How Fishing Created Civilization

From Nile River Catfish to Anchovies in the Andes, Great Empires Were Built on Harvesting the Sea

Of the three ancient ways of obtaining food—hunting, plant foraging, and fishing—only the last remained important after the development of agriculture and livestock raising in Southwest Asia some 12,000 years ago.

Yet ancient fisher folk and their communities have almost entirely escaped scholarly study. Why? Such communities held their knowledge close to their chests and seldom gave birth to powerful monarchs or divine rulers. And they conveyed knowledge from one generation to the next by word of mouth, not writing.

That knowledge remains highly relevant today. Fishers are people who draw …

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Why I’m Teaching Myself to Eat Baitfish

My Small Town's Alewives Are the Fish of the Future

My town has a fish. Or maybe the fish has us. It’s a herring known as an alewife—about nine inches long, with a forked tail and a belly that shines …