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Ancient Copper Fishing Hook, Discovered in Ashkelon, to be Put on Display


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JERUSALEM, Israel – The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) has announced that an ancient copper fishing hook, among the oldest ever found and probably used for deep sea expeditions 6,000 years ago to catch sharks, was discovered in the Israeli coastal city of Ashkelon.

Archaeologists discovered the hook during excavations in 2018 before building began in the Ashkelon neighborhood of Agamim.

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Although it was discovered in 2018, it will be publicly displayed for the first time at the 48th Archaeological Congress, which opens April 3rd, in Jerusalem.

"This unique find is (2.6" long and 1.6" wide), its large dimensions making it suitable for hunting 2–3 meter long sharks or large tuna fish. More ancient fishhooks found previously were made of bone and were much smaller than this one," the IAA excavation's co-directors, Dr. Yael Abadi-Reiss and Dr. Daniel Varga, explained.

During the Calcolithic period (Copper Age) villages with an agricultural economy surrounded Ashkelon, where the inhabitants cultivated wheat, barley and legumes, raised sheep, goats and cattle, and grew fruit in orchards.

Abadi-Reiss noted the diversity of food sources for both animals and people in the area. "We learn about the dietary habits of the people who lived here 6,000 years ago from the remains of animal bones found in ancient rubbish pits, from burnt wheat grains found in ovens, and from the hunting, cooking and food-processing tools retrieved, including flint sickles, and a variety of pottery vessels that served for the storage, cooking and conservation of food by fermentation and salting,"

She added, "The rare fish hook tells the story of the village fishermen who sailed out to sea in their boats and cast the newly invented copper fishhook into the water, hoping to add coastal sharks to the menu."

IAA Director Eli Escusido said in a statement, "A modern visitors' center will be set up for the general public (at the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel, Jerusalem) enabling a glimpse 'behind the scenes' of the extensive archaeological activity that takes place in Israel, and a view of some of the wonderful treasures that come to light from undergound."

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About The Author


John Waage has covered politics and analyzed elections for CBN New since 1980, including primaries, conventions, and general elections. He also analyzes the convulsive politics of the Middle East.