion of industrial fisheries spawned by ever-increasing population pressures and the development of modern-day factory ships. The information is put into perspective as readers learn the importance of conserving marine environments and resources, which are dwindling at an alarming rate. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.--D. A. Brass, independent scholarDanny A. Brassindependent scholar Danny A. Brass Choice Reviews 55:11 July 2018 Copyright 2018 American Library Association.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Fishing's role in the development of civilization has not received the kind of merit that history bestows upon hunting and farming. Fagan (anthropology, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara; The Great Warming) aims to change that, delving into the shallow-water opportunists of prehistory to the deep-sea trawlers of today. The work begins in Africa, where our ancestors snatched catfish from shallow pools, then continues to describe the rising global sea levels that followed the Ice Age through the classical, medieval, and modern eras. Readers will discover a world history rich in fishing: from Scandinavian trappers to ancient Japanese fishers to Chinese carp fishermen. Herring, cod, the Roman fish sauce garum, sturgeons, and shellfish are all discussed. Historical ecological transformations, such as the end of the Ice Age, as well as contemporary environmental concerns, including overfishing, are addressed, as are important human migrations, such as the expansion of peoples from Asia to America. Fagan's style is academic yet accessible. VERDICT A much-needed volume for serious students of world history. Highly recommended for readers interested in archaeology, anthropology, ecology, and environmental science.—Jeffrey Meyer, Mt. Pleasant P.L., IA Copyright 2017 Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Offers a look at the long human history of sustenance fishing, arguing that fishing rivaled agriculture in its importance to civilization, but while the latter emphasized stability, fishing encouraged travel, trade, and discovery.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"Before prehistoric humans began to cultivate grain, they had three main methods of acquiring food: hunting, gathering, and fishing. Hunting and gathering are no longer economically important, having been replaced by their domesticated equivalents, ranching and farming. But fishing, humanity's last major source of food from the wild, has grown into a worldwide industry on which we have never been more dependent. In this history of fishing--not as sport hut as sustenance--archaeologist and writer Brian Fagan argues that fishing rivaled agriculture in its importance to civilization. It sustainably provided enough food to allow cities, nations, and empires to grow, but it did so with a different emphasis. Where agriculture encouraged stability, fishing demanded travel, trade, and movement. It required a constant search for new and better fishing grounds; its technologies, centered on boats, facilitated journeys of discovery; and fish themselves, when dried and salted, were the ideal food--lightweight, nutritious, and long-lasting--for traders, travelers, and conquering armies. In Fishing, Fagan tours archaeological sites worldwide to show readers how fishing fed the development of cities, empires, and ultimately the modern world."--Dust jacket.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

The story of humanity’s last major source of food from the wild and how it enabled and shaped the growth of civilization

Review by Publisher Summary 4

Humanity’s last major source of food from the wild, and how it enabled and shaped the growth of civilization In this history of fishing—not as sport but as sustenance—archaeologist and best-selling author Brian Fagan argues that fishing was an indispensable and often overlooked element in the growth of civilization. It sustainably provided enough food to allow cities, nations, and empires to grow, but it did so with a different emphasis. Where agriculture encouraged stability, fishing demanded movement. It frequently required a search for new and better fishing grounds; its technologies, centered on boats, facilitated movement and discovery; and fish themselves, when dried and salted, were the ideal food—lightweight, nutritious, and long-lasting—for traders, travelers, and conquering armies. This history of the long interaction of humans and seafood tours archaeological sites worldwide to show readers how fishing fed human settlement, rising social complexity, the development of cities, and ultimately the modern world.

Review by Publisher Summary 5

Humanity's last major source of food from the wild, and how it enabled and shaped the growth of civilization In this history of fishing'not as sport but as sustenance'archaeologist and best-selling author Brian Fagan argues that fishing was an indispensable and often overlooked element in the growth of civilization. It sustainably provided enough food to allow cities, nations, and empires to grow, but it did so with a different emphasis. Where agriculture encouraged stability, fishing demanded movement. It frequently required a search for new and better fishing grounds; its technologies, centered on boats, facilitated movement and discovery; and fish themselves, when dried and salted, were the ideal food'lightweight, nutritious, and long-lasting'for traders, travelers, and conquering armies. This history of the long interaction of humans and seafood tours archaeological sites worldwide to show readers how fishing fed human settlement, rising social complexity, the development of cities, and ultimately the modern world.

Review by Publisher Summary 6

The story of humanity's last major source of food from the wild and how it enabled and shaped the growth of civilization