Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Romans had whaling industry, archaeological excavation suggests



Ancient whale bones have been found on three Roman fish processing sites close to the Strait of Gibraltar

Wed 11 Jul 2018 00.01 BSTLast modified on Wed 11 Jul 2018 10.16 BST

Ancient bones found around the Strait of Gibraltar suggest that the Romans might have had a thriving whaling industry, researchers have claimed.

The bones, dating to the first few centuries AD or earlier, belong to grey whales and North Atlantic right whales – coastal migratory species that are no longer found in European waters.

Researchers say this not only suggests these whales might have been common around the entrance to the Mediterranean in Roman times, but that Romans might have hunted them.

They add that Romans would not have had the technology to hunt whale species found in the region today - sperm or fin whales which live further out at sea - meaning evidence of whaling might not have been something archaeologists and historians were looking out for.

“It’s the coastal [species] that makes all the difference,” said Dr Ana Rodrigues, first author of the research from the Functional and Evolutionary Ecology Centre, CEFE, in France. 

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