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Prehistoric Marine Fishing Adaptation in Southern Taiwan

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image of Journal of East Asian Archaeology

This paper discusses prehistoric fishing activities as seen through archaeological remains from the area of Eluanbi in southern Taiwan. The excavations of the coastal site of Eluanbi II in 1993 documented a continuous sequence of occupations beginning with an initial settlement around 4000 BP and continuing until 2500 BP. Analyses of the fish bone assemblages and fishing implements, as well as studies of the marine environment, provide new data for studying prehistoric fishing strategies. Fish provided the most abundant potential food resource in this area. Fifteen families of marine fish contributed to the ancient Eluanbi diet, and the most common taxa found in the fish assemblage were sail-fish, shark, mullet, and dolphinfish. In terms of assemblage composition, abundance, and density, a significant temporal pattern is shown with a gradual increase of remains from the initial occupation period onward, peaking in Stage 3, and thereafter declining in the late occupation. Fishing gear remains suggest that prehistoric Eluanbi II settlers developed very effective fishing strategies. Through time, increased remains of offshore fish indicate a refined fishing strategy and an intensification of fishing as a subsistence activity.

Affiliations: 1: Institute of History and Philology Academia Sinica Nangkang, Taipei, Taiwan 11529 Republic of China, Email:


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