Aboriginal legends an untapped record of natural history written in the stars

March 3, 2015 by Amy Coopes
Aboriginal legends an untapped record of natural history written in the stars
Credit: Thinkstock

Aboriginal legends could offer a vast untapped record of natural history, including meteorite strikes, stretching back thousands of years, according to new UNSW research.

Dr Duane Hamacher from the UNSW Indigenous Astronomy Group has uncovered evidence linking Aboriginal stories about meteor events with impact craters dating back some 4,700 years.

Dr Hamacher, an astrophysicist studying Indigenous astronomy, examined accounts from Aboriginal communities across Australia to determine if they were linked to known meteoritic events.

His study, published in the latest edition of peer-reviewed journal Archaeoastronomy, found "definitive links" between known meteorite craters and local Aboriginal traditions.

One of the meteorite strikes, at a place called Henbury in the Northern Territory, occurred around 4,700 years ago.

Dr Hamacher said the level of detail contained in the local oral traditions suggested the Henbury event had been witnessed and its legend passed down through generations over thousands of years – a remarkable record.

"Aboriginal men refused to go near the cluster of craters, claiming it was where the fire-devil ran down from the sun, hit the ground, and killed everyone. The fire-devil burned the people for breaking sacred law," said Dr Hamacher.

"There are similar stories in Aboriginal traditions across Australia of fiery stars falling from the sky, producing a deafening sound, blowing debris across the land and setting the ground on fire."

Aboriginal legends an untapped record of natural history written in the stars
Dr Duane Hamacher: “Aboriginal oral traditions contain detailed knowledge about the natural world, including events like tsunamis and meteor strikes." Credit: Maja Baska

In some instances Dr Hamacher said stories by Aboriginal people led to the discovery of meteorites by local settlers.

For example, in 1855 a farmer found a 32kg octahedrite near Stockinbingal in the NSW Riverina after local Aboriginal tales of a yeo-yeo or devil led him there.  

"Aboriginal oral traditions contain detailed knowledge about the natural world. These include stories about rare events like tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, meteorite impacts and solar eclipses," Dr Hamacher said.

"By merging scientific data with descriptions in oral tradition we can show that many of the stories are accounts of real-life events. So Aboriginal stories could lead us to places where natural disasters occurred."

Dr Hamacher said his findings challenged the view that oral traditions only last a few generations.

"The story of Henbury is an example of an oral tradition that was passed down more than 200 generations. This is important evidence for social scientists studying oral traditions."

Explore further: Aboriginal astronomers observed and recorded a 'supernova-impostor' event: research

More information: "Recorded Accounts of Meteoritic Events in the Oral Traditions of Indigenous Australians." arXiv:1408.6368 arxiv.org/abs/1408.6368

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1 / 5 (7) Mar 03, 2015
This research has already been done, in large part, by Dwardu Cardona in his Star series of books. I have to mention that researchers are not going to like what they find -- as the aborigines will tell the researchers that coal was recently formed in these events. And that would corroborate the recent ages for coal which commonly show up, actually.
3.9 / 5 (7) Mar 03, 2015

When are you going to realize this is a science site, not a forum for fairy tales?
1 / 5 (6) Mar 08, 2015
Ya real science like Big Bang, black holes, dark matter, unicorns, etc.
Captain Stumpy
4.3 / 5 (6) Mar 10, 2015
real science like Big Bang, black holes, dark matter
valid science based upon valid observations/phenomenon (GR/SR), then predicted and (amazingly enough) the predictions were OBSERVED- CMBR, galactic rotations, DM lensing, and more
unicorns, etc.
that part is all eu!
It figures that the eu crowd would gravitate here... as though it somehow justified their acceptance of electric universe stupidity

the Lakota also speak about a race between all animals around the black hills, where the earth ran red with blood. They justify that with some red earth
certain animals were also painted red with the blood, and carry it today according to legend

that doesn't make it real, it only justifies the belief in the heads of the people WANTING to believe

this is no different than eu
even though science has repeatedly debunked almost all eu claims (grand canyon, moon craters, electric sun), they cling to those little things that make them WANT to believe
1 / 5 (4) Mar 25, 2015
Science based in a priori is garbage in garbage out and all the empirical data in the world will not change that. Sixty years main stream science denied Birkeland and even now small minds that "cling" to theoretical reality and can not wrap their heads around his work. You more then anyone wants to believe, that is why you act as the gate keeper to truth. If anything science is validating EU catch up.
Captain Stumpy
4.8 / 5 (4) Apr 04, 2015
If anything science is validating EU catch up.
and you STILL have NOT been able to demonstrate this simple little thing you consider a fact

the eu is STILL debunked
there is STILL NO EVIDENCE that eu is somehow better at prediction
there is still NO undermining of the standard model
you still have NO evidence that your precious faith has in ANY way threatened ANY modern physics theories

the only thing you HAVE done is demonstrate that those who are fanatically attached to a religion will not be capable of seeing any refuting evidence, which is against the scientific method


IOW- you actively ignore anything that refutes eu because it would hurt your religious beliefs
the only difference between you and a creationist is the name of the pseudoscience religion you adhere to

not rated yet Apr 04, 2015
It's interesting, that the primitive cultures have the ability to remember its VERY distant past better, than these seemingly advanced ones, equipped with script and books.
1 / 5 (1) Apr 06, 2015
Simple things like 99% of reality is plasma and 1% is gas, solid, and liquid. It's self evident. Only arrogance and ignorance makes you think dark matter, black holes, and Big Bang are a valid reality. Science based on this is as foolish as any man made religion. Your drunk on a pyramid scheme.

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