Monday, 26 July 2010

Bark paintings context and dreamtime

Yesterday I tweeted a link about the discovery of Aboriginal rock in the Northern Territory that manages to date (approximately) initial contact between the Maccasan's from Sulawesi with the Yolngu from Arnhem land.

Now we've known about these contacts for some time - there's a bark painting of a Macassan fishing boat in the National Gallery for one obvious example, and a few years ago when I was talking to a Yolngu elder about my interest in history and archaeology, he counterd by telling me about his interest in the history of the Macassan contacts.

And doubtless there are dreamtime stories about these contacts. Finding art datable to the 1600's pushes back the date of contact and hence the relative date of other dreamtime events which are dated from their mention in other stories, just as being able to date the Trojan War allowed us to date other events in bronze age Greece a little more securely.

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