Dark Emu: Precolonial Australian native society - agricultural or hunter-gatherer?

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specul8

Ad Honorem
Oct 2016
3,112
Australia
'Procession' on the way to Bora ground.

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Preliminary part of the initiation - it involves a type of 'mini walkabout' * , preparation, information, stories, etc .

Modern Western tradition initiations still follow the same sequences.

* walkabout isnt just walking about, it can be a complex process involving a whole codification of landscape, myth, morals and ethics and social contracts embedded in the 'song lines' .
 
May 2011
2,899
Rural Australia
I assume they were self seeded after the ceremonies there were disrupted, someone must have kept the ring and inner ground clear to preserve it . I also assume the area was fairly clear originally , in the picture above you can see the plains in the distance, it offers a great view 'over country' *

Outside of the grounds around the ring are paddocks, so they are cleared of trees, as it is on the other side where it abuts the cemetery, giving the appearance that the ring has a grove of trees around it .


* " The earthen structures are not the only location of significance: the site itself is the location of spiritual energy, and they are parts of significant landscapes. The best approach to managing these sites is as significant nodes within a perceived spiritual and real landscape. Preserving an earthen ring within an area only slightly larger than itself is undesirable on several counts. It draws attention to the site; it ignores the fact that it was part of a ceremonial complex; it ignores the fact that it was part of a wider social, economic and spiritual landscape. At the other end of the scale, the entire area within which bora sites occurred could be seen as a continuous spiritual landscape, and conserving it in its entirety is hardly feasible. So clearly some compromises must be sought. "

http://johnwatsonsite.com/MyClassNotes/Topics/Poetry/Bora Rings.html

I can affirm, through personal experience as well, that Tucki Tucki bora ring is certainly still 'active' .
Thanks for the link to that article.
 
Jan 2015
3,522
Australia
'Procession' on the way to Bora ground.

View attachment 12729

Preliminary part of the initiation - it involves a type of 'mini walkabout' * , preparation, information, stories, etc .

Modern Western tradition initiations still follow the same sequences.

* walkabout isnt just walking about, it can be a complex process involving a whole codification of landscape, myth, morals and ethics and social contracts embedded in the 'song lines' .
I don't think it sounds complex to be honest, and maybe it's just me but I find the terms being used here very misleading to the layman. Almost every society for thousands upon thousands of years, back before the dawn of civilization to stone age tribes, could boast such features or rituals to their societies/tribes. Nomadic tribes across the world in pre-civilization had myths and morals. Doubtless they had songs, and knew walking routes too. The terms being used here, like "social contract" and "codification of landscape" imply far more sophisticated processes than we have any serious evidence existed. Let me outline what I mean by serious evidence. Serious evidence is not the following:
- Claims made by modern day ancestors about their descendants
- Claims that are whole clothe theories invented in academic papers that, while interesting to think about, are basically total speculation. For instance, someone a few pages ago was postulating the use of bio-weapons against indigenous people... but there is no real evidence of it happening, or even being planned or seriously discussed as something that the government would do. This is not limited to Australian history; you can find wacky theories in history from all continents, from the claims that a writer has found the Tomb of Christ, to Caesar having Epilepsy, or Hitler having a micropenis.

If we were discussing the history of any other populated continent, such as Europe or Asia, we would consider serious evidence things like the following:
- Written records of it
- Physical evidence that proves the claims to a high degree of probability. For instance, a bronze sword made in the bronze age is good evidence of bronze making ability in that period. Some unidentifiable lines in the ground that someone sketched is not evidence of "codification of the landscape". I don't doubt of course that indigenous people, like most tribal people, were familiar with their landscape. Of course they were. But to describe it as codification is evoking a level of detail and knowledge that we simply cannot credibly say was probable. People can't translate any ancient records or dots on bark or lines in sand to something even remotely resembling a real map; yet this comment makes it sound like they possessed cartography! Similarly, their "social contract" is probably not distinguishable from what you'd find in many stone age tribes. There were social rules, and they were enforced in an ad hoc semi-consistent way no doubt, but I find the term "social contract" deeply unhelpful; this wasn't Rousseau or Hobbs here. Like most tribes and people's that didn't possess literacy or math or geography, etc, there are limits to the degree with which you can develop your society.

Metallurgy was complex. Ancient ship building was complex. The Roman legal system was complex. I don't for the life of me see how walkabout was complex.
 
Jan 2015
3,522
Australia
That's because you never bothered to read what he wrote. Here it is again:

walkabout isnt just walking about, it can be a complex process involving a whole codification of landscape, myth, morals and ethics and social contracts embedded in the 'song lines' .
I literally just quoted that line, so maybe the issue here is that we have different definitions for what a complex process is. I named some of the things I'd think of as complex processes from ancient times. This doesn't seem to qualify, because this sort of basic ritual and grasp of surrounding geography is something you'd likely find in many nomadic tribes too. Something every people can and do tend to practice doesn't stand out as more complex than any other normal social thing. Language is incredibly complex in one sense; but every society has it, even if only spoken. What I'm thinking of is something above that level of "complex process", to something that requires real skill and effort to master and craft (e.g. ancient ships, metallurgy, an elaborate legal/banking system, The Coliseum, etc). Look at the chart below. Indigenous Australia was at prehistory levels.

1_wtFvhdzSsWrGDPq-g4fhKw.gif
 
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Likes: macon
Jan 2015
3,522
Australia
We're back to square one with aboriginal Australians having to have built a Coliseum or a city like Rome. I'm reminded of a film title....Never Ending Story....
They were a stone age people, we are in agreement. They didn't have the wheel, reading, writing, etc. The bar is clearly a lot lower than "build the Coliseum", given the pre-colonial population hadn't progressed to the point of Bronze age Europe. They didn't even have metallurgy.
 
Likes: macon
May 2011
2,899
Rural Australia
They were a stone age people, we are in agreement.
No agreement here. They built houses, and dams. They sowed, irrigated and tilled the land. They manufactures high grade fishing nets, and canoes. They altered the course of rivers. They sewed their clothes. They used fire to domesticate regions of tribal country, to dometicate game animals, and the growing of crops and management of vegetation and those ubiquitous "park lands" spoken of by the first explorers. These people had a knowlege of the entire continent, with a land mass similar to that of all of Europe. Their culture is at least 60,000 years old, and possibly much older. They represent a unique people with unique skills and a great knowledge of nature.



They didn't have the wheel, ....
The wheel follows the beasts of burden. The people of Australian did not have beasts of burden, like parts of South America.

reading, writing, etc..........
How many times are you just going to ignore the existence of message sticks?
Message stick - Wikipedia

The bar is clearly a lot lower than "build the Coliseum",
How many thousands of years (compared to 60,000) did the Roman Empire last? Dont blink too fast.

given the pre-colonial population hadn't progressed to the point of Bronze age Europe. They didn't even have metallurgy.
They went down the path of using fire, but not to smelt metals for the military industrial complex. They used their highly developed knowledge of fire to create and maintain a sustainable tapestry of tribal environment and culture across much of the 7.692 million km² of the continent.

These people have a unique heritage that has not been studied anywhere near as much as the unique heritage of European culture. We know it is a great deal older. We are only just beginning to understand their knowlege of the land and sky, of nature, of the plants and animals. I see no comparison between the culture of Pemulwuy and that of Fred Flintstone.
 
Likes: specul8

specul8

Ad Honorem
Oct 2016
3,112
Australia
I don't think it sounds complex to be honest, and maybe it's just me but I find the terms being used here very misleading to the layman. Almost every society for thousands upon thousands of years, back before the dawn of civilization to stone age tribes, could boast such features or rituals to their societies/tribes. Nomadic tribes across the world in pre-civilization had myths and morals. Doubtless they had songs, and knew walking routes too. The terms being used here, like "social contract" and "codification of landscape" imply far more sophisticated processes than we have any serious evidence existed. Let me outline what I mean by serious evidence. Serious evidence is not the following:
By putting up the info I did, in a thread about Australian Aboriginals, I did not mean to imply that the others you mentioned did not have this knowledge.

When we dont have, what you call 'serious evidence' , other factors are considered to try and make a fuller picture.

- Claims made by modern day ancestors about their descendants
Sometimes they have been proved to be right ;

Revealed: how Indigenous Australian storytelling accurately records sea level rises 7,000 years ago

Research findings back up Aboriginal legend on origin of palm trees

- Claims that are whole clothe theories invented in academic papers that, while interesting to think about, are basically total speculation. For instance, someone a few pages ago was postulating the use of bio-weapons against indigenous people... but there is no real evidence of it happening, or even being planned or seriously discussed as something that the government would do. This is not limited to Australian history; you can find wacky theories in history from all continents, from the claims that a writer has found the Tomb of Christ, to Caesar having Epilepsy, or Hitler having a micropenis.
Nope ! The issue of the spread of disease amongst first contact Aboriginals , is a large subject with a lot of interesting facts associated with it. It is also a hihgly emptive and political debate, it is based on certain facts and, postulations. The findings on this are still 'up in the air' . It has no comparison with Hitler's micropenis.

You dont see debates like these about Hitler's micropenis ;


Was Sydney's smallpox outbreak of 1789 an act of biological warfare against Aboriginal tribes?

If we were discussing the history of any other populated continent, such as Europe or Asia, we would consider serious evidence things like the following:
- Written records of it
We do ! Its just very scant before 1770. Most of what we have learnt is from first settlers and explorers accounts, records sketches and paintings. See the mass of them cited in the book that is the subject of this thread, ' First Footprints ' and 'The Biggest Estate on Earth'


- Physical evidence that proves the claims to a high degree of probability. For instance, a bronze sword made in the bronze age is good evidence of bronze making ability in that period. Some unidentifiable lines in the ground that someone sketched is not evidence of "codification of the landscape".
Of course it isnt, and it wasn't put up for that reason. That is an example of a small part of the learning process about it . The evidence however is much more than some 'lines on the ground' . It make take you a little bit of study from various sources to come to the same conclusion about this that academics have . The three books mentioned above hold information on it throughout them. The last one cited has parts where this is demonstrated by people alive today or recently that the author traveled with . Also check it's extensive section on 'song lines' .

And of course there is also Aboriginal artworks that depict codification of landscape .

" Non-Aboriginal viewers of Aboriginal paintings usually finds it easy to appreciate the Western aspects of it such as minimalism, abstraction or expressionism. But it is much harder to understand the more spiritual aspects.
Aboriginal artists don't simply play with the formal elements of colour, space and composition. [1] They are actually painting their 'country', a term that means to them much more than just landscape. Aboriginal people believe the land owns them, so such paintings are much closer to portraiture. [1]
Western artists create works that are uniquely "theirs" in style and design. Aboriginal artists, however, are often barely distinguishable from the community in
which they reside. Even the most talented artists are but vehicles through which a local culture and the spirit of the land find expression ... "

Source: Understanding Aboriginal paintings - Creative Spirits, retrieved from Understanding Aboriginal paintings

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Japingka Aboriginal Art
My Country by George Ward

Some seafaring ancient island cultures codified their sea scape

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