Fish net weight

fish wt 1.jpg

This is a fish net weight. It was made by drilling a hole into a beach rock from both sides. This characterstic “biconical” shape of the hole distinguishes it as human-made. Holes which are eroded naturally in rocks will only be one-sided and often more rounded than cone-shaped. Several such net weights would have been hung around a net. Both gill nets and seine nets were used by Northwest Coast peoples and they would have been used with net weights.

Although fish net weights are found throughout the Coast, they are a surprisingly rare find – especially when you consider how many would have been used on a single net. One reason for this is because the nets (with weights) were probably stored in particular places on the beach -- away from the household debris (AND thus away from where archaeologists usually work). This explains why this one was found away from the rest of the midden, but not why there weren’t more weights found with it. Many net weights are also probably sitting on the bottom of the ocean. In fact, divers and underwater archaeologists have found the occasional one.

Since weights are made of non-living material (i.e., stone), they cannot be dated using radiocarbon methods. The nets themselves, however, can be dated. The oldest nets found in this part of the coast date to about 3000 years ago. They were preserved in the waterlogged muck of the Fraser Delta. The net fragments were made of cedar cordage and, based on the size of the netting, were either gill nets for sockeye or seine nets for flounder.


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