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TOPIC: The First Australians


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First Australians may have been migrants rather than drifters

At least 1,000 Aboriginal founders first arrived in Australia some 50,000 years ago, a reconstruction indicates - numbers that could be evidence of an intentional migration rather than the accidental stranding of a few individuals at a time. The study also finds that the population was devastated during the latest Ice Age, but later rebounded.
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Ancient migration: Genes link Australia with India

Australia experienced a wave of migration from India about 4,000 years ago, a genetic study suggests.
It was thought the continent had been largely isolated after the first humans arrived about 40,000 years ago until the Europeans moved in in the 1800s.
But DNA from Aboriginal Australians revealed there had been some movement from India during this period.
The researchers believe the Indian migrants may have introduced the dingo to Australia.

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Indigenous astronomy
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Unlocking the secrets of indigenous astronomy

Evidence is emerging that aborigines had an even more complex understanding of astronomy than they were given credit for by western observers.
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Title: Did aboriginal vegetation burning impact on the Australian summer monsoon?
Authors: Michael Notaro, Karl-Heinz Wyrwoll, Guangshan Chen

Aboriginal vegetation burning practices and their role in the Australian environment remains a central theme of Australian environmental history. Previous studies have identified a decline in the Australian summer monsoon during the late Quaternary and attributed it to land surface-atmosphere feedbacks, related to Aboriginal burning practices. Here we undertake a comprehensive, ensemble model evaluation of the effects of a decrease in vegetation cover over the summer monsoon region of northern Australia. Our results show that the climate response, while relatively muted during the full monsoon, was significant for the pre-monsoon season (austral spring), with decreases in precipitation, higher surface and ground temperatures, and enhanced atmospheric stability. These early monsoon season changes can invoke far-reaching ecological impacts and set-up land surface-atmosphere feedbacks that further accentuate atmospheric stability.

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Lock of hair pins down early migration of Aborigines

A lock of hair has helped scientists to piece together the genome of Australian Aborigines and rewrite the history of human dispersal around the world.
DNA from the hair demonstrates that indigenous Aboriginal Australians were the first to separate from other modern humans, around 70,000 years ago.
This challenges current theories of a single phase of dispersal from Africa.

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Title: Eclipses in Australian Aboriginal Astronomy
Authors: Duane W. Hamacher, Ray P. Norris

We explore 50 Australian Aboriginal accounts of lunar and solar eclipses to determine how Aboriginal groups understood this phenomenon. We summarise the literature on Aboriginal references to eclipses, showing that many Aboriginal groups viewed eclipses negatively, frequently associating them with bad omens, evil magic, disease, blood and death. In many communities, Elders or medicine men were believed to have the ability to control or avert eclipses by magical means, solidifying their role as provider and protector within the community. We also show that many Aboriginal groups understood the motions of the sun-earth-moon system, the connection between the lunar phases and tides, and acknowledged that solar eclipses were caused by the moon blocking the sun.

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Aboriginal population growing before whites arrived

New research aims to settle the debate over whether the Aboriginal population was increasing when Europeans arrived in Australia.
Assessing Aboriginal population growth has always been hard for archaeologists because older Indigenous sites have long disappeared.
Professor Chris Johnson from the University of Tasmania's School of Zoology has developed a way of analysing archaeological data which factors in how much evidence is lost through time.
He says newer Aboriginal sites far outnumber sites that are older than 10,000 years.

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Title: Meteoritics and cosmology among the Aboriginal cultures of Central Australia
Authors: Duane W. Hamacher
(Version v4)

The night sky played an important role in the social structure, oral traditions, and cosmology of the Arrernte and Luritja Aboriginal cultures of Central Australia. A component of this cosmology relates to meteors, meteorites, and impact craters. This paper discusses the role of meteoritic phenomena in Arrernte and Luritja cosmology, showing not only that these groups incorporated this phenomenon in their cultural traditions, but that their oral traditions regarding the relationship between meteors, meteorites and impact structures suggests the Arrernte and Luritja understood that they are directly related.

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Dreamtime astronomers understood meteors

A new study has found Aboriginal dreamtime stories were linking meteorites to impact craters and the origins of life, thousands of years before modern science.
While the night skies play important roles in many traditional cultures around the world, Duane Hamacher from Sydney's Macquarie University says the Arrernte and Luritja people of central Australia have an unusually strong focus on meteors, meteorites and impact craters.

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Posts: 131433
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Arrernte and Luritja cosmology
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Title: Meteoritics and cosmology among the Aboriginal cultures of Central Australia
Authors: Duane W. Hamacher
(Version v3)

The night sky played an important role in the social structure, oral traditions, and cosmology of the Arrernte and Luritja Aboriginal cultures of Central Australia. A component of this cosmology relates to meteors, meteorites, and impact craters. This paper discusses the role of meteoritic phenomena in Arrernte and Luritja cosmology, showing not only that these groups incorporated this phenomenon in their cultural traditions, but that their oral traditions regarding the relationship between meteors, meteorites and impact structures suggests the Arrernte and Luritja understood that they are directly related.

Read more  (3812kb, PDF)

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