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Australia’s Aboriginal culture, from all appearances, is the oldest culture that survived in the world. Aborigines used stone tools and painted the walls with red ochre over 60,000 years ago. Australians have never joined other cultures, which developed an “iron age” and the “bronze age”. Australians never knew about the pottery and the well-known terms such as “Paleolithic” and “Neolithic” as they have never been used in Australia. The reason of it: the differences in the progress of the stone technology.
Origin of Australian Aborigines
Many scientists believe, that Homo sapiens originated from the Cro-Magnon man in the region of the Europe approximately 40,000 years ago. Nevertheless, current vision, based on archaeological artifacts and studies of genetic structure of mutations of mitochondrial DNA of different people of the world, is that Homo sapiens came into the Middle East 40,000 years ago. After Homo sapiens proceed into Asia, they speared in Australia 60,000 ago. Those times marked the Neanderthal man, as the prevailing hominid in some parts of Europe. During the time when other cultures have been developing, the Australians remained isolated on their Island. However the most isolated place was Tasmania, cut from the mainland 11,000 years ago.
Introduction into the culture
of Australian Aborigines
The culture of Australian aborigines is one of the longest surviving cultures in the word. is the one created by Australia’s Aborigines. One can observe it in the rock shelter and it is presented by mythology of Rainbow Serpent, dated back to over 7,000 years ago. The paintings are situated in the Kakadu National Park. Ancestral beings on the paintings of aborigines have the same spiritual and cultural importance to locals as they did 10,000 years ago.
Australian culture also lacks a common-used written language, so thousands of years Australians recorded their thoughts and history in the form of rock art. Their rock paintings represent the environment, animals and plants, moreover even those animals that believed to be extinct dozens of thousands years ago. The Tradition of rock arts in the form of paintings on the walls of the caves and engravings on the fragile rocks has its continuation in our days. Many rock paintings depicted people dancing in the traditional dress on ceremonies or other religious events, with their bodies painted in a special manner, determining their status accoutrements. The paintings and engravings play a great role in revealing cultural and historical heritage of Australian aborigines.
Technologies of the Australian Aborigines
Humanity’s most ancient technology of the stone tools is the percussion method for making the instruments. The part of the stone is chipped away what makes the sharp edge, which may be used after that for cutting. This method had been created 2.5. million years ago, and have been practiced by people, who preserve their pristine image, until the 1960s. Stone choppers and some flake scrapers, which were made just few decades ago, are similar to the earliest tools. Such flaked tools are also applied to shape some wooden weapons and tools. Production of stone axes, that started more than 20,000 years on the north part of the mainland, and back to almost 40,000 years in the Papua, is still seldom used in the present days.
Language of the Aborigines
Aboriginal language and culture cannot be considered to be invariable throughout the continent, because the variation is seen in every region. As an example there are two well-known images associated with Aboriginal culture: returning boomerang and didgeridoo, however they are not spread through the whole continent. The returning boomerang can be observed only in the south of Australia, while the didgeridoo was indispensable part of the ceremonies in the north Australia. So, it can be supposed that there is no one language for all Australian tribes (there are 400 tribes in Australia), because each of them has its own language and traditions. So Australia is home for many nations, similar to the modern Europe.
Changes of the Aborigine Culture
Most of customs and activities disappeared, or underwent changes after the contact with Europe, and when new ways passed on to the next generations, they become “traditional”. It must be highlighted, that customs which are new today can be implanted as “traditional” to future generations. The number of changes occurred in the culture of Aborigines over the past few thousand years, according to the archaeological research, especially study of rock paintings. The findings show the changes in deities and in the development of new tool technology, such as the spear thrower. The Aboriginal culture cannot be considered as single unit, because it is inconstant and varies in place and time.
The lifestyle of the Aborigines
Aborigines had never built massive stone monuments, farmed animals and never cultivated the soil in order to grow crops. Because there were no cities, their culture could not be defined as a “civilization”. The arts, extant to our days (paintings, songs and dances, accompanying stories), descended until the modern generations of the Australia’s Aborigines in the form of the great operas.. Maintenance of order and law was very strict, but the most important thing was religion.
Remainders of the Life of Aborigines
One can only guess how the people lived 60,000 years ago, and what they left behind. the most obvious thing is a technology of manufacturing stone tools. However, considering all Aboriginal societies, one can highlight, that manufacturing of stones is the smallest part of the culture. Mainly, handling stone and wooden tools make contribution to the lifestyle of the Aborigines, but there was technology of usage of shells and resins, making ropes, bags, strings, baskets and so on. All that facts can evidence, that the art developed many years ago.
Aborigine Culture versus Western Culture
It is complicated to define, whether the culture is advanced or primitive. Modern cultures appeared only few thousand years ago, while Aboriginal culture appeared 60,000 years ago. Aborigines overcome some main issues that our world needs to handle with now: maintaining social cohesion, overpopulation, destruction and degradation of environment. In this case we can regard Western cultures being “developing” and the culture of Aborigines as “advanced”.
Adaptation of Aborigines to the conditions of the Australia
Australia is one of the largest islands in the world. The driest land prevails in Australia, and the central part of the continent is a desert. At the same time the island has great rainforest near its coasts, and some regions of Australia are tropical. Aborigines effectively occupied all places of Australia, adapting themselves and the world around them. , by digging wells using other natural water sources. In such desert places, where one cannot find numerous trees, it is hard to make any weapons for hunting or labor, but nevertheless aborigines have found the way to make the long, straight spears. Aborigines used to make tools of straight roots, which lied deep in the ground.
Impact of the western cultures upon the Aboriginal culture
People undergone the full spectrum of changes, starting from the petrified Aboriginal culture to the European culture. From one point of view, some family groups isolated themselves from the other, trying to preserve their culture and maintain hunting, food gathering and so on, according to their tradition. But even considering this level, Aborigines now prefer to wear the modern clothes, they can own the car, and hunt with rifles instead of spears. In general, people, living in large Aboriginal communities, adapt to new lifestyle, however they tend to preserve their cultural traditions by means of special traditional hunting and ceremonies. One can see entirely deformed Aborigines who live according to the European life styles.
Among inevitable changes than happen in the society are changes in transport system, life style, and communication, with following loss of traditional craft skills and knowledge. Aborigines lose their cultural peculiarities, the sense of belonging to the fatherland, , and the most important - the significance of family and ancestry, which is essential for the Aboriginal culture.