Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Ancient Sea Rise Tale Told Accurately for 10,000 Years

    Wednesday, January 28, 2015   No comments

Aboriginal stories of lost islands match up with underwater finds in Australia

Melbourne, the southernmost state capital of the Australian mainland, was established by Europeans a couple hundred years ago at the juncture of a great river and a wind-whipped bay. Port Phillip Bay sprawls over 750 square miles, providing feeding grounds for whales and sheltering coastlines for brine-scented beach towns. But it’s an exceptionally shallow waterway, less than 30 feet in most places. It’s so shallow that 10,000 years ago, when ice sheets and glaciers held far more of the planet’s water than is the case today, most of the bay floor was high and dry and grazed upon by kangaroos.

To most of us, the rush of the oceans that followed the last ice age seems like a prehistoric epoch. But the historic occasion was dutifully recorded—coast to coast—by the original inhabitants of the land Down Under.

Without using written languages, Australian tribes passed memories of life before, and during, post-glacial shoreline inundations through hundreds of generations as high-fidelity oral history. Some tribes can still point to islands that no longer exist—and provide their original names.

That’s the conclusion of linguists and a geographer, who have together identified 18 Aboriginal stories—many of which were transcribed by early settlers before the tribes that told them succumbed to murderous and disease-spreading immigrants from afar—that they say accurately described geographical features that predated the last post-ice age rising of the seas.

Ed Isr

About Ed Isr

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