Astronomy of the Australian Aboriginal People

  • Roslynn D. Haynes
Reference work entry

The Australian Aborigines were almost certainly the world's first astronomers. Their complex systems of knowledge and beliefs about the heavenly bodies have been handed down through song, dance, and ritual for some 40,000 years, predating by many millennia those of the Babylonians, the ancient Greeks, the Chinese, or the Incas. The legends which have survived, until very recently, within a virtually unchanged cultural context, show how natural phenomena, including celestial bodies and events, were assimilated by the Australian Aborigines into a holistic value system which was predicated on the close relationship of the individual with the whole natural world: It is significant, in this regard, that theirs was the only known culture with no myth of alienation from Nature, such as the expulsion from Eden of the Judeo‐Christian tradition. On the contrary they believed that through their Great Ancestors of the Dreaming they, too, were continuing co‐creators of the natural world. Hence...

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg New York 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roslynn D. Haynes

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