We've been trained to question things. To be sceptical about everything, especially if it's something that paints us in a bad light.
For those of us who come from European orgin, there's a strong case to argue to suggest that our ancestors were kind of assholes in their quest to dominate and conquer lands far and wide.
Some people refuse to acknowledge this. They prefer to be unapologetic when looking back at their heritage and when considering the actions of their forefathers.
But, if you're in the very least bit compassionate and can understand that we've been plodding along in the dark, thumbing and feeling our way through things you can probably also accept that there have been quite clear cut cases that we've gotten things wrong in the past as people and that we need to address that for our future generations so that they really can live and learn.
Even before their cultures were decimitated by the arrival of British colonialists and the ongoing and systematic stripping of sovereignty, freedom and rights by Australia at large, Aboriginal culture on the island continent was already the oldest continuous culture that existed on Earth.
People make all kinds of claims about things. They harp on about being this and that but there's little evidence to back them up. In the case of Australia's Aboroginals there's a lot of evidence that points to a long period of continuous occupation (50,000+ years). It's not referred to as civilisation because Aboriginals didn't build cities. Instead they built up an amazing encycleopidic knowledge of the land that helped them adapt and move in accordance to the seasons and the available resources.
The knowledge that was shared and passed down, orally and through the prehistoric Web which played out in art on rocks, walls and in caves is remarkable. Way more appealing than a set of Encylopedia Brittanicas and much more environmentally friendly than Netscape or Internet Explorer ever were.
The ancestors of Australia's indigenous people were among the first people to leave Africa over 75,000 years ago, and, because earth looked very different back then, they crossed its lands on foot and fashioned some of the world's oldest sea faring vessels to cross the waters to get to what is now known as Australia.
It's believed that once they arrived up to 250 different indigenous languages were spoken across Australia with estimates suggesting there could've been anything up to a million people living in pre Colonial Australia, forming hundreds of different cultures, some of whom stayed in their geographic area and others who moved around.
There's a brilliant documentary from a couple of years back, First Footprints, which examines how these different groups of people overcame harsh conditions they found in Australia. The most important way they managed to adapt and survive in such an unforgiving environment was throught the communal sharing of the knowledge: including of things that you could and couldn't eat, places where you could get water and shelter and routes that one needed to follow in order to survive and prosper. In addition to spiritual imagery many of the images that they left behind were contemporary reflections of their world or of the information that had been passed down to them by their ancestors.
Among the remarkable documention of their world are references to the changing sea levels over time. Researchers Patrick Nunn and Nicolas Reid have put forward a case that there are at least 21 cases in the record that accurately document thousands of years of sea level changes over the scope of 7000 years.
After all not many cultures in the world bore witness to the climatic change that occurred with the arrival and passing of the ice age.
The research also addresses the scepticism many people have of oral traditions, particularly those that span thousands of years. It's a fascinating idea and potentially another piece in the puzzle if their theories hold true.
I for one am fascinated by this and I'm pretty sure you'll be interested in reading more too. If so there's more here.
Dave Di Vito
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Dave Di Vito is a writer, teacher and former curator.He's also the author of the Vinyl Tiger series and Replace The Sky.
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