Chile: Ocean Fishing in Pre-Columbian Chile and Peru: History, Archaeology, and Art


Ocean Fishing in Pre-Columbian Chile and Peru: History, Archaeology, and Art, by David Bernstein, is a comprehensive illustrated survey of the history of fishing from 8,000 BC through the 1600s. This 111-page book contains over 150 color images, in addition to a full-color catalogue of ancient art and excavated fishing gear. The book also includes an illustrated guide to the marine life in the region, and a bibliography covering the recent archaeological research on Pre-Columbian fishing culture. Taking advantage of Kindle technology, the book includes links to the following texts: Antonio Vázquez’s 876-page Compendium and Description of the West Indies from 1620, Junius Bird’s Excavations In Northern Chile, from 1943, and Samuel Hildebrand’s 552-page Descriptive Catalog of the Fishes of Peru from 1946. Mr. Bernstein also provides a memoir of his time spent living with fishermen of San Jose, Peru, in 1968.

The book starts with the Paleolithic hunter-gathers, includes the Chinchorro people of Chile, and traces Pre-Columbian history, archaeology, and art to the fall of the Inca Empire. The historical section of the book covers the Spanish chroniclers’ accounts of the fishing activity along the coast in 16th century Peru. As a dealer of ancient artifacts, Mr. Bernstein has included full-color photographs of his collection of ancient fishing artifacts, comprising 35 unique sets of harpoons, hooks, lines, sinkers, and other tools. These exquisite handmade fishing implements include tools used to catch ocean fish from high ledges, as well as harpoons of different sizes that were used to hunt sea lions and whales.

Mr. Bernstein’s connoisseurship of Pre-Columbian art has allowed him to curate a world-class collection of marine-themed art objects from Chile and Peru. A collection of 41 museum quality ancient art objects including bronzes, ceramics, and textiles are discussed and illustrated with full color photographs. Bernstein explores both everyday fishing themes as well the marine mythology expressed in Pre-Columbian art.  An extensive Bibliography is included at the end of the book.

Available on Amazon in Kindle format for $19.95.

Also available upon request in hardcover for $49.99.   To order the limited hardcover edition, contact the gallery at

Links to Historical Referenes:

Making Early Peruvian Shell Fish Hooks (Michael E. Moseley), 8 pages

Compendium and Description of the West Indies (Antonio Vázquez de Espinosa), 876 pages

A Descriptive Catalog of the Fishes of Peru (Samuel Hildebrand), 552 pages

Excavations in Northern Chile (Junius B. Bird), 155 pages



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