Hunting Sharks

12 Feb 2021

At ... why did indigenous peoples in Brazil hunt shark? The full works. Tiger sharks, great whites and hammerhead sharks. Not only did they eat the meat but they used the teeth as arrow tips - and razor blades. From 8000 years ago up to the modern era, the 1500s AD, these people hunted sharks like others hunt for haddock - or blue fin tuna. The archaeology of coastal Brazil has often come up with sharks teeth but much was thought of this as they clearly made nice beads, or fascinated the kiddywinks. It was assumed they were of no use as arrow  tips, the thinking being they would shatter easily. Tests revealed the opposite. Sharks teeth make good arrow tips. This led to more intensive research and it was discovered they were also used, as expected, in a number of domestic processes, such as boring holes in leather [for buttons and straps], peeling bark from trees and in various composite tools with the teeth being used as,  well, teeth, to saw and slice. They could even be used to etch, to cut bone, and various tasks in the domestic sphere, quite apart from hunting and fighting. People make use of materials at hand. No flint meant a substitute. It was vital to cut meat into manageable portions, for example, and anything can be used to pierce leather. Why did they hunt sharks? Nobody knows but it could have a spiritual dimension, if the gods and sharks were perceived as physically similar in some kind of way. All the knowledge learnt from hunting sharks, and not getting eaten or your flimsy boat capsized, has been lost, since colonisation of the Americas. Such a pity. These people took incredible risks to put  food on the table and one would like to know why they thought the risk was worth it.

At ... here we have a pre-Inca culture from Peru, living in the clouds [high in the Andes]. The chachapaya people - the warriors from the clouds.