archaeology
subscribe
Special Introductory Offer!

Can Volcanoes Help Researchers Date Australian Oral Traditions?

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Australia Lake SurpriseVICTORIA, AUSTRALIA—Science Magazine reports that geologist Erin Matchan of the University of Melbourne and her colleagues have dated volcanic rocks at southeastern Australia’s Budj Bim Volcanic Complex and the Tower Hill volcano, which is located about 25 miles away, to about 37,000 years ago. In the 1940s, archaeologists discovered a stone ax underneath the volcanic rocks at the Tower Hill volcano, indicating that people lived in the region before the eruptions occurred. Matchan explained that the structure of the volcanoes suggests they grew their peaks within a period spanning just days to months. The researchers think an ancient story told by the Aboriginal Gunditjmara people about four giant beings, one of whom transformed into the Budj Bim volcano, might reference this volcanic activity and could reflect an oral tradition that has lasted for tens of thousands of years. Previous analysis of hair samples indicate that many Australian populations have occupied the same regions for nearly 50,000 years. “As with all First Nations around the world, our stories, heritage, identity and survival are connected to our traditional homelands and waters,” said Damein Bell of Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation. To read about native Hawaiian cowboys who lived on the slopes of the Mauna Kea volcano, go to "Letter from Hawaii: Ballad of the Paniolo."

Advertisement

Advertisement


Advertisement