12 June 2015 – Species, Stonehenge and Indigenous Knowledge

The guest speaker for the June CFNC meeting is club member Dr Lynne Kelly.   Many of you will fondly remember Lynne’s presentation a couple of years ago about her journey from being chronically arachnophobic to embracing all things ‘spider’.

The title of her talk is Indigenous knowledge of plants and animals: how do they remember so much stuff without a field guide?

Indigenous people are often described as having a close relationship with their environment with no reference to the way the depth of their knowledge comes about. They have exactly the same intellectual potential as the rest of us but they don’t have writing to store their knowledge. They learn how to identify many hundreds of animals, from the mammals and birds to the invertebrates, and know their behaviour. Then add in many hundreds of plants, along with properties, uses, habitats, seasonal variations as well as navigation, genealogies, astronomy and timekeeping, resource rights and management … the list goes on and on. But how do they store all that information when they are totally dependent on fragile human memory?

Photo from www.lynnekelly.com.au
Photo from www.lynnekelly.com.au

In this presentation, Lynne Kelly will explain the extraordinary methods used by indigenous cultures to memorise a vast amount of natural history knowledge. And to finish off, she’ll explain why this understanding led her to a new theory for the purpose of Stonehenge.

Dr Lynne Kelly’s latest book, Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies, has just been published in the US and UK by Cambridge University Press and will be released in Australia in August. The book is a result of her PhD thesis on memory systems used by non-literate cultures and the application in archaeology. Her previous books include Spiders: learning to love them and Crocodile: evolution’s greatest survivor.

As per our usual meetings, Lynne’s talk is being held in the Fellowship Room behind the Uniting Church (located in the section of Lyttleton St between Barkers St and Kennedy St, next door to the Castlemaine Art Gallery).  The meeting starts from 7.30pm on Friday 12 June 2015, but feel free to turn up from 7pm for a cup of tea and a chat beforehand.