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The production and maritime trade of salted-fish products are well documented in the western Mediterranean during the Classical and Roman periods. Ichthyological remains found within amphorae in shipwrecks and other archaeological contexts provide evidence for long-distance exchange based on the biogeographical distributions of fish species. The Ma‘agan Mikhael B shipwreck (mid-seventh to mid-eighth century ad) found on the Carmel coast of Israel held three Late Roman amphorae which contained the remains of small fish. The identified species suggest a previously unknown fish-salting operation at the Sea of Galilee during the early Islamic period. The evidence also points to a distribution or trade centre for salted fish at Caesarea-Maritima after the transition to Islamic rule in the eastern Mediterranean. The results of this study demonstrate the value of archaeozoological methods applied to maritime archaeological contexts, attesting to production and trade activities that left few traces in the archaeological record of antiquity.
The role and significance of fish and fishing in the ancient Near East has been little studied. A new assemblage of fish remains and fishing gear recovered from Bronze Age Bet Yerah on the Sea of Galilee, however, offers insights into the transition from village to town life, and illuminates interactions between local populations and incoming groups. The assemblage also reveals temporal and spatial variations in the utilisation of local fish resources. As the first such assemblage obtained from a systematically sampled Early Bronze Age stratigraphic sequence in the Southern Levant, it highlights the contribution of secondary food-production and -consumption activities to the interpretation of socio-cultural change.