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New research turns Tasmanian Aboriginal history on its head. The results will help care for the land


Aborigines Using Fire to Hunt Kangaroos, by Joseph Lycett. New research suggests the assumption Aboriginal people lived in open vegetation sustained by fire is misplaced.
National Library of Australia

Ted Lefroy, University of Tasmania; David Bowman, University of Tasmania; Grant Williamson, University of Tasmania, and Penelope Jones, University of Tasmania

American farmer and poet Wendell Berry said of the first Europeans in North America that they came with vision, but not with sight. They came with vision of former places but not the sight to see what was before them. Instead of adapting their vision to suit the place, they changed the landscape to fit their vision.

The same can be said of the first Europeans in Australia. They modified the landscape to suit their domesticated plants and animals. They sowed seeds to create pasture for sheep and cattle and opened up areas to cultivate crops brought from the northern hemisphere.

This eye for the open parts of the Australian landscapes likely contributed to a view that Aboriginal people, too, almost exclusively preferred open vegetation types such as woodland and grasslands.

But findings from our recently published study of archaeological records challenge this notion. They show that Aboriginal people also inhabited Tasmania’s forests, in particular wet sclerophyll forests.

It’s important to understand how people used, affected and related to the natural environment. The way Tasmanian Aboriginal people hunted, gathered and used fire had a major influence on the structure, function and distribution of today’s plant and animal communities. This has big implications for conservation today.

The painting Group of Natives of Tasmania, 1859, by Robert Dowling.
Wikimedia



Read more:
Explainer: the evidence for the Tasmanian genocide


A renaissance in understanding

In recent years, a series of books have examined Aboriginal land management over at least 50,000 years. Bill Gammage’s Biggest Estate on Earth, Billy Griffiths’ Deep Time Dreaming: Uncovering Ancient Australia, and Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu have all helped us read the country as a cultural landscape that Aboriginal people managed intensively – shaping it intelligently over tens of thousands of years through fire, law and seasonal use.

A valley near Hobart in Tasmania. From the book The Last of the Tasmanians’ (1870), by James Bonwick.

Gammage in particular emphasised Aboriginal people’s unvarying dependence on open vegetation sustained by frequent burning. Our findings question this dogma, which has prevailed for centuries.

Our research suggests imposed visions of former places – and the nostalgic license of colonial artists – had previously skewed our perception of preferred Aboriginal landscapes towards those that match a northern hemisphere ideal of human habitat, rooted in the theory of prospect and refuge.

Prospect refers to a view over open ground affording sight of game and forewarning of danger. Refuge refers to features offering safety such as easy-to-climb trees. The ideal combination of prospect and refuge is a view of water over closely cropped grass, framed by the horizontal branches of a mature tree. This ideal dominates real estate advertising to this day.

What we found will surprise you

Our study used archaeological data in an ecological model to identify habitats most likely occupied by Aboriginal people in Tasmania during the Holocene – the last 10,000 years of the Earth’s history following the end of the last ice age.




Read more:
Friday essay: Dark Emu and the blindness of Australian agriculture


The model identified the environmental characteristics of 8,000 artefact sites in the Tasmanian Aboriginal Heritage Register, including features such as altitude, slope, aspect, soil type, pre-1750 vegetation, distance to the coast and distance to fresh water. We then mapped all parts of the island that shared the environmental characteristics associated with artefact sites.

Where Tasmanian Aboriginal people probably spent most of their time over the last 10,000 years based on environmental features associated with over 8,000 artefact sites.
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jbi.13684

The spread of artefacts showed us that while Tasmanian Aboriginal people occupied every type of habitat, they targeted coastal areas around the whole island, and drier, less steep, environments of the central lowlands.

Few archaeological materials from the last 10,000 years of the Holocene have been found in the wet, rugged western interior. However archaeological materials from the preceding Pleistocene period indicates the western interior was more intensively occupied during the last ice age.

The most important finding of our analysis, however, is that physical aspects of landscape proved to be stronger predictors of Tasmanian Aboriginal occupation than vegetation type. The strongest predictors proved to be flat ground, clay soil as an indicator of fertility, low altitude, proximity to the coast and proximity to inland waters. In particular, our results indicate Holocene Tasmanian Aboriginal people exploited wet eucalypt forests as much as open vegetation types.

Why these findings matter

This result points to a more complex and interesting relationship between Tasmanian Aboriginal people and forests, such as if and how frequently fire was used in these environments.

Fishery of the Wild People of Van Diemen’s Land, probably by artist Friedrich Wilhelm Goedsche (1785-1863)




Read more:
Aboriginal fire management – part of the solution to destructive bushfires


More archaeological surveys, particularly in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, are needed to test whether our analysis is a true reflection of Aboriginal resource use. An upside to the recent bushfires in Tasmania is that such surveys are more easily carried out in burnt environments. So we have a perfect opportunity to discover more about how Aboriginal people shaped their island home.

Our research contributes to restoring Tasmania’s cultural heritage, reclaiming the history of the island and dispelling the myth of the nomad. All of this supports Tasmanian Aboriginal and non‐Aboriginal people in working towards culturally sensitive conservation and land management.The Conversation

Ted Lefroy, Associate Head Research, Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture, University of Tasmania; David Bowman, Professor of Pyrogeography and Fire Science, University of Tasmania; Grant Williamson, Research Fellow in Environmental Science, University of Tasmania, and Penelope Jones, Research Fellow in Environmental Health, University of Tasmania

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


A whole new world: how WWI brought new skills and professions back to Australia



File 20190423 15218 xvvazf.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
The war spurred surgeons to develop new techniques, such as traction splints and blood transfusions.
from shutterstock.com

James Waghorne, University of Melbourne and Kate Darian-Smith, University of Tasmania

The first world war was significant to the formation of Australian national identity and defining national characteristics, such as making do and mateship. This is well acknowledged.

But it was also a technical war, which spurred advances in knowledge and expertise. Combined with the status of professionals in the public service, it profoundly reshaped Australia. It also led to the development of universities as places for training and professional qualification, as well as important research.

Before the war, concern about efficient use of public money and a desire to protect the public led governments to pass legislation to control professional practice. This ensured only qualified doctors could provide medical treatment, only qualified teachers taught in schools, and so on.

The recently released book The First World War, the Universities and the Professions in Australia, 1914–1939, edited by the authors, outlines how the war sped up these developments and widened the range of workers, such as physiotherapists, who saw themselves as part of a professional group.

New knowledge created in war

During the war, surgeons and dentists developed new techniques, such as traction splints and blood transfusions. The use of saline fluid to treat shock dramatically improved the survival rate of the wounded. Advances in plastic surgery – led by New Zealand-born but London-based Harold Gillies and assisted by Australian surgeons – helped those with devastating facial injuries. Psychiatrists contended with the new condition of shell shock.




Read more:
World War I: the birth of plastic surgery and modern anaesthesia


Engineers gained experience in logistics and the management of people. John Monash received a Doctor of Engineering in 1920 for his wartime developments in the coordinated offensive.

New ideas spread rapidly. As the noted surgeon Victor Hurley observed in 1950:

… treatment of large numbers of wounded and the stimulus of war necessities presented the opportunity for close observations and investigations on a large scale, such as were not readily possible in civil life.

The “regular contacts with officers of other medical services” allowed developments to be exchanged.

Professional contributions to the war

Professionals were also important to the war effort at home. Linguists provided translating and censorship services, lawyers drafted international treaties, while scientists and engineers developed processes for the mass manufacture of munitions and tested materials for use in military equipment.

The gas mask developed at the University of Melbourne.
Australian War Memorial

Often these initiatives combined expertise from different professions. Medical, engineering and science professors at the University of Melbourne developed a gas mask, manufactured in large quantities but not deployed.

Back in Australia, the Commonwealth government established the first federally funded research body – the Advisory Council of Science and Industry (later CSIRO) in 1916. Its first task was to tackle agricultural production issues, such as the spread of prickly pear. Australia’s farm production was essential to the war effort.

University research expanded after the war, as government and industry worked with the universities.

The greatest need was for doctors and nurses. Medical students who had broken their studies to enlist were brought back from the front to complete their training before returning. University medical schools shortened courses to rush more graduate doctors to the front. Women medical graduates, such as Vera Scantlebury-Brown, also served in Europe, although they could not join the medical corps.




Read more:
The forgotten Australian women doctors of the Great War


The Great War’s broader influences

More broadly the experience of travelling to European theatres of war exposed professionals to international ideas. Architect soldiers, in particular, brought the influences of European and Middle-Eastern sites to Australian buildings.

A notable example is the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons building. This was designed in a Greek revival style by returned soldiers Leighton Irwin and Roy Kenneth Stevenson. It opened in 1935 to house the college, which accredited Australian surgeons and sought to raise the standard of surgery and hospitals, efforts also spurred by the Great War.

The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons building was designed in a Greek revival style.
from shutterstock.com

Repatriation efforts cemented the position of professionals in the public sphere. Doctors determined eligibility for invalid benefits and managed treatment.

Returned soldiers received training, both in technical skills and also professional degrees. Many took the opportunity of studying in overseas institutions, including British and European universities, schools of the Architectural Association, London, or the Royal College of Surgery.

Australia’s universities remitted tuition fees for returned soldiers. This allowed individuals such as Albert Coates to go to university and become a noted surgeon. Coates would later gain renown for his work with prisoners of war in the second world war.

How did the war change professions?

After the war, new communication technologies created careers in radio broadcasting and advertising.

In response to the cascade of new knowledge, and to keep up with professional developments, university courses became increasingly specialised, at the expense of the generalist. The gaps created by specialisation allowed new groups to seek professional status, often competing with other professionals.

For instance, the number of war wounded, combined with poliomyelitis (polio) epidemics, created unprecedented demand for masseurs. Universities had offered individual subjects in massage at the turn of the century. Now masseurs pressed for full degree status, clashing with doctors who controlled medical practice.

By the time of the second world war, masseurs had become physiotherapists, with professional status.

Nurses learnt new skills during the war, and achieved greater social recognition.
Wikimedia Commons

Nurses had learnt new skills during the first world war and achieved greater social recognition. To build on this, the Australian Nursing Federation (now known as the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation) – established in 1924 – lobbied for university qualifications. It sought to overcome the prevailing conception nursing was marked by “service and sacrifice”, ideals encouraged by the reliance on volunteer nurses during the war.

All Australian states had nursing registers by 1928, admitting only qualified nurses. Although nurses could attend subjects in some universities before the second world war, a full university course waited until the latter part of the 20th century.




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Friendship in war was not just confined to bonds between men


A new national sentiment, fostered by the war, was evident in all of these developments. Professionals no longer fought battles only within local and state areas. Now they argued in general terms, confident their expertise supported national priorities.

Professionals lobbied through national associations, such as the Institution of Engineers (established in 1919), the Australian Veterinary Association (established in 1926), and the Law Council of Australia (established in 1933). These groups sought to raise the standing of their members and defend their interests, on this new basis.

The histories of professional groups and higher education have often focused on the period after the second world war, and the expansion of the sector. However, this overlooks the role of the first world war in transforming Australia into a nation that valued expertise, knowledge and professional standing.The Conversation

James Waghorne, Academic Historian, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne and Kate Darian-Smith, Executive Dean and Pro Vice-Chancellor, College of Arts, Law and Education, University of Tasmania

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


Archaeology is unravelling new stories about Indigenous seagoing trade on Australia’s doorstep



File 20190213 90497 12f9ric.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
A Motu trading ship with its characteristic crab claw shaped sails. Taken in the period 1903-1904.
Trustees of The British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA

Chris Urwin, Monash University; Alois Kuaso, Papua New Guinea National Museum and Art Gallery; Bruno David, Monash University; Henry Auri Arifeae, Papua New Guinea National Museum and Art Gallery, and Robert Skelly, Monash University

It has long been assumed that Indigenous Australia was isolated until Europeans arrived in 1788, except for trade with parts of present day Indonesia beginning at least 300 years ago. But our recent archaeological research hints of at least an extra 2,100 years of connections across the Coral Sea with Papua New Guinea.

Over the past decade, we have conducted research in the Gulf of Papua with local Indigenous communities.

During the excavations, the most common archaeological evidence found in the old village sites was fragments of pottery, which preserve well in tropical environments compared to artefacts made of wood or bone. As peoples of the Gulf of Papua have no known history of pottery making, and the materials are foreign, the discovered pottery sherds are evidence of trade.

This pottery began arriving in the Gulf of Papua some 2,700 years ago, according to carbon dating of charcoal found next to the sherds.




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Explainer: what is radiocarbon dating and how does it work?


This means societies with complex seafaring technologies and widespread social connections operated at Australia’s doorstep over 2,500 years prior to colonisation. Entrepreneurial traders were traversing the entire south coast of PNG in sailing ships.

There is also archaeological evidence that suggests early connections between PNG and Australia’s Torres Strait Islands. Fine earthenware pottery dating to 2,600 years ago, similar in form to pottery arriving in the Gulf of Papua around that time, has been found on the island of Pulu. Rock art on the island of Dauan further to the north depicts a ship with a crab claw-shaped sail, closely resembling the ships used by Indigenous traders from PNG.

It is hard to imagine that Australia, the Torres Strait and PNG’s south coast were not connected.

The region termed the ‘Coral Sea Cultural Interaction Sphere’ where archaeology is gradually uncovering evidence of ancient interconnections.
Author provided

An unconventional trade

The trade itself was quite remarkable. When British colonists arrived in Port Moresby (now the capital of PNG) in 1873, some 130 kilometres from the start of the Gulf of Papua to the west, they wrote in astonishment of the industrial scale of pottery production for maritime trade by Indigenous Motu communities.

Each year, Motu women would spend months making thousands of earthenware pots. Meanwhile the men built large trading ships, called lakatoi, by lashing together several dugout hulls. The ships measured 15-20 metres long and had woven sails in the shape of crab claws.

In October and November, Motu men would load the pots into the ships and sail west towards the rainforest swamplands of the Gulf of Papua. The trade on which they embarked was known as hiri. The voyages were perilous, and lives were sometimes lost in the waves.

Rows of Motu pots ready for shipment to the Gulf of Papua. The pots are arranged on a beach situated in today’s Port Moresby region. Taken by Reverend William G Lawes in 1881-1891.
Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA

When the men arrived – having sailed up to 400 kilometres along the coast – the Motu were in foreign lands. People living in the Gulf of Papua spoke different languages and had different cultural practices. But they were not treated like foreigners.

Sir Albert Maori Kiki, who became the Deputy Prime Minister of PNG, grew up in the Gulf of Papua in the 1930s. He described the arrival of the Motu in his memoirs:

The trade was not conducted like common barter […] the declarations of friendship that went with it were as important as the exchange of goods itself […] Motu people did not carry their pots to the market, but each went straight to the house of his trade relation, with whom his family had been trading for years and perhaps generations.

In exchange for their pots, the Motu were given rainforest hardwood logs from which to make new canoes, and tonnes of sago starch (a staple plant food for many people in Southeast Asia and across the island of New Guinea).

The Motu would stay in Gulf villages for months, waiting for the wind to change to carry them back home.

Quantity overtakes quality

Pottery has been traded into the Gulf of Papua for 2,700 years, but the trade grew larger in scale about 500 years ago. Archaeological sites of the past 500 years have much larger quantities of pottery than those before them. The pottery itself is highly standardised and either plain or sparsely decorated, in contrast with older sherds that often feature ornate designs.

In the past 500 years it seems that pottery makers valued quantity over quality: as greater quantities of pottery were traded into the Gulf of Papua, labour-intensive decorations gradually disappeared.

Fragments of a decorated earthenware bowl dating to within the past 500 years. Found in an excavation at Orokolo Bay (Gulf of Papua, PNG) in 2015.
Photographs by Steve Morton (Monash University)

We think this is when the hiri trade between the Motu and rainforest villages of the Gulf of Papua began in earnest.

The coming decades promise further findings that will help unravel the forgotten shared history of PNG and Indigenous Australia across the Torres Strait. But it is becoming increasingly clear that Indigenous Australia was not isolated from the rest of the world.The Conversation

Chris Urwin, Researcher, Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage, Monash University; Alois Kuaso, Deputy Director for Science Research and Consultancy Division at the Papua New Guinea National Museum and Art Gallery, Papua New Guinea National Museum and Art Gallery; Bruno David, Professor, Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage, Monash University; Henry Auri Arifeae, Cultural Coordinator, Papua New Guinea National Museum and Art Gallery, and Robert Skelly, Archaeologist, Monash University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


Egypt: New Tomb Discovered



Old sites, new visions: art and archaeology collide in Cyprus


Craig Barker, University of Sydney and Diana Wood Conroy, University of Wollongong

Over the past two decades Australian archaeologists have been slowly uncovering the World Heritage-listed ancient theatre site at Paphos in Cyprus. The Hellenistic-Roman period theatre was used for performance for over six centuries from around 300 BC to the late fourth century AD. There is also considerable evidence of activity on the site after the theatre was destroyed, particularly during the Crusader era.

The excavation of the site, and of the architectural remains in particular, is contributing significantly to our understanding of the role of theatre in the ancient eastern Mediterranean and the development of theatre architecture to reflect contemporary performance trends in the ancient world.

The site of the ancient theatre of Paphos in Cyprus, with archaeologists at work on the top of the cavea (seating) during the 2012 field season.
Paphos Theatre Archaeological Project

When we return to the site this month we will take archaeologists, surveyors, architects, specialist researchers of ancient materials, students and volunteers. We will also take contemporary artists.

As incongruous as this relationship sounds, the project is part of a wider momentum in contemporary Australian art that lauds working across disciplines. And the link between antiquity and today allows for fascinating insights to the benefit of both.

At the birth of archaeology as a discipline in the 19th century, it was a common practice to take artists on expeditions. Illustrations of exotic sites and impressive archaeological finds filled journals in Europe and the United States, such as the Illustrated London News. These reports allowed an eagerly awaiting audience to participate in the rediscovery. The rediscovery of ancient artist traditions had a profound effect on art movements of the 18th and 19th century too, from Neoclassicism to French Realism.

By the 20th century, however, archaeology as a discipline had become very focused on objective observation and detailed evidence-based analysis. Archaeological illustration became a form of technical drawing or scientific illustration, and the archaeological photograph developed clear standards for accurate recording. Any creative and emotive response to the past was pushed aside.

Recently, however, there has been something of a renewal of this relationship between the scientist and the artist. Mark Dion in 1999 used archaeological finds from London as the basis of his work Tate Thames Dig, arranging found objects in a cabinet for display.

In Australia, Ursula K. Frederick, who has a background in archaeology, explores the aesthetics of car cultures in Australia, Japan and the US. Izabela Pluta’s photographs explore ruin and place.

The responses of artists working in Paphos are often compelling, enabling ways of thinking that archaeologists had not previously considered. Media artist Brogan Bunt, for example, speaks of the irony of ephemeral digital platforms that cause what was new technology in 2006 to be unusable by 2017. For him, the ancient theatre site has maintained its identity for millennia, while digital virtual heritage is far more fragile than the places it sets out to document and preserve.

The following are works from the exhibition Travellers from Australia to be held in Paphos as part of the Pafos2017 European Capital of Culture festival.


Bob Miller Paphos Theatre. Infrared photograph, 2012, 40x60cm.
Artist provided

“My photographs combine visual exploration of actual sites and objects with original research into the quantum leap made by digital photography.” – Bob Miller

Rowan Conroy, Pottery sorting table, Apollo Hotel, Pafos theatre excavations April 2006. Pigment inkjet print on cotton rag (from digitised 4×5 film positive) 90x114cm.
Artist provided

“I perceive the photography of sites as a memory aid, as a historical resource, as well as a reflective form of art.” – Rowan Conroy

Derek Kreckler. Shadowland, 2011. Medium-format colour negative, inkjet print, 100x100cm.
Artist provided

“By mixing artistic and archaeological images we get a new grammar of looking.” – Derek Kreckler

Lawrence Wallen, on the reconstruction of landscape (detail) 2015. Charcoal on paper drawing, 500x120cm.
Artist provided

“My research proposes a relationship between material landscapes and the immaterial and invisible spiritual, psychological and intellectual landscapes created through the artist’s gaze.” – Lawrence Wallen

Jacky Redgate, Light Throw (Mirrors) No. 1, 2009. Studio photograph 127x158cm.
Artist provided

“In my work I approach memories somewhat like an analyst, but perhaps more like a reflective archaeologist.” – Jacky Redgate

Hannah Gee, Sgraffito 2016. Looped Animation Still.

“Animation is for me, the physical, material perception of time.” – Hannah Gee

Angela Brennan (from left to right), Pot with one coloured foot, Jug with two handles, Figure, 2014. Stoneware, dimensions variable.
Artist provided

“The artistic motif crosses between eras, travelling back and forth in a temporal instability.” – Angela Brennan

Diana Wood Conroy, Imitation marble, 1997. Gouache drawing of fresco excavated from Paphos theatre, 40x26cm.
Artist provided

“Drawing is a tool of thought allowing a larger framework for other meanings to emerge.” – Diana Wood Conroy

Penny Harris, Mop, 2013. Bronze, 28x26x4cm.
Artist provided

“My casting and patination process makes a connection to the narratives of archaeology.” – Penny Harris

Brogan Bunt, Chrysopolitissa, 2006. Digital image from multi-media project.
Artist provided

“Digital ephemerality draws into curious relation with the loss and disappearance affecting the ancient world.” – Brogan Bunt


The ConversationThe Paphos Theatre Archaeological Project conducts its excavations and research under the auspices of the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus.

Craig Barker, Education Manager, Sydney University Museums, University of Sydney and Diana Wood Conroy, Emeritus Professor of Visual Arts, University of Wollongong

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.


Article: Old Illness – New Name


The link below is to an article that looks at 7 old illnesses now known by different names.

For more visit:
http://mentalfloss.com/article/49252/7-antiquated-illness-names-and-their-meanings


Welcome


Welcome to my new Blog ‘History for Today.’ Visit the ‘About’ page to find out the purpose of the Blog and what I’m about here. The first real post will be coming soon – I hope.


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