Stone age art suggests whale hunting

April 20, 2004 at 11:52 AM
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ULSAN, South Korea, April 20 (UPI) -- New evidence from South Korea suggests Stone Age people may have started hunting whales as early as 6,000 B.C.

Analysis of rock carvings at Bangu-Dae archaeological site in the southeast of the country has revealed more than 46 depictions of large whales, BBC News Online reported Tuesday.

The carvings also show evidence humans used harpoons, floats and lines to catch their prey, which included sperm whales, right whales and humpbacks. Other species represented include killer whales, minke whales and dolphins.

One image shows people standing in a curved boat connected via a line to a whale.

The engravings, or petroglyphs, seem to have been made between 6,000 and 1,000 B.C., said researchers at the Museum of Kyungpook National University in Bukgu Daegu. At similar occupation sites nearby, archaeologists have unearthed large quantities of cetacean bones -- a sure sign whales were an important food source for populations in the area.

The researchers said the carvings suggest whaling played an important role in social life of the people who made them, and perhaps their society resembled the Inuit populations of North America.

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