The Late Neolithic and Chalcolithic settlements in the Lower Danube region have constituted the focus of archaeologists for more than a century now. However, fishing failed to individualize as an obvious practice.
For the Late Neolithic period in the Lower Danube region the intensive agricultural practices and animal breeding were providing the necessary nutritional shares, whilst wild game and fish continued to represent important sources in their turn, with an increasing relevance in the following period. But while this image may or may be not representative for the entire area under discussion, an obvious fact, valid not only for the Lower Danube region, but for SE Europe, is that little attention was awarded to the investigation of fishing.
The information regarding the fishing implements is even scarcer, though it is admitted that the exploitation of water faunal resources requires knowledge of fauna behavior, an understanding of the environment and the usage of more or less specialized instruments. For the Lower Danube this perspective is at least partly reflected by the lots of aquatic faunal remains, varying in size from one site to another, and exhibiting a wide range of species of different sizes, coming from both marine and sweet water sources. Along with the archaeozoological material, various implements, made on different supports (wood, fibers, osseous material, copper, stone, ceramic), depending on period, resources and purpose indirectly confirm the practice of fishing. But the assignment of these tools to the practice of fishing was often done ad-hoc or based on ethnographic references, with only more recent integrated approaches, combining multiple analytical methods (technological, use-wear, residue etc.). Most of the previous works on this area and time-frame dealt mainly with publishing artifacts, among which complete hooks or harpoons were the most preferred ones, thus a clear overview of the number and morphology, materials and contexts of finds, still being an issue. Same goes when it comes to integrating the ichthyological material into dietary analyses, where only few studies covered this sector, on a minor scale.
Hence, the aim is to fill as many of the missing gaps, and obtain a more accurate view on the importance fishing had as a distinctive practice within the Late Neolithic and Chalcolithic settlements from the Lower Danube region.The first step,and the purpose of this paper, is to come up with a more appropriate methodology, involving multiple sets of data. Starting with the physical characteristics of the artifacts and their spatial distribution within the sites, one of the main inquiries remains still which of the artifacts previously assigned as fishing equipment were used according to that assumption. The study will, therefore, explore the ways this kind of information can be obtained as well as on the manners it can afterwards be integrated in the larger, unitary topic of fishing on the Lower Danube region, during the 5th millennium B.C.