Fishing: How the Sea Fed Civilization

Fishing: How the Sea Fed Civilization

by Brian Fagan


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300240047
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 09/04/2018
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 592,311
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Brian Fagan, emeritus professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, is one of the world’s leading archaeological writers. His books include Fish on Friday, The Little Ice Age, and the best-selling The Great Warming.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Author's Note xv

1 Bountiful Waters 1

Part I Opportunistic Fishers 15

2 Beginnings 21

3 Neanderthals and Moderns 32

4 Shellfish Eaters 45

5 Baltic and Danube After the Ice 54

6 Rope-Patterned Fisherfolk 64

7 The Great Journey Revisited 74

8 Fishers on the Pacific Northwest Coast 87

9 The Myth of a Garden of Eden 99

10 The Calusa: Shallows and Sea Grass 114

11 The Great Fish Have Come In 125

Part II Fishers In The Shadows 141

12 Rations for Pharaohs 147

13 Fishing the Middle Sea 160

14 Scaly Flocks 172

15 The Fish Eaters 184

16 The Erythraean Sea 196

17 Carp and Khmer 209

18 Anchovies and Civilization 223

Part III The End Of Plenty 237

19 Ants of the Ocean 243

20 The Beef of the Sea 257

21 "Inexhaustible Manna," 270

22 Depletion 284

23 More in the Sea? 295

Glossary of Fishing Terms 305

Acknowledgments 309

Notes 311

Index 333

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