Scientists discovered an ancient stone fish trap in an underwater area off the coast of Alaska. It may be the oldest known.
The NOAA released a press release last month stating that university academics and Sealaska Heritage Institute, (SHI), made the discovery earlier this year in Shakan Bay, Prince of Wales Island. They used artificial intelligence to search submerged caves for signs of human activity.
Based on sea level reconstruction, Dr. Kelly Monteleone, co-PI, an archaeologist from the University of Calgary, stated that the fish trap or stone weir is at least 11,100 years old.
She said that the trap could be older.
Monteleone stated that the extrapolated 11,100-year date was very late. “I expect we will find evidence from Southeast Alaska that it dates to at least 16,000 Years Ago.”
Rosita Worl from the SHI stated that the discovery suggests that native people have lived in the area for much longer than the age recorded on the fish trap.
Worl stated that it would have taken time for people to understand enough about fish behavior
and the environment to create the technology to make the weir, and then to fish it well.
According to the agency, tidal fish traps or stone weirs were usually low-arced walls made from boulders that were placed across gullies.
The statement stated that the weirs were designed so that fish could swim over them during high tide. As the tide recedes, they would become trapped behind them and fishers would be able to catch them using nets or spears.
According to the agency, the oldest known weirs were recorded between 7,500 and 8,000 years old before the discovery. Monteleone stated that the oldest weirs found in southeast Alaska were between 5,740 and 5,490 years before last month’s discovery.