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Dreaming the Stars: The Astronomy of the Australian Aborigines


Haynes, RD, Dreaming the Stars: The Astronomy of the Australian Aborigines, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, 20, (3) pp. 187-197. ISSN 0308-0188 (1995) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2017 Informa UK Limited

DOI: doi:10.1179/ISR.1995.20.3.187


Although the celestial observations made by the Aborigines were precise, the significance attached to them was conceptual rather than perceptual. It could not be derived from observation but only from knowledge gained by initiation into tribal values. The legends which embodied the astronomical knowledge had a threefold pragmatic role in tribal culture: they functioned as a predictive calendar for terrestrial events; they were associated with stories which reinforced the moral values pertaining to tribal identity; and they contributed to the belief system which provided a philosophical rationale for a tribe’s understanding of the universe. Selected myths relating to the sun, moon, the Milky Way, the Magellanic Clouds, Venus, and various constellations are outlined and illustrated by traditional bark painting designs to provide examples of these general statements. Parallels are drawn with the theories of some contemporary philosophers of science.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:history, Australia, Aboriginal, celestial observations
Research Division:History, Heritage and Archaeology
Research Group:Historical studies
Research Field:Australian history
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in language, communication and culture
UTAS Author:Haynes, RD (Dr Roslynn Haynes)
ID Code:121717
Year Published:1995
Web of Science® Times Cited:2
Deposited By:Office of the School of Humanities
Deposited On:2017-10-12
Last Modified:2017-11-27

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