Skip to comments.Aboriginal People Built Water Tunnels
Posted on 03/15/2006 11:29:36 AM PST by blam
Aboriginal people built water tunnels
ABC Science Online
Wednesday, 15 March 2006
The rainbow serpent, a key Aboriginal Dreamtime creation symbol, is closely connected with Indigenous knowledge of groundwater systems (Image: Reuters)
Indigenous Australians dug underground water reservoirs that helped them live on one of the world's driest continents for tens of thousands of years, new research shows.
The study, which is the first of its kind, indicates Aboriginal people had extensive knowledge of the groundwater system, says hydrogeologist Brad Moggridge, knowledge that is still held today.
Some 70% of the continent is covered by desert or semi-arid land, which meant its original inhabitants needed to know how to find and manage this resource if they were to survive.
"Aboriginal people survived on one of the driest continents for thousands and thousands of years," says Brad Moggridge, who is from Kamilaroi country in northern New South Wales.
"Without water you die. They managed that water sustainably."
Moggridge, currently a principal policy officer in the New South Wales Department of Environment and Conservation, did his research as part of a Masters degree at the University of Technology, Sydney.
He based his work on oral histories, Dreamtime stories, rock art, artefacts and ceremonial body painting as well as written accounts by white missionaries, surveyors, settlers, anthropologists and explorers.
Managing scant resources
Moggridge says Indigenous Australians channelled and filtered their water, covering it to avoid contamination and evaporation. They also created wells and tunnel reservoirs.
"Groundwater was accessed through natural springs or people used to dig tunnels to access it," he says.
"Sometimes they'd dig till they found the water and then they'd build a system so they could access the water. Sometimes they've go fairly deep and people would slither down there and get their water."
Aboriginal people also used terrain, birdlife, vegetation and animals as markers for water, Moggridge says.
For example, they followed dingos to rock pools and waterholes while ants led them to subterranean reservoirs.
"They used the landscape," he says. "For example, you're in a dry area and all of a sudden there's a large number of ghost gums, so you'd think there must be some groundwater."
Aboriginal people's understanding of their groundwater system permeates Dreamtime stories, Moggridge says.
For example, the rainbow serpent is a key symbol of creation but its journey from underground to the surface also represents groundwater rising to the top via springs.
Moggridge says European settlers owed their subsequent knowledge of groundwater to local tribes and trackers, and even much of Australia's modern road system is based on water sources identified by the original inhabitants.
"A lot of the old roads in New South Wales are based on Aboriginal walking tracks ... and their water supply would have been along the way," he says.
The Desert Knowledge CRC is also trying to link traditional knowledge with science in terms of water management in central Australia, home to numerous remote Indigenous communities.
Current projects include looking at the cultural values of water, a spokesperson says
Who knows, maybe in a few thousand more years they may have progressed to the point where they might have caught up with our ancestors.
Who are "our" ancestors?
Did Frank Herbert know about this? In Dune the Fremen built large underground resevoirs so they could survive and maybe change the face of Arrakis.
Those who built nations with high technologies (for the period) and complex political systems. Who do you think did that, or, were they not your ancestors?
I don't know. They were exposed to the bow and arrow thousands of years ago from New Gueinna(sp) and never adopted it.
I would also add that many civilizations of thousands of years ago were far more advanced then the aborigines of 300 years ago.
Best way to describe them, the aborigines are hippies "living off the land".
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on or off the
"Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list or GGG weekly digest
-- Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)
He based his work on oral histories, Dreamtime stories, rock art, artefacts and ceremonial body painting as well as written accounts by white missionaries, surveyors, settlers, anthropologists and explorers.GEORGE: Maybe I'll go down to the track. Put it all on a horse...
Read about the Qanats of Iran.
LOL...no no don't you know
they were superior to my wicked white european ancestors who only built aqueducts and whatnot for water distribution
culture is interesting but it ain't relative
Ouch Bill...a little candor is hard for folks
See Jared Diamond Guns, Germs, Steel
Lack of a domesticatable dtaft animal handicap. Neither the Kangaroo nor the Wombat seems a suitable candidate.
I've lived in primitive areas...trust me...they exist and they do lag..for whatever reason but sometimes just because.
Same thing in Afghanistan.. traced in some cases, all the way back to China..
The use of deep wells and covered aquaducts to transport water and prevent evaporation of a scarce rescource is fairly widespread throughout the area...
One of the first Scientific American articles I can remember reading.
Used to sell seeds door to door in the spring to buy them.
I wouldn't spend a plugged nickel on the new, revamped, ultra politically correct SciAm's now.
You probably missed the current articles concerning creationists and ethics?
They ferociously attack creationists (im not a creationists) to the point that you begin to wonder why the editors waste their time on it instead of publishing something about, i dont know, SCIENCE?!
Even worse, the editors seem to enjoy putting the word "ethics" between quotations every time they use it, and they have even insinuated that ethics are all made up by opponents of science..
I don't read sciam anymore anyway, they report more and more about politics and how existence is pointless so nothing matters and less and less about science.
I suggest newscientist, although it rather lacks details in it's articles even more than sciam.
There are more ways to progress than materialistic ways..
The vast majority of their culture and religion is kept behind close doors to this day, you shouldn't just them without knowing them. They may have a better understanding of existence then our descendants ever will.
It took Europe 4000 years after they had the wheel to figure out the concept of the wheelbarrow.
Uh-oh...Call a vet. High Horse has gone gimpy. ;)
Who said my statement was limited to materialism?
I suppose also the irony of being lectured about materialism from someone via this medium is lost on you.
Actually, we could be anyone of about a dozen races who have contributed more to the betterment of mankind then the Abo's.
Cultural inequality is a fact, can't sweep it under the rug. All cultures have their edge in certain environments they are accustomed to
I'm a head...lol...wel, admittedly I did smoke a bit of Marley in my youth.
That is correct english. You don't know you're own language?
Seeing as you lack sufficient understanding of you're own language, I like to propose that you keep you're opinions concerning other ethnicities and their mental abilities to yourselve.
I am quite certain the vast majority of aboriginals possess more knowledge of the english language then you seem to manifest, despite the fact that it is not their mother tongue.
This article is about the knowledge the aborigines had about water in an extreme environment. The transmission of that knowledge to the early Australian settlers apparently helped that section of mankind and given the need to use water wisely in our western states it could help the American section of mankind.
The fact that a complex culture might glean something useful from a simple culture is nothing to put anyones panties in a knot.
So it seems that it really IS spelled "youre head"...
My mistake, it ain't my language. I learned english partly from the internet, and there seems to be a lack of consistent spelling on the web.
It's "your" head revisionist foolio.
"you're" means you+are
let me guess ...another minority (foreigner I suppose) angle wishing to bloviate about evil less developed crackers?
how old are you?...8?
btw...aborigines are great...relatively speaking...happy now?
or do you need more nuance and qualifying?
too funny...another canard spewing PC social liberal pretending on a conservative board
here's a link to a dictionary Einstein:
1) Im not american, and pretty certain my english is still
better then youre dutch.
2) It's shows a petty mind and even lousier personality to
not let the matter rest after I already admitted my
3) If you consider everyone in disagreement with you
a 'socialist liberal', you will find this forum
to be chockablock with them.
4) Nice of you to now claim that aborigines
are 'relatively great'. I guess that is youre way of
admitting mistake, so I will let that matter rest.
I will let that matter rest.
Thank God for small favors...and yes, your English is better than my Dutch since I don't speak Dutch although having been in Amsterdam and Rotterdam a bit in my youth I have nothing against the Dutch aside from their views on abortion and homosexuality and believe they may be awakening to their Muslim problem finally.
I speak Spanish and Portugese as well and spent 16 years abroad. You stereotype Americans and then rail when they do that to others.
Is that petty or arrogant?
My little brother loves your ganja and brothels btw..
and btw...I do apologize for picking on your language...I was replying to an earlier reply and had not seen your admission
sincere apologies on that...I don't mind arguing but I did not mean to pick on you.
I was just pointing out the unfairness of your sneer that "they should have developed the wheelbarrow" by pointing out while it is one of those ideas that seem obvious in retrospect even a culture that had extensive use of the wheel did not come up with the concept until rather recently.
I am aware that the idea did first come into being in China quite a while before the idea came to be in Europe. But as there is no direct evidence that it was an imported idea unlike the stirrup, the phonetic alphabet, the printing press, paper and so many other ideas adopted by Europeans from other areas of the globe that I prefer to leave open the possibility that it was actually invented independently.
don't much cotton to revisionists who mask their true motivations nor social engineering liberals
I've seen you around before...you always take the PC side on comparative culture or minority issues
I don't believe that is PC.
I actively attempt to combat the PC mentality that every culture except the European Christian culture is "Spiritual/ Child of nature/holy holy"
But I also believe in studying cultures, learning and not disparaging their achievements.
Truth is my guide. The good, the bad and the ugly. But always the search for the true story.
As you say. Fair enough.
well damn...we have more in common than I thought...