Spearfishing has been around for as long as humans have looked in the water and seen fish. Standing on the shore, wading in a stream, trolling in a boat, or diving under water, we've been trying to catch fish for at least a million years! Probably the first tool used for fishing was a simple wooden spear, or as they have become to be known, polespears.
The use of the polespear is well documented as a fishing implement. From the earliest recorded history there are paintings of people spearfishing. In cultures that have close ties to traditional roots, spearfishing is still practiced as a primary means of subsistence. Although difficult to prove, probably every culture that has lived near the water has engaged in spearfishing. From the arctic to the tropics, the oldest and purest form of fishing, is spearfishing.
There will be more historical data added in the future. For now, here's a letter Mark Laboccetta wrote to the freedive-list:
There is an archaeological site in Southern France called Cosquer, near Marseilles, with some very interesting findings of man's early relationship with sea creatures. I thought they'd be of interest to some interested in our roots of our relationship with sea creatures.
Cosquer Cave is one of it's kind of Ice Age caves, with it's entrance at a depth of 110 feet, with 450 feet of tortuous submerged tunnel of the lower chamber before arriving at the surface of the main chamber. During the ice age it was located several miles inland and it was only when the sea began to rise that the 450 foot narrow entrance was flooded. A diver discovered it in 1985 and didn't realize the paintings were there until more frequent visits there in 1991 when the guy almost had a heart attack, hence his discovery of animal paintings on the wall. His name was Henri Cosquer.
The cave paintings have undergone rigorous dating techniques by different professional underwater archaeological organizations and have been firmly dated to more than 25,000BC and some as young as 16,000BC. What makes Cosquer unique from other Ice Age Caves is the following: Aside from the typical engravings, paintings, of horses, ibex, bison, lions, extinct elk species, wooly mammoths....usually depicted in Ice Age caves, never before have sea animals been depicted. "Three painted auks (penguin like seabirds) are the only depiction of this sea bird known in Paleolithic art. We have also identified eight engraved seals, recognizable by whiskers, elongated bodies, and flippers. The seals appear to be speared, sometimes with a barbed shaft (I wonder if it was a 7mm stainless my old man used :-)) similar to other barbs that appear stuck in such horses and ibex. Half a dozen black figures with multiple lines inside could be interpreted as jelly fish or squid."
Now when someone asks how long have people been spearfishing, you can safely say a lot longer than you think:-) Our roots are deep boys, much deeper than previously suspected.
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