Global Integrative Studies, School of


Date of this Version


Document Type

Conference Proceeding


From: Cod and Climate Change: Proceedings of a Symposium Held in Reyjavík, 23–27 August 1993, International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) Marine Science Symposia 198 (October 1994), pp. 31–48.


Archaeological excavations in the North Atlantic basin over the past two decades have recovered large amounts of fishbones from datable deposits extending back over 8000 years in some areas. Coverage of the last 1000 years (with particular emphasis on the climatic cooling of the “Little Ice Age”) is increasingly complete. Recent research makes it possible to reconstruct live lengths from commonly recovered fishbone elements. Preliminary findings indicate that cod of 1 to 1.5 m were being regularly taken in the eleventh to nineteenth centuries throughout the North Atlantic. Changes in fish size and mix of species taken probably reflect technological as well as biological variables. The development of commercial fisheries and the interaction of climate are major research concerns of the North Atlantic Biocultural Organization (NABO), and recent NABO data from Iceland, Greenland, and northern Norway are reported here. Both archaeology and fisheries science may benefit from more active collaboration toward a better integration of a growing body of bioarchaeological evidence with existing documentary and statistical records.