3.3.5 Fresh-water fish

The fish remains from Passewaaijse Hogeweg have been identified by Bob Beerenhout (Table 4; Beerenhout 2003). Sieved samples, which would have been most likely to contain fish remains, were not included in the selection of animal bones from Oude Tielseweg that was analysed. The cemetery has not yielded any fish bones. The problem with the fish remains from Passewaaijse Hogeweg is that the sample is not representative. Many of the fish remains were found in one cluster of pits, dating to the Late Roman period. Only a few fragments were dated to other periods: four fragments to phase 2 and three to phase 3. The absence of fish in the other phases does not mean that fish were not being utilised, but only that no features suitable for sieving were found dating to those phases. Despite these limitations, however, we can at least say something about the types of fish caught during the Late Roman period.

Table 4: Species of fish found in Passewaaijse Hogeweg, with the phases in which they occur and the total number of fragments.

species (found in) phase Number of Identified Fragments
pike (Esox lucius) 2,7 131
sturgeon (Acipenser sturio) 3 1
common bream (Abramis brama) 3,7 20
houting (Coregonus maraena) 7 1
perch (Perca fluviatilis) 7 18
wels catfish (Siluris glanis) 7 2
cyprinidae 7 16
salmonidae 7 1
total - 190

Six species of fish were identified. All species could have been caught locally. Two of the fish species are only found in rivers during the spawning season: sturgeon in late summer and houting in autumn (Beerenhout 2003, 1). All species prefer slow flowing or stagnant water, which means they were not caught in the main river stream but in smaller side channels or pools. Pike is found in much larger numbers than the other species, although this is partly due to the presence of loose teeth. Many of the pike remains are from very large individuals. A pike of this size would have provided food for several people. Although no cut marks were found on the fish bones, the presence of two charred fish fragments and the over-representation of large animals indicate that the fish bones are food refuse (Beerenhout 2003, 3).

The relative scarcity of fish remains in other rural settlements, even when extensive sieving occurred, is an indication that fish did not form an important food source during the Roman period. For Wijk bij Duurstede-De Horden, the only fish fragment identified was a pike vertebra. The absence of other fish remains here can be related to the fact that the fill of only one feature was sieved (Laarman 1996b, 370, 376). In Geldermalsen-Hondsgemet, despite sieving of around 100 samples, only one fish fragment was identified. Kesteren-De Woerd has yielded more fish, but the numbers are still small compared to the mammal bones (Zeiler 2001, 220, 241).


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