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Australian Indigenous Astronomy

Rock Art and Ancient Knowledge of Astronomy

2 May 2013, 00:34 UTC
Rock Art and Ancient Knowledge of Astronomy
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By Michelle C. LangleyBased on the article Orientations of linear stone arrangements in New South Wales in Australian Archaeology No. 75 by Duane Hamacher, Robert Fuller and Ray Norris.Original article written for the Australian Archaeological Association BlogWhen we think about early astronomy, people like Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton and other famous scientists of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries tend to spring to mind. What most people do not realise is that astronomy – the study of celestial objects (planets, stars, galaxies etc) – is the oldest of the natural sciences.Ancient cultures worldwide observed and considered the objects visible in both the day and night skies and constructed interpretations for their presence and change during the year. Indigenous Australians were one of these considering cultures, and over thousands of years constructed a significant understanding of how the natural world worked. This knowledge was used for various day-to-day and season-to-season activities, such as when it was time to gather certain foods, when the tides would be at their lowest (or highest) and shellfish could be safely collected or islands reached, when were the best times of year to travel and when and how to navigate across this enormous country of ours.Stone ...

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