hunting and fishing

   Because Mesopotamian society was supported primarily by agriculture, hunting animals for food was rare. People hunted for the most part either to get rid of wild animals that posed a threat to herds, farms, and villages, or for sport. And sport hunting was generally a pastime of the rich, especially kings, who could afford to engage in elaborate expeditions involving horses, chariots, traps, corrals, wagons, and dozens of helpers. The main evidence of such royal hunts comes from the annals of several Assyrian kings. Tiglathpileser I (reigned 1115-1077) recorded the diverse kinds of creatures he hunted, among them lions, tigers, hyenas, bears, leopards, deer, bison, wild pigs, gazelle, lynx, onagers (wild asses), elephants, and ostriches. His inscriptions also mention a trip to the Mediterranean Sea, where he bagged a na-hiru, which may have been a dolphin or a whale. (Tiglathpileser was clearly fascinated by animals, as he established several zoos.) Another Assyrian monarch, Ashurnasirpal II (884-859) bragged about killing 30 elephants, 257 wild oxen, and 370 lions. These numbers may be exaggerated, or they may reflect the fact that only some of the royal hunts consisted of the participants stalking animals in the wild. Many were staged affairs in which professional trappers gathered the creatures into enclosed areas, where the king and his nobles could dispatch their prey with a minimum of difficulty and danger.
   Fishing, on the other hand, remained a source of food for many Mesopotamians even after the introduction of agriculture. In the marshlands near the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, hunters in narrow reed boats used long poles with metal tips to spear fish. On the rivers or in the Persian Gulf, fishermen also used nets to catch carp and other varieties of fish as well as eels. Artificially stocked fish ponds were also employed in some places.

Ancient Mesopotamia dictioary. . 2015.

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