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Aboriginal Folklore Leads To Meteorite Crater

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the bunyip-approved dept.

Space 233

An anonymous reader writes "An Australian Aboriginal dreaming story has helped experts uncover a meteorite impact crater in the outback of the Northern Territory. From the article: 'One story, from the folklore of the Arrernte people, is about a star falling to Earth at a site called Puka. This led to a search on Google Maps of Palm Valley, about 130 km southwest of Alice Springs. Here Hamacher discovered what looked like a crater, which he confirmed with surveys in the field in September 2009.'"

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233 comments

Better not an aboriginee dreamer in ur backyard... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30680280)

or keep hiding under the table at night.

what the story doesn't mention... (0, Troll)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680408)

...is that they later kicked the drunk aborigens asses out of this place and put them in some camps where they'll hopefully extinct.

This is what the Brits and they fucking offspring do: extinguish races.

I heard they were headed to Yemen even though they're not finished with Iraq or Afghanistan... Sorry fucktards.

Re:what the story doesn't mention... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30680484)

Hmmm - seems like English, but without grammar or meaning

Re:what the story doesn't mention... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30680686)

It's almost like he's trying to communicate!

Re:what the story doesn't mention... (3, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30681060)

like English, but without grammar or meaning

Well the story's about Australia, so that kind of fits.

oh good, abos (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30680294)

what they dont tell you about is that it was not a meteor, rather the hole dug by the repeated rapings of children by aboriginal elders. dead giveaway is the thousands of vb tins strewn around the edges, the ancient cause of "dreamtime"

Always more to the legends and stories... (5, Insightful)

YankDownUnder (872956) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680360)

It's just too bad that so much of the Indigenous Australian's stories are "turned aside" by Western culture; they've been here AT LEAST 75,000 years (and most likely far longer than that) and there is so much within the framework of the Dreamtime stories and legends that bespeak heaps of extremely interesting occurrences - cosmic, geological and human. There's much more to be learned from studying what is left of their culture - and it's extremely important to preserve what we have now - for future generations. The Indigenous culture here is dying off at an alarming rate, and little care is aimed at this travesty.

Re:Always more to the legends and stories... (5, Insightful)

krou (1027572) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680440)

On my brief visits to Australia, I was always fascinated by Indigenous Australian culture and history, and made a point of learning more about it. What struck me, though, was how present day Australia has assimilated their culture as a marketing tool, and done next to nothing to allow their people and culture to survive. You can buy cheap Indigenous Australian "art" tat at airports that are made in China, while the vast majority of Indigenous Australians seem to have been left to rot, poor and drunk, in the gutter. There is such a deep undercurrent of racism against them, that I find it remarkable that they still exist at all. Everywhere I went, I heard the same stories of how lazy and worthless they are, they just squander everything they're given, they're all just drug addicts and drunks, stupid, and child abusers, which sounded eerily similar to the attitude of whites towards blacks that I remember from South Africa. I see a deep irony whenever I hear white Australians talk about preserving the white, Christian culture of Australia as justification for their immigration policies: they basically don't want someone to do to them what they did, and are doing, to Indigenous Australians.

Re:Always more to the legends and stories... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30680494)

> You can buy cheap Indigenous Australian "art" tat at airports that are made in China
You can buy any culture's "art" at the major local airports, also made in China

>the vast majority of Indigenous Australians seem to have been left to rot, poor and drunk, in the gutter
You're making the same assumptions as the racists by claiming it's the "vast majority". As a visitor you may not have noticed the depth and breadth of subsidies and welfare afforded to Aboriginal people as a whole. Many resent them for this. More still resent them for the few who squander it.

>they're all just drug addicts and drunks, stupid, and child abusers
You forgot 'thieves'

Re:Always more to the legends and stories... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30680534)

And what would you suggest we do to fix this? We've tried the 'just leaving them alone'. We've tried the 'throw copious amounts of money at them to promote development'. We've tried the 'educating them to help themselves'. We've tried both the carrot, and in the past, the stick, unfortunately.

But nothing changes. And you can understand why ... their culture is most fundamentally a nomadic one. They have no concept of 'ownership' of land or property, and rarely stay in one place for long. Thus no amount of providing infrastructure does anything ... they simply aren't interested in that. They are quite happy doing what they've done for the last 80,000 years. And more power to them I say - except that the scourge of alcohol and other Western influences has corrupted this traditional lifestyle for many to such a point where their societies collapse.

Australians are just as ashamed at the situation as you are. We've handed back vast tracts of traditional lands to the Aborigines (much like the Indian Nations in the US), but the native Americans seem to have done much better for themselves than the Australian Aborigines (from what I have seen during my numerous trips to the US, they are quite prosperous on their reserves and have good self-determination and leadership).

Sure there are some racists around, like anywhere, but I firmly believe the vast majority of Australians are not prejudiced against the Aborigines. But the problems you describe are deep and very, very difficult to fix.

Re:Always more to the legends and stories... (4, Interesting)

phyrz (669413) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680662)

I spent a bit of time during some touristy native american stuff while i was in canada and alaska last year, those tribes are (were) WAY more advanced than the Australian native peoples that the comparision just doesn't apply.

Native americans built full blown cabins where aborigionals largely still lived in caves and temporary shelter. They had a far better chance at integration.

Yeah its sad whats happened to the aussie abos, but at the end of the day they, as a people, need to save themselves - they have been given whatever resources they need. And perhaps they are making progress like alcohol bans in some towns up north, mon-fri boarding schools for children so they get proper rest at night, and pouring money into aborigional art and expression (hip-hop, dance and so on).

The biggest problem is that a large proportion of this and the next generation of aboriginal kids will be growing up with fetal alcohol syndrome. those kids dont have a chance.

Re:Always more to the legends and stories... (2, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680696)

Its about the worst possible interface. Aboriginal people are about the most primitive culture in the world today. They were always going to get steamrolled by Europeans.

As a white Australian I would favour vastly expanded alcohol and petrol bans. Lets talk about the entire Northern Territory. Include South Australia and Western Australia more than 100km outside their capital cities.

I live in Melbourne and a schoolmate of my son is Aboriginal. He is being raised by a white woman who adopted him and arranged for him to have a liver transplant, which saved his life. She takes him home to see his birth family every year. Its a variation of the mistake which led to the stolen generation, but its the only way for this boy.

Re:Always more to the legends and stories... (1, Troll)

Ceriel Nosforit (682174) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680884)

"Primitive" in regards to peoples is deprecated. The past few generations of our culture has consumed our resources as quickly as they could, without thought to our children, or our children's children. This is a failure, a divorce from nature, of darwinian proportions. I'm sad to note that some of our contemporaries that I have spoken to intend to procreate and still in their own lifetime use up the resources of their own offspring.

Speaking as a human male intent of protecting my young, I'm well within my rights to become a force of natural selection. We must soon advance on a personal level to no longer need more than the quintessential Australian aboriginal. Imagine, if you will, yourself in their clothes by the side of a road as a glutton in a SUV drives by, when re-evaluate the meaning of "primitive".

Re:Always more to the legends and stories... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30681050)

Then die at 30 like the average life expectancy of a "native" human due to measles or some other easily treated disease.

Re:Always more to the legends and stories... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30681198)

Speaking as a human male intent of protecting my young, I'm well within my rights to become a force of natural selection. We must soon advance on a personal level to no longer need more than the quintessential Australian aboriginal. Imagine, if you will, yourself in their clothes by the side of a road as a glutton in a SUV drives by, when re-evaluate the meaning of "primitive".

"Become a force for natural selection"? Sounds rather violent that. Perhaps you shouldn't be so hasty to declare that "primitive" is deprecated in regards to peoples until you've had a good long look in the mirror Mister H. sapiens.

BTW, you're not exempt from natural selection. Nor are your young.

Re:Always more to the legends and stories... (5, Informative)

Jacques Chester (151652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680938)

But nothing changes. And you can understand why ... their culture is most fundamentally a nomadic one. They have no concept of 'ownership' of land or property, and rarely stay in one place for long.

Because of the construction of townships and outstations, this is no longer true. Or rather, it is not as completely true as it used to be.

It is very simplistic to say that "their" culture is nomadic. Firstly, there are dozens of distinct cultures, each with different features, languages and laws.

Secondly, aboriginals understand freehold title pretty well at this point. It's not as if they haven't hundreds of years of seeing everyone else have it except for them!

We've handed back vast tracts of traditional lands to the Aborigines (much like the Indian Nations in the US), but the native Americans seem to have done much better for themselves than the Australian Aborigines...

You are probably thinking of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (Northern Territory), the High Court decisions in Mabo and Wik and the Native Title Act which followed those decisions.

However, the Land Rights Act did not give aboriginals freehold or even leasehold. Instead it created monstrously bureaucratic Land Councils which have mostly enriched a very few at the expense of the many. Thus the average aboriginal living on "their" land which was "given" to them can't actually do anything with it. They don't own it, and they can't own it. Consequently they can't start a business, or own a house. They cannot get a loan secured by the land. They can't do anything with it, in fact, except hope that they have mates in their Land Council.

As for Native Title, again it grants nothing like freehold rights to land. All it grants is traditional rights, and only under very particular and difficult-to-prove conditions. Win Native Title and you might get Crown land back, but not always as ordinary freehold. Most likely you'll only get hunting rights or ceremonial access. Again it's basically economically useless.

Aboriginals are human beings. They behave according to their perceived self-interest. I suspect that if we gave them freehold of their land, instead of trying to put them in a sort of cultural museum to assuage our own guilt, we'd learn that they're a smart and capable people.

Re:Always more to the legends and stories... (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30681284)

Its a bit sad to see how racist some of the comments from fellow Australians are on this matter. Coories or any other "race" should not be judged on European standards.

The are not nomadic, the indiginues Australians lived in many differnt specific areas, and tended to remain in that area for a great deal of time.

To place them in a category of always drinking, or have no respect for property is just plain wrong, racist and stupid.

A group of people who can live for thousands of years, in harmoney with the enviroment, and not hurting anyone, no human sacrifices and generally peacefull.

Im embarassed to see other Australian, (even if we are all immigrants) showing so much racims.

Re:Always more to the legends and stories... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30681340)

And what would you suggest we do to fix this?

nothing - it is now too late. there will be some survivors who can be integrated into the now dominant australian culture but the fact of the matter is that it is now impossible to undo the harms inflicted on this race of people. best just ignore them and let the natural course of events unfold.

Re:Always more to the legends and stories... (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680670)

Flamebait, really? The mod should read up on Aborigene history - especially the last 200 years or so. It's the unfortunate truth.

Re:Always more to the legends and stories... (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680710)

I agree. See the Myall Creek massacre [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Always more to the legends and stories... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30680824)

I also agree, you should watch the First Australians documentary series which aired on SBS - http://www.sbs.com.au/firstaustralians/ (SBS Television). Every Australian citizen should.

Re:Always more to the legends and stories... (2, Funny)

krou (1027572) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680890)

I went from insightful to flaimbait to troll. Tough crowd. Now I just need funny and interesting, and I'll have a full set.

Re:Always more to the legends and stories... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30681168)

Probably a couple of reasons for this. A few brief visits as a tourist does not make you an expert in cultural affairs; you've sampled only. The native Australian aborigine is not like a lot of other indigenous cultures. I've met a few Americans while in different countries and all were loud and self obsessed. I guess that makes me an expert to say all Americans are like that. I bet there are a few here that'd say I'm wrong.

Not a lot of water here which is a strong belief why the aborigines are thought to be so nomadic. They just don't settle; which makes a major setback to integrating into the caucasian culture. That and everything was off to a bad start when the English red coats hunted the Aborigine down. Sure some evils were conducted in the past, but that was also done to caucasian women who where not married and had their babies taken from them as well (right up into the 1970's).

Aborigines get free education, accommodation and food. That is, free primary, secondary and tertiary education. Some take to it which is great but most don't care and are more interested in 'white man's disease' (alcohol). In fact, they just hate cities. But you'd know that right? You would have travelled into the country before even seeing an aborigine. If you didn't go into the NT or FNQ you didn't see anything.

And what 'white, Christian culture of Australia' are you talking about? Christianity is thought to be as bigger evil here as the fundamentalist Islamic. I think you see too much of your own culture when you go visiting other countries.

Re:Always more to the legends and stories... (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680936)

This is NO DIFFERENT from what racially privileged people have been doing EVERYWHERE since the dawn of racial privilege. I could as easily rewrite your last sentence as "I see a deep irony whenever I hear white Americans talk about..." etc etc. Oh noes the border is failing, the brown people are coming back! We invited them back... to clean hotels and offices and pick lettuce and strawberries.

I live in Lake County, California which gives me some very close perspective on what you are talking about; for over 10,000 years it was the home of the peaceful Pomo people who enjoyed a land covered with acorn-dropping oaks and filled with deer and elk, a lake filled with fish, and a day's walk to a coast well-encrusted with shellfish (and peopled with other peaceful peoples.) I live in Kelseyville, named after a slaver rapist whose wife helped bring him to his deserved conclusion by sabotaging the weapons. Every time I go out I encounter Pomo-lite who glare at me (I'm big and somewhat evanescent in most lighting conditions) for my part in their oppression, though all I ever did to them was run reports against a casino database for one of their casinos. For my part, I'd prefer to return this land to the way it was before "we" came to mess with them, but you'd have to replant it with oaks and wait a hundred years before it would even be possible.

Re:Always more to the legends and stories... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30681406)

"they basically don't want someone to do to them what they did, and are doing, to Indigenous Australians." And? I hear the same argument about immigrants in the US. "Well, the whites did it to the Indians." Yeah, and maybe there's something to be learned from what happened to the Indians, like don't roll over and let your culture be taken away.

Re:Always more to the legends and stories... (5, Insightful)

hwyhobo (1420503) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680454)

The Indigenous culture here is dying off at an alarming rate, and little care is aimed at this travesty.

Dying off of cultures and civilizations is a natural process. What must be preserved is their collective knowledge. Written records of their stories may one day prove to be a giant shortcut for future research.

Re:Always more to the legends and stories... (1)

whrde (1120405) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680716)

> Dying off of cultures and civilizations is a natural process. Then you have no idea what is happening in Australia.

Re:Always more to the legends and stories... (3, Insightful)

kklein (900361) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680820)

Then you have no idea what is happening in Australia.

Weaker cultures/civilizations being replaced by stronger ones is exactly what has been happening in Australia, and North America, and South America, and that's only in the last couple centuries. It has happened countless times throughout history. It's normal. That's isn't an excuse to be dicks about it, but it happens to every culture eventually. We're sitting here typing in the language of the people who had their own fine and dandy language which was decimated by Nordic raiders who took over the northern parts of their island and started supplanting bits of their culture with their own, then came the Normans who enslaved them for 300 years and relegated some of their best words (fuck, shit) to the "dirty" category... Oh, and don't forget about the Romans...

We are the lucky benefactors of several waves of colonization. Just because our culture was the last to really go on a colonizing bender doesn't mean we were the first, or the last.

That's what "natural" means.

Re:Always more to the legends and stories... (2, Insightful)

corbettw (214229) | more than 4 years ago | (#30681296)

Strictly speaking, the language we're using right now came from those Nordic raiders. The one used by the indigenous people in Britain was more like modern Irish (not that you hear that much anymore, either).

Re:Always more to the legends and stories... (1)

Ceriel Nosforit (682174) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680726)

Speaking of dying cultures, I can hardly believe I'm reading comments like this modded up. I think we've come far in not being the ones who dismiss the knowledge of our ancestors. When I first became a reg on this site it felt like my fellow slashdotters were trying to wipe my memory and reinstall Linux when I voiced such opinions. :b

Knowledge for the sake of knowledge. Feels good man.

Yes it is, but genocide isn't. (-1)

jotaeleemeese (303437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680838)

And I use the word in this context fully conscious, but I think it is the appropriate one.

Re:Yes it is, but genocide isn't. (1)

Jacques Chester (151652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680988)

"Genocide"? Really? I was not aware that non-aboriginal Australians were consciously and systematically trying to kill all aboriginal Australians in concentration camp ovens. Having been an Australian since 1980 you'd think I'd have noticed that by now.

Particularly since, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the aboriginal and torres strait islander population of Australia is growing at a faster rate than the national average.

Re:This is not one of those cases (5, Interesting)

derdesh (652578) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680496)

Okay, I admit, I RTFA, and the crater in question has been dated as millions of years old, long before *anyone* claims humans capable of cultural transmission visited Australia.

According to the article, the author himself thinks that the aboriginal Australians were sophisticated enough to recognize impact craters on the landscape, and what might have caused them, and concoct legends about falling objects to explain them.

With all due respect to the parent post, the Indigenous Australians may have great knowledge that has been dismissed by their Western colonizers, but this is not evidence of such.

Re:Always more to the legends and stories... (4, Informative)

ACDChook (665413) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680544)

It's doubtful they've been here much longer than 40000 years. Genetic evidence indicates they are descended from the same group of people that left Africa about 70000 years ago as every other non-African person on Earth.

Re:Always more to the legends and stories... (2, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680758)

One thousand years is a long time. If you put your mind to it you could walk from Africa to Asia or Europe in a year. I reckon 1000 years is easily enough to go from Africa to Australia. Quite possibly 100 years. Remember they are not diffusing like animals. Once they decide to go from A to B that is what they do. And the people who left Africa at 70000 BP were genetically identical to us, with the same potential.

And I have this idea that sometimes the safest way to be is to move fast, especially if you have the intelligence to make good mental maps. That way if you strike a problem you can use your map to find a solution.

Re:Always more to the legends and stories... (2, Interesting)

Potor (658520) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680780)

Once they decide to go from A to B that is what they do.

Are you implying that they knew what B was, and where it was? If they didn't, they were essentially wandering.

Re:Always more to the legends and stories... (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680830)

Once they decide to go from A to B that is what they do.

Are you implying that they knew what B was, and where it was? If they didn't, they were essentially wandering.

I think they were smarter than we give them credit for being. They were essentially the same as us after all. For sure they wouldn't have known that there was a continent ahead, but they might have decided to walk in a particular direction and see where it took them.

Re:Always more to the legends and stories... (1)

Potor (658520) | more than 4 years ago | (#30681074)

I agree with your position against the noble savage, but if they were seeing where there journeys took them, then they did not have a B, a destination, in mind ...

Thus the speed you attribute to decisiveness is lacking.

Re:Always more to the legends and stories... (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30681102)

First you imply that they had a map of the world - they *decided* to go from A to B - then suddenly they went on a bit of a random mystery tour.

Sounds like a lot of handwaving there.

Re:Always more to the legends and stories... (4, Informative)

Jacques Chester (151652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680836)

Dissipation is slower than centuries for two reasons:

  1. People get used to where they grow up. It's not as though every generation set themselves the task of moving as far from their parents as possible.
  2. Land bridges depended on ice ages. Australia was settled by (depending on who you consult) 2 or 3 waves of humans, corresponding with ice ages making it possible to easily reach Australia from the Indonesian / PNG archipelago.

As for the grandparent's claim that Aboriginal Australians have been on this continent longer than 75,000 years, the evidence is based on a single highly polluted sample. The evidence for 40,000 years of settlement is much stronger and corroborated by multiple sites.

Re:Always more to the legends and stories... (1)

ACDChook (665413) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680842)

Well, IIRC, following the archaeology from Africa, through the middle east, India, SE Asia, to Australia, it basically shows a slow progression around the shore. With arrival in Australia being 40-50k years ago.

People would not spread too fast. (1)

jotaeleemeese (303437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680860)

Primitive people would have needed to figure out their environment first. That is something you can't do in a few decades, specially when you are not using s systematic approach to collecting knowledge (the scientific method is a recent invention and is not innate as far as we know).

Most likely people would move to one place or area, stay there for several hundreds of years, and groups would move slightly further away to adapt to new environments slowly.

Re:Always more to the legends and stories... (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30681162)

And the people who left Africa at 70000 BP were genetically identical to us

Who do you mean by "us"? Take a Berber, an Inuit, a Norwegian, an Ainu and a Zulu. They're far from being identical to each other, so how can they be collectively identical to anyone else?

Re:Always more to the legends and stories... (-1, Flamebait)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680612)

And what useful information is there? The location of bongo-bongo bushes, and the best way to bash in a frobbler bird's head with a rock?

Look, get it into your head: like all Noble Savages, the abbos were a useless backwards culture that was incapable of changing their environment to give themselves and their children a better quality of life.

Barely scraping by on subsistence gathering is not a lifestyle worthy of respect, and sitting under a tree making up stories to explain away things that you don't understand is a poor substitute for investing your time in actually investigating them, and in developing irrigation and health care.

Please put aside the White Guilt and accept that abbo culture was pathetic and contemptible, and abbo life (before Welfare) was short, hard and unpleasant. They've got it far better now than they've ever had it in the mythical non-existent "Dreamtime".

Re:Always more to the legends and stories... (1, Interesting)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680682)

Thanks, you took the words right out of my mouth! Even if their stories directly referred to this crater, that's one semi-useful story out of thousands which are entirely worthless (other than for whatever artistic merit they may have). It doesn't come close to showing that there's any real value to their legends or their culture.

It's even worse than that, though, since - as someone else pointed out - this crater is millions of years old. Their story is most likely entirely unrelated to that impact. Therefore the only "lesson" here is that if you dig through enough garbage, you may eventually run across some gold ... but your odds won't be any better than chance.

Re:Always more to the legends and stories... (2, Informative)

Jacques Chester (151652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680892)

The Indigenous culture here is dying off at an alarming rate, and little care is aimed at this travesty.

Most traditional Aboriginal cultures have already been lost since British settlement. Depending on who you ask, there might have been 600 independent cultural-linguistic "nations" in Australia in 1788 with the British claimed approximately 2/3rds of the continent as "New South Wales".

Nevertheless, a large amount of traditional culture still exists throughout the centre and north of the continent. I am from Darwin in the Northern Territory, for example. Just a few hundred kilometres from that beautiful little town you can find traditional law being practiced in all directions.

What cultures have survived are being studied by anthropologists, linguists and the like. Similarly, dreamtime stories and rituals are often sought for insight they can give into historical events and geological features.

I don't think that all elements of some existing traditions are praiseworthy and deserving of retention. In many places, for example, traditional law is brutal and inhumane. However, much as European culture grew out of the comparable brutalities of the classical world, we can adopt and learn the best elements of tradtional cultures and combine them within our own in the centuries ahead. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. Stasis can be as destructive to cultural survival as anything else.

Re:Always more to the legends and stories... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30681302)

Without the stabilizing force of writing, the content of folk stories changes at an extremely fast pace. Hell, so does language. Listen to a nineteenth century wax recording of an uneducated American; it's barely comprehensible, and the slang is entirely foreign—formal spoken language from the time just sounds slightly odd.

Sure, the Australian aborigines might have been there for 75,000 years, but if you found a time machine and sent a modern aborigine back 1,000 years to his own direct ancestors, chances are he wouldn't understand anything at all. If he did, it would probably just be basic prepositions, pronouns, and such. Leave him there long enough to pick up the lingo, and I suspect you'll find he doesn't recognize any of the stories.

He'll recognize the themes, of course—so would anyone else. The details would have morphed and changed beyond recognition, though. (Actual geography and events would be details, not themes.) 75,000 years is just a game of Telephone across 2,500 generations. Even in this case, it was a matter of pure chance; the crater predates modern humans, let alone the aborigines. They weren't there to see it, and they certainly don't 'remember' it.

Cultures like the Australian aborigines and the Kalahari bushmen seem eternal and unchanging to the Western imagination only because their very lack of a written tradition serves to hide how radically and constantly they actually do change.

It's bloody obvious when you know its there (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30680380)

Here [google.com.au] it is. I went looking for it when the original story broke, without a picture or link, and easily found it. I knew where Palm Valley was, and from there the crater was pretty obvious. Mind you, it would be easy to dismiss it as an odd shaped formation if you didn't know you were looking for a crater, so hats off to Hamacher and the accuracy of "legend".

A similar "legend" from Siberia. (2, Interesting)

imtheguru (625011) | more than 4 years ago | (#30681226)

" In remote central Siberia, there was a time when the Tungus people told strange tales of a giant fireball that split the sky and shook the Earth. They told of a blast of searing wind that knocked down people and whole forests. It happened, they said, on a summer's morning in the year 1908. "

About 20 years later the legend of the fireball led to the search and discovery of what has become known as the 'Tunguska Event'.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tunguska_event [wikipedia.org]

As seen in Carl Sagan's Cosmos, episode 4, Heaven and Hell.
http://www.hulu.com/watch/63316/cosmos-heaven-and-hell [hulu.com]

Cheers.

The most intriguing paragraph... (4, Interesting)

Angostura (703910) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680396)

.... as far as I'm concerned is...

Despite the link to the dreaming story, weathering and the absence of meteorite fragments suggest that the crater is millions of years old and humans could not possibly have witnessed the event, Hamacher said.

.

His suggestion is that Aborigines may have learned to recognise craters from more recent impacts and then deduced the origin of the Palm Valley and Gosse's Bluff craters. Now, I don't know about you, but that feels extraordinarily unlikely to me, given the frequency of large meteorite strikes. But that might just be because I don't have the aboriginal sensibilities for land features.

Re:The most intriguing paragraph... (4, Insightful)

Arker (91948) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680434)

Much of "dreamtime" and similar bodies of lore elsewhere, but the australian dreamtime is the canonical example by most accounts, is "cultural geography." The stories were adaptive strategies for human groups which travelled great distances and relied on their knowledge of local features for survival. If a person can predict features of geography in an area he has never been before because he remembers stories which encoded those features, this is a huge advantage. So that accurate information can be decoded from them should hardly be surprising.

Nor would it be very surprising that they correctly deduced that craters are caused by meteor impact. The frequency of *large* meteorite collisions may be quite low, but the frequency of medium and small impacts is orders of magnitude greater, and they also leave craters. Simply dropping a rock into a still body of water forms a crater as well, even though it erodes away in the blink of an eye many people have sat dropping rocks into a pond and observing what happens as well.

Re:The most intriguing paragraph... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30680452)

my theory is that one of the more adept people of early aborginy people saw the events that lead to this particular crater in a dream, there is a lot of truth to the concept of "dream time" in my opinion.

Re:The most intriguing paragraph... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30680506)

It doesn't sound so far fetched to me. Recognizing craters after seeing one made would be real entertainment. They did not have books. It does imply that the old crater got a new name that stuck to this day about 4,000 years ago. It makes me wonder what the Nile was called 4,000 years ago.

Re:The most intriguing paragraph... (1)

nhaines (622289) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680572)

Well, I can't tell you about 4,000 years ago, but 3,000 years ago in Archaic Egyptian, the Nile was variously called iteru or H'pi.

The name "Nile" is probably from the Arabic name "an-nil" (you'll have to imagine that's an i with a straight line over it--Slashdot hates Unicode).

Re:The most intriguing paragraph... (1)

nhaines (622289) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680600)

Err, let's pretend I looked it up originally that Nile is from the Greek word Neilos. ;)

Re:The most intriguing paragraph... (3, Interesting)

dargaud (518470) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680510)

His suggestion is that Aborigines may have learned to recognise craters from more recent impacts and then deduced the origin of the Palm Valley

I would like to point to a similar story. In France the town of Rochechouart [france-for-visitors.com] sits on a meteor crater. The name of the town, dating back centuries, literally means 'Fallen rock'. But the crater is 200e6 years old and is hardly recognizable from the ground (it's 21km in diameter, yes, it was a big hit). So who and how did they name the city ?

Re:The most intriguing paragraph... (3, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680550)

His suggestion is that Aborigines may have learned to recognise craters from more recent impacts and then deduced the origin of the Palm Valley

I would like to point to a similar story. In France the town of Rochechouart [france-for-visitors.com] sits on a meteor crater. The name of the town, dating back centuries, literally means 'Fallen rock'. But the crater is 200e6 years old and is hardly recognizable from the ground (it's 21km in diameter, yes, it was a big hit). So who and how did they name the city ?

Many people in history and pre-history mined meteorites for iron. They learnt to associate meteorites with impact events and so associated iron mines with impacts.

Re:The most intriguing paragraph... (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30680616)

Although the "roche" part of the town's name does indeed mean rock, the other part, Chouart, does not mean fallen. It comes from the name Cavardus, the original owner of the fortification built on a rocky pillar there. Check out the official town history through a translation machine of your choice: http://www.ville-rochechouart.fr/Tourisme/Histoire/index.php [ville-rochechouart.fr]

Re:The most intriguing paragraph... (1)

Thomas Miconi (85282) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680986)

I would like to point to a similar story. In France the town of Rochechouart [france-for-visitors.com] sits on a meteor crater. The name of the town, dating back centuries, literally means 'Fallen rock'.

Actually it doesn't. There is no plausible etymology from choir ("to fall", from latin cadere) to "chouart". Rather, the term "Rochechouart" comes from "Cavardus' rock" [wikipedia.org] , referring to the man who built a fort in the area.

Re:The most intriguing paragraph... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30681494)

Your claim is not verified by that site, nor is it by wikipedia. In fact, wikipedia says the town is named after the guy who built its castle/fortress.

In fact, the french adjective for falling is 'en baisse' which doesn't even look like 'couart'. Moreover, there are several other words for falling (nouns) and those don't look like it either.

Re:The most intriguing paragraph... (1)

bcmm (768152) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680732)

that feels extraordinarily unlikely to me, given the frequency of large meteorite strikes

Perhaps not if you consider the extraordinary age of some Australian aborigine cultures.

Re:The most intriguing paragraph... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30681316)

Perhaps not if you consider the extraordinary age of some Australian aborigine cultures.

They know because they were the citizens of the now-lost city of Atlantis, just off the coast of Australia, destroyed by meteor impact.
I kid, I kid, but it sounds like a decent short story...

Re:The most intriguing paragraph... (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680772)

Goa'uld

They don't need to do that much (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30680900)

They don't need to recognize craters from meteors. They only need to recognize "That massive shape is similar to those smaller shapes that occur whn you drop something heavy... Let's say... A star must have fallen here!". A lucky guess can explain it.

Then again, it doesn't sound so odd to think that they would have known about meteors. In the old days there was a lot less light pollution (though I dislike using that term, I know nothing better to call the thing) so it was easier to see the stars. In addition, people had little to do after the dark. You either slept (and might or might not have guards posted, I don't know about aborginals enough to say) or were gathered around a campfire (lots of people outside, watching around). It doesn't sound very unlikely that if there is a meteor strike, it will be noticed and investigated. And if it is investigated, it will become part of the mythology and pass along for numerous generations... Hell, we still know about the shooting star that the three wise men supposedly followed. And we know about the floods of Egypt, around the time when Noah supposedly would have existed.

After that Indian Ocean tsunami [wikipedia.org] , I read somewhere about a primitive tribe that had survived. They had had stories about events like that. Something like "When the sea backs up... It will soon strike back. We should get to the high ground" and they survived because of that.

EVen so, I don't think we should pay all that much attention to that kind of stuff. Occasionally the aborginals, etc. have something useful in their folk lore. Most of it however is pure superstition. There is no reason to think that their ancestors were any wiser than we are. That assumption is the base of all those mystic, ancient chinese herbal medicine, etc... People assume that just because something is old, it must work. Even if it can't be proven scientifically.

Re:The most intriguing paragraph... (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 4 years ago | (#30681362)

Now, I don't know about you, but that feels extraordinarily unlikely to me, given the frequency of large meteorite strikes.

On the other hand, that same infrequency doesn't seem to have prevented geologists from European cultures from figuring it out.

Wonder... (2, Interesting)

plasticsquirrel (637166) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680412)

I wonder how many "myths" have such a basis in true events? I'm reminded of the "hobbit humans" story where the native people had stories about them that had been passed down reliably for thousands of years. It seems that in our rush to be certain about our world, we are often too eager to dismiss the ideas of ancient people. It is unfortunate as well, because they cannot defend themselves, so they are especially easy prey for academics looking for notoriety.

Re:Wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30680426)

... and don't forget about the reptile-like beings from the heavens that Zulu folklore [google.com] tells us about.

(OK, going back to straight-faced mode again.)

Re:Wonder... (1)

Kolie (1012967) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680436)

Evidence of the unas?

Re:Wonder... (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680548)

Nah its clearly The Race.

Re:Wonder... (1)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680498)

Such things are worthless if there's no evidence to back them up.

All those myths get warped radically when they're passed from one generation to another. By the time we hear them, there are good chances they indicate nothing of use, even if they refer to a real event.

Take something more recent and well known such as the tale of the Little Red Riding Hood, for instance. The original had the wolf leave the grandma's meat and blood for the girl to eat, then asked her to strip naked and throw the clothing into a fire. It's a story that's familiar to pretty much everybody, yet few people know it wasn't always like the modern version.

Then there's plenty mythology that has absolutely nothing to do with reality.

Mythology is certainly interesting enough to study, but I wouldn't put much weight into it as "transmitted wisdom of the ancient people", since by the time we find about it a lot of that isn't even what the ancient people used to tell each other.

Re:Wonder... (1)

plasticsquirrel (637166) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680630)

It is not true that they are worthless without evidence. They are not only cultural and historical treasures, but may be preserved for a later date when evidence has been found. And even if they are never found to be accurate about history, they can still tell us about a culture and its people.

As for Little Red Riding Hood, I do not know if that is true or not. However, if it is, that is simply one example of how a story may change. However, TFA is an example of how a story did not, and it was indeed very valuable information that lead directly to the meteorite crater. Hardly "worthless" in this case. If they had dismissed it as such because there was no prior evidence, they would never have discovered the evidence that made it so valuable.

Another example is the Chinese Shang dynasty, which western scholars simply assumed was mythical, and criticized others as naive for believing that the ancient Chinese would have such accurate records about the past. That is, until archaeologists found ancient turtle bones from the period inscribed with the names of the same kings in the ancient records. There is always such a trend in academia for scholars to toss aside ancient knowledge as pure myth.

Re:Wonder... (1)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680714)

It is not true that they are worthless without evidence. They are not only cultural and historical treasures, but may be preserved for a later date when evidence has been found. And even if they are never found to be accurate about history, they can still tell us about a culture and its people.

Oh, I agree that mythology is interesting. But I wouldn't trust it much for geological research. For each story that has some relationship with reality there are hundreds about things like women that can sever their torso and fly around [wikipedia.org]

Another example is the Chinese Shang dynasty, which western scholars simply assumed was mythical, and criticized others as naive for believing that the ancient Chinese would have such accurate records about the past. That is, until archaeologists found ancient turtle bones from the period inscribed with the names of the same kings in the ancient records. There is always such a trend in academia for scholars to toss aside ancient knowledge as pure myth.

Yeah, except that from the TFA:

Despite the link to the dreaming story, weathering and the absence of meteorite fragments suggest that the crater is millions of years old and humans could not possibly have witnessed the event, Hamacher said.

So it's quite possible that something else went boom in the general vicinity, or that the original myth is about some other place with a name that was similar to "Puka", or that over millions lots of stuff has fallen from the sky and if you look hard enough in a wide enough area that hasn't seen a lot of change over time, you're bound to find something.

Re:Wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30680504)

It is the nature of folklore that it's very difficult to disentangle any truths which it may enclose, from the rest of the matter. Sometimes the truth is like the particle of grit that begins the formation of a pearl. Sure there's an element of truth in there, somewhere, but you have to dig pretty enthusiastically to expose it.

A myth or story that has been around for centuries, especially in an oral tradition, is going to have a great many variations, additions, omissions, interpretations and translations. Can truth be had from them? Maybe. Can truth be had from them reliably? No.

As such I think its very reasonable that when faced with these myths, we will often prefer a observation and experimentation as a mechanism of accessing the truth.

Re:Wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30680508)

yes, it is heartbreakingly easy to dismiss something that you can't understand because it seems to contradict what you think you understand.

Re:Wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30680606)

Yes, Jack Handey said it best: We tend to scoff at the beliefs of the ancients. But we can't scoff at them personally, to their faces, and this is what annoys me.

Re:Wonder... (2, Insightful)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680760)

It seems that in our rush to be certain about our world, we are often too eager to dismiss the ideas of ancient people.

The continued popularity of Judaism - and it's offspring, Christianity and Islam - tends to counter your claim. As does the number of people who have adopted various older forms of beliefs, from Paganism to Buddhism to Feng Sui and Tai Chi. If anything, the opposite of your claim is true - people tend to have a knee jerk tendency to accept the "wisdom" of "ancient culture", while rejecting "western science" as commercialized or "closed minded".

It is unfortunate as well, because they cannot defend themselves, so they are especially easy prey for academics looking for notoriety.

Nonsense. College campuses and left-leaning political movements are chock-full of people willing to jump to the defense of any culture which incorporated mysticism. If you want evidence, just attended any protest put on by "environmental" groups, and ask a random person about their spiritualism.

Re:Wonder... (1)

Ceriel Nosforit (682174) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680960)

Unfortunately those who jump up to such defence are by majority much more enthusiastic than skillful or informed. They provide their detractors with a straw man to beat up, and get loud and obnoxious in their own failing. The detractor then promptly declares victory on false grounds. That such arguments are motivated by wanting to "win" it rather than wishing to learn something new speaks of their futility.

Having spoken with people who are very well-informed, and sometimes skilled, in spiritual arts I form the impression that they have very little inclination to 'defend' their views and tend to only open up into discussion with their peers.

A group worse than either of these are those who are in possession of a little knowledge and then dangerously use it to charm and influence others, even becoming cult leaders and other such false gurus. Then their hapless students pick an argument with a skeptic of any calibre and get their asses handed to them...

No one said free thought was going to be easy.

Re:Wonder... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680964)

The continued popularity of Judaism - and it's offspring, Christianity and Islam - tends to counter your claim.

All of these religions are having increasing trouble gaining converts. If they grow they do it by reproduction (which is why Catholicism is running strong — they heavily targeted peoples with high birth rates, then proceeded to tell them they would go to hell if they used birth control. A brilliant strategy.)

If anything, the opposite of your claim is true - people tend to have a knee jerk tendency to accept the "wisdom" of "ancient culture", while rejecting "western science" as commercialized or "closed minded".

I disagree. People only enjoy the wisdom of ancient culture when it has been made more palatable, like Wicca which is a bullshit fabrication but which is made up of ancient traditions. In that respect it is much like any kind of religious wingnut who gets too excited about which word comes after which in a book that's part parable and part historical record.

Re:Wonder... (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30681230)

If anything, the opposite of your claim is true - people tend to have a knee jerk tendency to accept the "wisdom" of "ancient culture", while rejecting "western science" as commercialized or "closed minded".

Have you read "The Demon Haunted World" [amazon.com] by the late great Carl Sagan? He expounds on this subject at some length. I highly recommend it.

Re:Wonder... (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680862)

All myths have a basis in true events in regards to how they came to be - a story of certain function grown out of particular community. Some just took "artist license" in regards to their narrative further than the others, so to speak.

It would be also a good idea to look at all myths like that if you want to wonder about them. "Western" ones aren't any more enlighted. Ancient ones or belonging to indigenous people living today are also regarded as more or less factual, by their adherents.

I'm highly skeptical. (1)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680474)

The Earth has been hit literally countless times by meteors and the best places to find craters are ones which have very sparse vegetation like Australia (there are around 25 known craters in Australia). The fact that they tell 'lots of stories' about stars falling out the sky with a noise like thunder coupled with the relative commonality of impact craters on the continent along with the fact that there was not a precise location, just a general area, makes it sound an awful lot like coincidence. I'm not dismissing it entirely, but it makes the connection seem a little weak to me.

Re:I'm highly skeptical. (1)

t0p (1154575) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680546)

Yeah okay. A whole twenty-five craters. I bet you can't move in Oz without tripping over a crater.

Re:I'm highly skeptical. (1)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680598)

Twenty-five KNOWN craters. The number is far, far higher, and expect that number to soar with better and detailed satellite imagery available to the general public.

Re:I'm highly skeptical. (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680614)

Twenty-five KNOWN craters. The number is far, far higher, and expect that number to soar with better and detailed satellite imagery available to the general public.

I have long been suspicious about the configuration of Port Philip and Western Port bays [google.com] .

Re:I'm highly skeptical. (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680624)

With those magnificent dark skies the Aboriginal people must have seen a lot of brilliant fireballs over the millenia. Some would generate a shock wave as well. For every crater on the ground I am sure many meteors were seen in the sky.

When you sleep in the open you spend a lot of time staring straight up...

Ah, what a wonderful plot addition this will be (2, Funny)

Enleth (947766) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680514)

Just as I was thinking of some way to spice up a Call of Cthulhu adventure located in Australia for my players - a million years old crater from the aboriginal dreams pops up, and it's a genuine, real one. A little too far to the east for the original plot location, but that's nothing, just might be a tad more difficult for them to reach. Brilliant.

Correlation != Causality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30680536)

nice story, might be true, certainly is true for some such stories, but correlation != causality

Re:Correlation != Causality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30680800)

nice story, might be true, certainly is true for some such stories, but correlation != causality

Would you like some CO2 to go with that temperature change, Sir?

thanks (-1, Troll)

internetplayer (1715400) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680542)

that's sounds interesting, thanks for sharing [3arabsoft.com]

Aboriginal names for crater areas are well known. (3, Informative)

popoutman (189497) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680564)

In a 1988 or 1989 edition of Astronomy Now (an english astronomy magazine), there was a very interesting article detailing Australian meteor craters.
In this article, there were about 30 craters listed, along with pictures and descriptions of the area, with the best-guess ages of the craters. Along with the radio-isotope dating, if there was a local name for the area that implies a large amount of sky-based fire in an area without volcanic activity, and without the vegetation to have a large bushfire.
A great examle of this is the Henbury Craters complex (NT, 24 34'S, 133 10'E) which is a collection of 14 craters, about 130 kilometres south of Alice Springs. They are scattered over an area of about one square kilometre. The craters range from 10 metres to about 73 metres across. The Aboriginal name for these craters is ''chindu chinna waru chingi yabu'' which roughly means ''sun walk fire devil rock''
text quoted from http://www.abc.net.au/science/k2/trek/4wd/Over11.htm [abc.net.au]

Typical! I read the fine article, and it looks as though the article already has this listed.....

Re:Aboriginal names for crater areas are well know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30680858)

... which roughly means ''sun walk fire devil rock''

microsoft run water god hardplace

At Last An Alien Landing Site (1)

mindbrane (1548037) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680582)

at a site called Puka

That was no meteorite, that's where Harvey's spaceship touched down.

Coordinates! (1)

Cappella (222) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680602)

132.7102717
-24.0527939

So that you don't have to hunt for it like I do.

Re:Coordinates! (2, Informative)

bcmm (768152) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680878)

I had a look on Google Earth, and couldn't see anything out of the ordinary at that spot, either from a flat photo or from elevation (and it's in a nice high-resolution bit, presumably because it's only 15km from the nearest populated place - not far in Australia).

24*3'10.06" S 132*42'36.98" E in DMS, for anyone else trying to see it. (* in place of degree sign because slashdot hates us).

Re:Coordinates! (2, Informative)

corbettw (214229) | more than 4 years ago | (#30681424)

Look a little to the northeast of that location, just south of the fossil river. It's plain as day.

Old news (1)

RichiH (749257) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680782)

I saw that crater from a vantage point during September.

The guide told us the dream story and that it was a crater. Old, weathered info signs said the same. I did not get any specifics, but everything I heard and saw makes me believe that this has been known for a long time.

Aboriginal? (1, Funny)

M8e (1008767) | more than 4 years ago | (#30680926)

How unoriginal!

How about "El Dorado" and "The Fountain of Youth" (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 4 years ago | (#30681170)

Now THOSE would be fun . . .

I guess the trouble is the signal to noise ratio . . . for every myth that might have the potential of being true, there are 1,000 that are quite utterly bogus.

It's like a Website that you read . . . when too much garbage flows in, you don't take anything on it seriously, or stop reading it altogether.

Puka? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30681258)

Next town over from Ralpha...

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